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Sometimes the sure thing doesn’t pay out

Context: Written during the 2009 Grey Cup game (Canadian Football League Championship game) 🏈

After switching off the Grey Cup (I stopped watching after the Alouettes vaunted defense gave up their 27th point). It dawned on me that no matter how it stacks up, in football, as in life, there is just no sure things. Every pundit that talked about the CFL (admittedly not a huge subset of sports writers) had the Alouettes victory parade already planned. When I sat down to watch the game, I expected to see an annihilation of biblical proportions.

Evidently no one told the Roughriders from Saskatchewan (not to be confused with the hopefully soon to be resurrected Rough Riders from Ottawa) that they were supposed to roll over and die. Saskatchewan decided to make it an exciting and close game (which luckily the Alouettes did finally win).

Football and Financial Planning?

What does this have to do with Financial Planning? First thing is, I didn’t have anything to write about before the game started,. There was almost a “Sorry, no post today, busy watching the Grey Cup”, but thanks to the closeness of the game, I had a story idea watching the game.

Second point is, no matter what assurances any financial planner, financial pundit or financial blogger makes about any financial plan, investment idea, or stock tip, they could very well be wrong (like the 90% of writers who picked the Alouettes annihilating the Roughriders).

Be skeptical about any advice you get. Look in depth into what you are being told. Remember: no matter what decision you make, there will be risks involved in your decision. There are no sure things, keep that in mind.

Yes, the Alouettes did manage to pull the game out on the last play of the game, but the contest itself was much closer than expected, and it took a lot of luck for the Als to finally succeed (when they were supposed to win easily).

Yes, I also had to rewrite this post. I had it all done with 4:00 left in the game and I was sure the Als were losers. Even when you are sure something is going to happen, sometimes things change drastically very quickly (like the Als comeback).

Remember, my only advice is, there are no sure things in life.

Oh and Congrats Alouettes, I never doubted you for one minute (where did that bandwagon go?).

Bring back the Ottawa Rough Riders too!

NB: They did but now they are called the Ottawa RedBlacks

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Christmas is Coming

The NFB again dips into my childhood with this black and white documentary/short of Christmas Time in Montreal (at least the days leading up to Christmas).

Do you need 8 Holiday Money Saving Ideas? Maybe not today, but enjoy the NFB short.

Christmas is coming, and this makes it feel that much closer. The Church at the beginning looks remarkably like the Church I attended in Montreal (and yes, I was a Choir Boy in a younger life).

Back in the Black & White World

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Random Thoughts on a Black Friday

Black Friday, the tradition of mad mob scenes, with people trampling their fellow man so they can get a new XBOX for $200 (after sitting in line for 12 hours).  While I must admit that I have bought 1 or 2 things at a “Boxing Day” sale, however, sitting in line and then using your best Ju Jitsu moves to fight your fellow man off, does not strike me as something I really do want to do.

Black Day in November

Well with the news of possible failures in Dubai, this Friday may not just be Black Friday for shopping reasons, but let’s see what the Financial Bloggers had to write about this week.

  • Michael James helps us Understand Car Lease Payments, and points out that his math is good, but leasing is still bad (IMHO).
  • Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneygo has been having some guest posts this week and an interesting one is Gift Giving For Less (unfortunately it does mention Charity as a Present, which is a pet peeve).
  • Larry MacDonald asks the financial question Bonds vs. Bond ETF, an interesting discussion ensues.
  • Gail Vaz-Oxlade discusses Creating the Illusion of Scarcity, an interesting spin on things, but maybe a little optimistic.
  • Ellen Roseman complains Help I am Being Gouged for Spam Text Messages, don’t get me started Ellen, I have already Ranted about Bell Mobility this week!
  • The Four Pillars brings a Holiday Spirit with the post Tips For Watching a Christmas Parade with Kids .  My tip? Pay teenage kid $40 to take kids, and stay home.
  • It’s Just Money is possessed by E-Book Readers? Evidently THE gift for this year, I’ll listen to them on CDs instead :-).

Enjoy the weekend, and remember to get your Snow Tires on SOON!

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Charity as a Holiday Present

As eyes turn towards the juggernaut coming at us called the Christmas spending orgy (I am thinking of trademarking that phrase), let me reflect on the idea of using Charity as a holiday present.

Let me first point out that I feel that I do a fair amount of charitable work, and I do give to charities as well, so as a rule and as a concept I completely support charities and feel their good works are a wonderful thing. I strongly suggest to you, good reader, that you give at this time of the year (and all year round). Remember that giving is not just a monetary thing, many charities would love your skills and time as well, so please remember that as part of your charitable works.

What a Crock of Beans!

Now, for those of you who plan on sending me a card that says something like:

“We thought of you this holiday season and have made a donation to the Human Fund in your name”

let me be very succinct: BULLSHIT (note the Seinfeldian reference).

If you wish to give to Charity, wonderful, I applaud your giving, however, do not believe that your “giving” in any way, shape or form makes me feel more festive because of it. You giving to Charity is not a gift to me. If you don’t want to give me anything this year, that is cool, and you don’t even need a card, just drop me an e-mail something like:

“Dear Scrooge, we didn’t feel like sending you jack this year, enjoy the Holidays you unlikeable so and so”

No, I have not completely gone off my nut, but I am really kind of tired of Pious folks showing me how Good they are by “giving for me”, I give as much as I can, and that is as good as it can be.

If you want to give, please do, but don’t masquerade that it has anything to do with me, thanks. Oh and if you send out a card like that and DO NOT give, Karma and or the wrath of whichever God you worship will get you eventually (isn’t that a Happy Holiday thought as well)

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Cell Phones (the saga continues)

Yesterday we learned of my quandary with Bell Mobility who seemed to have overcharged me for a phone that was no longer on their network. Today we learn just how obfuscated this can all become.

Billing a Number Not On Network

Billing for a service that was not delivered was the first point I brought up with the young lady from Bell which I spoke to. I attempted to remain well behaved and was not rude, since that is the first rule of negotiating with a customer service agent (if you want to succeed, keep your cool, stick to your guns but don’t swear, or you automatically lose).

I pointed out that my wife’s cellular phone was no longer on the Bell network, however it took about 10 minutes for the service agent to confirm that yes the phone had been “suspended” from the network. That term “suspended” worried me, so I probed about what that meant, and she pointed out that the phone goes to “suspended” when it is ported out of their network and then a month later it is in “Removed” state (remember that part it is important).

I then pressed the point about why was I being billed the entire month for a number no longer on the network. My service agent wasn’t very clear on that so she went away to get the exact details (this took about 15 minutes on hold) and when she finally returned the answer left me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

Evidently in the Bell system, if you have your number transferred to a different carrier the number “stays on the books” with bell for a month, and thus the consumer is obligated to pay for that number for that entire billing period. That was kind of what I expected, so I then made an assumption and asked, “So it will not show up on my bill next month, correct?”, silence again. More consultations on hold were held, and when my agent returned I was told, No, I would be billed for the next period as well, since the 30 days “on the system” was linear time and thus it overlapped into the next billing period so I have to pay for it for two months. I asked for that to be repeated, and it sounded just as much like a rip off the second time. I asked if there was anything that could be done (for a long time customer) to waive that fee, but was told brusquely, No!

This is your warning that if you plan on moving away from a Bell Contract figure out when your billing period is and transfer your phone out as close to the end of that period as you can, to try to mitigate the penalty fees you will incur.

Changing My Service Package

After failing miserably on my first point I continued on my discussions about how MY phone had been transferred into a strange billing package, which ended up charging me $22 extra for text messaging. The service agent was not sure, so she disappeared on hold again to go find out, and when she returned she implied (but did not say directly) that I must have changed service packages and that was why.

At this point I could have flown into a rage and pointed out how screwed up that was and how that was just WRONG, but I managed to keep my cool and I pointed out that the change in service package happened on the exact same day that my wife’s phone moved over to the Telus network. Silence for a few seconds was my answer, and then another prolonged wait on hold, for more consultations about what I had just said.

My agent returned again, to say, yes in fact the service package had been changed on that day, but I must have done it when I called in the phone number transfer for my wife’s phone. My response to that statement was that I did not actually call that in, the nice people at Telus did all that for us, so I did not agree or ask to have my service package changed then. Silence for a few seconds, another pause on hold to consult.

Upon return I was told that yes, that must have been what happened however, Bell had tried to call me to tell me I HAD to change my service package and what did I want to change it to? I pointed out that I didn’t receive any calls like that, and no messages were left on my phone (or text messages on my remaining form), but my agent was determined to tell me that someone had tried to call me.

I continued my statement of the fact that Bell had put me in a service package without my ok and now was attempting to gouge $22 in services from me that I was not going to pay for. My agent said she needed to consult a bit more, and disappeared on hold again.

Upon her return her tone seemed to change and she said that Bell would be willing to “forgive” the charges for this past month and she would now help me to put me into a Service Package to my liking. Quick thinking on my part caused me to point out, “I am not prepared to make this a NEW contract, my contract has expired and I am happy to not renew at this time”, causing more silence and a return to the land of “On Hold”.

Finally a return, and a confirmation that yes this was not going to be a new contract and I was put into a package that should fit my usage needs (I suspect it is going to be a lot more expensive than I want to pay, but I still have the option to “Vote with My Feet” next year). After about 66 minutes, I finally hung up with $22 back in my pocket and a very sour taste in my mouth.

Will I stay with Bell? For the next few months I guess, but as soon as the new Wireless Carriers in Canada come on line, I will be looking into what they offer and more likely than not will be leaving Bell for a cheaper Wireless service.

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