Open letter to Canada Post

Ending the year with a kvetch…

Dear Canada Post;

Recently, it appears you’ve made mail-pick up ID requirements more strenuous than those required by elections Canada. One needs photo ID and proof of residence, in the form of address on the picture ID or utility bill, to pick up a parcel. It used to be the delivery notice card and one piece of ID was enough. Like a voter’s card and a piece of ID. Now, getting mail is like signing up to vote.

You require this ID even if the recipient is a child, an overseas visitor, or new to the area.

For children who have Passports and the same last name as their parent picking the parcel up, this is an inconvienence. For children without passports, or whose caregiver(s) have different last names than they do, this can mean not getting a parcel at all.

My next door neighbour’s daughter M. is better travelled than I am. She has a passport. Child and passport showed up, with mom, at the post office – and were turned away, because Mom’s last name is different than child’s last name.

M.’s Dad is around and has the same last name. So later that day, M. went with dad and got her Christmas gifts from Grandma. Otherwise, she could not have gotten them.

That is ass. Huge, huge ass.

Similarly, the guy in front of me today in line (while I submitted my second grad application package) stood in speechless confusion as he tried to pick up a package for his sister. She was visiting; someone had sent her a gift to his home. He had proof of address and ID, and his sister had ID but not proof of address, because she did not live with him.

The woman behind the counter told him that his sister couldn’t receive the package. His bafflement was made worse by his lack of English fluency.

Another man who was filling out envelopes intervened on the baffled guy’s behalf: a brief discussion and they agreed that in THIS case it might be okay. We were all standing there staring daggers at the postie – I felt sorry for her, for these, she said, were the regulations. Nevertheless, they are ridiculous regulations, for a guy who is obviously just trying to GET HIS MAIL. Fer cryin’ out loud.

So here’s a PSA solution if you’re mailing to Canadian couch surfers, children, or persons without ID: write “Child/Visitor, C/O Resident most Likely to have ID”. Okay. But lots of people don’t do this, and it doesn’t fix the situation of the transient resident.

In my first years in Vancouver, I moved around a lot. Not to mention, I didn’t really have Great ID Consistancy. My UBC Student ID was pretty much the Picture ID I had. (With no driver’s license, it’s BCID and Passport even still.) With many roommates, I sometimes had no utility bills in my name. To change my picture ID such that it had my current address, I had to 1) Not move for awhile and 2) Have the money to pay for new picture ID. I always had my SIN, my CareCard, my birth certificate… you know, the sorts of things the Post Office used to accept as ID, when with a delivery notice, and the kind of things not dependant on living in one place for a long time.

I would have been SOL for package pickup a whole lot of the time, in other words.

I often get mail for my neighbours. I often SIGN for packages for my neighbours, in building or next door, if I am home. Canada Post at your door is using the same delivery methods that postal systems have used for hundreds if not thousands of years – they get shit pretty close to you and there’s a bit of trust in human decency at the end. That and the fact that mail fraud is a Big Fucking Deal means most sticky fingers keep their mitts to themselves.

Also, don’t mail money or other things people might want to intercept and could use upon interception. You mail Christmas Cards, letters, things that don’t need six levels of lockdown.

I just don’t get it. How does Canada Post justify becoming even more complicated and bureaucratic, not to mention frustrating single moms, mixed families, transient populations, immigrants, and visitors, in a time of competition with both email AND couriers?

It’s both silly and rude.

Now, if I mail a package under some schema that says “require proof and signature at the end”, then that’s one thing. That’s how I’ll mail diamonds or intimate info around. I think “registered mail” used to be that thing.

If, however, I’m mailing someone, say, a homemade box of cookies – cookies that, should they be stolen by the sticky fingered, would be sad but not a tragic loss – I would prefer they didn’t get a total bureaucratic nightmare as a gift.

Canada Post, you’re fucking up the concept of mail. It’s pretty easy. Take things and drive them around. Treat humans like humans. Make a disclaimer that general delivery is not registered and it’s not FedEx. Offer registered mail. Make people pick up with their delivery card and one piece of ID, just like you did, and just like Elections Canada does.

That’s it. That’s all.



  1. Amen to that. What a tremendous hassle!

  2. After nearly not being able to pick up a package for my 8-year-old kid–they wanted me to bring her in or have her write a note giving us permission, and finally relented “just this once”–I asked the woman at our post office the other day what on earth they do if someone mails a package to a BABY, and she just shrugged helplessly.

  3. Have they actually instituted tougher regulations recently? Or is this the same bullshit that comes up every December? It doesn’t matter how many times I tell Byron’s older relatives not to address packages to him – they never learn, and we have to go up the hill and get all sarcastic with the counter staff, every single year.

    It’s still not as annoying as trying to mail food to the US.

  4. Oh, and one year there was some money due on a package from UPS (which we somehow didn’t know about), and they got a bill collector to call for BYRON. Who was TWO. Yeah. I have more stories – UPS is even MORE irritating, in my experience.

  5. It’s more severe in terms of sort of ID required. I’ve been able to get them before for m’kids with their SIN cards and them and the delivery address.

  6. …and then there is my postal delivery person, who rings the doorbell, drops the package on my doorstep and takes off before I answer (if I’m even home). Whether or not there is signature required.

    I don’t so much mind this because it means I don’t have to go to the PO but it’s a bit, em, inconsistent with the stringency you’re describing. And so far no one has stolen my parcels.

  7. seriously are you people wacked its important that strict rules are in place so that everyone can receive there mail securely, mail is personal, private and most of the time none of your business if you could walk to the post office and say ur my dad they are to give you my mail i suppose ur all so whacked and any dummy who drops a parcel at ur door step should loose is job, you wouldn’t be smiling if some one had taken it. people have had these incidents and regretted very much so you guys should look at the big picture and don’t be so selfish.

    keep and open mind

    ed – You’ll note, Paul, that at no time did I suggest the Post Office simply hand mail over to someone claiming to be able to get it. I have, each time, suggested one ID plus delivery card. Proof of residency is onerous and ridiculous, and requiring a minor to have the same last name as their caregiver is an archaic understanding of family.

  8. Hells yes!
    Our local post office doesn’t let me pick up packages for my (common-law) husband, apparently because we don’t share a last name. I can provide proof of living at the same address (with the same mailbox), but apparently that’s not enough.

    This has resulted in some interesting situations, since he is often away on long business trips, and his mail just piles up at the post office…

    I hope some decision-maker from Canada Post reads your rant and changes these bizarre rules!

  9. I just went through a 40 minute ordeal trying to get my package from CP. It’s a 4000 dollar HD video camera I bought for documentary film making. It shipped from Quebec to Ontario in 3 days. I tracked it online and on the day it shows up, the CP driver pulled into my drive-way. A minute later he drives off. I figure, okay, wrong guy maybe. Nope, because in my mail-box there is a delivery notice slip with the No Answer box checked. So the guy didn’t even bother attempting to knock on my door. Nope, the lazy bastard had a pre-written notice ready and popped it into my mail box to save himself an extra 20 seconds of work. I end up discovering through friends and online that this is actually a common practice of CP employees. A woman had a story of her opening her door to the mail man so she could sign for her package, and all he did was slip a notice in her box and hastily drive off.

    So anyway, the next day I make it to the post office. After sitting in the line for a good 20 minutes while old people paid for their stamps in pennies, I get to the desk. I say I’m here for a package but I don’t have government photo ID. I explained that I do not drive, my health card is an old one, I don’t have a student ID anymore, I don’t have a passport, or any other form of photo ID. I went on to explain that I’m here because their driver was so lazy that he didn’t even attempt knocking at my door. No luck. Without government ID he said no package. After holding up the line for as long as I could, and trying to show him how illogical it was to demand photo ID, he finally said I could get it if give a family member written consent. So….I had to ring up my father and have him drive all the way to my local post office. We then had to write up a letter which gave him permission to sign for my package. What the hell?!? Where is the logic in that?

    Absolutely ridiculous process. I can vote, buy liquor, smokes, cigars, bongs, papers, even hit up strip clubs and slot machines with no ID. But when it comes to MAIL I get treated like a child. It’s not an uncommon experience either. After searching I found many posts online – even a newspaper article – about people who have had either lazy drivers not bothering to knock, or issues with photo ID cards.

    I’d really like to know what happens if you absolutely cannot provide any ID nor get a family member to accept it, as they return them to sender after 15 days. So then what? Let’s say my 4000 camera ends up back in Quebec, and the seller offered no returns unless defective. I’d be out 4 grand all thanks to the fools who run Canada Post. I guess there’s a reason they’re losing money…people would rather deal with FedEx or DHL.

    Sheesh…sorry early morning rant!

  10. It seems they’ve updated the policy and you can pick up your mail without a photo ID. Downside is to meet the requirements you might need to cancel e-billing of some services.

  11. I’ve started to have those ID issues with picking up packages at the local post office. I don’t have a driver’s license or passport. The Non-Driver’s Photo ID card Act was passed in Dec 2008 yet still sits unimplemented in parliament. So the only alternative for me is to get a passport.

    I think that rigorous security is important.. I wouldn’t want some passerby coming to my door, taking my notice and a piece of mail (like from my bank) and then using that to rip me off at the post office. Other provinces have the non-driver photo ID in place; yet Ontario doesn’t, despite the fact that there are some 4 million non-drivers in the province.

    Re photo ID, last summer I had a bank machine eat my debit card. The next day I had a hell of a time getting a new card, because I had no official ID. The stupid little teller said get a driver’s license or a passport (fine, but in the meantime how am I going to eat?). Thank God there was a senior staff member who bent the rules and okayed a new card.

    Good thing I’m retired and can hang around all day, hoping to catch the delivery before they scoot off to the post office. But this is scary so I’m going to get a passport, and not order anything online until that comes through!

  12. Thanks Jason for the updated Cp policy re not necessarily needing a photo id… going to print that up and take it with me for the next time I get a notice

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