How does mail disappear into thin air?
That’s the question four GTA residents want answered after four envelopes addressed in their names — and containing a total of about $80,000 in bank drafts — allegedly vanished after being dropped off at a Canada Post facility in Coldwater, Ont., in late July.
Jennifer Taylor, 41, who lives just north of Oshawa, was one of four beneficiaries identified in Lorrainne Pearce’s will to receive a cut of $80,000 left behind. Pearce, a.k.a. “Buttercup the Clown,” was a professional clown who died of cancer at age 66 in early 2011.
Earlier this summer, however, Buttercup the Clown’s act of posthumous generosity hit a snag when the mailed envelopes containing all four bequests went missing.
The will’s executor, Mary Chmiel of Severn Falls, Ont., said she thought she took all precautions when deciding on how best to send Pearce’s money to her friends in the GTA — using bank drafts (a secured form of guaranteed payment issued by a bank) and registering each envelope using Canada Post’s Xpresspost next-day service.
Five days after registering the mail at her local post office in Coldwater, however, Chmiel discovered that envelopes never arrived in the GTA.
According to Canada Post’s tracking system, which tracks registered mail as it moves from one location to the next, none of the four envelopes ever left the Coldwater post office.
But that doesn’t mean the letters are still in Coldwater, said Canada Post spokesman Eugene Knapik, noting that postal workers are supposed to scan each package as it moves from one location to the next, but there is no guarantee that happened.
Chmiel said she contacted Canada Post immediately after hearing the mail had not arrived in the GTA and was told the post office would look into the matter. Earlier this week, however, Chmiel said Canada Post contacted her to say the packages had been “deemed lost” and their investigation into the matter was closed.
“That’s the most frustrating thing … that (the customer services agent) just stonewalled me and declared it lost,” she said, adding that she then contacted MP Bruce Stanton for help.
Hours later, Chmiel received a call from a Canada Post employee to say they had reopened the investigation.
Knapik said the letters had not been recovered as of Wednesday afternoon, but added that employees were “continuing to thoroughly investigate and search for the mail items.”
Knapik said it’s unusual for Canada Post to lose track of an entire bag of mail, but that the letters were “probably” bagged together. He was unaware of any other complaints related to lost mail in the Coldwater area at the time Chmiel’s bank drafts went missing, he said. A Coldwater post office employee could not comment on the lost packages.
In hindsight, Chmiel said she should have driven the bank drafts down to her friends, but that running a restaurant full-time in Severn Falls left her little time to make the trip.
“Sending bank drafts by post is a pretty bad idea,” added Megan Connolly, a Toronto lawyer who practises estates and trusts law.
Unlike personal cheques, bank drafts cannot be stopped. Instead, banks can put a “caution” on lost drafts and issue new ones. Taylor said she was told by CIBC, the bank that issued the drafts, that new ones couldn’t be issued until Canada Post officially declared the packages lost.
But with the letters’ locations still a mystery under investigation, it’s unclear when that will happen.
“It’s just so frustrating,” she said.
Lost bag of mail no joke to clown’s heirs
August 15, 2012