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Postal Service

Posted 2010.12.10 23.11 in Pointless Blather

Hot on the heels of my rant about the rate increase on stamps, here’s another one about postal service. Postal Service, by the way, is a phrase known in grammatical terms as an oxymoron – that is, something which is self-contradictory. Other examples include military intelligence and jumbo shrimp.

Enough grammar, on with the rant.

So I’m waiting on a couple parcels coming through the mail. I know, bad time for shipping stuff, and frankly I’d rather use Fedex or DHL and pay the extra $$ for overnight delivery. But this particular merchant only offered UPS and mail, and the only thing worse than mail is UPS.

So I’ve got the tracking numbers and I’ve been watching the tracking screens on a regular basis. Yesterday one of the packages cleared customs and was in the big sorting station that’s about 15 miles from here. No updates after that. I had hoped it might come today, and they usually bring parcels at about 9:30 in the morning so I stayed home till then, just in case. But the tracking still said it was at the sorting station.

Now just a few minutes ago I happened to look at the tracking site again, and was surprised to find this:

The top line caught my attention first – attempted delivery? Notice card left? 16:07?! I was home before 4pm, and nobody attempted anything at 16:07 – still, I went and checked the mailbox incase there was a stealth visit. Nothing there, of course.

So I look closer and then I see the second line. Aha. So at 16:06 the package went ‘out for delivery’ then a whole 1 minute later they attempted to deliver it but I wasn’t home, so they left a card. In other words: Lies.

I’ve caught them playing this game before.

What they really do is, say Fuck it, and don’t bother coming by at all. They take the package directly to somewhere that it can be picked up. Then they drop the notice card with the regular mail sorting so that it turns up with the following day’s regular mail.

So Monday, the notice card will show up with Friday’s date on it, and it will tell me that my package has been waiting for me since Friday night at some postal outlet.

And for this level of service, they’re raising the rates again next month! Yay for Canada (expletive deleted) Post!

Yet Another Postal Rate Hike

Posted 2010.12.10 9.59 in Pointless Blather

So Canada Post’s website is announcing yet another increase in the cost of sending mail. They raised the prices last January. In July, the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax represented another hike in the cost of sending a letter. And now they’re going up again this January.

Sure, you could claim that the HST wasn’t really a rise in the cost of stamps. I guess not. But it was a rise in the cost of mailing a letter. Overall, the cost of mailing a letter in Canada will have gone up 10 cents in the course of a single year, once the new rates hit next month. That’s a 17.5% increase, incase you’re keeping score.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • This time last year, a domestic 1st-class letter stamp cost 54 cents. Ontop of that, you had to pay 5% sales tax (GST). This brought the total cost of mailing a letter within Canada to 56.7 cents. (They’d charge you 57 cents at the register.)
  • In January 2010, they raised the price of a stamp to 57 cents. Now with the 5% sales tax, the cost of mailing the letter became 59.85 cents (that’s 60 cents at the register.)
  • On July 1st, the sales tax was raised by 8% (here in Ontario) where we went from 5% GST to 13% HST. This brought the total cost of mailing that same letter to 64.41 cents (64 cents at the register.)
  • And next month, the same 1st-class letter stamp will reach 59 cents. Add the 13% sales tax and you get 66.67 cents, which will be rounded to 67 cents at the register.

That’s a 10 cent increase over a 12-month period. 5 of those cents are on the face-price of the stamp, the other 5 are in sales tax. From 57 cents to 67 cents, is an increase of 17.5%.

Obviously, fewer people are using snail-mail. What with email, being able to pay bills online, et cetera. So for most folks, it’s probably not a big deal. If you only send a couple letters a month, then it’s maybe going to cost you 2 or 3 dollars at the end of the year.

For small businesses however, I think it is a big deal. If your business needs to mail invoices, cheques, and other stuff that isn’t a good fit for email, then your costs of running the business have gone up measurably. If you send out a couple hundred invoices per month, these rate hikes become a lot more significant.

Or how about people who aren’t computer-savvy and still rely on the postal service, folks on a fixed income… I’m thinking about older people, retired folks, like my parents.

Anyhow… it’s not the first time for a postal increase and it won’t be the last. (Canada Post have already stated they intend to raise the rates 2 cents per year till 2014.) It’s just that it feels like a tripple-whammy with the recent tax hike hitting only a few months ago.

Serendipity?

Posted 2010.03.09 9.46 in Computers/Internet/Technology

After all the hype last month about the winter olympics, I was contemplating maybe getting this Vancouver Olympics DS game that I had seen advertised.

I was midly interested, but not enough to plunk out the cash. So I more or less forgot about it.

Then just the other day I was over at the post office, and in the parking lot I spotted an abandoned DS cartridge! I picked it up and turned it over and surprise! It was the vancouver winter olympics cart I had been thinking of getting. Coincidence? Hmm…

Well, when I got home I popped it in my DS and then found out why it had been abandoned. It didn’t work – not recognized. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the plastic casing had a bit of damage – nothing obvious, but just a slight ‘dent’. I pried the cartridge open and pulled out the board inside, and then I could see the real problem.

The precious mask-ROM chip was cracked. Maybe the cart got slammed in a car door or something. Just enough to crack the ROM chip but not enough to really disfigure the cart or damage the circuit board.

I tried some different tools but the ROM was most-assuredly deceased. The EEPROM was still alive and accessable though, and I was able to retrieve the game saves from it. So, 222 and shadow, whoever you are, I have your game save data. The game itself though is toast.

Anyways then I was reading about the game, and found that there’s this bit where you have to try and save winter because some bad guys have stolen the snow spirits and it isn’t going to snow any more anywhere ever. The one little snow spirit who escaped is all like begging for help to save his friends so they can make it snow again…

No more snow? Yeah… see I’m kinda ok with that. Good luck though.

Rants, Rages, Babbling

Posted 2009.12.22 10.13 in Pointless Blather

I get that it’s a busy time of the year for retailers, and for the postal system. But this comes as no surprise to anyone – especially retailers and the postal system. And incompetence and callousness just make me seethe at times.

So I placed an order, back in November in fact. No big deal, nothing special, just ordered some regular stock items from a store. I’d have gone in person but their retail shop doesn’t have the same line of merch. Anyhow, so I’ve ordered from these guys before. Very good communication, they let you know the order is received, then when it’s being picked, then when it’s shipped, then they send you tracking info.

Except this time, it got as far as received, then just silence. Finally after a week, I emailed them (they provided a contact address for questions). More silence – I emailed two or three times in total and never got so much as a peep from them. Pointer: Don’t provide a contact email address if you plan to not answer customers’ emails.

So I called. Spoke to someone but it wasn’t her department, someone else handles that. They transfer me. I get disconnected. Grumbles.

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