There’s a small UPS store in Ogdensburg that you’d probably prefer to avoid right now. Unless your idea of fun is standing in line for most of the day.
Earlier this month I was somewhat surprised to find the customer area stuffed to the door with a 40-person conga-line that twisted like a pretzel around some snow tires stacked in mid-floor.
There was ample opportunity to chat since everyone’s proximity was (shall we say?) intimate. Nearly everyone in line was Canadian. And they/I had to stay in line because they/I had driven from Ottawa (or wherever), paid the bridge toll and were committed to getting the errand done.
Someone near the head of the line said she had been there 90 minutes already. Sure enough, that’s how long it took me to get my one small box and go.
A week later one of my husband’s co-workers (from Ottawa) grumbled it took her 6 hours to collect her package. CBC has already done a story on this, as word filters back to this side of the border that the great money-saving trick has become less great.
I was in Ogdensburg today to use a U.S. post office. (Four people in line ahead of me, it took 2 minutes of waiting.) Stopping for groceries before I returned to Ontario I counted 68 people in the UPS line that stretched down the sidewalk. (That would be on top of the capacity crowd inside.)
Here I want to say a couple of things. First of all, it’s a good thing Canadians are known for being patient and polite. I don’t want to think about how that might go if the patron base was quick to anger. Secondly, if you’re an area resident and you’ve had to suffer trying to get your item at your local freight store…sorry about that, eh?
Here’s the problem: there’s WAY more stuff to buy in the U.S. than in Canada and U.S. prices are almost always better. Sometimes this makes sense, other times not at all. The day I waited I overheard one person bemoaning the fact the item he was buying was actually made in Canada – but sold for less in the U.S.
Next, many U.S. merchants will not ship to Canada – or will charge a prohibitive rate to do so. Then there can also be something called “brokerage fees” that add a hefty charge just because said item crossed a border. Add the fact that some companies offer free shipping within the continental U.S. and what you have is a stampede.
Some of us have taken advantage of shipping to Ogdensburg c/o the UPS store for years. It’s always been”interesting” at Christmas. But now the user demand has gone beyond ridiculous.
And I pity the staff. As my wait stretched on toward the dinner hour, I overheard one of the long-time staffers say he had yet to see his lunch.
Let’s face it, we did this to ourselves, my fellow Maple Leaf bargain hunters!
And if your package still needs collecting in Ogdensburg, better bring a good book and maybe a stool.
Personally, I won’t go near it again until February, I think! And probably not at all next December.