Couriers warn of delays, service changes, as Canada Post lockout looms

Courier services across the country are reporting a spike in business, leading to new hires and changes in delivery times as a Canada Post lockout looms.

UPS Canada hires 300, tweaks delivery schedule in anticipation of business boom

The UPS Store on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa has experienced an increase in business as a Canada Post lockout looms. (Chloé Fedio/CBC)

Courier services across the country are reporting a spike in business, leading to new hires and changes in delivery times as a Canada Post lockout looms.

Workers at the UPS store at Bank and Nepean streets in downtown Ottawa said they've seen lunch hour lineups grow since before Canada Day.

"Business had been picking up three to four times what we're used to. Definitely, we're not prepared for the level of customers coming in," said store employee Stanley Carter. 

"Usually we've got a line out the door between 12 and 2 [p.m.]. Some people, they'll come early in the morning just to beat the rush because they tried the day before and couldn't get it done on their lunch hour."

By the end of the day, our drivers are worn out.- UPS employee Stanley Carter

UPS Canada has hired 300 new employees across the country, and has moved daily scheduled delivery times to the end of the day for shipments within Canada. Carter said it's the delivery workers who are having the hardest time keeping up with the demand.

"The most tired are the drivers," he said. "By the end of the day, our drivers are worn out. I've got a group of them in here sometimes just talking about how they can't get it done."

Meanwhile, many first-time customers used to Canada Post prices aren't prepared for the cost of a courier service.

"They're looking for the longest, cheapest option but we just don't have that because it's all express. It's all tracking," Carter said.

UPS Canada said store locations in Canada are independently owned and operated by licensed franchisees.

"We have planned and worked with our customers well in advance and we are ready for additional volume," UPS Canada told CBC News in an email.

FedEx, Purolator also make changes

FedEx has temporarily suspended its money-back guarantee for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground shipments in Canada.
This FedEx box on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa could soon see many more drop-offs. (Chloé Fedio/CBC)

"Anticipating that the circumstances at Canada Post may trigger an increase in demand for FedEx services, a comprehensive contingency plan is in place to manage volume demands," FedEx said in a written statement.

FedEx did not elaborate on its plan but said the company "may adjust some of our domestic services to accommodate increased volume."

​Purolator announced on its website Thursday that it has temporarily suspended its "time-definite and day-definite services" as the Canada Post labour dispute has already led to "a significant increase in shipment volumes."

The Canadian courier, which is 91-per-cent owned by Canada Post Corporation, said it's also working on a plan to manage business in case of a lockout, including hiring additional staff and asking current staff to work overtime. 

"As we work through processing heavy shipment volume, shipments will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis, in the order they are received. Unfortunately, there will likely be delays throughout this period, and we ask customers to schedule shipments as early as possible or adjust shipping schedules where possible to allow for extra delivery time throughout," the statement said.

Until further notice, Purolator has also implemented earlier service cut-off times in some cases, as well as extended pick-up and drop-off windows for unscheduled shipments.