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Air Canada Baggage Fees One Solution

On Sunday I lamented about the pending Air Canada’s new baggage fee on your first bag going to the U.S. or International, however, I think now (thanks to my daughter) come across an ingenious method for not having to pay baggage fees completely (if you are traveling to the U.S. that is).

First let me voice my absolute contempt for yet another cash grab by the Airline industry. Yet another “hidden” cost for traveling is another hideous piece of trickery by an industry that seems to want to have the same reputation as those chaps who try to trick you with a game of  “three card monty”. If I could figure out a way to somehow never have to pay these fees, I would, but I suspect even the method I will outline here, might get shut down quickly.

Methodology for Travelling with No Checked Baggage

First let us assume that you can carry two carry on bags, so you should be able to pack your “skimpies and smalls” easily enough, and if you are lucky, some toiletries, so that part of your ensemble should be taken care of. Either that or assume you can purchase your toiletries where you are going (if you are staying in a full service hotel, then you could get that for free, so you don’t need to pack things).

Next you need to start turning yourself into a checked bag:

  1. Put on a pair of underwear, to start, just to be hygienic
  2. Do you need a swimsuit? Put that on top of your underwear (or underneath if that is more comfortable)
  3. You will need a t-shirt or two, so put those on
  4. If you are going somewhere hot, layer two pairs of shorts
  5. For some places, you might actually be done, but we will continue on.
  6. You might need two dress shirts, so put those on (if one is a short sleeve shirt, maybe put that on first)
  7. Next trousers, one or two pairs is about all you could do, but who knows? Two pairs our slacks on now.
  8. Will you need a sports coat? That can go on top of all of that.
  9. Add a wind-breaker on top and voilà you are packed
Do you look like Bib the Michelin man? Yes, you do. You are also in trouble if you have to be strip searched, but maybe not. Will this work? I have no idea, but it does seem like an interesting (if not off the wall) solution to this expensive issue.
My wife has also pointed out that you can simply go to a full service resort, go down with your swimsuit and purchase any dress clothes you might need, and donate them before you leave (to the local Salvation Army). This is a little expensive given the fee is only $25 for the first bag.

 

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Buying Video Games Redux

I have previously written about a methodology on purchasing video games with The Library and Video Games, but I have added another part to the purchasing methodology.

The Ottawa public library offers Video Games for pretty much every gaming platform, so it is very useful for my family, as my son wants every game he sees, however, he doesn’t really, he simply does what all other six year old want, whatever is the latest thing they saw. Typically I will put a game on hold and once the game appears we get to test drive the game for a week to see if my son really likes the game. We have borrowed many games this way, and have only bought a handful of games at the end of the process, so we have saved a great deal of money not buying these games.

Other folks I know who have kids who are gamers use a methodology of buying games, but then trading them in if they are not used as much, which is better than letting the games sit in your basement, but is a little more expensive (in my estimation), but thanks to them I was able to hone my methodology.

My son took a liking to a specific game from the library, and this time, we decided we would buy it, but this time we went to a store that has “trade ins” and also sells games on consignment, and bought the game used, which was about 1/2 price, which is great too. The price was so nice I even bought the warranty on the used game (an extra $2 and if the game is scratched, it gets replaced for free), yes, maybe a mistake, but I felt so good about saving the money, I wasn’t thinking.

I guess the only other ways to make this a better methodology would be to:

  • Figure out a way to make a back up copy of the game from the Library, which is of course illegal and copyright infringement as well, so not a practical method.
  • Find a group of gamers and trade games between them? My guess is that kids do this already, but I don’t know enough gaming families to join into this.
  • Don’t buy any games (doing nothing is always a method).
Did I miss any?

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Flying Cheaper but is it Better (Video)

So our friends at PBS Frontline did a show near and dear to my heart about the Airline industry and the cost cutting that has gone on, and questioning whether all these cost cuts are not sacrificing our safety.

I grew up flying, as my Dad worked for Air Canada, so I got to see first hand how the industry changed from a very luxury conscious means of travel to a larger more accomodating (and cheaper) transportation, to the point now where it seems to be the ultimate “bate and switch con game” service. I defy anyone to find the real price of any trip with all the new service fees they are allowed to hide and not advertise.

As competition made the airlines have to “lower” their prices, how did they do it? Gasoline has been going up year after year, their employees have most certainly taken some of the cuts, but how else have they been saving money? Frontline gives us some ideas in this full length piece:

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

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New Loblaws Rule on Gift Card Purchases

An interesting change of Policy by Loblaws about the purchase of a Gift Card, evidently due to a high level of fraud with stolen credit cards, Loblaws now only allows you to buy these gifts with Cash or Direct Withdrawal.

The Police have warned retailers of the scam where someone steals a victims credit card (or complete identity), then uses it to purchase gift cards which then become effectively cash for the felon involved in the fraud. Sounds like a straight forward scam, except I have an odd question about this :

Every time I have purchased a “gift card” from a store, I have been told to wait 24 hours while the card is “activated” at the vendor in question (unless it is a gift card with the store in question). The card that I have purchased has an ID code on it, and if I use it the card itself is scanned or read in some fashion. If there is a fraud involved can’t this be stopped quickly? If the Credit Card is identified as fraudulent within 24 hours, then all of these transactions can then be voided too, can’t they?

This makes the assumption that the credit card fraud is identified quickly, which in most cases is not the case it seems. As long as the felon doing the defrauding is not too greedy or too obvious, the fraud typically is only discovered at the end of the month, unless the felon is doing spending that is flagged by the system as “out of the ordinary” for the card holder, no electronic alarms will go off, and it will be up to the consumer to identify the fraud (at which point presumably the gift card has already been activated and used).

Another interesting way to “launder” stolen money by the underworld, and the reaction by Loblaws is understandable, but what about stolen Bank Access cards?

CBC does point out the way this fraud can be cut down:

David Wilkes with the Retail Council of Canada said fraud can be effectively cut down once all retailers convert to credit card terminals that read security chips.

So the next time you are thinking about buying a Gift Card for a friend remember this new rule at Loblaws.

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Valentine’s Day and Finances

A Time to Give… NOT!

So for my regular readers you already know my view of Valentine’s Day as a ridiculously over-hyped excuse to blow countless hundreds of dollars (however it does keep the Rose industry going), but let’s leave my loathing of all things associated with this marketing juggernaut out of the discussion. I still think the whole thing is a sucker bet, and I’d like to point out for those of us who are married, it’s the ABC’s of love and marriage(anniversary, birthdays and Christmas), no mention of V’s, unless you count Vasectomy in there (and that is another story for another day). You aren’t going to win this game, so maybe don’t play.

With this in mind let’s discuss some ways to show someone you love, your undying devotion to them, and discuss the financial ramifications of showing this love.

Roses

Surprisingly these have come down in price, and if you check RedFlagDeals there are a few deals to be had in this area. The nice part about Roses, is that they die and shrivel after about 10 days, unless your loved one is good at drying flowers. Nothing says love like a dead bunch of flowers, and $100 on your Visa card in March.

Chocolates

Unless you are buying them a Crunchie bar, this is going to cost you and then later your loved one will thank you for the sugar crash that happened after they gorged themselves on your gift. If your loved one is diabetic, this is a really bad idea (really bad). This gift could disappear in less than a day, but the after effects could live on for a while (unless your loved one hits the gym). If you give chocolates do you then have to pay for the Gym membership?

RRSP, RESP, RDSP

Valentine's Day Sentiments to Live By

Dinner Out

You must be joking, do you have a reservation? If not, you might get into McDonalds but that is about it. Valentine’s Day dinner out you need to book about 6 months in advance, luckily you didn’t and are now saving a few hundred bucks on this one too. Go out on the Friday or Saturday afterwards, might be a little easier to find a place to eat?

A Diamond or Jewelery

Nothing says love more than 6 months gross income? (remember that is what De Beers says you should spend, if you really love someone) Nice to think you have 6 mortgage payments hanging from your loved ones ears, or around their neck.

If you do this, please send me 10% of the money, because you can afford it, and I could really use the money.

Lingerie

Yup, most men want to buy their wife or girlfriend lingerie, and it used to be this was taboo (you saw a guy in a lingerie store, you assumed he was a cross dresser), but now men are free to spend $50 on a thong that has less material than a roll of dental floss. You better be sure you know your “wife’s size” or this gift is going to backfire on you.

Ladies, if you think your man is going to get you this gift, get him a man thong, and point out you’ll wear yours, when he wears his.

Money well spent? You could just go buy some jockeys for everyone and all have a more comfortable Valentine’s Day.

Weekend at a Bed and Breakfast

I keep running across this on various Top 10 lists of what women want for Valentine’s day, and I have to ask why a B&B? Why not a luxury hotel with room service? The Bed and Breakfast places I have seen lack a certain privacy that I’d want for a romantic weekend, and they seem to charge more for a smaller room, without it’s own bathroom? What am I missing here?

A Sex Toy

This goes in the same category as Lingerie as a newer genre of Valentine’s Day Presents. If you saw someone in a “Sex Shop”, your first thought used to be “Dirty Old Man” (it might still be the case), but evidently this is no longer taboo as well. Some of these toys have become quite elaborate, and quite expensive (and use a lot of batteries I hear as well).

Nothing says I love you, more than a sex toy. Enough said here.

Final Words

Yes, another rant by me about overspending (I enjoy holidays, it makes writing these posts a lot simpler).  Am I saying you shouldn’t buy anything for Valentine’s Day for your loved one? Yes, I am. If you are in debt or are carrying balances on  your credit card, use the money to pay down (or off) your credit card, put the paid off bill in a card and show your loved one you are financially responsible, that is a better sign of love anyhow.

Remember love does not have a monetary value. Cook your loved one a meal, do the dishes and clean the house up, that may be the gift they really want.

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