A few months ago, Canada Post sent me an email to let me know their epost service would be discontinued at the end of 2022.
It's unlikely Canada Post believed ePost would be a failure when the idea was first brought to market. Frankly, the idea of a "one-stop-shop" where all your bills could be delivered and stored indefinitely (and at no cost) still seems like a great idea to me.
Plus, the Crown Corporation was trusted by many Canadians and had an established track record when it came to physical mail delivery; was it so preposterous to think Canadians might also be convinced to let Canada Post manage the delivery of their electronic mail too?
Apparently, the answer to that last question is "yes".
As Canada Post itself admits in its FAQ, "Since epost launched in 2000, the way businesses connect and communicate with their customers has evolved significantly, and other companies are now better suited to meet Canadians’ changing needs."
To be clear, there's no shame in Canada Post deciding to wind down its epost service.
But how they're doing it leaves a lot to be desired.
The good news is they gave Canadians lots of notice that the service would be shut down: that email to which I referred was sent more than six months before the final date of service.
The bad news is that Canadians who actually used epost may need all of that time because epost isn't giving them a way to download all their data from the service at once.
epost customers can only download or print their documents one at a time.
This is extremely unfortunate.
When epost launched, Canada Post asked millions of Canadians to trust them with their electronic mail, and an estimated 800,000 agreed to do so.
Now imagine you were one of those 800,000 people who signed up for the service when it launched in 2000, and you've been dutifully archiving all of your bills, corporate communications, and government tax slips on the service for the last 22 years... and now to maintain access to these documents, you have to download each document one at a time.
How do you think you would feel about having to do that?
And how would you feel about trusting Canada Post the next time they introduced a new service?
Companies discontinue products and services every day.
But when they do, they should be prepared with thoughtful, customer-centric exit strategies to minimize the negative impact on those affected. Especially when the overall business plans to continue operations.
It takes years to gain a customer's trust, but only moments to lose it.