Consumer news

December 29, 2021

Crooks watching for TV boxes put by the curb to know which houses to rob

By law, any and all holiday crime stories must be linked to Home Alone  and a requisite YouTube clip.

Stock-photo-18579229-burglarBut, wait! This one really compares!

Much like the Wet Bandits casing upscale Chicago neighbourhoods, real-life crooks are reportedly doing the same in the U.S., scoping out homes not for suitcases by the door but what’s waiting at the curb instead.

Your garbage, cops say, may just be an invitation for burglars to come on in these holidays.

Continue reading »

December 28, 2021

Cruise recreating Titanic's fated voyage sells out

Right now, near Prypiat, Ukraine, chances are a group of nervous tourists are navigating the site of history’s most damning nuclear disaster.

RMS_Titanic_3That site, of course, is Chernobyl, which was not only where fatal catastrophe struck 25 years ago, but now where voyeuristic visitors come to tour the grounds, too.

It’s called “extreme tourism,” and people love this stuff. They consume tragedy as their own way of tribute to the dead, but also, I imagine, in part for the same macabre reasons serial killer memorabilia has become a real thing.

In any case, extreme tourists – or simply history buffs, however you want to label things – will have another chance to tempt fate next April. That's when they’re recreating the Titanic.

Continue reading »

December 23, 2021

When in doubt, Canadians turn to credit cards during the holidays

Things in Canada aren’t so great right now.

210703_shopping_bliss__presents_no_Oh, they’re pretty good for Canada. Our national economy is growing faster than analysts could predict, and production capacity is beginning to finally approach pre-recession levels.

Yet on the ground, where the economy’s performance is really felt, consumers have puckered up tight. We discussed Canada’s plummeting consumer confidence in this space just yesterday.

But as a new report details, we can throw all that aside during the holidays. Thanks to credit cards, today’s debt concerns will be January’s problem.

Continue reading »

December 22, 2021

Poor product design a threat to children: report

Here's a 'don't run with scissors' story that your mother would love. It seems the latest household hazard isn’t dropped cigarettes or kids playing with matches. It's actually lunch.

AdStill have a fondness for those cheap instant noodles that got you through school? Well, you better get over it. They could land you in the hospital with serious burns, thanks to the cups' designs.

Brands vary but most cups are tall, lightweight, and have an unstable base, according to NPR's Planet Money blog, making them more likely to tip over and do some sertious damage.

Continue reading »

Why is Canada's consumer confidence so low?

Look, we get it. The recession was awful, particularly nasty for millions of Canadians.

Stock-photo-17885595-mmmmhhhBut even with an expectation that a recovery would not be 100 per cent smooth sailing, more than two years since the Bank of Canada officially declared the downturn dead we should be back on our feet, at the very least.

Though the latest Index of Consumer Confidence shows not only are Canadians worried about our economy, their confidence is at its lowest level in more than two and a half years.

In other words, we feel the same about Canada’s economy today than we did smack dab in the recession’s darkest days.

Continue reading »

December 21, 2021

The car rental fees you didn't know about

Heading south sometime this winter? Maybe you should bring your own car this time.

AdIf not, remember that the advertised price for a rental car bears no relationship to the price you will actually pay, especially at big city airports, reports Consumer Traveller. And those costs are likely to go up.

In the U.S, Arizona, Texas and Florida seem to add some of the highest mandatory extra fees but the additional charges are pretty significant everwhere you go.

While these extra charges usually show up in the estimated total shown on the screen, you won't find them in the base rate, largely to drive profits, CT explains. Here's what to watch for, warns Independent Traveler. 

Continue reading »

December 20, 2021

Canadians to save more in 2012: report

At this point after the recession, almost two-and-a-half years now, you’d think Canadian consumers would begin to slip.

Stock-photo-17554985-piggy-bankAfter being slammed by the downturn, said by many to have been the result of personal and Wall Street misspending, we naturally changed in the years after, tightening our belts and tightening our purse strings.

Yet that’s all fine and good for appearance’s sake. By now, at the end of 2011, a time when credit card use is climbing back up, we’d surely regress gradually to the mean, right? Certainly, we would return to spending like Venetian tourists, return to succumbing to impulse …

… but, wait, not only have we not slumped in our fiscal responsibility, perhaps we’re improving still.

Continue reading »

December 16, 2021

Ottawa forces Cdn. airlines to advertise all-in prices

This morning, a recent headline got me browsing Air Canada’s website.

Stock-photo-431394-up-up-and-awayFirst, what I found. Out of curiousity, I checked up a Toronto-Honolulu return flight. We reached nine degrees or so here in Toronto yesterday, but come on. Hawaii in winter > Canada in winter.

The airline quoted me $499 there, via Montreal and  Vancouver, and $349 home, via Calgary. About $850 to Hawaii: cool!

Of course, then I went to the checkout, and all of a sudden taxes, fees, charges and surcharges brought me up over a thousand bucks. A lousy surprise, right? Almost … deceitful. Well, no more, says the federal government.

Continue reading »

December 15, 2021

Not even burglars want a BlackBerry these days

In full, 100 per cent disclosure, this is not the space to find even, neutral RIM coverage.

Stock-photo-16188428-criminal-raises-crowbarWe’ve often poked fun at the BlackBerry maker, and, really, it’s not our fault. What else are we left to do when tales arrive of PlayBook giveaways or drunk Research In Motion execs grounding planes bound for Beijing?

Yet less than a week after the Globe and Mail counted down ten reasons it can’t get any worse for RIM, chances are the paper didn’t expect this.

According to NBC New York, not even crooks will take a BlackBerry these days.

Continue reading »

December 14, 2021

The move to ban all in-car cell phone use

How long did it take smoking to become taboo?

Stock-photo-13111531-dangerous-distracted-driver-talking-on-phone-doesn-t-see-childThree years? Five? Back in 2003, when it was first outlawed in Canadian restaurants and public spaces, it must’ve seemed like a Herculean effort to turn society against the habit.

Yet here we are, in 2011, and smoking’s slowly and surely become an act of seclusion; a nasty exercise people now, where they might not have even a half-decade ago, crinkle their noses and turn the other way.

The point? Even something as culturally entrenched as smoking can be turned upon. And take a look around, there’s a similar movement happening now: the case against cell phone use by drivers.

Continue reading »


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...