IN THE NEWS – Times Colonist - Customers feel boxed in by Canada Post fuel surcharges

"It's nuts," she said Wednesday. She can't understand how Canada Post can justify a $4.20 surcharge on a package travelling just 70 kilometres to a customer in Metchosin. "I think it's a money grab, honestly."

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns feels the same way. He rose in the House of Commons this week to demand that the federal government force the post office to give consumers a break and drop the surcharges this Christmas. Families are having trouble as it is and shouldn't be wobbled by the cost of sending gifts to loved ones, he said. "It's price-gouging."

For its part, Canada Post says year-round fuel surcharges have become standard practice in the shipping industry. "We understand the impact this can have on customers and we therefore work to reflect current pricing," the corporation said in a statement. The rate is tied to the cost of diesel, ranging from a 20 per cent surcharge when the price per litre is $1.50 to 45 per cent when it tops $2.51.

This week, diesel was pegged at $2.30. Note that Canada Post's 39.5 per cent rate was comparable to FedEx's. Also note that the post office lost buckets of money last year. Johns contends that the fees are disproportionate to the actual impact of rising fuel costs. In any case, he said, the surcharges are too hard on inflation-battered families and small businesses.

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