11 December 2013

Marketing, Canada Post Style

So Canada Post, in a surprisingly unsurprising move, has decided to raise prices, reduce service and shed staff. That must be good for the economy, right? I thought I would dig back into my memories of my marketing class to provide my own cynical interpretation of their plan. Now my marketing class taught me about three “P”s (product, price and placement), but the Canada Post plan has FIVE points, so I might need to get a little creative…
1. Packages

Point one on the Canada Post list is actually community mailboxes, but then their video goes on to talk about how people are ordering more things online and want them to be delivered to their homes. Those packages are only coming to our homes after we go get them, either from the “convenient” group mailbox located somewhere in the neighbourhood or at a retail postal outlet, more than likely a subcontractor who can manage to pay lower wages… But more about those things later. For this point, they will have to be banking on our desire to opt for “home-adjacent” or “home-proximate” delivery instead of choosing one of those private companies that will actually still come to our door to deliver, and even come back if we’re not there the first time.

2. Price

One of the original “P”s! But I’m not sure that the “P” I learned about was about increasing the price of a letter by almost 35% in one fell swoop while broadening the delivery area to the “adjacent” or “proximate” that I mentioned in the first point. Less is more, right? So less service ought to be worth more money. You just have to love logic.

3. Profiteers

They claim that opening more franchise outlets is all about making things more convenient for us all. The franchise outlets are located in businesses that are not bound by the collective agreements that Canada Post signs with the union representing its employees. I still remember my first experience of having missed a parcel delivery many years ago where the parcel was redirected to a franchise outside of my neighbourhood when there was an actual post office with employees earning a living wage and with benefits that was not only in my neighbourhood, but also physically closer. I’m sure that was all about the convenience to me, right? Oh, and the best part of this is the suggestion that it will simplify our lives because we can do our other shopping at the same time in the same place. Because filling my shopping bags is uppermost in my mind as I struggle under the weight of the packages from my multiple online purchases that wouldn’t fit in the community mailbox parcel section.

4. Productivity, or “people are not as good as machines”

Canada Post calls this one “streamlining” of their process, meaning that they hope to employ fewer people to run ever more sophisticated machines to sort and direct our mail. Oh, and they would also like to add to the carbon footprint they leave by having more vehicles out there delivering to those community mailboxes, instead of pesky letter carriers wasting time actually talking to people along their routes. Machines don’t chit-chat, or check in on lonely seniors, for that matter. Waste, waste, waste.

And then there’s this thing that I presume a machine did to this letter I recently got from all the way across town. By the looks of it and the fact that it took three days to make it across town, I would suspect if fell out of the machine or got caught in the efficient machinery for a while.

5. Personnel

Canada Post has always been such a leader on the labour relations front. They calculated the time it should take someone to go to the bathroom and reprimanded those who took longer. They installed cameras everywhere in their facilities (there are those machines better than people again) to watch their staff at all times. They went through a series of hiring scabs — er, replacement workers — during labour disputes and then they got the federal government to order workers back from a lock-out at conditions poorer than the employer’s last offer. Now, a lock-out is an employer decision, not a union job action, so I guess it just makes sense to punish the employees for that, right? The brilliant plan now is to take advantage of coming retirements to “only hire the staff we need” for the new, leaner, meaner services. Because cutting staff positions is always good for the economy, right?

If you want to see their lovely PR video on YouTube you can go here (I won’t be embedding that on my blog). Oh, but don’t expect to be able to share your point of view there, as comments have been disabled. Disagreement must not be very productive.

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