Canada Post mail

Canada Post: No is Not an Answer for Good Customer Service

When you’re moving, it’s never fun. Packing, shipping, purging and all the other multiple verbs associated with picking up your life and dropping it off somewhere else. Could be next door or across the world, you have a long, long, long list of things to get done, and one of the biggies is making sure that mailing address is changed.

Changing your address or forwarding your mail  through Canada Post these days seems to be dead simple. (Notice the “seems”). Here are the steps:

1) You go to their website

2) Fill out the necessary forms

3) Receive an email notification that says…

Customer ProofingIdentity Verification Instructions and BarcodeThank you for using Canada Post’s Change of Address (Mail Forwarding) service.

Dear XXX

This email confirms that we have successfully received your order on August-30-13. You have 14 days from your purchase date to verify your identity at the post office!

4) Do what it says in the email:

STEP 1 – Print your barcode:

  • Print this email.
  • Ensure the barcode is clear and visible.
  • Your barcode can also be presented through your smartphone.

STEP 2 – Verify your identity at any post office:

  • Bring the barcode to your nearest post office before it expires, along with a government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, provincial territorial ID card).
  • After successful verification, your service will begin on your requested start date. If you verify your identity after the requested start date, your service will begin the next business day.
  • Should your 14-day period expire (or if you are unable to successfully verify your identity), you will be notified by email and a refund will automatically be issued.

Sounds pretty straight forward, right? The instructions are all there. My girlfriend, who is moving to Ontario, decides to make her way to a local Shoppers Drug Mart which has a Canada Post booth in the back.

Canada Post Gets it Wrong

After presenting her smartphone (Blackberry…yeah, I know), barcode and all to the clerk, the staff member had some pretty blunt news. She had looked at the phone, looked at my girlfriend, smiled and said,  “Sorry, we can’t do that. You’ll have to get the email printed and come back.”


Was it because the clerk didn’t know how? Was it 1997? Was her equipment broken? Nope, just a simple, “we can’t do that.”

Now if you read the email Canada Post provided, you would think this was a no brainer. It’s presented as almost “matter of fact”: do this and this will happen. But the staff just said that this was something they can’t do. No reasons. No excuses. Just a big, ol’ No.

We decided to head out to do a couple more errands, strategizing how we can figure this Canada Post thing out. Did they have a hatred of Blackberry? What if we tried a different smartphone? Where could we go to print it out? If you’ll notice, we had a lot of questions that we didn’t have answers to, so to say we were getting a little frustrated would be an understatement. And to get something printed…not as easy as you’d think. London Drugs: “We don’t do that. Have you tried Staples?” Staples: “Sorry, we don’t do that. Have you tried London Drugs?” This may have added to our frustration.

Canada Post Gets it Right

Attempt number #2. Near the end of our day, we found ourselves close to another Shoppers Drug Mart with a Canada Post so we decided to try our luck again. The clerk immediately looked at the barcoded email and said he wasn’t sure if it would work but he would try. GREAT! A “NOish” answer but at least with a bit of service behind it. Effort and communication are kind of a big deal.

Unfortunately, we tried multiple times but the laser just wouldn’t pick up enough details from the email. The staff tried. I tried. So immediately I’m thinking (enter Russel’s head)…

Oh, so this is what the first clerk meant by she couldn’t do it. She must have tried before multiple times with other customers and knew it was a lost cause. She certainly could have explained that better but she was coming from a place of experience and was trying to save us some time.”

Yep, that’s the rationalizing I was doing to justify the bad customer service I’d received…until I heard six little words from the 2nd Canada Post desk.

“We can type it in manually.”

What now? The clerk proceeded to enter the list of numbers under the bar code like it was the easiest thing in the world (pretty sure it is) and did it like it was just part of his job to make sure we left happy (which it kinda is). When we tried to explain what happened previously, the staffer just looked at us like that made no sense what so ever. Why wouldn’t you just put it in manually? I KNOW!

Lesson Learned

In customer service, NO should never be the answer. I’m not saying you should be able to meet all your customer’s requests, and you probably won’t be able to some of the time, but you should be prepared to explain your answer. If you can’t do something, tell me why. Show me why. It may be the 100th time you’ve had to show someone but it might be my first time ever interacting with an employee from your company. First, seventh, 100th impressions matter.

No is not an answer, when you have an opportunity to engage, provide context and some decent customer service.

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