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Going Postal

June 5, 2011

As readers in Canada are likely already well aware, Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) are embroiled in a significant labour dispute.  At the time of writing this article CUPW had begun taking strike actions in major Canadian cities on a rotating basis.

Winnipeg (where the NHL will finally return to for the 2011-12 season!) was the first city hit, followed by Hamilton.  Postal service in those cities came to a complete halt during the strike actions, while service continued as usual in the rest of the country.

My understanding of the situation is that the union plans to continue to increase the significance of the rotating strike actions in an effort to force Canada Post’s hand in caving in to their demands.

Judging by Canada Post’s public comments on the situation they seem less than concerned by the union’s tactics and don’t plan on caving in any time soon.

Even in the event of a complete work stoppage, it is likely that the government would eventually have to intervene and force CUPW members back to work through legislation, so there is little impetus on Canada Post to give in.

Popular questions in the national media lately have included ‘what effect will the strike have on you?’ or ‘will you even notice if mail service is disrupted?’

I have been very surprised to see how many people claim that they will notice no impact whatsoever and view traditional mail service as a completely useless service.

To me, that kind of point of view is of an incredibly narrow-minded nature.

The reality is that a lengthy disruption has the potential to be catastrophic for a great many people in Canada and not just a minor inconvenience, particularly for small businesses and the people who work for and operate those businesses.

In terms of my hobby and how I have structured my involvement in it, the entire situation has raised a major red flag, both from a collecting standpoint and from a “business” standpoint.

From the collecting end of things, shows are few and far between in my area, as are local cards shops.  As a result, I rely very heavily on the internet to add to my collection, mainly through eBay.

Because many purchases of sports cards and memorabilia made on eBay end up being relatively small in terms of the final dollar amount, very few sellers (myself included) even entertain the idea of using a courier service to deliver their items to their customers, let alone actually offer such a service.  They simply rely on traditional mail service as it offers the most affordable option to their customers.

With this being the case, and with postal service potentially being disrupted in a major way, it becomes difficult for me to justify making any online purchases right now to add to my collection.  Since I really cannot be sure of when (or if) anything that I purchase will arrive, I have found myself feeling extremely apprehensive when considering buying something.

Even the small birthday present I gave to myself earlier this week was tough to make knowing that I really could not be sure as to whether or not I would actually see the cards.

This is no fault of the seller, but it certainly impacts his/her ability to do business, which leads me to the concerns I have on the “business” end of my involvement in the hobby.

As someone who sells exclusively online, with about 99.9% of my sales coming from customers located far outside of my local area, the problems posed by the labour unrest are massive.

Buyers expect speedy delivery and this situation has the potential to seriously impact my ability to deliver that level of service.  Though buyers in Canada may be sympathetic to my situation, the issue is particularly problematic when dealing with customers from outside of Canadian borders since that may not even realize what is going on.

Over the past few days I have been sure to e-mail each international buyer to explain what I am dealing with, but I completely understand that their patience may soon wear thin.  This also adds another step to the work I already have to do to complete a sale, taking time away from much more important things that I could be dealing with in relation to my store.

I imagine that fellow collectors and/or eBay sellers (at least those in Canada) feel my pain on this one and agree with what I have said above, but I would still love to hear what the strike actions being taken by CUPW or those that they may take in the near future mean to you as a fellow collector or eBay seller.

Leave a comment below, email me at bb_bros@hotmail.com or get in touch on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Until Wednesday, may the impacts of the postal strike on your hobby be limited, and all the best in your collecting pursuits!

Ryan

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