Canada Post: a failure

This past week, I had to express mail something to South Africa. On my way to the post office in La Cite, past experience made me think that no matter how much I paid, there was no chance in hell my package would arrive by November. I trudged over to the UPS store on de Maisonneuve and Mansfield, and signed away $115 to guarantee delivery within four business days. The next fastest option was to hop on a plane to Cape Town, and even then I’d have to change planes in London.

Canada Post is notorious for its slow mailing and poor customer service. Their domestic and international express services are only slightly faster than standard delivery, but twice as expensive. While you can apply for a refund in the case of late delivery, refunds aren’t helpful if an important package doesn’t arrive when it’s supposed to. Whether it’s an old-fashioned graduate school application on hard copy, a birthday present, or tax returns, it pays to know your quickest, most reliable delivery options.

Fax or PDF

If you’re in a time crunch to send paper documents, see if you can fax or PDF them with the originals to follow in the mail. Originals are usually required for signatures, but faxing or PDFing an original is often acceptable. There are scanners in most libraries on campus, and copy stores usually allow you to use their fax machines for a small fee. As a courtesy, give the tracking number to the recipient so they know when to expect the original.  

Messenger Services

Private messenger services like Planete Courrier and Champion Courier offer same-day delivery in Montreal, or quick out-of-province or international delivery. It’s pricey, but it comes with peace of mind.

Canada Post

Canada Post should only be used for non-urgent packages or letters. Their delivery estimates may be off by a few days. Drop off mail first thing in the morning to ensure that it goes out that same day. Unlike the U.S. Postal Service, Canada Post does not deliver on Saturdays, so be sure to factor this into delivery time. Pay the extra money to receive a tracking number and to have the recipient sign upon delivery.


If all else fails, send the package by UPS. It’s expensive, but they guarantee delivery, and their tracking system provides the most detailed and accurate updates. In-store packaging sometimes costs as much as shipping, so save money by wrapping the mail yourself. There are UPS stores at de Maisonneuve and Mansfield, as well as at St. Catherine and Atwater.

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