Reviews / Canada

Future Shop Canada: Purchase Resident Evil 6, Get A $10 Credit Towards Any Game $19.99 Or More


Future Shop Canada is offering a $10 credit towards any game $19.99 or more when you purchase Resident Evil 6 in store.  The game must be purchased from now until October 4, 2012 and the gaming credit is valid from November 1 – 30, 2012.

Resident Evil 6 was released yesterday (October 2, 2012).  The game has received mixed reviews from various gaming magazines and websites.  Although it is agreed this game trumps its predecessors, there are still issues with the fluidity of the gameplay, a choppy plotline and irrelevant new features.  However, if you are a fan of the Resident Evil series, this is a game you will definitely want to add to the collection.

Click here to view the versions that qualify for this deal.


Canadian Quick Question: What Do You Think Of “Savings Passes” Or “Savings Cards”?


The latest trend among retailers is to offer store credit in the form of gift cards or bonus points when you spend a certain amount of money at the store.  It is not uncommon to see “spend $100, get a $25 savings card!” or some other catchy title splashed across a flyer or sign.  Sometimes the offers seem too good to be true, especially when the savings will be 50% or more.  And, nine times out of ten the deal is too good to be true…

The initial claim of 30%-60% off gets your attention.  With the excitement building, you furiously read the fine print to see how you can get in on this fantastic deal and then…there it is.  The tiny little detail that kills your joy in a split second:  “savings pass is redeemable on your next purchase of $100 or more”.  And what’s more, retailers will usually tell you when you can spend the savings pass.  Hmmm…better write that one down on the calendar or the entire promotion will be good for nothing.

I find these promotions misleading and frustrating.  Why would a retailer make an outlandish claim (save 50%!) only to squash all excitement by bogging it down with fine print to make the deal a waste of your time?  If the goal is to catch your eye, then this is a highly effective marketing gimmick.  However, it seems absurd to lure a customer in just to disappoint them in the end.

What do you think of savings passes?  Do you find them frustrating?  Or, are they a savvy marketing tool?  Let us know!

 

 


Garnier Tries To Makes It Right After Contest Issues


For those who entered the contest to receive a free sample from Garnier we blogged about here, many members received an email before the contest was over saying they had won the grand prize.

It was clear by just the number of SmartCanucks members that this was an error, many of us received an email stating we had won one of seven $100 Lululemon gift cards and a full size lotion, which is the week 4 prize.

Last night, Garnier sent these ‘winners’ an email stating:

We understand your disappointment and appreciate your patience. In gratitude for your loyalty to Garnier, a voucher for a FREE full-sized (400 ml ) bottle of our new Garnier Body Intensive 7 days will be sent directly to your home within the next two weeks.

Good for them trying to make it right instead of just saying ooops, sorry.


50 Shades Of Grey. Whats the big deal?


Everywhere I go I hear or see women ranting about the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy written by E.L James.  I had heard so many women gush about how amazing the trilogy was. I gave in and ordered them off Amazon a few months ago.  I wish I could get a refund.

I’m one of the select few that just hasn’t really enjoyed the book. So much so, that it took me quite a while to read the first installment.  Generally when I’m engrossed in a book life stops.  I don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished. I have to know how it ends!   50 Shades, complete opposite. If anything I found it nothing short of a Hustler short story or Penthouse erotic S&M story.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not too conservative but this book was just too much.  Without going into deep detail I just found it unbelievable.  6 orgasms in one sexual encounter, some just by being touched? (Insert eye roll) among other sexual references I just found it meh.  I didn’t find Christian as this super sexy romantic man. I found him to be frail and someone whom was sexually abused as a child.

While I haven’t read book two or three I don’t have much hope left for the trilogy.

Have you read the books? Did you enjoy them?  Did you find they were like the Twilight Saga? (Another series I didn’t like)


Rent To Own Stores- Is it the right choice for a “Smart Consumer”


easyhome

Rent to own stores, we’ve all heard of them, some of us have items from them, but are they a smart choice?  Recently I found an end table set that I liked on a site called Easy Home. I had never looked into one of these sites, and figured I could get a cash in hand price.  Boy was I wrong!  Easy Home deals in “weekly payments”  there are no base prices. Only how much the item will cost you weekly.  I had figured the pair of end tables should retail around $149.99 considering they were just press board and pretty simple.  With Easy Homes base (which they don’t disclose) and the 29.99% interest the pair would cost me $6 per week for 156 weeks costing me just under $940!  With a bit of searching I found a CBC Marketplace investigation where they calculated the base price triple or more of the normal price plus the 29.99% interest.  If you took the regular retail and recalculated the excessive base amount they were charging in the compound interest some items were over 500% interest.  The real kicker?  Some of these items are used! You end paying insane prices on used items.  The only good thing I found was you can return the items at any time with no penalty… but i’m sure theres a lot of fine print to that.

While I do understand some people have no credit or means of purchasing these items outright why not go second hand until you can afford a new couch, tv etc?  Theres no shame in saving up for a new couch.  Or maybe people don’t mind paying insane prices to have something new?   Have you purchased items from a rent to own store? What was your experience?

Marketplace video on CBC


Lip Balm: Winter’s #1 Necessity!


I wouldn’t say that I’m a lip balm addict, but more of an enthusiast. Since it’s relatively inexpensive, lip balm’s my most purchased cosmetic item. By the way, I’m not much of a makeup person!

When it comes to lip care, I rarely go back to the same product. Instead, I’m fairly non-committal, preferring a rotation of new products. Currently, I have Yes To Carrots’ C Me Smile Lip Butter (Carrot) in my purse.

It does the job, but I’m not too crazy about the scent, so I’ll only use it when I’m out ‘n about. (I purchased it at a Target, in the US, and all products were sealed, so I wasn’t able to do a smell-test beforehand. 🙁 ) What I do like about the product is that it’s 95% organic, all natural, and paraben-free.

I also like the fact that it’s a stick formation, so it’s convenient and hygienic for applying on-the-go!

At home, on my nightstand, I have Smith’s Lip Balm (Minted Rose). After reading good reviews, I purchased it on American Apparel online while I was taking advantage of their sales.

As you can see, it’s in an antique-looking tin. So a definite bonus is that I’ll be able to use ALL of the product! However, some people find this method of application ‘dirty’ since you have to dip your finger into it, so for this reason, I only use the Smith’s at home, after ensuring that my hands are clean.

(Although stick lip balms are convenient and relatively clean, I hate it when I’m nearing the tube. I do attempt to dig residual product with my nail, but after a gf shrieked in horror, I stopped…at least when she’s ’round! 😉 )

I also like the minty scent of the Smith’s. Whereas I find flavours such as chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, coffee, etc. absolutely gross!

Whether it’s stick or tin, mint or chocolate (blech!), lip balm is definitely something that I make sure is in my purse come wintertime. So, if you’re a lip balm addict or even enthusiast, what balms do you like?


Do you Etsy?


il_570xn_273469048

If you are thinking to yourself right now ‘what’s Etsy?’ then I promise you you are missing out!!

Etsy is a fantastic free online marketplace where you can Buy/Sell items in the following categories:

  • Vintage
  • Handmade
  • Supplies

What does that mean for you the consumer? It means you’ll have hundreds of thousands of kitschy, adorable, funky, artsy items to browse and buy. I mean, I could literally spend days without sleeping on Etsy.

Click here to check out Etsy

Post some of the links to your favorite items in the comments section!

*crayon art found here


Let’s SAVE At The Ex!



Depending on how you look at it, un/fortunately, the opening of The Ex marks the end of the Summer. It’s an unfortunate sign to me because it means that Old Man Winter, and all his nasty baggage, is just ’round the corner! 🙁

Following an annual family tradition of visiting The Ex, my sisters, nephew, and I decided to revisit that childhood memory. I was blown away at how different AND expensive everything has become. For some reason, I remember The Ex being a relatively inexpensive way to spend the day, but man was I wrong!

(General Admission is $16 which doesn’t sound bad, but since they wouldn’t honour my mom’s corporate rate, I wasn’t able to purchase tickets for $11. Already, this got my day off on the wrong foot! The run ’round that I was given by the staff also left a bad taste in my mouth.)

After spending the entire day there, here are some ways to try and save some money if you plan to visit The Ex:

1. Corporate Rate. If you or anyone in your family qualifies for a Corporate Rate, find out exactly the number of people who will be attending and purchase the tickets ONLINE. As I discovered the hard way, they do not sell discounted tickets at the event. If you are unable to pin down exact numbers, buy an extra ticket – you can always sell it to a stranger in-line.  Tickets are non-refundable.

2.  Bring Cash. I didn’t have time to stop at the bank and didn’t think it would be a problem to use debit or credit card, after all I was in the city. However, aside from the main box office, I did not see any debit machines at the concession stands. The warehouse “stores” may accept these forms of payment, but not where food is purchased and definitely not for the midway games. If you have no cash, there are a bunch of umarked ATM machines, but I avoid those at all costs!

3. Pack Some Food. Unlike more theme parks, e.g. Wild Water Kingdom, the staff at The Ex do not have a “No outside food” policy.  Actually, no one even inspected my purse.  So take advantage of this and pack some snacks or even sandwiches!

4. Bring your water bottle. My sister pointed out these handy-dandy water fountains set-up specifically to fill your water bottle! (They weren’t as rampant as the unmarked ATMs, but I did notice a couple on my rounds.) Since I brought my water bobble with me, this was really handy – not to mention saving me from shelling out upwards of $3 for a bottle of water. 🙂

5. Share, share, share at The Food Building. There is no doubt, at least in my eyes, that The Food Building is still the #1 draw at The Ex! Neither the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger nor the Fried Cola/Butter/Koolaid, etc. interests me, but what I do like is seeing all the variety of food that’s under one roof…the infamous, Food Building!

We didn’t pre-plan things, but my sisters and I split 1 meal for lunch! We thought that it would be a good way to try more than one thing. Aside from the 99¢ Spaghetti, most of the concession items appeared to be 2-3 portions…easily!

6. Don’t play the midway games or go on any of the rides. I realise that this tip may seem “extreme” to some of you, but this is how my mom, as the sole breadwinner, was able to take us to places like The Ex. The first time we were old enough to speak, we may have asked if we could play a game or go on the rides, but after saying “No” the first time, we never asked in subsequent years.  At $20/22 tickets, at an average of 4-6 tickets/ride, they aren’t cheap! And if you have more than one child, it’s even more expensive.

This option may not be for everyone, but if you’re really strapped for cash, it’s definitely an option! If you and your spouse can afford to, but all means, buy the ride tickets, play the midway games. However, there are other ways to have fun at The Ex without spending additional cash, e.g. Petting Zoo, The Farm, live music, people watching, just walking around, etc.

7. Skip The Ex and head to the park! Despite thinking that it’s overrated and overpriced, I still had a good time bonding with my family. However, if money is a real concern which I can totally sympathise with, especially for multi-children families, skip The Ex entirely as it does add up.

I’m sure that your family can bond by doing something less costly like a picnic at the park/beach or a day downtown or at Niagara Falls. Shopping for school supplies and clothing may not constitute as a “bonding activity”, but your money is probably better spent doing that if you had to decide between The Ex Vs. A Necessity.

If you’re set on visiting The Ex, consider going after 5pm on Monday – Thursday as admission is only $5.  And on a rare occasion, sometimes there’s a “Free Admission” day too.


Moxies Canada


moxiesjpg

I’ve eaten about 5 times at Moxies over the years.  Apparently it’s always been too dark to see because until last night I never realized how revealing the waitresses dresses were.  This particular location was in London Ontario.  I ate my dinner watching the waitresses saunter  back and forth. They were all barbiesque looking women, long hair,very skinny, some had breast implants, the dresses were very low cut, and their panties were just about to show as they were cut so short. 

Ok I get it, sex sells. But I was pretty sure I hadn’t stepped into Hooters, that would be a given.

While of course I thought about what if someone didn’t have a perfect body wanted to apply? I was also curious why the men weren’t being objectified.  Why didn’t they have to have hot bodies and muscle tees on? In fact the men working were just average skinny guys.  I realize this must be Moxies thing, but why not the men too?  Also I didn’t see a single girl in there with more then an ounce (give or take) of fat on her.  Have they been charged with discrimination before?  

I’d love to read your thoughts on this.  Of course I’m not saying I hate it there, I would of gotten up and walked out if that was the case.  It simply raised  some questions. Am I not their target diner? If so then why was the majority of diners 25-60 year old women.

After I wrote this piece I did some more digging and found this quote from a Sun article.

*To be sure no ‘uglies’ even got an interview, Hawker said he and other front of house staff were directed to screen applicants coming through the door at Moxie’s, and mark resumes with a “110″ (one-ten) if they were unattractive. It’s an internal code for “do not call,” he said. (Put a diagonal line between the pair of ones and it forms ‘NO’).  Toronto Sun

Hmmn… maybe this chain won’t be my next choice..


Our Very Own Smart Canucks Member “Koala” Won A $10,000 Makeover. *Free Contest Giveaway From Skin Vitality!*


deb

Recently our long time and well loved cuddly member “Koala” won a huge makeover contest.  Below is her experience, first hand.

Mid January I received a phone call that changed my life. I found out I was one of  5 winners of the Skin Vitality $10,000 10 Years Younger Contest!  That was the first conversation of many that changed how I feel, and how I look.  I literally won a  gift of youth that most women only dream of. Entry was only a recent photo and story as to why I deserved a makeover and judges made the decision (based on the info submitted).
 
How do I feel now that my makeover is complete?  Fantastic, honoured, and still fuzzy. Maybe it was all the champagne last night (haha) Honestly, I feel fantastic inside and out. Willy (my husband)  went to every appointment with me and documented the entire journey. I am so proud of myself, and I know Willy is proud of me. We really make quite the team.I am still pinching myself to make sure that it is me, and this really happened. 
 deb21
Skin Vitality provided the most amazing treatments which included:  Photofacial,  Botox,  Soft Lip,  Skin Tightening,  Fraxel,  and  Chemical Peels. Minimized are the wrinkles and any of my broken capilliaries and discolourations!! Included in my treatments were hair, teeth, wardrobe, cosmetics, and photo shoots. I was treated to not one, but two days with David Clemmer from Style By Jury!  He provided fun, humorous, but constructive criticism providing tips how I should dress, and what I can wear.  I finally realize I can wear belts, and fitted garments and look fashionable, comfortable, and if I don’t mind saying so myself,  pretty darn hot!!  Hey, it’s not every day you get a man to dress you. I highly recommend it.
 deb3 
Read about the entire journey over at my blog. You will find more pictures and more about my story.
 
Now!!! Who wants to win some SWAG?
These are the same goodie bags that were handed out at my reveal.

deb4
The bags consist of Vivier Cream Body Scrub, Eyelash curler, Lip Balm with SPF 15, and a Hair Bandana. ($80 value approx.)
I am giving away 2 of these swag bags on Smart Canucks and if you want to increase your chances in winning, go to Picture Ontario , and CNAF Autism Blog to enter. In total, there are 6 of these swag bags available to be won.
 
Entry is simple. Just comment once below. Go to the gallery and have a look around.  Please refrain from “I want to win” or “would love to win” comments.  I (Deb) would love the hear what you think.

Rules

* One entry per household i.e. you may only leave 1 comment on the blog. If you want to discuss anything or share your thoughts please include it in that 1 comment.
*Age of majority only
*Canada only no purchase is ness to enter, odds of winning are dependant on number of entries received.
*You may only win a max of 2 contests throughout the whole giveaways event to give others a chance to win
*Contest ends on July 1st 2011 at 11:59 (est) and the winner willl be announced July 2nd 2011.
* You must use a valid email so I can contact you with details on how to claim your prize. Persons who enter with an alias(fake) email will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be drawn. * Skill testing question required*


Online Sample Sale Sites: No Bargains Here



(This post may sound eerily familiar to the one about there being too many “deal sites”, but instead of quantity, I’m wondering if there are truly any deals to be found on sites such as HauteLook, Beyond The Rack, Gilt Groupe, etc.)

Like clockwork, every morning at 11am, they appear in my inbox, emails from HL/BYR, hawking their wares at “discounted prices”.  Despite receiving and sadly, opening/perusing through each and every one of these emails for more than a year, I think today is going to be my last…I’m unsubscribing!

As I look through their merchandise, instead of thinking, “Gee, this is a great deal!”, it either makes me feel bad ’cause I can’t afford it anyway OR I’m soo disinterested in what they have to offer ’cause it’s stuff that I wouldn’t even take a second look at!

In any event, in terms of their target market, I think they’ve missed their mark with me, a true bargain hunter.

This may disgust some, but I *love* shopping.  I’ve come to terms with how vapid it sounds and I’m okay with it.  Similar to writing, I can even miss meals if&when I’m really in-the-zone with my bargain huntin’.

I’m also an avid eBay seller/buyer, more of a buyer lately ’cause it’s just not a good market to sell.  (Actually I joke that eBay should take away my PowerSeller title and replace it with “PowerBuyer”, due to my recent transactions. 😉 )

So purses with brand names that I’m not even remotely interested, being on “sale” on the above mentioned sites, for $1399.99 just doesn’t turn my crank.  Don’t get me wrong, I will pay that for something that I’ve researched, touched, assessed the workmanship, material, size, usability of, and finally, determined that it was an actual deal as opposed to an inflated “Was $2000, Now $1399.99” deal.

At a recent gathering with friends whom I haven’t seen in a while, one friend admitted that she has made use of these sites, buying a lot of merchandise.  I asked her if most of the items have “worked out” for her and she stated that even if they didn’t, the cost of return shipping wasn’t worth it, so she was basically stuck with an ill-fitting dress.  She also mentioned that the shipping rates were expensive.

Just how many unsatisfactory purchases off these sites were similar to my friend’s?  Have you found any good deals on these sites mentioned?

As for myself, I’m stickin’ to physical shopping and eBay!


Deal55 Canada A Scam Or Legit Gift Card Site for Canadians?


deal55

I was reading through Stephs post about how there are so many group buy sites these days, and came across a few complaints on a site called Deal55.  They offer gift cards for 55% off the retail price.  Some readers are calling foul while others are hopeful the site is real.  

 I never featured this group buy site on the blog because it just seems to good to be true. I would feel horrible sending our faithful readers to a site that could potentially be an identity theft scam. It just didn’t seem completely legit.

Has anyone actually received anything from this company?  It would be great if this site was the real deal,  I am really skeptical. Thoughts?

* With the responses I think it’s safe to say DO NOT purchase through this company. Only a small fraction of cards have ever been sent out.


Do we take multiculturalism for granted here in Canada?



Why hello, there.

I just finished reading J.C. Davies’ book, I Got The Fever.  If you’ve ever wanted to know, but were too shy/PC to ask, Davies exposes what it’s really like to date someone of the following cultures:  Latino, Asian, Black, Indian, & Jewish.

Having dabbled in online dating and not really seeing race as a barrier, I knew that I had to read it!  I was curious to see if my experiences matched up (or not) to what was written in b&w.

Aside from curiosity, another reason developed for reading the book:  I wanted to know if it was going to tell me anything that I didn’t know about the above ethnicities.  The answer?  There were 2 new things that I learned, I counted.

I grew up in Mississauga, in a neighbourhood that was primarily Italian/Portuguese. At my all-girls Catholic high, Caucasians seemed like the minorities.  And not meeting any Jewish, as I was educated in Catholic schools up ’til high school, I made up for that by going to York U…where even Gentiles had the High Holidays off!

So getting back to the topic of interracial dating, is “who’s coming to dinner” even an issue here in Canada?

Currently, I Got The Fever is only available through amazon.ca.


Texting/chatting at the Elections Canada polling stations?


cellphones

I finally got it over with. Today, I went to the advance polling station to partake in my democratic right by voting. I didn’t want to deal with the queue, forgetfulness, or mere procrastination come election day, Monday, May 2nd.

Anyway, as I followed the yellow Elections Canada signs, they led to a greeting desk. Behind the desk sat a girl…who was texting. Briefly, she lifted her head from her cell phone, asked me if I had my voter information card, directed me into the room, and promptly went back to her texting. Umm…okay.

Then, while waiting for my ID/voter card to be checked, a cell phone rang. Eventually, another Elections Canada Worker, a person whose job it is to check ID/cards, picked up her phone, and then promptly left the room to continue her conversation.

After I finished voting, on my way out, I overheard her conversation, and it wasn’t about a family matter, but a friend’s Facebook wall activity.  Huh?

Am I missing something here? You get $100/day to sit there to do a boring task. Accept your fate, bring a book/magazine to flip through while considering yourself lucky for your additional income.

Texting and chatting on a cell phone about Facebook is completely inappropriate – not to mention that it’s being done on tax payers dime! (And isn’t this misuse of technology violating some sort of privacy issue as you’re officially working a polling station?) Am I just old-fashioned or is texting/mindless cell phone babbling now part of societal norms?  If so, where was I when this happened, living under a rock?

I think I want to return to that rock right ’bout now.


Canadian Mom and Pop Shops Vs The Big Box Store


storefront

Over the years lots of mom and pops have closed up shop not being able to compete with the big box stores. Some great stores have closed down because of this, but on the other hand some stores that shouldn’t of been in business still; finally closed too.
I find certain items I like to buy at small stores such as flowers including green house plants, and hard to find items. With a recent bad experience at a small pet store (Critter Barn, Exeter Ontario) it has me thinking  there are certain items that your better off buying at a large chain store rather then a small store. Pets at least come with a 7-14 day guarantee where this pet store didn’t care if my turtle died the second I walk out. It was money in her pocket, no replacement or warranty from the time her cash register slammed shut.  Maybe this was just unfortunate luck for me and generally smaller pet stores have more compassion for their animals.

I recently was in a kitchen specialty store (Kulpepper’s) where the owner was very helpful, honest, and even offered me a special order for a Tassimo cup holder. I received a call that evening  letting me know on the status of the order. The owner knows what excellent customer service means and is striving to provide it. If this had been a big box store there would of been little to no expertise and of course the mention of a special order would of had me possibly laughed out of the store.

Honestly, I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a small store that goes the extra mile to provide great customer service and appreciates my business. Of course there are small stores that are just horrible to deal with and aren’t worth your time. How can you tell?
I’ve compliled a small list of what to look for in a mom and pop shop. (feel free to add to my list)
*Inviting atmosphere
*Personal Greeting When You Walk In (Walmart Greeters Excluded)
*Genuine service. Example: they aren’t trying to sell you something you don’t need, and if it’s a specialty store they know their product. They shouldn’t be rude to you.( I just learnt this one, if the owners nasty from the start. Run don’t walk away, no matter how cute their stuff is.)

What do you prefer, The big box or the mom and pop shop? Is there a small store that you’d like to give a shout out too?


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