Another post office stamped out

Outlet’s closure inconveniences residents

For senior Carol Bell, picking up a parcel from Canada Post was as simple as walking a block to her local convenience store on the Danforth.

Not anymore.

The postal outlet, located inside Double D Convenience Store at Danforth and Coxwell Avenues, closed recently, leaving Bell and her mail out in the cold.

“I’ve been living in this neighbourhood for 10 years and I used to use this Canada Post all the time,” she said, adding she’ll have to use the subway to pick up or mail a parcel.

“I live in a seniors building and we’re all upset … it’s going to be very hard, especially at Christmastime.”

Double D owner Tim Liao is just as upset about the closure, but he says it couldn’t be avoided. When Liao’s franchise agreement ended in January, Canada Post told him if he was incapable of paying the full cost of required computer and software upgrades, they were going to close the outlet in his store. He said he refused to pay because Canada Post couldn’t guarantee they would stay with his business for the duration of their franchise agreement.

“(Canada Post) told me I would have to upgrade the system every five years. That’s $60,000 in renovations and $7,000 for the computers and computer software and they said I had to buy two of them … it’s just ridiculous,” said Liao, who’s been in the same business for 22 years. “One of my customers that works for IBM told me that they’re charging me three times the original price for the software.”

Canada Post says it must upgrade its system to ensure they can best serve its customers and although there are costs for renovations, dealers don’t pay franchise fees, said Eugene Knapik, spokesperson Canada Post.

The federal agency also disputes costs, saying upgrades are actually in the range of $30–40,000.

“We’re currently installing a new point of sale system, the one we were previously using is old and obsolete … a lot of businesses are able to work quite successfully with us. We’ve attended a public meeting and we’re in touch with (Toronto-Danforth MP) Jack Layton’s office and we’re trying to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” he said.

The public meeting was held in February and attended by Layton, concerned residents and Canada Post officials.

Layton said afterwards the closures are a real hardship on small businesses that rely on postal services.

“They can’t compete with big business chains,” he said. “We have formed working groups. I have met with Canada Post executives to try and protect some of those businesses at risk and reinstate (postal services) in others.”

The restructuring of Canada Post’s system appears to be attracting an increasing amount of criticisms, said Layton, who’s heard complaints of access similar to Bell’s.

One resident said it’s unfair for Canada Post to burden small business with large expenses in times of economic uncertainty.

“It doesn’t seem fair at all to ask the owner of a small business to pay thousands of dollars for a service that’s for them,” said Riverdale resident Brian Posey. “Why wouldn’t they pay for some of the cost or maybe change their plan to actually have some sort of stake in the business?”

Meanwhile, Bell says many have no choice but pay more to travel to the next nearest postal outlet.

“If you don’t have a car then that’s a bus ticket you got to use … it’s totally inconvenient for people in the neighbourhood.”

– With files from Kris Scheuer

About this article:

By: Matthew Cohen
Posted: Mar 22 2010 5:26 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto