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Canada Post Rates Rant


By David Grant - Posted on 03 October 2006

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So I have this book that I was going to ship to Toronto. Here are the specifications:

Weight: 300 grams
Length: 210 mm
Width: 135 mm
Height: 25 mm

Shipping from Vancouver to Toronto via Canada Post Regular Parcel is $10.34 with a delivery standard of 5-10 business days. I thought that was grossly expensive for a very light, average-sized paperback novel. So I checked some other quotes:

  • Shipping from Vancouver to Florida via "Small Packet USA Surface" is only $6.65 with a delivery standard of 6-12 business days. It is both cheaper and barely slower than Canada Post's Regular Parcel service.
  • Shipping from Vancouver to Florida via "Small Packet USA Air" is only $7.90 with a delivery standard of 6-12 business days. It is both cheaper and barely slower than Canada Post's Regular Parcel service. I would expect that this Air Mail would be closer to 6 days and the surface would be closer to 12.
  • With FedEx Ground from Vancouver to Toronto it costs only $12.48 with a 4-day delivery standard (note: with a FedEx account it would be even cheaper). Only slightly cheaper than Canada Post's Regular Parcel, and a far better delivery guarantee.

Trim the package down a bit, to a height of just 20mm (instead of 25g) and a weight of about 250g (instead of 300g), about the size of another book I have here with me, and the price becomes only $2.49 from Vancouver to Toronto with Canada Post Lettermail and $2.99 to the US with Canada Post US Lettermail or $3.96 to the US with Canada Post US Light Packet. The prices suddenly change drastically even though the weight has barely changed.

Here are my observations:

  • Why is shipping to Florida cheaper than shipping to Toronto? I don't see how that can ever make sense, unless of course it crosses the border in Vancouver quickly and gets handed off to USPS and they are far cheaper than Canada Post. I wouldn't be surprised as I have read that USPS is much cheaper. Is Canada Post justified in having rates higher than USPS? If they are sending the package by truck, it could be most costly to drive to Toronto than to drive to Florida. Unless of course they drove to Toronto via the US :-)
  • Why is FedEx Ground with a 4-day delivery only 21% more expensive than Canada Post's 5-10 business day standard? Either FedEx Ground is highly efficient, or they are not charging enough, or Canada Post is highly inefficient or charging too much.
  • Why does reducing the package's volume by 20% and the weight by 17% lead to a 76% reduction in price? This does not make sense at all. Normally you would expect a letter and a small parcel to both have some fixed cost associated with the handling that needs to be done. So let's assume a fixed cost of $0.10 for the letter and $0.10 for a parcel. Let's say the letter weighs 0.1 kg and a small parcel weighs 1 kg. There should be some variable cost to send the package that is proportional to the weight to transport it. Let's say $1/kg. So the letter's variable cost is $0.10 and the parcel's variable cost is $1. So the letter costs a total of $0.20 and the parcel costs $1.10. The parcel weighs 900% more but it costs only 550% more. This makes sense, because of the fixed costs with each item. In my example, a package weight increase of 20% led to a cost increase of 315%. Doesn't make any sense to me. Either the letter is costing them more to ship than they are charging or they are overcharging for the 300g parcel.
  • I find it interesting that it is cheaper to send a 300g, 25mm book to the US than it is to ship to Canada, but for a 250g, 20mm book it is the other way around.

I think what we need is something like the small packets service in Canada. We also need some consistency in the rates. They are so many oddities and contradictions in the rates as I've pointed out above.

Some other links:

parttime-interpersonal

That's a long blog about one book to mail. Maybe whoever you are sending it to should just buy the book.
I wonder how much it will cost me to send a t-shirt and a card to Korea? ok goodnight

Actually I have a scale right here and I'm about to go to bed so I just took off my X-Large t-shirt and weighed it. Looks to be about 200g, so it could be between $5.35 and $7.30 with the International Small Packets service. Actually for that price you can ship up to 250g in a 30x30x30 cm3 box to Korea. Which makes me even more irate that it costs over $10 to send a tiny (by comparison) 300g package to Toronto!

I'm not shipping the 300g book though, just a 250g one which is cheap (as I mentioned half way through my post). The 300g was different book I had handy. I was curious what a slightly larger book would cost and was very surprised by what I found.

I agree totally with the description of the bull crap that Canada Post puts us through. One option might be to take a razor blade, cut the book in half right down the spine, send it as two lettermail shipments with a piece of duct tape for the recipient to "re spine" the book. Even with the two separate shipments, the cost will be between $2 and $8 less.

I think you may have too much time on your hands David Grant. I have found myself directed to your site more than once with questions that I have twice in the last month though. Do you think you could summarize your findings at the bottom of your lengthy answers for people like me who have less time on their hands? ;)
p.s. I think you're smart and your 50 most common interview questions were extremely helpful in landing my last job.
Sooo....THNX!

I have friends that regularly travel to the Phillipines and back. They buy a HUGE box, fill it with as much stuff as possible to take back to family and friends. The airline shipping for this? $50.00 Canadian. Go figure! Cost me $12.00 Canadian to send a very lightweight tank top to a friend 700 miles away via Canada Post
. No wonder the post office is sinking fast here!

There are many people that are discontent with Canada Post and not just you
It has become a power base for Canadian Union based employees and they need your support so they can live in a style you have become accustom to

I couldn't agree more to this ... it's time that Canada Post ends it's reign!

not because of the postal workers! They've closed down 95% of the unionized outlets. They have decided to gouge us because they can gouge us, by adding additional delivery taxes and "handling" fees that our taxes are supposed and meant to be covering.

I'm not a union employee, but good for those who still have a job at a decent rate of pay. At least they don't have to worry about their next mortgage payment.

But if you want to get mad about it, think of greed because that's basically what we're dealing with, pure and utter greed on behalf of our government and Canada Post.

That's right. It is greed by the gov't and Canada Post. The true north strong and fleeced!

Christ I can't even find the rate for a mailing tube on Canada Post's site. Not that it really matters. I do a lot of overseas shipping and luckily, I live near the U.S. border so I just cross and ship from there; way, way cheaper.

I had a package going to Australia that would have cost me 90$ and taken nearly 3 months to get there! I took it across the border and got 6 - 10 day shipping for 56$, and it cost me 10.75$ to make a commercial entry into the states to do that so altogether it cost me 66.75$ for 6 - 10 day shipping. To get it there in that time frame from here was 235$ Can you believe it?

Furthermore, I have a scale here and I looked up the prices for both Canada Post and USPS beforehand. I had to go to the post office, because I just couldn't believe the rates I got for Canada Post were accurate, but when I got there, they were actually higher. The weight she got on her scale was a little more than what I got on mine. So I trotted across the border with my package and the price they got was bang on the same price I got. Oh and by the way: My customer actually ended up getting her package in 4 days!

I find even when you pay extra to get faster shipping here it's not guaranteed because it has to be between two major centres of which my location is not one. So basically with Canada Post ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.

Don't be alarmed -- I have no intention of actually doing harm to Canada Post workers or locations, but I am just trying to express how insanely angry I was to find that I had to pay $10.34 after tax to ship a DVD size package that must have not weighed more than half a pound, from Montreal to Kingston.

Something of that exact same size and weight going from California to New York would cost no more than roughly $5.15 after tax in a flat rate envelope with US Postal. That's 3x the distance of Montreal to Kingston for half the price! US Postal offers "Flat Rate" envelopes and boxes, for those of you who don't know, meaning distance to travel bears no relevance to the price you pay. You just pay for the envelope or box (cheapest is like I said, about $5.15 after tax, and could fit roughly two DVDs or 5 full size magazines). There is a weight limit although it's awfully generous (perhaps 20 pounds for the cheapest I described).

Canada Post is robbing Canadians blind.

Do you people really expect Canada Post rates to be the same as U.S. rates which has 10 times the population base to draw from?
And do you realize U.S. Post lost even more money than Canada Post lost? Figure out the logistics and you will figure out why there is the pricing difference.It's not rocket science.

So the US may have a bigger population, but that doesn't mean the rates have to be ridiculous in a country with a smaller population. Because by this logic, the people of Vatican City would have to pay a lot of money to ship anything.

By lowering shipping prices, more people will consider shipping their products through their post and using their services. U.S. Post may have lost more money, but it's clear that they're going to earn a lot of that back.

There's been a loss of interest in mail lately. Of course Canada Post wants to find a new way to earn money - through shipping rates! Because as of yet, you can't send a package through your computer screen. I don't think they realize that they're losing business from potential customers - hurting their potential profits.

In BC, so many people are just renting boxes in Point Roberts to ship things there - my family has even rented a box down at a local business just so that we could receive some items and save lots of money with shipping. Who gets the profit? The U.S. Post.

It's hurting so many local entrepreneurs that can't afford to compete with the big companies and other sellers because of Canada Post's high postal rates. Make it more appealing for people to send, and they will!

Look, I may be young, but I think that a lot of my friends would love to send postcards or letters through the post, or fun packages to surprise people with for their birthdays. We love Etsy - but everything on there gets so expensive when shipping rates get added to the equation!

I wanted to spend a small bottle of liquid medicine about the size of regular winter chapstick from Calgary to Toronto, Canada post wanted to charge $12.

I bought collector coins from ireland , that cost me to ship from ireland with rigestered mail US 27 , unfortunately I had to return them back for some reason , So same packege cost me CDN 65 to ship back to ireland.
Is there any comparision , and same coins comes from UK with registered mail at cost of CDN 18 .
Also same size small packet come from US to canada at cost of US 12 averege , and if I ship same coin to midwest US it cost CDN 28 ,
So Canada Post is complete rip off for bussiness and personal

Oh, GOD! I have just spent 4 days wading through all the charts and pdfs on Canada Post's website, and I have discovered all the same things you did . . . just now found your old blog post. I used to ship internationally from the States and am now in Western BC wanting to continue this type of shipping. How maddening! It boggles me that there is not comparable Packet service within the country. Thanks for this post of yours. I feel slightly better that I'm not the only person freaked out by the nonsensical rates system!

Neph

Yeah, it is totally nonsensical. I'm glad someone read it and found it informative. I should probably summarize it in some HTML tables or something to make it a bit easier to read.

Yes, please do (summarize in tables Canada post rip off charges).

i like your post and totally agree i like the way you calculated the costs. This does irritate me also...I mean how is a person like me supposed to sell anything on ebay when the shipping cost are outrageous and people feel like they are getting scammed!!!

most companies have inconsistencies in their business. so are we picking on canada post because its government associated or because they deserve to be picked on?
i agree their rates are high, and service seems to depend on the mood the postal employees are in the day your parcel passes through their hands.
however that seems to be the same with most service oriented businesses. try getting the attention of sales staff in any big box store when the supervisors aren't around....good luck! too busy discussing boyfriends, girlfriends, parties etc.
everyone is afraid to complain about meals in restaurants due to media coverage about what happens to your food when you send it back!
seems to me there are problems in every industry.........

"are we picking on canada post because its government associated or because they deserve to be picked on?"

No one is "picking on" anyone. Only raising valid points about their inconsistent/non-sensical rates. No, the fact they they are a publically-owned company has no bearing on my comments.

"i agree their rates are high"

I never said their rates were high, I was pointing out differences in their rates. On the whole, Canada Post is cheap, it is the cheapest way to ship in Canada, after all, for parcels, and they are the only one that does letters.

"service seems to depend on the mood the postal employees"

I never mentioned service...but whatever, bring that up if you want. Their service is great, I had one thing break but I was covered by their insurance and the lady that handled my claim was awesome.

"seems to me there are problems in every industry"

Maybe there are problems in every industry, maybe there aren't...so...what?

Do you have ANYTHING to say about the things that I actually addressed in my article?

My only complaint about Canada Post service is I wish that all the employees where required to have basic keyboarding skills. Often representatives use one finger to type postal codes and weight info, it just drives me nuts. It is terribly inefficient and if they learned to keyboard properly it would increase their productivity immensely.

I think the word you are looking for is 'typing'. The 'keyboard' is a relatively new invention. Typing has been around for over a century.

Yep, and being a jackass has been around for even longer.

You might want to learn how to spell before you criticize typing skills.

Well for the pay rate of 10.25 an hour that these clerks are making and the amount of stress that has been put on them by Canada Post without any benifits at all I wouldn't be complaining about how fast the clerk is typing most Government employees are all over paid and can't type woth a sh...t so please!!!!

You said they are paid $10.50 per hour... The average wage is $21 per hour, and the starting pay is something like $18. I know, I contacted Canada Post for a job.

I believe Canada Post may have higher prices then USPS due to the price of gasoline to drive a truck to Toronto as opposed to USPS driving a truck to Florida with their prices. Also, remember Canada's highway systems are not as advanced as the US and many areas of Canada are much more mountainous then the US. As well, it is difficult to compare USPS and Canada Post as equals, I believe, as per their website, USPS has yearly revenues of $70 billion. I'm not sure what Canada Post is, but I'm certain it's not even in the same ball park considering our population is 10% that of the US.

I also am not sure what the prices are to mail an item, but weight cannot be the only factor. If a very large box is mailed and it weighs only as much as the box, how much will Canada Post charge to ship this package across the country? $10 or $20 or $30. That's absolutely ridiculus. They would lose so much money, it wouldn't be worth having a postal system at all.

I would not be so quick to defend Canada Post. I realize this is an old blog, but it is fitting, in that I just sent Canada Mail an email on this very concern.

If it was strictly a matter of distance and roads, then why on most shipments, can a US business ship a parcel to anywhere in Canada, cheaper than a Canadian business can ship the same package. to the same address in Canada. Also the discounts that Canada Post gives to business customers are ridiculously small, when you factor in that a typical business can provide more revenue in one day for Canada Post , than a regular "citizen" will provide in one year. Also about the whole volume and weight thing, compare this little example:

Burnaby BC to Calgary Alberta (distance 411 miles, 85g package, 6"x4"x1" size) (Tiny weight and volume) = $9.73 (before small discount)

Burnaby BC to New York, USA: (distance 2416 miles, 349g package, 10"x8"x8") (Larger weight and volume and distance) = $8.90 (before small discount)

Conclusion: Package to New York: traveling a distance 6 times greater, weighing 4 times more, and a cubic volume 26 times greater) = $1 less

Yes, you can purchase pre-paid envelopes to slightly lower the cost, but they are only price effective on products under 1.5 inches in thickness.

I couldn't agree more I can't even make any sales because of the price it is to ship within Canada. The discount they give you is incredibly small I wouldn't even call that a discount! I am very boggled how are people suppose to make money of there merchandise?

Here`s an even worse example. I know someone who has a business in Burnaby BC and they pay someone to deliver packages across the border to the US post office so they can ship a small box to someone IN BURNABY. Even paying someone to drive it across the border, it`s STILL about 1/2 the price. And the box is approx the size of a cube of butter, maybe slightly bigger and heavier.

That may be true they do that... but if the person's business is in Burnaby, and the shipping address is in Burnaby... why drive to the US to mail something in the town they live in? Why not just DRIVE it to the persons address? Would be way cheaper than Canada Post, and still cheaper than driving to the US and paying USPS.

I don't know how they factor in the distance. A package that is 15cm x 15cm x 15cm and weighs .242kg cost me 5.97$ to go to Texas, 11.87$ to go to Nepean,ON, and 12.35$ to go to B.C. I'm in Cornwall,ON Nepean is just an hour's drive from me

"I also am not sure what the prices are to mail an item, but weight cannot be the only factor. If a very large box is mailed and it weighs only as much as the box, how much will Canada Post charge to ship this package across the country? $10 or $20 or $30. That's absolutely ridiculus. They would lose so much money, it wouldn't be worth having a postal system at all."

Your argument about 'cost of gasoline' as a reason for the outlandish costs of shipping by Canada Post is absolutely ludicrous. If Business in general and the retail sector in particular used Canada Post for shipping, the country would be simply paralysed. Can you seriously imagine paying $20 shipping for that cabbage from Ontario and waiting 4 to 10 days for it to arrive?

Come On!

I am selling prints on ebay. The prints are all the same and I ship them in mailing tubes that are all the same. The weight and dimensions of the parcels are therefore all the same. Where the difference comes in is the cost of mailing them via canada post. In all cases I ask for the cheepest rate. I live in Vancouver so here are the rates from Vancouver to: Florida=$6.65, Ireland=$7.50, Central Mexico (Juanijuato) $7.50, Mississauga, Ontario =$10.90 !!!!
If I mail it to myself it costs $6.66. This is one cent more than it costs to Florida. The size of my parcel puts it in the small packets catagory. I'm sure this is the largest category of parcels sent, so If you live in Canada and are sending to Canada, you should be very proud to be contributing to the CEO of Canada Post's retirement fund!

That's crazy. I think probably what is happening is that we are not contributing to the CEO of Canada Post's retirement fund, so much as we are subsidizing shipping costs to places like the Northwest Territories and all the other places in Canada that are off the beaten path (which is a large percentage of Canada).

I have been reading through and wonder if it is Canada Posts lack of reasonable rates that prevent sales on ebay. Looking at furniture on the Canadian auction site there are very few sellers that will ship. Almost all state pick up only and a great deal of them have 0 bids. Is there a reasonable and safe way to send furniture or collectibles across the country?

Yes I agree the pricing system makes no sense at all. You should try working the counter at Canada Post and listen to the customers Gasps and exclamations of disbelief of the prices to mail a tiny light thing. It shames me. And no the money is not going into the workers wages....offices are terribly understaffed all over the country.
Call Canada Post and complain. Complain to your MP's. Canada Post makes huge profits. It's time they invested these profits into improving their services.

Good idea. Maybe I'll write a "Dear MP," letter here on this blog post and tell people to print it and mail it to their MP.

If you have ever lived in the north, you would quickly realize most services are not subsidized. Just pay for one air fair (of a completely constantly booked aircraft) and your opinion would change. At this point, I could rant forever....

Sure, there are some essential services get a bit of padding, but it is the people that live there pay the brunt for everything.

All this to say, the subsidizing is more likely to happen just outside of the large urban areas. Services are expected to be the same but do not have the volume to actually support it. People in remote areas expect higher rates, and generally have to pay it.

I send out a lot of books in the mail as well. I don't even bother using Canada Post anymore. I just stack up my books until I have more than 15 of them and take an hours drive to Buffalo, NY then send them out via USPS.
That includes sending back into the country.
And we are not the only ones! The postal workers will tell us about how "Oh just yesterday there was another Canadian in here shipping out about 25 items".
Canada Post is losing business. They need to get their act together and figure out a way to lower costs because I still save, even with the rediculously high gas prices, by driving down to the USA.

Interesting comment, maybe I should think about driving down to Blaine or Bellingham once I have a bunch of books. Actually, having a P.O. Box in Blaine has other advantages as well. I think with P.O. Boxes you can receive stuff from any of those websites that only ship to the US.

If you have a ship it shop in Blaine, that might be cheaper than paying for a P.O. Box. That's what I do in Massena, I get a package shipped there and it costs me 3 bucks to pick it up; no monthly fees

Its too bad - i'm sure the gas money that it costs to drive an hour to Buffalo - not to mention the 2 hours out of your day probably offsets any savings that you would otherwise reap.

At least it sends Canada Post a message! :)

I've been selling things on eBay. I had not gotten any Canadian buyers until yesterday. It cost me $6.20 to ship the same item to USA, $7.29 to Malaysia, but $10.53 to Vancourver! I don't even know how to list my stuff on eBay anymore, it's so hard to calculate the rate for the locals. Kindda Dilbertism!

When I asked why is it more expensive, she told me because it includes tracking. I guess we should ask WHY DO THEY FORCE TRACKING ON US when we just need it cheap?

I have lived in many different countries. For my experience, Canada Post provide the best service. I mean for the delivery speed and the state of the parcel upon arrival. I estimate that I has 1% lost and damaged postal when I was in USA. I can totally live with that error if it's cheap. I love their Media Rate for books, which promotes reading. It's so hard for me to buy or sell books now.

I've only lived in Canada for 3.5 years. This kind of Anti-business regulation never stopped surprising me. Is it because of socialism? (but it's not like that in Italy.)

I don't feel like doing business with Canadians out of my province. Don't you think Canada Post is promoting separation?

I'm going to email this to Freakonomics blog and see what the economists think.

I agree,
I ship out DVDs to both US and Canada.
Light Package is 4.50 to USA.

The same DVD is 13.50 in Canada

I'm going to check out lettermail today.

You might not be able to ship a DVD by letter mail. Although the dimensions are ok, I think lettermail has to be paper... Unfortunately we have no media mail in Canada.

I ship DVDs and games via lettermail at least once a week and as long as the package fits the dimensions it goes out for around 2$.

I just shipped two "small packets" from BC - one to Toronto, the other to Sao Paolo, Brazil. Guess which cost more and only went by land?

because my sister likes to receive items from Holland, you know...And she has a Egyptian husband who is not so nice. I am afraid he will spend the money then. My sister said the post office in Toronto said to her that the parcel was delivered to her, but that nobody was at home at the time of delivery or they say that the postal code isn't correct. I mean: her name is right and the street and housenumber, so what are they talking about...bullshit...If I receive a parcel in Holland, they throw a deliverynote into your postbox and you can catch the parcel at the postoffice with the deliverynote within 3 weeks....the last parcel (I finally find the Canadian Post website, so I could see the state of delivery of the parcel) was sent back within a week. And the date was the 27h of february. I haven't received it back yet.

-----

I am very angry about the post sending in Canada. My sister lives in
Toronto. I live in the Netherlands in Europe. Every year I send a parcel
weight about 10 kilos to her and her 7 children. In december 2006 I send
her a parcel which only came to her after about 8 weeks. Last year, in july
2007, I sent her again a parcel. Within 4 days she had the parcel. But last
4th of february 2008 I send her a parcel and according the site of TNT
(Dutch post) the parcel wasn't deliverd yet. I spend a lot of money per
parcel (about 54 Euros) and in the parcel are clothes and toys for the
children. I daren't send anymore parcels now to my sister. My sister has
almost no money to live on. That's why I am sending her these parcels. I
hope someone has a solution for me of a website from the Toronto post so I
can complain to them.

--

Canada Post is perhaps one of the most expensive national postal service in the world for shipping large packages. It is a federal monopoly that gauges customers because there are not many options. For example, two years ago when I lived in New York, I mailed home(to Canada) 3 large boxes, each weighing between 10-15 kg, for less than $50 USD each. From France last year, I sent home a 20 kg box for 100 euros. Last week, I tried to mail 3 boxes to Europe that weighed next to nothing. Roughly two kilos each. Canada Post wanted almost 200 CAD each box! They only have two options. 5 day expediated service or by land, which would take 5-6 weeks. No middle ground. In the end my friends will not receive their Christmas presents in time. I ended up paying almost 100 CAD each for the surface option, which is still ridiculously expensive. There is no point in complaining to a Federally approved monopoly. They don't care and won't listen.

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