E-commerce from China is putting a huge burden on Canada Post and that means you could be waiting months for your online purchases to be delivered.
The McLaughlin on Your Side team has received several emails from viewers frustrated by the long wait times for items ordered online from China. Our investigation has revealed it’s because of an explosion in e-commerce that has caught Canada Post and the Canada Border Services Agency off guard.
The problem is spreading from coast to coast with Vancouver being the point of entry for all shipments from China and it’s clogging up the system.
Jurgen Kraus of Calgary reached out to McLaughlin on Your Side looking for answers. He likes to shop on two Chinese websites, AliExpress and GearBest. Both offer cheap products and free shipping to Canada, but there’s a price to pay for that. He waited up to 165 days for some of his packages to arrive. He documented the problem in a spreadsheet and noticed a trend.
From Europe, his online orders were delivered in less than 30 days, from China, they averaged more than 100.
Desmond Hung of Richmond is frustrated by it. He shops at AliExpress for bargains too but says he has waited months to get his merchandise.
Hung tracked some of his products and found they arrived in Canada in November, but were not delivered to his home until May 4.
“It sat in Canada for 165 days?” asked Ross McLaughlin.
“Yes,” answered Hung.
Canada Post told CTV News it’s not making any money on these shipments.
International postal agreements consider China a transitional country, which means it gets a break on overseas shipping, and Canada Post is left picking up extra delivery costs. That gives Chinese merchants an advantage in the e-commerce market place.
When McLaughlin went to visit the Richmond Pacific Processing Centre he counted more than 100 trailers of international mail lined up outside the building.
"I would like to know what Canada Post is doing," Hung said.
Canada Post says consumers get what they pay for with small Chinese e-packets. Items that are time sensitive are given priority. Accordiing to Canada Post, "international items that do not have specific delivery expectations are worked through on a daily basis."
CUPW spokesperson Anju Parmar says postal workers are working seven days a week and that the CBSA is largely responsible for the backlog.
The trailers cannot be sorted until they are cleared by CBSA and concerns over fentanyl coming in small packages could be slowing things down. Last year, the CBSA seized 10,348 items at the Vancouver International Mail Centre. Eighty per cent were narcotics.
And once cleared, many Chinese packages need to be hand-sorted because of size and problems with barcodes.
"Offsite we call it 'annex' and all the China packets go there, I guess because the volume is high and we're getting more and more millions of packages on monthly basis," explained Parmar.
So the wait continues.
“I know there are more Canadians out there that are having this issue," Hung said.
The CBSA told us it was working to modernize the screening process and continues to work with Canada Post to address delays. However, unlike the postal service, it does not run a Saturday shift, which could be having a further impact.
Tuesday we sit down with Canada Post in Ottawa to get more answers about what’s being done and why e-packets from China, even after being cleared, are still sitting around, waiting to be delivered.