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Mailman leaves pickup slip instead of parcel — so frustrated customer chases him down

Josh Kralka was working from home, taking part in a virtual meeting when he got a notification on his phone that there was some activity at his front door. 

He checked the video feed from his doorbell camera and saw a Canada Post employee walk up to the house and slip something into the mailbox.

Kralka, who often works from his home in Red Deer, Alta., waited for his meeting to end and then ran up from his basement office to retrieve what he thought would be the package.

The notice said his parcel would be ready for pickup at a drug store the next day.

Kralka was dumbfounded as to why the carrier didn’t bother knocking or ringing the bell to see if someone was home. There were two vehicles in the driveway and his wife was home, too.

“I was kind of confused,” he said. “When I went outside and I looked in the mailbox and I thought the parcel would be too big to fit in … there was a pre-written delivery slip.”

Kralka’s delivery headache comes amid continued scrutiny of Canada Post’s finances and business model, with one expert saying situations like this speak to some of the challenges the Crown corporation faces.

WATCH | Josh Kralka describe how his parcel never made it to his door:

Red Deer, Alta. man takes action after mail carrier fails to deliver parcel

8 days ago

Duration 1:29

Josh Kralka thought it was ‘weird’ that a Canada Post worker didn’t knock on his door or ring the doorbell to see if he was home. So, he took matters into his own hands to track down the carrier and the package.

“I thought it was pretty strange,” Kralka said of his experience.

And frustrating, he says.

He believes the notice was written before the carrier arrived.

“That’s what I mean being frustrated … he didn’t write his slip at my door. I have video footage of him walking up with everything already in hand as he came up the driveway and slipped it in the box.”

Jumped in car to find carrier, package

With the notice in hand, Kralka jumped into his car, determined to track down the carrier and hopefully his package. It didn’t take long.

The Canada Post delivery van was parked just a few streets over. 

A picture of a notice from Canada Post that stated Josh Kralka's parcel could not be delivered, but instead picked up at a local drug store.
The Canada Post notice stated that Josh Kralka’s parcel couldn’t be delivered but would be available for pickup at a local drug store. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Kralka pulled up behind the van, jumped out and asked why his package wasn’t dropped off — and why the carrier didn’t make any effort to see if someone was home.

The conversation was short.

“I basically just went up to him. I was like, ‘Where is my parcel?’ Like it’s out for delivery, here’s your slip.”

Kralka believes the employee may have uttered an apology before reaching into the back of the van to hand over the small box.

Kralka had even more questions aside from the most obvious one — about the carrier not ringing the bell.

Why was the “unable to deliver” form already filled out before the carrier arrived on Kralka’s property? And if the package was in the back of the van, why didn’t the carrier have it with him when he walked up to the front door?

Canada Post, union offer apologies

Canada Post says it has forwarded its concerns to the operations team in Red Deer and offered an apology to Kralka.

“We apologize to our customer for this situation,” read an emailed statement to CBC News.

“While the customer received their parcel, it should have been delivered at the time the employee arrived at the address.”

It says the Red Deer team will follow up with the carrier to find out what happened and will take additional steps to prevent it from happening again.

The Canada Post spokesperson also said carriers follow instructions on shipping labels, which could indicate a safe location to leave the parcel or if a package requires a signature. 

Kralka says that is irrelevant because the failed delivery notice was already filled out and the carrier didn’t try to see if anyone was home.

Canada Post facility in Red Deer, Alta. on April 29, 2024.
The Canada Post facility in Red Deer, Alta., earlier this year. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Maggie Davison, the president of CUPW Local 818, which represents postal workers in Red Deer, declined an interview but said in an emailed statement the union was “very sorry” to hear about Kralka’s experience.

She says they are still waiting to get all of the details about the incident, but there are a number of reasons this could have happened. She says these include “a lack of training and support for the letter carrier, staff shortages (meaning more work for individual letter carriers), along with any number of things that can impact a smooth delivery.”

Davison says ensuring Red Deer residents get their mail delivered safely and on time is a top priority .

“We’ll work harder to ensure this customer has a more positive experience next time,” she said.

Similar complaints

It appears Kralka is not alone.

In an email, the Canada Post ombudsman said there were 72 “no delivery attempt” complaints in 2022 and 51 last year.

“So, receiving 51 complaints in 2023 against a volume of 296 million parcels delivered is a very small ratio,” said Jean-Marc Nantais.  

But that doesn’t necessarily capture all “no delivery attempt” complaints, since the ombudsman investigates only matters that weren’t first resolved by Canada Post.

Kralka’s experience — a delivery slip instead of a package when someone was home — also happened to Ian Lee, an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Lee has studied the origins, evolution and troubles at Canada Post. He also worked there in the 1980s in corporate finance and banking. His missed delivery happened last month.

“It was actually my passport renewal and they had it in the vehicle. I was home. They didn’t knock on the door, they didn’t ring the doorbell. It was annoying,” he said.

Make parcels a priority 

Lee says what happened to him — and Kralka — is a microcosm of bigger problems at Canada Post, which has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. 

He says as letter mail continues to decline, Canada Post needs to focus entirely on e-commerce, partnering with companies that sell goods over the internet.

Lee also suggests partnering with delivery companies, such as UPS and FedEx, to take on what’s known in the business as the last mile — the final leg before a parcel reaches its destination.

Ian Lee is pictured at his home office in Ottawa on May 2, 2024. He is an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University.
Ian Lee is an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. He says Canada Post needs to accelerate its focus on parcel delivery as letter delivery continues to decline in Canada. (Google Meet)

Lee has long advocated for an end to door-to-door delivery and full conversion to community mailboxes, a reduction in residential delivery frequency and franchising all corporate-owned post offices. 

“Canada Post is either going to reform and restructure to occupy that [e-commerce] space or they won’t and they will die,” he said.

This month, Canada Post reported a $748 million loss in 2023 due to a “surge” in competition in the parcel delivery sector, the ongoing erosion of letter mail — and growth in addresses and delivery costs. 

The Crown corporation says, as its business continues to shift from mail to parcels, it is “making strategic investments to improve service and tracking, enable its network, increase capacity and enhance customer experience.”

But there are challenges.

This photo was taken from inside Josh Kralka's car. He's holding up a notice from Canada Post that said he can pick up his package the next day at a postal outlet near his home. In the background, is a Canada Post vehicle that contained his parcel.
Josh Kralka snapped this photo after tracking down the Canada Post carrier and his parcel. (Josh Kralka)

Canada Post says its parcel delivery market share has eroded from 62 per cent prior to the COVID pandemic to 29 per cent in 2023.  

Parcel and transaction mail revenues fell $217 million last year.

Meanwhile, Kralka says he wants to speak out in the hope that service at Canada Post will improve.

Otherwise, he says, he’ll think twice before choosing which delivery company to go with.

“It really defeats the purpose of paid delivery when you have to then drive across the city to pick up your parcel.”

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