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The Saskatchewan city with a competing mail service in 1982

Twenty-cent postage was better than 30-cent postage and that's why Warren Russell's business was thriving in the spring of 1982.

Prince Albert man significantly undercut post office prices

The other mail service in Prince Albert, Sask.

Digital Archives

39 years ago
1:56
In 1982, The National reports on a small business that is willing to deliver letters at a cheaper rate than the post office. 1:56

Twenty-cent postage was better than 30-cent postage and that's why Warren Russell's business was thriving in the spring of 1982.

Twin Delivery, the business he ran in Prince Albert, Sask., was delivering mail for two-thirds the price of what the post office charged, following a price hike at the start of that year.

"A lot of business places in Prince Albert and around, you know, can't afford to send mail out, every day, at 30 cents, especially if they have quite a bit," Russell told CBC News.

Russell, it seemed, was doing a brisk business and winning over new customers.

'A loophole'?

A small stack of mail, sorted by Twin Delivery, is seen sitting on a shelf in Prince Albert, Sask., in 1982. (The National/CBC Archives)

"I just started using it recently, but I found it good," said Dan Kindrachuk, a local businessman who spoke to CBC News about the Twin Delivery service. "You know, they've given me good service by it."

The post office, however, was not impressed with what Russell and his business were offering — and it contended what Twin Delivery was doing was illegal.

"The Canada Post Act says you can't deliver first-class letters unless you charge three times as much as the post office," the CBC's Paul Workman told viewers in a report that aired on The National on April 12, 1982.

"But Russell and his lawyer say they think they've found a loophole."

Letters versus envelopes

Warren Russell's lawyer, Kris Eggum, explained why Twin Delivery believed its mail-delivery arrangement was legal -- and the argument had to do with a lack of knowledge of what was inside a given envelope. (The National/CBC Archvies)

Lawyer Kris Eggum explained that thinking further.

"A letter is quite different from an envelope and if envelopes are sealed, how can one know what's inside that envelope?" Eggum said.

Those other guys delivering mail weren't convinced by the argument, said Workman.

"The post office is annoyed and says it's going to take on competitors like Warren Russell, customer for customer," he told viewers. "And if that doesn't work, postal officials say they'll lay charges under the Canada Post Act [and] wipe out the competition."

Warren Russell said many businesses found it hard to pay the postage rates in effect at the post office in 1982. (The National/CBC Archives)

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