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April 25 2012

What's New: Eyelash Extension Reviews, $1200 Lanvin Dresses....For Kids and More!

By Kate Musgrove

Here's some of the frivolous (and downright ridiculous!) fashion news we came across today:
  • The New York Times is reporting on high-end fashion for kids, and they don't mean a $70 Gap dress -- they are referring to $1200 tulle dresses by Lanvin and a $375 Burberry trench, for example.
  • I'm more than a little curious about eyelash extensions which has lead me to reading more than a few online reviews.
  • Currently in the UK -- and making its way to the US in the next year -- is the Bodymetrics pod, which will do a 3D scan of your body and give you suggestions about what brands and styles of jeans will fit your body best. I wonder about the use of 3D technology to make suggestions -- why don't they take the same information and stitch up a pair of perfectly-fitting jeans?
  • On the other hand, I guess that's what MakeYourOwnJeans.com is for!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/fashion/the-rise-of-designer-childrens-lines.html?_r=1&ref=fashion

What's the best (or worst) thing you read online today?

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April 24 2012

How Do You Watch TV?

By Kate Musgrove

Ten years ago, I watched TV live, as it happened, or I watched series on DVD. And that was basically it! If I missed a show as it aired, I read a written recap of it to catch up. These days, I take in media in a lot of different forms. I haven't had cable for several years so I consume everything via Netflix, network sites streaming content and the occasional download.

So, basically because I'm curious, how do you watch TV? You can select multiple options, so tell us your top two or three venues.

Poll

How do you watch TV/movies?

Pick all that apply.

This poll is now closed.

This poll is now closed.

  • Live, or recorded with DVR, via a big-name cable company
    26%
  • Online, through network sites that offer streaming content
    25%
  • via Netflix, Roku or a similar device
    17%
  • Downloaded from a free P2P torrent site
    27%
  • I just don't watch TV
    3%

Based on 225 votes.

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April 23 2012

RIP, Vancouver Canucks 2011-2012

By Amanda Aikman

As the sole Vancouver resident on the RFD staff, I'd like to take a moment to eulogize the Vancouver Canucks' 2011-12 season/post season. We're still in shock in my house, despite having lived on the elimination brink since the end of game 3. We really believed things would turn around, how could they not? Well, now we know how...but instead of focusing on the pain of the game-5 overtime loss, we choose to focus on the many amazing moments that preceded it. And the many amazing moments that will follow it.

As Canucks fans, we know we aren't beloved by all. Even the most delusional member of the Canucks Nation can't deny that many people love to hate the team we love to love, but that's okay. We'll take the diving jokes and the riot jokes. We'll put them with the Luongo jokes and the fair-weather fan comments. And we'll bide our time. Because it will come. (It will come, right?)

The Canucks are dead. Long live The Canucks. And now, I guess, it's time to cheer for Ottawa. Go Sens!

Amanda's son experiences the agony of The Canucks defeat. Turns out, it can be cured with ice cream and hugs -- take note, Vancouver.

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April 20 2012

Budget Travel Tips

By Amanda Aikman

I’m going to Disneyland! I recently booked a five-night air and hotel package after extensive (some might say compulsive…“some” being my husband) research. I love booking holidays, especially on a budget. I’m pretty sure that even if/when I hit the Lotto Max jackpot, I’ll still spend hours scouring the Internet for the cheapest fares and best deals on accommodation whenever I feel like getting away. I can’t help it, like most RFD’ers I just have to get the best deal!

If you’re on the hunt for travel bargains right now, here are a few of the tips and tools that helped me on my budget-vacation quest:

  • Do your homework. There are so many travel sites to book through these days, be sure to visit them all to see where your money goes the furthest. Here’s a quick checklist of some of the biggies: Priceline.com, Travelocity.ca/com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Hotels.ca/com, Expedia.ca/com, WestJetVacations.com and FlightCentre.ca
  • RedFlagDeals.com Forums. Whether you’re scanning the Hot Deals Travel forum for the latest and greatest bargains or looking for more trip-specific advice/tips from the Travel discussion forum, you can really benefit from the experience and knowledge of the members posting here. In addition to coupon codes and travel sales, you’ll find all sorts of tips on local restaurants and attractions, honest hotel reviews, and advice on everything from affordable airport transfers to the cheapest place to pick up some new luggage.
  • I’ve got a coupon for that! Stretch your vacation budget with a little coupon research. Airport parking, car rentals, museum/theme park admissions, restaurants…there are so many opportunities to save. When I have a vacation destination in mind I like to pick up an Entertainment.com book for wherever I’m going (especially when they go on sale). You can also often find coupons on Tourism/Chamber of Commerce websites, airport websites, or the websites of local restaurants or destinations you may want to visit.
  • Think outside the travel box. If you’re booking a first-class flight to Hawaii to stay at a 5-star resort over the Christmas holidays, you’re probably not going to find too many bargains. But, if you’re willing to travel off-season or mid-week, depart from a smaller/further airport, bundle your hotel/air fare, book a condo through agencies like VRBO.com instead of staying at a hotel, pre-purchase tours/admissions/dining plans through discount providers, or hit the airport with carry-on luggage only, you’ll end up with a lot more money in your souvenir-shopping fund.
  • Get a Second Opinion. So you’ve put the time in and you’re pretty sure you’ve found the best deal possible. You probably have. But if you want to be sure, contact a travel agent and ask for a quote. I like to tell the agent exactly what I’ve been able to find, and then politely let him/her know that I’d be happy to book with them if he/she can find me a better price. If they come back with a lower price, you’ll be saving even more money. If they aren’t able to do any better, you have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve found the best deal!

Got any hot tips for saving money on your 2012 vacations? We’d love to hear about them!

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April 18 2012

Plus-Size Resources for Canadian Shoppers

By Kate Musgrove

One of the areas that Canada lags behind the US in terms of availability and variety is plus-size clothing options. And it's not hard to understand why -- Canadians tend to be slimmer than Americans. (The average Canadian woman weighs 19 pounds less than the average American woman.) If you are a plus-size shopper in Canada, here's a quick look at some of the best retailers we've found:

  • TheBay.com - I'm continually surprised by the volume and breadth of the plus-size section at TheBay.com. They have styles from Ralph Lauren, Style and Co, Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Tahari and other brands, and there are very frequent price reductions and sales. There's a mix of splurges ($285 silk blazer!) and steals ($17 Ralph Lauren turtleneck or $20 Jones New York tee).
  • Addition Elle and Penningtons - the cornerstones of Canadian plus-size shopping. They can have great deals, but I'm often irked by seeing that $7.50 shipping charge at checkout. They accept returns in-store, which is handy if you happen to have one nearby. Prices are moderate -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a single apparel item over $90 (outerwear excluded).
  • OldNavy.ca - not a true plus-size retailer, but their standard sizes go up to XXL (in tops/dresses) and 20 (in jeans) which is larger than most retailers. They offer free shipping over $50 and regularly run sales, coupons and other promotions. Old Navy's US site has a dedicated plus-size section with sizes up to 4X, but shipping and duty from the US can be pretty steep.
  • LandsEnd.com - huge plus-size selection and most items have a lot of customer reviews, which I always find helpful. A wonderful resource for plus-size swimwear as well. Although they're a US brand, they have free shipping promotions at least once a week and those promotions include Canada. Can be a bit pricier (it's not uncommon to see a $70 shirt) but with the quality of the clothing merits it -- and regular promotions and free shipping bring the prices down.
  • Lola + Gigi - a boutique-style site with apparel from Kiyonna, Lundstrom, Melissa Masse and others. Items are gorgeous -- but can be priced as high as $695. The sale section is worth keeping an eye on -- there are sometimes very discounted items available.

And if you're open to cross-border shopping the options open up even more, of course. Now tell me -- who did I miss?

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April 17 2012

What's New: Revamped Return Policy from Sears Canada, Longer Shopping Hours in MB + IKEA Electronics

By Kate Musgrove

There's a lot of news in the shopping world today with everything from updated return policies to longer shopping hours. Here's a quick roundup of what I've seen so far:

  • TimmyRun.com is a new site from Tim Hortons intended to help you streamline your daily coffee runs. Currently it just lists beverages -- we'll be sure to let you know when it includes muffins, bagels and breakfast sandwiches!
  • Sears Canada is revamping their return policy next month. They will be removing the 10-day return policy they have previously maintained and put an end to their 20% restocking fee for big items like appliances and electronics.
  • IKEA is launching an electronics line with televisions and sound systems. Here's hoping the TVs don't require assembly! It's in a limited European market right now; we'll see it by the end of 2013.
  • Manitoba is set to increase their Sunday shopping hours! Currently, shopping on Sunday is allowed from 12 PM to 6 PM only.
  • Construction is just about to start on Toronto Premium Outlets, a 500,000 sq. ft. mall outside of Toronto. They're expected to house a number of high-end retailers but no names have been released just yet.
  • Club Monaco launched online shopping today and they're offering free shipping through April 30!

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April 17 2012

What Would You Do if You Were Hit with a $1400 Cellphone Bill?

By Danielle O'Hanley

Sometimes I get annoyed when my cellphone bill is $10-$15 over my regular cost, but that's nothing compared to this father who got hit with a $1400 bill this week.

According to Techvibes, the bill came after Alex Dunsmore gave his son a cellphone with an unlimited texting plan. Unfortunately, his son and his girlfriend exchanged some 1000+ texts through a texting app which wasn't so "free" -- he got charged with a long distance fee for every. single. message. On top of that, when the father refused to pay the bill, Rogers "forced termination of both cellphone contracts—and charged $800 in cancellation fees to do so."

The father is arguing that he should have been notified about the excessive spending, but Rogers rebutted by saying that account holders are responsible for their own accounts/fees. Personally, I think this is a good example of why a pay-as-you-go type plan might be better suited to teens (since it's a bit harder to go overboard). I agree that the charges are ridiculous, but that teenager should be paying the bill...how many hours of yard work does that work out to?

If you want to get in on the discussion, there's a lengthy thread about the article in the Off Topic forum.

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April 16 2012

Club Monaco Online Shopping is Coming...Tomorrow!

By Danielle O'Hanley

Ever since we heard that Club Monaco was planning to roll out online shopping last month, we have been waiting with bated breath for the launch.

Well, the wait is almost over! According to their Twitted feed, they will be launching tomorrow (exclusive to their Facebook fans). If you don't have Facebook, you will have to wait until Wednesday to shop.

We still haven't heard anything about what shipping costs will be like, but we'll be sure to update as soon as we know!

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April 13 2012

Great, Free Programs/Software/Add-Ons for PCs

By Kate Musgrove

The team here at RedFlagDeals.com spends a lot of time on their computers. A lot of time. Over the years we've come across some great free (of course they're free!) software/programs/add-ons that make our days just a little easier in one way or another. Here's a quick rundown of some of our favourites.

  • Paint.NET - super-easy and surprisingly robust photo editing software
  • Notepad++ - it's basically a highly evolved Notepad product with tons of added features
  • Free Studio - for simple video file conversion
  • Open Office - a great free replacement for MS Office
  • FileZilla - for easy FTP
  • Trillian - chat with friends on multiple clients from any device
  • CutePDF - convert documents from any Windows application to PDF
  • Dropbox - 2 GB of storage you can access from anywhere
  • FireShot - ultra-easy screenshot program for FireFox
  • UltraMon - a very easy way to manage work on multiple monitors (and I also use it between my desktop and my TV)
Do you have a favourite free computer program? We'd love to hear about it!

(Thanks to Vivian, Val, Vincent, Jerowe and Jeff for contributing!)

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April 12 2012

Ontario Government Proposes Consumer Cellphone Protection Plan

By Danielle O'Hanley

Sure, the three-year cellphone contract makes buying that shiny new phone a lot more affordable, but wouldn't it be nice if you weren't locking in? If you're unhappy with your cellphone bill or thinking of switching providers, you'll be relieved to hear that the Ontario government announced today that it is moving towards adopting legislation that would allow you to cancel your cellphone contract at any time. It would also protect you from those crazy penalty fees by putting a cap on them.

If the legislation passes, providers would also have to provide more easily digestible information about your bill costs, and would need your express consent to renew, extend or change your contract (I have a friend whose contract was accidentally extended to a 99-month term who would be happy to hear about this).

This new rule would go into effect six months after passing and take effect six months after. If you were to change or extend your existing contract after that date, it would apply to your contract as well.

The consensus seems to be that this would be a win for Canadian consumers, who are tired of being forced into contracts (you can see that with the rising popularity of low-cost, unlimited usage plans in urban centres).

What are your thoughts on the proposed legislation?

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