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September 2010

January 24, 2022

Starbucks to serve beer and wine at some U.S. stores

Let’s brainstorm together: if there is one place on earth where people linger too long, where is it?


Indeed, there are few social meeting spots as cliché as the coffee chain, yet still it persists, Starbucks being the  place you want to be if your desire is to be seen in public typing on your laptop, studying for an exam or wearing a cashmere scarf with glasses absent prescription frames.

Business-wise, having people spend incredible stretches of time in your outlets is a big money maker for Starbucks, though in the U.S. the franchise has found a way to lure customers in for even longer.

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September 30, 2021

What is the world's most dishonest profession?

When I was in the market for a new vehicle, back about 10 months now or so, I went into the pursuit with one stereotype in mind: car salesmen are the worst of the worst. Be careful.

But come on, I thought. For a profession so prejudiced since the dawn of time, they can’t all be that bad. In fact, being no doubt aware of their public perception, I imagine the modern car salesman is quite reasonable. Fair, even.

Well, scratch that. When I walked into that car dealership, I never, not once, got the idea I wasn’t simply a dollar sign with a face to those people. In my opinion, every opportunity they saw to exploit me, they took. This couldn’t have been an isolated incident. Stereotype: upheld.

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Well, I’m actually thinking about buying a franchise

Canadians looking for work are unlikely to get much comfort from job figures as the unemployment rate is expected to stubbornly hover around the eight per cent mark for the foreseeable future.

After a few months of futility, some of these formerly employed will come to believe that the only way that they can hope to match their past salary will be to start a business of their own – more than likely by buying a franchise.

Good luck with that.

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September 29, 2021

Governments waste half of every dollar spent, public poll says

Cynicism can be a useful tool.

1176253_cut_expenses_3 For instance, it can help us sift through the constant spin of today; a common sense device, of sorts. Like, Hey, maybe we should listen to geologists about what to do with the Alberta oilsands, not James Cameron. That kind of thing.

But pessimism may find no more important use than with regard to our world’s governments. It’s important for them to know we don’t totally trust what they do. It keeps them on their toes. Yet … are we really this sceptical of our elected officials?

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Attention travelers: The top 10 pickpocket cities

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than having your pocket picked, warns Smarter Travel’s Carl Unger.

Unfortunately, in some European countries in particular, pick pocketing seems to be the second oldest profession, with several cities popular with North American tourists garnering a reputation as a place where dollar-heavy wallets go to be snatched.

Those spots include …

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September 28, 2021

Sex scandals in the workplace — What's the big deal?

Last week, Mark Hurd settled a lawsuit brought on by his former employer Hewlett-Packard after he was hired to help lead rival Oracle. You might remember Hurd resigned as HP CEO in August, following an internal investigation that found he falsified expense forms to conceal a relationship with a former TV reality show contestant turned marketing consultant, Jodie Fisher. Fisher had charged Hurd with sexual harassment (they eventually settled out of court).

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Is Groupon designed to exploit small businesses?

For consumers not checking out Groupon daily, you’ve gotta get there.

1098660_tag_icon_set The super-coupon site has almost changed how retailers dole out discounts, and the deals speak for themselves. A few recent Canadian bargains the forum has offered: $25 for $50 worth of apparel at nationwide Gap stores; $49 for $300 worth of teeth whitening at a Toronto dentist; $15 for $30 worth of tapas and wine at a Calgary bistro.

Yet while the savings ring sweet for us, no doubt, what about businesses using the site? Too many customers can’t be bad for many companies, but could using Groupon be biting off more than some smaller retailers can chew?

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HST fallout: Does anybody really care anymore?

We’re almost three months into Ontario’s new 13% harmonized sales tax and consumers are still confused about the rules.

Many are complaining about being nickel and dimed to death when it comes to applying the tax on certain items inappropriately or, in other cases, finding out that they’re not saving nearly as much as they thought when using coupons.

Others claim that the HST is taking a bite out of tourism and that real estate sales are also drying up as a result. Even though existing homes aren’t affected, many buyers rushed to buy them under the mistaken impression that HST applied, thus helping to push up prices.

And then there's the jump in the size of those monthly hydro bills and, of course, the price of gas.

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September 27, 2021

Why the timing of Wall Street 2 may be all wrong

The timing all seemed right for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

In sequel-ing his 1987 hit film, writer/director Oliver Stone had nothing but topical headlines surrounding the release of the story’s second act, which hit theatres last Friday. The U.S. “officially” announced it was free from the recession just that week, and from the personal tragedy/PR goldmine files, Michael Douglas was forced to reveal he had developed throat cancer as the movie’s cast were making its press rounds for the movie.

So, unless the movie is an Alexander -like dud in quality, sounds like a recipe for success, right? Maybe. Yet perhaps Stone has overlooked one thing regarding the movie-going public: their interest in jobs, above all else.

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Obesity takes a heavy toll on your wallet: study

A new OECD report claims that Canada has a relatively high number of overweight citizens, suggesting one in four of us currently qualifies as obese — a number that’s expected to climb a further five per cent over the next decade.

Canadian obesity rates are well below those of the United States, however, which the OECD gleefully highlights as the fattest nation among its member countries.

South of the border, 70 per cent of residents are classified as overweight.

Aside from the obvious health issues, the price of all this extra weight is starting to add up both for individuals and employers in added benefits and absentee costs — especially for women, according to a recent study from George Washington University.

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September 24, 2021

New app lets Phillies fans order food right to their seat

This year, the Philadelphia Phillies have enjoyed some pretty good fortune.

1068822_wind_up___and_the_pitch The team stole Canada’s beloved ace Roy Halladay, who won his 20th game of the season Tuesday, and – despite a host of injuries to sluggers like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard – currently sit in first place in the NL East, primed for its fourth-straight turn in the playoffs next month.

But as if Phils fans haven’t had enough, their home diamond is now on the forefront of the newest movement in digital media. Starting with the team’s last three home games against the Mets, patrons at Citizens Bank Park will now be able to use their cell phones to order concession grub right to their seat, without missing a pitch.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...