It’s not exactly a secret that Cathy and I are heavy readers. There are times I’m convinced we bought the house just so we could add more books. Seriously, one of the best purchases we’ve made for the house recently was a solid pine, 7-foot tall bookshelf that someone put on Iqaluit Sell/Swap for $40. I bought that sucker about 2 minutes after the listing went online (and was widely cursed on by others for getting it first. Book shelves are an in-demand item up here). It’s being put into good use.
Our drug of choice for most of our time in Nunavut has been Chapters. There was fundamentally little difference between Chapters and Amazon in terms of price, so we choose the Canadian company. Plus, some of Amazon’s business practices in the United States make me feel a little queezy. Their prices were the same, normally within a few cents and both offered free shipping. And when you live in Nunavut, you really grow to appreciate free shipping. Hell, reasonable shipping is appreciated.
I recently had a Canadian t-shirt company try to tell me it was going to cost $20 to ship a $12 shirt from Toronto. When I asked how I was able to order a t-shirt from Europe and only be charged $5 shipping, I got a shrug and a “That’s what Canada Post charges”. The shirt didn’t get purchased and I cursed Canada Post once more. I really should start a company and sell t-shirts with “Canada Post Sucks” on them. Of course, they’d do well in Iqaluit, but I wouldn’t be able to afford to ship them anywhere else.
So we’ve liked Chapters and I suspect if you were to look at how much money we’ve spent with them over the last eight years, you’d be pushing a number with five digits in it, at the very least. However, I’m pretty sure we’ve bought our last book with Chapters, either online or in one of their stores. Why? They’ve stopped free shipping to Iqaluit. They’ve instituted an isolated post exemption to their free shipping policy. Or, in other words, fuck you rural Canada, we don’t want your money.
How bad is it? Well, I punched in two thin graphic novels totalling $30 and went to the checkout. I was told it would cost about $17 in shipping. Amazon, meanwhile, still has free shipping to the north. So guess who gets the business?
You get these dick moves from time to time with southern businesses. Well.ca use to have free shipping, then they started charging shipping, a reasonable amount. Then they really started charging for shipping, so nobody in Nunavut uses them anymore.
Future Shop is an interesting case study. They used to have reasonable free shipping. A DVD was free. A camera was free. Hell, even some small TV sets were free. But if you wanted a new oven, well, no. Then they went to the other extreme, charging $20 in shipping for a $5 DVD was my favourite. However, they’ve gone back to their original, more reasonable shipping rates. They had a change of heart, which is nice to see.
Of course, nothing beats IKEA and the $1 billion they were looking to ship a couch to Iqaluit.
Perhaps Chapters will change back. I think it’s a dick thing to do…to offer this service for so many years to people in isolated areas and then start charging full Canada Post shipping rates (which are ridiculous anyway) when your main competitor is still offering free shipping. Oh, and to not tell customers or offer up an explaination. It bears watching to see if Amazon does something similar (please god no) or if it’s a sign that Chapters is taking some water over the side. Considering what Chapters did to small bookstores across Canada, there would be some poetic justice in having it done to them.
In the meantime, we’ll adjust. We’ll switch move over to reading more books on our iPads (Cathy tried Chapters’ Kobo and it is a junky, poorly performing abomination) and only buy paper copies of books from authors we love. I’ll switch to buying all my graphic novels to Amazon. I could use the Comixology app, but I just like to read my comics on paper, not a screen.
It’s hardly the end of the world. It just pisses me off when companies suddenly decided to screw over loyal customers in the north.
1. The future is x-rated - Matthew Good Band
2. The arrow killed the beast - Heartless Bastards
3. Bright tonight - Garbage*
4. Price of gasoline - Bloc Party
5. Streets of love - The Rolling Stones