A Love Letter to Canada Post


Not my job / Pas mon boulot

A couple of weeks ago I sent a package to a colleague in Québec. I addressed it exactly as he indicated I should; a couple of days ago it came back to me marked “Address Incomplete.”

Canada Post suggested a message to them at their Facebook page, so I obliged:

Since you asked for private messages about difficulties, I thought I’d share this here instead of pillorying you publicly. I’m sure folks are doing their best, but when I send a package from the USA to the address given me by my correspondent, to wit:

Jean X. Untel
11 rue Quelquepart
Montréal, QC H3J 2V9

and it comes back to me stamped “Incomplete Address,” I’m pretty frosted that I wasted the money on international postage – my friend’s comments are more indicative than my own would be – “Probably needed the apartment number, mais le christ de facteur pouvait bien compléter, hostie!”[1]

I agree – this is the pinnacle of “not my job” mentality. I just thought someone might be interested in this… at least, it is to be hoped. Thank you for listening.

Well, I gave them a chance, but unfortunately their answer (they get one point for taking the time to answer) was less than satisfactory:

Thanks for your message! If the recipient confirms that an apartment number was missing; that could be the reason why your package was returned to you. If there wasn’t any error with your address, please contact the USPS to open a claim. They’ll contact us to investigate.

Kind Regards,

Canada Post

Once upon a time, the attitude of businesses (the Post Office is one, regardless of which country you happen to live in) was “service above all.”

From the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday in 2002:

THE Royal Mail revealed yesterday Britain’s undeliverable post costs about pounds 10million a year. 
The National Return Letter Centre handled 72million “undeliverable” items of mail and the figure is on the increase with an 18 per cent annual rise. 
But, despite this, postmen and women still manage to deliver letters with the strangest addresses. 
Rothesay’s postal service had to deliver a letter with the address: “Moira, Recently holidayed in Russia, Get off ferry, Turn left for 2 miles, Isle of Bute, Scotland.” 
The local postie had been delivering mail to Moira for 15 years and had remembered her mentioning she was going to Russia on holiday. 
A postie in Inverness successfully delivered a letter addressed to: “Mr W MacKenzie, Over Pedestrian Crossing, Turn Left Up Mid Street, Tank in Garden, Before Fraser Street, Inverness.” 
Ray Kennedy, of the Belfast-based NRLC, said: “When customers say their letter is ‘lost in the post’ often what they don’t realise is it is actually ‘undeliverable’ because they got the address wrong or forgot to write one at all.”

Although some claim it’s an urban legend, the article in the December, 1952 Popular Science, “Riding America’s Biggest Mail Train” tells the story of a clerk on the Massachusetts car who handled the


letter, and successfully delivered it to “John Underwood, Andover, Massachussetts.” An earlier example was listed in the May-October, 1898, issue of “The Ludgate Illustrated Magazine” and claimed that a similar letter was delivered to John Underwood, Andover, Hampshire even though it was addressed to


as well as a letter that found its recepient at “The Old Oak Orchard, Tenbury” despite being addressed as

Too Dad Thomas
hat the old oke
10 Bary

It should be noted that such things might have been much more likely when the population of the country was substantially smaller. I don’t expect every postal worker to have every address of every recipient memorized, but it would have taken Monsieur le Facteur (ou bien Madame la Factrice) less than 30 seconds to look up my friend’s apartment number; you can’t tell me they don’t keep such lists. But it seems that for the individual involved, that was too much trouble.

There’s no question about it: this is one of those “first world problems.” As I indicated, I’m sure most of the people at the post office are doing their best – in fact, an interesting article over at Improbable Research indicates that things are not as dismal at the USPS as we like to gripe about, and I’m sure the same thing could be said of Canada Post. It’s just that this one bugged me as a particularly egregious example of “Not Always Working,” and the official response seemed to reflect the attitude that “we won’t go out of our way for anyone.”

Having vented a bit, I now feel better.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] This is Québecois for “The damn postman could have completed it, for Hell’s sake,” or something similar. The French is considerably more blasphemous.