Some residents of Chesterville have reported receiving a very deceiving note in their mailboxes. The blue note has the word “Parcel” written in large letters at the top, followed by the smaller words, “We are holding a parcel for you”. There is a phone number and a believable set of business hours with a prompt to call “within 48 hours”. The note even specifies that those who call should “ask for the delivery department”. Finally – an addition that is sure to sweeten the deal for some – “All shipping has been prepaid”.
It is likely that these notes are being distributed gradually, area by area. One question that has been asked repeatedly on social media is why Canada Post is distributing something that seems to obviously be a scam. Although the note is incredibly deceiving, sneaky, dirty, and underhanded, it is not necessarily what we would call a full-blown “scam”, hence the quotation marks around “scam” in my headline.
The fine print on the bottom of the note reads, “You may be asked to participate in a product review. You must be a homeowner and be 19 years of age or older to claim your parcel.” This gives more insight into what the note is all about. It contains deception, but probably no outright lies. This explains why Canada Post, being a crown corporation, must be neutral and distribute this ad campaign just as they would do for any business.
The company is a home water and air quality company (and obviously one that has no problem using dirty business practices). Their “parcel” could be anything. People have a tendency to dream big, and that’s exactly what the company wants. A lot of people will receive the notice and won’t be able to contain their excitement at the notion of a surprise – Could it be a laptop? A fancy vacuum cleaner? A new shiny set of kitchen knives? A lawnmower?
In reality, while the parcel is almost certainly real, it would be nothing special. It’s not even worth speculating, but the reality is that if it was something worth $2, the company would still not be engaging in false advertising – a $2 parcel is still a parcel. The use of the word “parcel” itself is deceiving because we associate the word with things we have ordered online, and therefore things that we actually like and want, but this “parcel” is certainly nothing we ordered and almost certainly nothing of use or value.
“All shipping has been prepaid” is another statement that is likely true, but there’s a catch – the shipping is prepaid because the fine print states that the person who delivers the parcel must be allowed to come into your home and demonstrate a product. This may be an air purifier or a water purification system. You can bet that the salesperson would be ready to use underhanded tricks to instill fear. By the end of the sales pitch, you would be convinced that your water and air are toxic, and that the overpriced junk system you have been asked to give a “product review” for may save your life.
Of course, you can say no, give the product a bad review, and legally under the terms on the blue note, you should still receive your parcel. However, it would be folly to think that after turning down a pushy salesperson, you would receive anything but cheap garbage. Remember – a parcel is a parcel, and there is no promise of receiving anything specific or valuable.
If this seems like a lot of work and deception on the part of the company just to make a sale, it’s because it absolutely is, but the work can often be worth it. Any person who has ever worked in cold call sales knows that entering a person’s home is a huge stepping stone to making a sale. People feel vulnerable with a stranger in their own home and pressured to accept a deal, usually because they are made to feel that they are evil for not “protecting their family” if they don’t buy.
I myself worked very briefly in door-to-door security system sales a decade ago. We were trained to say things like “oh, you don’t want to protect your family?” (in a heavily sarcastic tone) when a traditional looking “family man” answered the door. I never said the phrase to anyone, partially because I didn’t want to get punched, and partially because I knew it was shifty and wrong. I was fired from that job after two short months, right before the end of the summer job contract end date, out of spite. The reason? I refused to tell elderly ladies that they would be sexually assaulted in the middle of the night if they didn’t buy my alarm system. We were absolutely not a scam company and we were selling contracts for one of the biggest alarm companies in the world. But the world of sales can be dirty no matter what is being sold and who is selling it.
The lesson here? Just throw out the blue notices. Watch them fall into the recycle bin, and know that a dishonest company paid for them for no reason. That is your greatest revenge, and the easiest way to protect yourself from being tricked. It also means one less useless parcel in your garbage. Let common sense prevail!