Interesting start to the
new year as I decided to print and sell the famous clan map we have on the
site. I have received quite a number of emails over the years asking if a
copy of this map was available and had to reply that it wasn't unless you
could get hold of the antiquarian book that included it in the
Anyway... this project was
an interesting one as I had to try and find a company that could print it.
I tried the web search and also the Chatham-Kent portal site but just
couldn't find anything. I've commented before that while the local
economic development department had a business directory on the site they
didn't provide any descriptions of the companies which is really not
And so I decided to phone
the local chamber of commerce and they were very helpful and gave me three
companies to try. The one I used was around the corner from me, Bull
Graphics. They were able to print out the clan map 48" x 58" and although
it was a bit expensive at $98.00 they did include a free sample print of
the same map at 26" x 38" which was a suitable size for a larger print
run. This allowed me to see if the names were still readable at
Once firming up on the
price I went out to several contacts I had to get a price for printing out
500, 1000 and 2000 copies. I eventually got the quotes in and decided to
do a print run of 1,000 and went through Robert Stewart in Canada to get
the printing organised.
It was then down to doing
costs on packing and shipping. I wanted a fairly robust tube to send them
in and managed to source that and if buying 50 or more I would get a
saving on the tube and they would deliver them at no extra charge. I have
used the Business Depot for this and once you set up an account you can
The postal service was the
final part of the cost structure and I have to say this was more time
consuming and complex. I tried Fed-Ex first but I found it
impossible to find a customer service phone number for general advice.
I then visited the Toronto office in person and they weren't a lot of help
but they have arranged to have a local Chatham representative visit me.
I then tried Canada Post
and found that given the weight of the tube and its dimensions I could
send up to 6 maps in a tube for the same cost to ship 1. I still feel that
when an item is low cost, the map is selling for US$35.00, the postal cost
seems to be very high. In Scotland when considering doing an Electric
Scotland T-Shirt I found that the shipping to North America more than
doubled the price.
I have had some issues with
the Canadian Postal Service and so I thought I'd phone them to get some
general information which I'll share here...
I found out that since 1989
the Canadian Postal service has shown a profit each year and does not
receive any subsidies. In 1993 they purchased Puralator which operates
much like Fed-Ex. I wasn't aware of this company when I came to Canada and
in fact only learned about them when I wanted to post a parcel from
One thing they did tell me
is that there has been a world wide agreement that any package or letter
coming into a country from outside must have the senders address on it.
Canada seems to be the only country in the world that has actually
implemented this system fully. This means that anyone shipping a
package to Canada must have their address on the outside of the package
otherwise it will probably be returned.
I have been told by a UK
source that the UK Post Office won't ship printed matter above 2Kg to
Canada through surface post as they say it won't be accepted. I'm
told that all other countries in the world accept up to 5Kg. I have now
had this confirmed and so if shipping a book that is over 2Kg you will
need to ship it by airmail as it's the "small packet" rate where the 2Kg
limit applies but have to say it also applies to other countries as well.
All packages coming into
Canada have to go through the Canada Border Services Agency before it can
get into their postal service. There is both a primary and secondary
process that parcels can go through and so this can add to the delay in
getting your parcel.
I noted that one person in
Scotland sent me a book by registered post and it never reached me and was
in fact returned to sender. The same person also sent me the same book by
normal air mail and that did reach me although a month after it was sent.
Another person sent me a
book also from Scotland by normal air mail and that reached me in around 5
days. I am still not sure why there should be such a difference in
I ordered a 6 volume set of
books from Scotland and so far 3 out of the 6 packages have reached me but
it's been about three weeks since the last of the 3 arrived so still waiting
for the other 3 which were all packed identically and clearly marked... 1
of 6, 2 of 6, etc. Mind you that doesn't mean that they all arrived
I then phoned the Canada
Border Services Agency to find out more about the customs side of things.
Essentially if the package looks to be fine it will go through the primary
checking process which would not take longer than 1 day. Should there be
reason for checking this further it would go through the secondary process
which could take a while to go through depending on the reason for it
being put to this process.
The Canadian Postal Service
will deliver mail within the local region within 2 days, the province within
3 days and nationally within Canada within 4 days. They do try to knock 1
day off those times and mostly succeed or so I am told.
When talking to the customs
people they tell me that they will check books for "hate". This applies to
both current books, magazines, etc and also antiquarian books and
materials. I confess to being a little confused on this as I thought that
freedom of speech would mean that this would not be an issue but the women
I spoke to mentioned this several times and so this is clearly an issue.
She did say that it would
be helpful if a full description of the book was included within the
package as this would help speed things through. She also confirmed that
the senders address must be clearly printed on the outside of the package
otherwise it would definitely go to the secondary process and most likely
Talking with another person
at the CBSA she told me that if it goes through secondary it should take
no more than 72 hours to resolve the issue. There can be a whole host of
reasons for the package going to secondary from not having a proper
description of the goods, not having a value, not having the senders
address, a health issue, etc. Should the package be refused entry
they are meant to contact you to advise what the problem was.
In general Canada Post
recommend that you get a tracking number when shipping any parcel as that
way it can be traced.
So there you have an
overview of the postal and shipping services in Canada :-)
I am now in the process of
checking if there is any cheaper way to send my maps but the system I
already have in place includes having a tracking number and insurance as
well as a timely delivery, normally within 5 working days but it is
expensive doing it through Canada Post.
When you have an American
company but live in Canada it sure makes life interesting. I thought
I'd try the PayPal UPS shipping option and signed up for an account.
Once I did that I tried out a trial shipment only to find that as I had an
American account I wasn't allowed to have a pick up from Canada. I
phoned PayPal support and they confirmed this was the case and said I'd
need to deal with UPS direct. So... off I went to UPS USA and they
kindly gave me a quote for pick up in Canada and delivery to the USA.
I then went to their web site to try out the shipping process and you
guessed it... I wasn't allow to do a pick up from Canada <sigh>.
I then went to get an
account for UPS Canada and having organised that I then checked their
shipment rates only to find out that they actually charged $5 more than
the USA organisation did. <sheesh>
I then got a visit from the
Fed-Ex rep and she actually got me a decent rate but then I got told that
there was a weekly fee of $6.00 to ship with them even if you only ship 1
item but they were around $5.00 cheaper than UPS ground rate. I was
actually told that I could use their Fed-Ex tubes but that ended up being
incorrect as you can only use them if you are using their express service
but to use that service you trebled the price <sigh>
And this is the Fed-Ex local rep that came to
visit (Fannie Vavoulis of Greek descent)
[Note: Her Mum and Dad run the restaurant opposite the VIA train station]
So now that I've discovered
the best price for shipment is through Fed-Ex I now needed to go source
tubes to send the maps in. I was advised that I really needed tubes
that would have a plug seal to give greater rigidity to the tube and so
lessen the chance of it getting damaged in transport. And so it was
off to try to get this organised. I had previously decided to use Business
Depot for the tubes but Robert Stewart gave me a couple of other companies
to try, Colts and Chiswick. I discovered that Chiswick had a better price
but I had to pay for the shipping. I then went back to Staples
Business Depot and checked with them on their 110% price match offer and
they agreed to price match so got the same price with them with free
So a lot to organise if you
want to sell any item and off course to accept payment online by credit
card I needed to setup a PayPal facility. I might add that PayPal
currently have around 86 million accounts around the world so they are a
good company to deal with and they make it easy to setup a small sales
operation. Buyers don't need to have a PayPal account to use their credit
card services and you can also pay by echeck as well. So all in all I'm
quite happy with this service.
Of course having now
secured a much better rate for shipping to the USA I had to go into PayPal
to do a partial refund to each of the people that have already placed an
order for USA delivery.
And so that completed my
account of my fun times learning how to ship product from Canada :-)
This week has also seen me
attend the Scottish Studies Foundation board meeting in Toronto where we
decided on the Scot of the Year not only for 2006 but also for 2007. They
have also setup a very good web site which gives you lots of information
about this and the Tartan Day Dinner in Toronto on 6th April 2006.
While in Toronto I also
visited Frank McNie's Fish & Chip shop at long last. The restaurant
was spotless and you could have eaten your food off the floor although I
hasten to add there were plenty of tables. The food was truly
excellent and I'm sure you won't be disappointed and will want to
return often :-)
I'm also delighted with the
help the book volunteers have been on sending me in scans and ocr'd
content from the books I sent them. This has been a big help and
especially as it's allowed me to take time to get this map project on the
I was reading the
local paper, "Chatham This Week" and noticed a call to recognise
MacDonald, Canada's first prime minister. By clicking on the picture below
you can read the article.
I am minded that in Scotland that there is a
similar call for William Wallace to be recognised.
This week I received a 2006
diary from the Scottish Enterprise Party. I can't ever remember getting in
a diary from a political party before but certainly the diary was most
got in an award of some sort from the Court of the Keeper of the Cloot which I've never heard of before and for Scottish Country Dancing which is
even more amazing. There wasn't any address or contact details with
the certificate so am unable to contact them.
We are also in the middle of another general
election in Canada. Seems that the current Liberal government is up
against the Conservative party with the NDP probably holding the balance
of power. The Greens are out in force so will be interesting to see how
the do this time around. Canada right now is doing very well and has been
reducing their national debt at a fast rate. Every party is promising to
cut taxes but of course each of them question how each can afford it. At
time of writing the Conservative party has taken a big lead in the polls
but we've another 6 days to go until the Monday election.
I note with interest that like other countries
in the world there is a problem getting the youth to vote and as the years
go around I suspect there is going to be some changes in the political
system. 23rd January is the day for the election.
I have gotten a wee bit
involved with the local Tartan Sertoma Highland Games as it appears that
for the first time they have real problems in raising around $20,000 to
ensure the event can go ahead. Apparently new rules have meant that
they haven't been able to run many bingo or BBQ events this year. and that
alone has meant they are in trouble and might not be able to run this
years event. Should that happen this last ethnic event in Chatham may not
On the 19th I got a phone
call from the local newspaper asking if I'd do an interview for them so
have arranged that for the 24th, the day after the elections. I'll report
on that in my next journal entry.