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One Phone Call and $1200 Dollars Later

As I mentioned last week in Have You Spoken to Our Customer Retention Agent, sometimes a single phone call can save you a lot of money, but first you must make that phone call.

On Friday, I re-read the comments on my posts, and saw that more than one of my commenters said they call Rogers every time to get better deals, so I went to refresh my memory about how much I paid to Rogers for Cable and Internet access, and was astonished to see how high my rate was (and was annoyed with myself for not doing something about it sooner).

It was all quite easy, I called, and once I found the right person to talk to (after 3 different transfers), I got a young lady, who said she could help me out (this is after the first young man I spoke to actually did say, “… it sounds like you are thinking of changing your Cable service, you should talk to our Customer Relations team…” (I kid you not, a bright young man)). I started with how I have been a long time Rogers customer, the young lady then corrected me and said, “Sir you have been a customer since 1991” (wow that is a long time), so she got on my good side pointing that out.

Typical back and forth discussion about what might and might not be possible, and then the all important, “… I am going to talk to my supervisor, may I put you on hold sir?“, part of the game, and 5 minutes later she returned (my guess is she went to the bathroom and got a cup of coffee, but I can’t be sure of that), I was told that because I was a long time customer and because I have both Cable and Internet with Rogers, I was going to get a $50 a month discount.

This discount only came unless I agreed to a 2 year contract, but over that contract I will then save $1200 on what I am currently paying, so I am not complaining, that is for sure. I also tried to get something free on the Cable side of things, however, she wouldn’t budge on that one (too bad I was hoping to get the movie network free for a month or two, but c’est la vie).

Yet another example of what can happen if you just say to your service provider or bank, “I don’t like the price I am paying for this service”.

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Damn Rich Civil Servants

This is from some older data, but still an interesting view of the National Capital Region.

Before we all go off on the Big C8j let us remember that I am a Civil Servant, so I feel I can publish that kind of inflammatory title (even with more cuts going on in the Civil Service (although 540 are at the CRA, so that is actually financial news as well)).

So why am I dragging this topic out again? Don’t blame me, it is our friends at Stats Canada again, pointing out in their Family Income and Income of Individuals report that:

In 2010, Ottawa–Gatineau had the highest median total family income (before tax) of all the census metropolitan areas (CMAs), at $90,790, according to data derived from personal income tax returns.

Yes, not all folks who live in Ottawa/Gatineau are Civil Servants, however with the demise of Nortel as a percentage there is effectively many more Civil Servants living in the region.

Now let us all remember what Median means (in an arithmetic sense):

“… the middle number in a given sequence of numbers, taken as the average of the two middle numbers when the sequence has an even number of numbers: 4 is the median of 1, 3, 4, 8, 9….”

So it could well be that the average income of cities might show a much larger difference, in that there may be many cities where the Upper income group makes significantly more and thus would move the mean (not median ) up much higher.

What is even more interesting is that the Median Income for Ottawa-Gatineau has actually dropped from 2009 to 2010 (I guess reflecting the drop in private sector jobs here).

Yes Minister! Those Civil Servants and their seats of power!

Yet Another Big Table

So I really like this Big Table from Stats Canada because it points out the differences between lone income families and couple income families (a sore topic with me as well).

Table 2: Median total income of couple families and lone-parent families, by census metropolitan area

Couple families Lone-parent families
2009 2010 2009 to 2010 2009 2010 2009 to 2010
2010 constant dollars dollars % change 2010 constant dollars dollars % change
Canada 76,700 76,950 0.3 36,760 37,050 0.8
St. John’s 87,700 88,890 1.4 35,050 34,960 -0.3
Halifax 85,090 85,170 0.1 35,590 35,330 -0.7
Moncton 74,240 74,740 0.7 33,960 34,270 0.9
Saint John 79,380 78,670 -0.9 32,300 31,930 -1.1
Saguenay 73,470 74,130 0.9 37,870 38,780 2.4
Québec 81,880 81,620 -0.3 45,110 45,410 0.7
Sherbrooke 68,300 68,980 1.0 36,480 36,820 0.9
Trois-Rivières 69,120 69,130 0.0 35,570 35,670 0.3
Montréal 73,850 73,690 -0.2 39,000 38,930 -0.2
Ottawa–Gatineau 100,350 99,880 -0.5 45,500 46,250 1.6
Kingston 84,300 84,880 0.7 37,980 38,760 2.1
Peterborough 75,920 76,200 0.4 34,630 35,860 3.6
Oshawa 91,850 91,320 -0.6 41,040 41,300 0.6
Toronto 75,470 75,580 0.1 38,950 39,340 1.0
Hamilton 84,180 84,930 0.9 38,980 39,900 2.4
St. Catharines–Niagara 72,320 72,730 0.6 35,250 35,930 1.9
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 82,670 84,210 1.9 38,580 39,600 2.6
Brantford 75,880 76,730 1.1 32,530 33,570 3.2
Guelph 87,340 89,620 2.6 41,390 41,990 1.4
London 79,090 79,710 0.8 35,660 36,740 3.0
Windsor 77,120 78,500 1.8 32,930 34,590 5.0
Barrie 82,680 83,350 0.8 36,420 37,290 2.4
Greater Sudbury 84,940 85,560 0.7 36,710 38,000 3.5
Thunder Bay 82,790 84,310 1.8 35,590 37,950 6.6
Winnipeg 80,540 79,680 -1.1 37,560 37,330 -0.6
Regina 95,910 95,260 -0.7 40,080 39,840 -0.6
Saskatoon 89,180 89,350 0.2 37,720 37,610 -0.3
Calgary 97,390 97,070 -0.3 46,580 45,090 -3.2
Edmonton 96,510 96,750 0.2 43,730 42,690 -2.4
Kelowna 74,400 73,750 -0.9 35,680 34,710 -2.7
Abbotsford–Mission 69,540 68,250 -1.9 32,560 32,200 -1.1
Vancouver 74,410 72,610 -2.4 38,880 38,080 -2.1
Victoria 85,670 84,410 -1.5 41,900 41,220 -1.6
Note(s): 
All figures for previous years have been adjusted for inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Go online to view the census subdivisions that comprise the 2006 census metropolitan areas.

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Parenting Tip #327: Large Expenditures (Weddings & Education)

In hopes of helping other parents who might be having issues about how to spend their hard-earned pay on their children, sometimes myself and Mrs. C8j offer useful parenting tips, and this week we give you a solution to the following prickly solution:

Your daughter/princess wants to go to the University of OH MY GOD IT COSTS A FORTUNE, and she also wishes to have a Wedding out of a fairy tale (i.e. something well over $100K in costs).

I can already hear some of you answering, “Oh my God BCM, I am having that exact same problem, how can we resolve this issue?“. If you can afford this, then you need not read any further.

In our case we are attempting to create a creative compromise for this problem. We believe that education is very important and we have attempted to save (as best we can) for our children’s post secondary education, and we will try our best to have our children graduate with no debt load (that has to do with their University Education). I know some of my regular readers believe this is a mistake, but in our opinion it is important.

As for the fairy tale wedding, I have pointed out to my children that Mrs. C8j and I are of modest means and that if they ask for any moneys towards their wedding, I have a simple rule in place:

  • If I put any money into a wedding, I as HOST then have the rights to: invite who(m)ever I wish to this event, I can drink as much as I like, and I can say whatever I want (and I have many incriminating pictures available for the “Father of the Bride” speech).
  • If I don’t pay for a wedding, I am then only a guest, and I must abide by the rules put forward by the hosts of the party, and I will (to the best of my abilities), be my regular cordial self, I will (attempt) to not drink to excess and will have a short and not excessively embarrassing “Father of the Bride” speech.

What are My Kids’ Opinion ?

My children are fully cognizant of my abilities to embarrass them without even trying, hopefully they will cringe when they think about what I might do if I was trying (hard) to embarrass them.

I think this is a very simple solution to the problem, but I already know that some of my readers will actually say, “Don’t pay for either“, but I am interested to hear your opinions none the less. Maybe I should ask Gail Vaz-Oxlade what she thinks of this?

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Why Complain? Why NOT Complain?

More than once I have touched on the subject of whether it is better to suffer in silence or to complain about bad service or when you feel you have been treated badly. This past weekend reinforced my belief that the only people who suffer in silence are martyrs-in-waiting, but then again Martyrs typically end up being burned at the stake (OK that was Joan of Arc, but you see my point).

We were staying at a hotel in Toronto, because my daughter was playing in a basketball tournament. The first night there, we learned that the room we were given had a big noise problem (it faced into the atrium area of the hotel, and the sliding glass door did not close properly). My wife (not a shrinking violet) called and complained, thus we ended up with a new room (the next day) and free breakfast. Was this suitable compensation for my son not sleeping enough? Not really, but it was better than nothing.

We then had another incident on the next night with a drunken woman kicking a door on our floor (luckily not our door) at 2:30 AM, I complained to the manager, and from that I seem to have received a discount on our rooms for the weekend.

I would have thought this was the least complaining most people would do, but I have had more than one person comment to me that they would have never complained about these incidents, and all I can think is, really? You would sit there and suffer in silence in a noisy room or when a drunken woman is keeping you awake?

If you complain the worst answer you can get is, “I am sorry, we can’t do anything for you“, rarely will the person you are complaining to threaten your life (note I say rarely, and once that did happen to me), so why not say something?

Remember I have said before with Free Banking if you do not complain or at least question things, you are going to have to live with your situation (and I question whether you are allowed to complain about it either). Am I out of line with this point of view?

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Gas Price Fixing in Ontario? Really?!?!?

How do I write that in a more sarcastic way?

Given the news in Ottawa has a section where they publish “the price of gas tomorrow”, how is this possible without price-fixing?

The Competition Bureau (yes that is really a part of our government) has fined Mr. Gas, Canadian Tire, and Pioneer Energy up to about $2M for price-fixing in 2007.  The accused fixers plead guilty with the following being reported:

The pleas are as follows:

  • Pioneer Energy LP pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $985,000;
  • Canadian Tire Corporation pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Kingston and Brockville, and was fined $900,000; and
  • Mr. Gas pleaded guilty to price-fixing in Brockville and was fined $150,000.

That is from the Competition bureau’s website.

An interesting explanation about proving price-fixing is the following statement by the Competition bureau:

Price-fixing conspiracies are difficult to detect and prove. High or identical prices are not in and of themselves evidence of criminal activity. There must be evidence that competitors have made an illegal agreement to set those prices. When there are substantiated allegations of wrongdoing in the marketplace, the Bureau will not hesitate to investigate.

I guess I am glad they will investigate, and I suppose it is hard to prove, and it makes me wonder if the Competition Bureau might get targeted for cuts in the coming budget slashing exercise? Wouldn’t that be a convenient turn of events?

Who is surprised that there is price-fixing in Ontario gas stations? What will I be writing about next? The Sun may rise tomorrow morning? There are reports of the earth rotating around the sun?

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