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Chances of getting hired?

Old 09-16-07, 02:02 PM
  #1  
Triloc
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Chances of getting hired?

Im wondering how easy/hard it is to get a job as a bike messenger.

For example I have never worked as a messenger.
If i on top of that would move to a new city what would my chances of getting hired by a courier company be?

Im thinking chances would be slim since nobody wants a guy with no past experience and zero local knowledge.

What do you think?
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Old 09-16-07, 02:06 PM
  #2  
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Your chances are zero......if you don't try! If you do....who knows? All they can do is tell you no! Go for it!
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Old 09-16-07, 02:35 PM
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You would definitely want to get some local knowledge. Here in Canada courier work (whether it is truck, car, bicycle or walking) is usually based on the amount you do ... you get $0.30 for each package you deliver, or whatever amount the company that hires you wants to give you. At least that's the way it was a few years ago, I don't imagine it has changed too much.

So your chances of being hired are reasonably good ... your chances of making any money will depend on how quickly you can deliver the packages. If you've got no experience and no local knowledge, you might be eating cheap oriental noodles and sleeping in a tent for a while.
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Old 09-17-07, 09:29 AM
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Get a street guide (taxi driver's map) and have it with you when you show up to ask for the job. Also, have a rack and bungees on your bike. You won't win any cool contests with other messengers, but the dispatcher will be impressed.

It also might help to show up on a rainy day wearing your foul weather gear. Anything to show the dispatchers that you're serious. Like Machka said, you'll probably get a job, but won't make much money at first.
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Old 09-17-07, 01:46 PM
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^^ At .30 per package ALL couriers would be sleeping in tents.

To survive in a big city you probably have to make $80 and up every day (after taxes).

If each package takes 15 minutes on average, you would have to deliver about 32 packages per day to make a living at $4/package. The faster you are, the more you make hence the craziness of the couriers.

$4 sounds fairly doable as the company may charge the customer $8-$10 depending on distance etc.

Guess this is the wrong place to discuss couriers as I'm sure there's more of them in the FG and SS forum.
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Old 09-17-07, 08:10 PM
  #6  
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If you decide to do it and like it, quit the next day. This is not a job your want to make a lifetime career out of.
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Old 09-17-07, 08:19 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
you get $0.30 for each package you deliver
Couriers don't earn much granted, but 30 cents per package is WAY too low. 12 bucks for a CRAZY day of work (40 packages)? Come on. Even the cheapest overnight packages going two blocks fetch at least a dollar. Some urgent ones going far can earn you as much as $15, though those are rare. The aforementioned $4 is probably a close estimate if you work with a good company.
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Old 09-18-07, 06:18 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
You would definitely want to get some local knowledge. Here in Canada courier work (whether it is truck, car, bicycle or walking) is usually based on the amount you do ... you get $0.30 for each package you deliver, or whatever amount the company that hires you wants to give you. At least that's the way it was a few years ago, I don't imagine it has changed too much.

So your chances of being hired are reasonably good ... your chances of making any money will depend on how quickly you can deliver the packages. If you've got no experience and no local knowledge, you might be eating cheap oriental noodles and sleeping in a tent for a while.
I don't know where you worked, but it's almost never like that. Being a messenger here is about 1% of the time being fast. The rest is waiting for a call and riding elevators.

And nobody needs "local" knowledge of the area. It's simply too big, everyone carries a map. This being bike messengering of course. Chephy is about right on the price/delivery. Obviously you get paid more the more time sensitive the package is. But it definitley is not $.30 per delivery.

Did you even work as a messenger?
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Old 09-18-07, 11:04 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
Couriers don't earn much granted, but 30 cents per package is WAY too low. 12 bucks for a CRAZY day of work (40 packages)? Come on. Even the cheapest overnight packages going two blocks fetch at least a dollar. Some urgent ones going far can earn you as much as $15, though those are rare. The aforementioned $4 is probably a close estimate if you work with a good company.
Some urgent ones going short can earn you that much too. The messenger company I use has a Lightning Service for the immediate downtown business district, between Queen & the water, and Jarvis to University. 15 minutes from phone call to delivery @ $30.00 + tax. That's $18.00-$21.00 for the messenger depending on whether they're paid probationary, standard or better percentages, and for only 20 minutes of their time. But that service level is only used for very urgent items. Normal VIP service is 30 minutes depending on the zone, crossing 3-4 zones will get you $25.00 for a VIP, and with good dispatch there are cheaper packages in your bag at the same time/same direction.
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Old 09-18-07, 05:56 PM
  #10  
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I have never worked as a messenger (I never said I did), but my ex-husband did ... during the recession of the early 1990s. So the $$ value I mentioned could be a little low by today's standards, about 15 years later, but was just a number grabbed out of a hat anyway to make the point that couriers are paid per package delivered.

And what I do know for sure is that no couriers at that time were making a lot of money ... to me it probably seemed like he was making 0.30 a package. (Although I do know that one company he worked for, for a short period of time, was paying their employees about $300/month after all the deductions ... it was pathetic. The other companies he worked for were a bit better than that.) The only ones who were making what could be called "a living" were truck couriers because they could haul a lot and large heavy boxes were worth a lot more than an envelope. Nevertheless, my ex was busy all day ... and he knew the city very well.

Oh, and after taking off the amount for the radio rental, and uniform purchase, and buying stickers for your "vehicle", all the other little things the courier companies at the time required of their employees, the take-home pay could be about $12/day some days. But then, the early 1990s were tough years.

But that brings up something else ... to the OP ... if you decide you want to give it a go, before you sign up, check to see what the policies are on radio rentals, uniforms, etc. etc.

Last edited by Machka; 09-19-07 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 09-18-07, 11:02 PM
  #11  
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The rates you describe put your husbands time on the road at around 1963, so he was probably much older than he appeared, younger looking from all that cycling. It'd be nice if he could visit at one of our meetings, there aren't many "messenger boys" of that era left alive.

Toronto has a long history of messengers, there is a great deal of it documented here: MIMA

Some interesting bits:

From Toronto Messengers - A Brief History by Joe Hendry

"The earliest documented bicycle messenger service in North America dates back to 1880. According to the National Archives of Canada Library, H.T. Baily advertised a bicycle livery and messenger service that was open all night and all day on the streets of Toronto in 1880."

From the MIMA archives Early Messenger Racing

"Bicycle Briefs

Toronto Star, July 13, 1895

The G.N.W. messengers challenged the C.P.R. messengers to a bicycle race at the island track, any distance to take place within a month"


Another from the MIMA archives; Early messenger track racing

"Local News in Brief

Messenger Races

Toronto Star, June 4,1896

The G.N.W. Telegraph Company’s messengers intend holding a race meet for the bicycle messengers on the Rosedale Track, Monday June 29th. There will be a one-mile handicap, and three and 5-mile scratch races."

Bike messengers in Toronto declined from the end of the war through the 1960s, in their traditional telegraph boy delivery formats, though they delivered parcels as well throughout their history. In 1979 they reappeared in the current format found in Toronto. The messengers of that time earned $4.00 - $5.00 an hour.

Last edited by SamHouston; 09-18-07 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 09-19-07, 08:45 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by 1ply View Post
The faster you are, the more you make hence the craziness of the couriers.
The trick is to carry more packages per run, not to ride faster. New messengers often don't get that, and try riding faster.
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Old 09-19-07, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by SamHouston View Post
Toronto has a long history of messengers
Toronto is a whole different place than where we lived. Even today the comparison between the two would be vastly different.

Which brings up another point ... I suspect that circumstances (be it the amount you get paid, how companies are run, whether tax is deducted or whether you are considered self-employed, etc. etc.) varies widely with the location.

The OP is from Sweden. If I'm not mistaken Sweden is even more socialist than Canada so there could be a whole bunch of extra rules and regs regarding employment in general.
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Old 09-20-07, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Toronto is a whole different place than where we lived. Even today the comparison between the two would be vastly different.

Which brings up another point ... I suspect that circumstances (be it the amount you get paid, how companies are run, whether tax is deducted or whether you are considered self-employed, etc. etc.) varies widely with the location.

The OP is from Sweden. If I'm not mistaken Sweden is even more socialist than Canada so there could be a whole bunch of extra rules and regs regarding employment in general.
Machka there's nothing wrong with your ex embellishing a bit to emphasis that rates are too low (rates are too low), but there is a certain disservice in doing so to the degree that the service provided could be perceived as worthless due to being universally undervalued to the wild extents relayed in your story.

The fact of the matter is a hard working individual of average intelligence can make a living, albeit not a lavish one, but still a living nonetheless as a bicycle messenger. The work itself benefits -everyone- immensely, reason enough that an individual should be able to earn a living wage. That the work is typically hard or demanding and considered a necessity by many in business is further reason.

What we would like is that this work be accepted as a career choice, with mechanisms providing benefits, pensions, etc. It's a hard sell on a continent that perceives worth of the individual by little more than the weight of a pocketbook, yet we're all aware that we can't all be CEO's CFO's or executives or even business owners. Someone has to mind the works, and in most industries through a long struggle those persons have been provided for with benefits, pensions, workplace rights and protections that allow a worker a 20, 30, even a 40 year service to industry with some expectation of a duty of care to the worker after retirement or should the worker suffer a debilitating injury, and fair wages all along the way.

It is entirely possible, I personally know many individuals who work on the road and have wives and/or children that they & they alone provide income for, but these are usually very exceptional individuals.

In answer to your suspicion, pay does vary widely from company to company, but not so much from region to region. It's moderated by the same forces that govern low income wage earnings everyplace, minimum wage law requirements, cost-of-living variables, good old supply & demand, and in the case of our industry, the Canada Post Act, a woefully out of date document. In Sweden, and anywhere else in Europe it is far more desirable than doing the job in North America. Europeans by and large respect the work messengers do moreso than their counterparts here in North America. In Sweden he can count on a fair wage, vacation & benefits, all he has to do is be a good worker.

Tales of .30 payments per delivery even in the early 90's, a time not nearly as hard for our workers as today, do a disservice to our workers, and as intended would discourage new workers. Even if they fervently believe that doing a job on a bicycle that would otherwise be done in a car is a good thing, they're not likely to join up when told they'll be earning less than a bubblegum machine each day.

Besides which, it just isn't true.

But relax, that's not a reflection on you, we face mis-perceptions like this regularly. The thing with mis-perceptions of this nature is that they're nearly always the result of a lack of information. There's nothing wrong with it that it can't be corrected.
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Old 09-20-07, 01:55 PM
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Wow answers galore. thanks!
Although me living in Sweden is a bit irrelevant as the reason I asked was that Im trying to leave the country faster than.... something really really fast...
A change of environment and fresh air if you will.
What the hell I might as well give it a go.
All they can do is fire me...
Or just not hire me in the first place...
Anyway..
Thanks again!
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Old 10-18-07, 10:09 AM
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The company I worked for "restructured" my department on Monday and sent me packing. Fortunately they will be giving me a severence but I thought I'd try being a bike messenger to keep me from watching TV all day binging on beer and pizza.

I was given my termination letter in the AM, in the PM I rolled over to a Messenger service downtown and I start next Monday. Easiest job I ever applied for and the company seems pretty decent so I'd say take a chance go for it. Walk in the door and see what happens. A second courier company I contact also showed interest in brining me on board. I'm not sure what to expect although anything is worth a try.

While I can't say exactly how much $$ I'll be make, I hope to pull in $80 a day (hope), although it's likely far less for the first few weeks. If I understood it correctly, it's commissioned based. I'd receive about $1.50 per standard package and for those "rush" (1-3 hour), deliveries it could range between $4 - $6, perhaps more. Also, some days your doing well..some your drinking coffee all day.

Question the Toronto messengers - How do you go about claiming your earnings? While I hope to be back to the grind come Jan 08 when my severance runs out (or the wife would kill me), if by chance I'm still unemployed professionally how would claimed messenger earnings effect EI? My biggest concern is that these earnings would affect EI as it may be much more than I would be able to make as a messenger...for 36 weeks anyway.

Any other tips or suggestions you guys could give me would be appreciated. Eg...where to buy decent bags etc. Also what do you guys do for medical benfits etc? Just in case there is work related accident.

Last edited by Turd Ferguson; 10-18-07 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 10-18-07, 11:31 AM
  #17  
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Afraid I don't have the time for a comprehensive reply, so try http://www.tobma.com or attend the next meeting which is Nov 14 at 25 Cecil St or you can meet some of the same people at the next CMWC meeting Oct 25 @ CBN 761 Queen W

your last question is a quick answer, as a foot or bicycle messenger you're WSIB covered by special provision, it's automatic you don't have to do anything to activate coverage
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