Cloverdale resident Otto Wagner must prove he’s alive twice each year.
He must provide documentation to the government in the Czech Republic which provides him with a modest pension.
“It’s proof of living, and I have to do it twice a year,” Wagner explained. “And if they don’t receive it by registered mail, my pension is finished.”
The process involves a visit to a lawyer to obtain a signed document then paying for a registered letter through Canada Post to the government of the nation where he was born.
He’s been doing it for a decade with the cost of a lawyer’s visit and postage adding up to more than $150 per year.
On Jan. 2, he sent the required letter. Then he repeated the process Jan. 24 when it appeared the Jan. 2 letter was lost. Then it looked like the second letter was lost.
“They went to Richmond and that’s it,” he said.
Using the tracking number, he’s able to trace his letters to a Canada Post facility in Richmond then they just disappear from the system.
He’s been told to contact the RCMP about mail theft, but noted that registered letters are never supposed to leave the custody of Canada Post while in this country.
“I couldn’t even guess,” he said about what he thinks is happening to his letters which contain no money.
It’s not the first time there’s been problems. Wagner spoke to the local newspaper back in 2014 when one of his registered letters went astray, and he contacted Canada Post “dozens of times” with no reply.
In the most recent incident, Wagner has gone through channels to complain such as going through the Office of the Ombudsman of Canada Post but it won’t intervene until Canada Post Customer Service has finished its work.
When his most recent letter went astray in January, he filed an official complaint but was told nothing would be done because it was only 26 days since he mailed the letter and Canada Post won’t act until it’s been 30 days.
After he spoke to the Langley Advance Times and the community newspaper contacted Canada Post, there was movement.
“We have been in contact with the customer, and have been looking into his request and concerns,” said Sylvie Lapointe, Canada Post media relations. “For confidentiality reasons, we can’t go into details but can confirm that the package was received on Feb. 10. We apologize to our customer for any inconvenience this has caused.”
In fact the Jan. 2 and Jan. 24 letters were ended up in their right destination Feb. 10.
Wagner worked in the hospitality industry all his life, and came to Canada in 1969 shortly after the Czech revolution known as Prague Spring of 1968 when the Communists cracked down on public demand for freedom.
”I escaped, saved my life… There were Russians in tanks on every corner,” he explained.