Rural Shipping Woes

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Ode to Canadian Kiosk
by Rachel Craig, OffGridHomestead.ca

Woe is such a strong word. “Inconvenience” may be more appropriate. With the exception of shippers that don’t accept a simple PO Box, yet ship via Canada Post (not to rural front doors). Then it’s a full stop for us.

Like many in the Canadian backwoods, we don’t have a mail box on our property. In our case we have a PO Box in the nearest “city” that’s different from our residential address.

We could have a box for our residential address at the mail kiosk in our “down town”, also known as our sole intersection. While it would be nice for our mailing and residential addys to be the same on paper, we would have to pay nearly $200/year for this second box (dealt with at a city much further away than our existing PO Box, which means parcel pick ups would be 2x the drive/time/fuel).

This means there’s an extra step for us when shopping online, and that’s finding out exactly who the company ships with so we know whether we can use our residential address (say, shipping via UPS) or our PO’d mailing address (a must if shipping through the Post Office, who won’t recognize our street addy). Or neither!

Shipping Woes in the Sticks

I suppose I shot first, and asked questions later.. oops.

Last year I ordered some DVDs from Amazon.ca, and they arrived via two separate delivery trucks, really by fluke since it was 50/50 UPS or Canada Post. UPS actually acknowledges our actual address! It was partly a test run of whether we’d have trouble getting deliveries (GPS issues, address not being connected to Canada Post..?)

Then I went for a big ticket item. My computer was aging, various cards running amuck. I ordered a new and improved version of what I have used the last 4 years, from BestBuy.ca. I watched the tracking and the day it was supposed to be delivered ended with:

“Recipient not located at address provided. Item being returned to sender.”

“Item has been returned and is enroute to the Sender”

After a couple phone calls, I found out they strictly use Canada Post letter carriers. That means us rural, kiosk folks will not get delivery to our door, period. The only thing I could have done, had I known they shipped via Canada Post, is use my current PO Box/mailing address in which pick up would have been 14 km away. But I’m not sure if Best Buy accepts PO Box addresses.

I am okay with not having instant gratification shopping here, our Realtor prepared us for that. But that some internet retailers don’t bother using a truck delivery service for rural shipping is.. aggravating. Is it too costly? Did the government/Canada Post corner the market here and push out UPS and the like? Enlighten me. My list of companies that don’t have an option like UPS (or don’t let you choose who to ship with leaving it to a roll of the dice), or businesses that are anti-PO Box (is that an insurance issue?), is growing. At least I’m forced into more frugality.

So my pre-move shipping questions have been answered. If I want to order something online I must email or call customer service first and hope they either use a “go anywhere” shipping company or accept an address with PO Box headlining it. (This info. is rarely in “shipping information” FAQs!)

We’re not alone: Canada Post set to deliver fatal blow to rural mail service. If you have a rural mailbox, walk to the end of your driveway and kiss it goodbye. Canada Post is engaged in an aggressive campaign to eliminate traditional rural mail delivery.” They are also on the march to end door to door in cities. It appears kiosk is our future.

Now, if they start closing down post offices in rural areas… ouch.

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Posted in Random Off Grid
One comment on “Rural Shipping Woes
  1. Doug Thompson says:

    One reason courier companies cannot use a PO box address is that the Post Office won’t accept packages UNLESS YOU PAY POSTAGE. Go into a post office with a package for someone with a PO box at that office. Ask to “send” the package to that person whose PO box is actually in the same room. To achieve that goal you have to pay the postage. So the courier company can’t get it to your post box unless they pay the postage which of course they will not do. If it’s just a letter it’s a dollar, if it is larger it is a lot more. So essentially the Post Office refuses to accept deliveries for its customers from other transportation services. I BELIEVE that if the sender ships by Canada Post to start with then the PO Box is fine, the package will be accepted and a notice put in your box telling you that a parcel has arrived. In terms of just how far off the beaten track any courier company will go depends and varies. Try making a friend in town who will accept packages for you. Some small general merchants in small towns will, for a small fee, let you use their address and accept packages for you. Usually that is informal rather than formal but if you’re a regular customer many will do that for you. It can’t hurt to ask. Many also offer FAX services as well so you can use their phone number to receive a FAX or send a FAX with their machine for a fee.

    Think of it as if you’re staying in a campground in the bush. You’re not going to expect delivery to your door (zipper) are you? You make arrangements with someone (preferably nearby) who does have an address to receive deliveries for you.

    DT

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