Canada Post contract sore point for shop owner

You have already read here about the redesign of Canada Post's retail outlets and how the operators have to pay, not only for changes to new counters and such – anywhere from 30 to 70 grand – but also for new computers at six grand a pop… , he may not be able to sell the business, and if he cannot sell the business … well, then he will certainly have lost everything.

The Toronto Star
November 9, 2009

Canada Post contract sore point for shop owner
Joe Fiorito

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Joe Fiorito Toronto Star

Dan Luong owns the Photo Plus Bargain Store in a commercial strip on Markham Rd., just north of Eglinton, not far from the German butcher, near the Asian fabric store, a short walk from the jerk restaurant.

In the back of Dan's store is a little postal outlet. Alas, the postal outlet will not be there much longer. Dan's last day working for the Post Office is Dec. 28.

I had questions but before he could say a word, a customer weighed in.

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Sandra Peace is worried about what she will do when Dan is done. "I have a small business. I'm a housewife. I sell my goodies on eBay."

Her goodies? "I deal in cat collectibles. I've been doing it for five years. I have four friends who also sell on eBay. We all get stars for customer service because we ship so fast."

Her point? "Canada Post has a website, and I can tell my customers what it will cost to ship. If I mail from here, the price is constant. If I have to go to another outlet, that will change."

Everything will change, and Sandra does not know if or when or where there will be a new postal outlet nearby from which to ship her cats, and customers do not like uncertainty.

It isn't just the cats. Across the road from Dan's is a huge apartment complex filled with people who mail packages all around the world.

You have already read here about the redesign of Canada Post's retail outlets and how the operators have to pay, not only for changes to new counters and such – anywhere from 30 to 70 grand – but also for new computers at six grand a pop.

That's not why Dan is closing.

He said, "I want to sell my business." Why? "I'm sick." What's the matter? He pointed to his belly. "Cancer. I had an operation." He says it is even money that he's out of the woods; make of those odds what you will.

And then he said, "I could have a new five-year contract, but Canada Post says there is no guarantee of that contract going to a new buyer." In other words, without the postal outlet, he'll have a hard time selling his business.

How valuable is the postal outlet? Dan said, "Sales here are over $300,000. It is up to the sales standard of Canada Post." And then his eyes flashed hard and he said, "What I make from the store is no more than $25,000 to $30,000. That is lower than minimum wage. But a new buyer needs the post office contract for it to be worthwhile to buy my store."

I took his point.

He wasn't finished. "I came here in 1979 from Vietnam. We are boat people. When I came here my pocket didn't have a penny." He looked around the store. It is a modest operation. He said, "My whole life is here. I've lost everything."

And he really meant everything, because if he cannot transfer a new contract, he may not be able to sell the business, and if he cannot sell the business … well, then he will certainly have lost everything.

These should not the thoughts, nor should they be the concerns, of a man who is ill and of a certain age.

But that's business, I guess, even though Canada Post is a Crown corporation with certain social obligations.

What will Dan do?

"I will have to close the whole store." He shook his head. "The Post Office sent a mystery shopper here one time. My wife was working the counter. She scored 100 per cent."

Not good enough.

Joe Fiorito usually appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Email: ac.ratseht|otiroifj#ac.ratseht|otiroifj

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/722995--fiorito-canada-post-contract-sore-point-for-shop-owner


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Risks: Cancer, Exempt from Ontario franchise law obligations, Forced to spend on renovations, Crown corporation, Immigrants as prey, Must sell business (eventually) through franchisor, New buyer must sign current, often less favorable, contract, Canada, 20091109 Canada Post

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