postal

Budget Day Goodies ?

Today is Budget Day in Ottawa. And the current government has been promising to address some issues related to the higher prices Canadians pay for certain products.

Canadians pay significantly more for certain products than the Americans and although some of the price differences can be attributed to tariffs, labour and transportation costs, much of the purchase price is pre-determined by the manufacturer.

“Country Pricing” has become the standard and unfortunately Canada’s prices have not been adjusted to match our dollar’s strength.

Some online retailers have done their best to match prices but Canadians were still forced to either import products from the states or pay higher prices at their local retailers.

I suspect that tariffs will be reduced or eliminated on certain products in this budget, perhaps on books, clothing, electronics and home appliances.

Those are the most imported products, especially on Black Friday. But I’m also hoping they will follow the recommendations in the February 2013 Senate Committee report of the US/Canada Price Gap  and raise the de minimis threshold for postal shipments from $20.

When you import most products by mail you are exempt from duties, fees and taxes if the product or products shipped are valued at less than $20 Canadian.

I’ve managed to save some money using they exemption. But many countries like the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore had raised this minimum to US$100 in November 2011, enabling their citizens to avoid paying the hefty brokerage fees some couriers charge on parcels.

Brokerage fees have recently gone up in Canada so I’m hoping they will at least consider a CAN$50 threshold.

The other probabilities in the budget are reductions in credit card/banking fees, funding for an expansion of high speed internet into rural areas, and the unbundling of cable channels so I guess lots of Canadians will be watching this afternoon.

The budget broadcast will air on television and online on CPAC at 4PM Eastern. Details on the budget will also be made available on the Government’s Official Site after 4 PM Eastern.

Petition For Door To Door Delivery

A petition for Canada Post to keep door to door deliveries has been created on change.org and currently has over 120,000 signatures.

Click here for additional information on this petition.

Canada Post To Phase Out Door-To-Door Deliveries

Canada Post has unveiled a five-point action plan and unfortunately this means people will loose their door-to-door deliveries, which will be phased out over five years.

Parcels and letters requiring signatures will continue to be delivered door-to-door and more franchised postal outlets are planned. But an estimated 5 million Canadians will loose their regular weekday door-to-door postal deliveries and will receive their mail from community mailboxes instead.

The Future of Canada Post

Having incurred a loss of 100 million in the previous three months, Canada Post is thinking about introducing community boxes to more neighbourhoods where door to door home deliveries are the norm.

Though mostly attributed to equipment upgrades, this loss has resulted in a public consultation in regards to what measures can be taken to address the reduction of letter mail, which was once the corporation`s bread and butter before the internet.

E-mails and paperless billing have pretty much eliminated the need for  weekday letter deliveries for most people in the larger cities of Canada. But there remains a need for parcel deliveries, especially during the Christmas season.

Personally I’ve had very few problems with my community mailbox, other than the rare lock freezing in January and February. But I can see why some people would like to keep their home delivery.

The handicapped and seniors probably prefer to have their mail delivered so they don’t need to go out in bad weather and risk heat stroke, frostbites and injuries related to falls or smog.

I’m guessing these people will probably be eligible for a compassionate exemption programme and will keep getting their mail delivered at their door. But I think community mailboxes should work for most.

In regards to a reduction in letter mail deliveries, Canada Post had stated last February to the Canadian Press that it would continue deliveries weekdays, regardless of the rumours in the press that these would be reduced from five to three deliveries a week.

Whether they choose to reduce their letter deliveries or not  it makes sense for them to keep delivering mail to community mailboxes that receive parcels, so I’m guessing that deliveries at urban and sub-urban community mailboxes will remain unchanged for a while.

If there are any changes or news related to these deliveries I will an update on this blog.

Mail Deliveries To Be Reduced ?

It appears that Canada Post is considering a reduction in mail deliveries, down to 3 days a week.

The crown corporation is facing a $327 million dollar operation loss due to advances in technology, like e-mail and online bill payments, and like most national postal services they are trying to adapt as fewer letters and parcels make their way through their system.

Most Canadian consumers these days have their parcels delivered either via courier or to stores for pick-up so reductions in service are likely unavoidable. But I suspect they might need to have a full five day schedule during the Christmas rush in November and December.

Rural residents will likely be the most affected by these reductions, especially those with little to no internet access. But Canada Post is also considering a reduction in postal outlets, so many city residents will also be inconvenienced.


Sears Canada

Madness Free Black Friday

Though Black Friday is recent to Canada it has been a tradition in our media to review the many videos of the insanity happening down south.

Most Canadians usually watch these, amazed and confused as to why this madness happens, especially since the commercialization of the internet.

The last time I stood in line for hours for a sale was in the early 2000’s, on boxing day. And I eventually got what I wanted later on in the day, when the stores where less busy.

These days I usually spend my boxing days surfing for deals instead. And today I’ve found a few online at the stores I had listed in a blog entry yesterday night.

I also browsed some of the American sites, calculator at hand, to find deals there on CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays.

The major drawback in ordering from the States is that their shipping and handling fees are high and they rarely offer free shipping to Canadians. But sometimes the reduction in price offsets the shipping and handling costs, making a purchase worthwhile.

I’ve taken advantage of deep discounts from Alibrisicon, Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobleicon, J&R Computer/Music Worldicon and The Space Store numerous times, generally for purchases valued at $20 to maximize the savings.

Purchases valued at under $20 are not subject to duties and taxes. And this is quite important if your purchase is being shipped to you via a courier like UPS, whose customs brokering fees can gobble up some of those savings.

If your order’s value is higher than $20 I recommend that you try to have it shipped to you by the United States Postal Service, that way the customs broker will be Canada Post. This reduces the costs considerably.

Another option would be to order from the U.K , from companies like Alibris UKicon, Amazon UK, and , whose postage fees are more reasonable because they use Royal Mail. And Royal Mail parcels are also handled by Canada Post.

You will of course note that many DVDs and blu-rays sold in the U.K are incompatible with our equipment. Region 2 DVDs and Region B Blu-Rays are not compatible whilst Region Free DVDs and Blu-Rays are. And these companies do sell the occasional Region 1 DVD and Region A Blu-ray, which are the formats that are common to North America.

BTW, our dollar is stronger than the American dollar at the moment and a pound is approximately 60 cents higher than the Canadian dollar at the moment, not including the credit card foreign currency fee.