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Amazon Quietly Expands Amazon Logistics Delivery Service to Canada

Amazon Quietly Expands Amazon Logistics Delivery Service to Canada

By Simon Hung

We recently wrote about our woes with delivery couriers (which you can read here) and it looks like Amazon is throwing their hat in the delivery ring, as they’ve recently began shipping some orders in Canada using their own delivery service, Amazon Logistics.

Amazon has been testing their delivery service in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York since 2014, contracting their own personnel to deliver Amazon packages instead of using a third-party courier like UPS or FedEx. The company has invested heavily in the service, including purchasing thousands of delivery assets like trucks and leasing 20 Boeing 747 freighter jets in order to expand this venture beyond the United States.

The company has stated that their goal isn’t to compete with other couriers, but to offer a faster delivery option for their customers. The move has worried some financial analysts, as they’ve questioned Amazon’s intentions and fear that this move will increase the struggles of major delivery couriers.

You may see more Amazon-branded vehicles on the street delivering your packages.

On the other hand, the move does make sense for Amazon, as having their own courier service will help alleviate their costs of outsourcing shipping, especially with growing popularity of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping on all orders for subscribers at the price of $79.00 per year.

This move will also help Amazon customers, as it eliminates steps in the logistical process when ordering from Amazon. Instead of having to wait for a courier like UPS to pick up packages from an Amazon warehouse and sort it in their facility, Amazon can sort and expedite packages directly from their own warehouse, bypassing steps that can typically take a couple of days.

Delivery time for our test order via free super saver shipping was an impressive 12 hours.

We tested this new service by placing an order with Amazon.ca on Tuesday, April 26. The account we used was not subscribed to Amazon Prime and we opted to use free super saver shipping. Although a day passed before we received a shipping notification (Wednesday, April 27 at 5:30 PM), the package itself was delivered the next morning at 6:00 AM. The 12-hour delivery time was impressive, especially when compared to previous orders shipped with free super saver shipping via Canada Post. However, our shipping address was located relatively close to a major Amazon warehouse, so your mileage may vary.

Amazon won’t abandon third-party couriers, as they’ll continue to use Canada Post, UPS, FedEx and others to deliver most orders. We aren’t sure if there’s a specific method to have an order delivered with Amazon Logistics, but we speculate that it’s determined by a combination of order size, product availability and address.

The service is in its infancy in Canada, but we can’t help but wonder if they’ll make this service an Amazon Prime exclusive in the future if it does prove to be better than third-parties couriers in an effort to gain more permanent Prime subscribers. Plus, this venture may also be a precursor to Amazon’s crazy yet brilliant plan of delivering packages with drones.

In the meantime, you can click here to learn more about Amazon Logistics or look for the courier abbreviation AMZCA in your Amazon shipping notices to identify if your order is being shipped by Amazon Logistics.

Have you had an Amazon order shipped by Amazon Logistics? How do you think this new venture will affect the other major delivery couriers? Tell us about your experience and share your thoughts in the comments!

May 2016 Video Game Release Dates

May 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

May is almost upon us, and that means a brand new month of video games to look forward to! While the release list for May is quite a bit shorter than those in March and April, there are still a few highly anticipated titles being released this month, including Ray Gigant for the PS Vita, Uncharted 4 for the PlayStation 4, and Disney Art Academy for the Nintendo 3DS.

Take a look below to see the full list of May 2016 video game releases:

  • Battleborn (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 3
  • Ray Gigant (PS Vita) - May 3
  • Shadow Complex Remastered (PS4/ PC) - May 3
  • Superhot (Xbox One) - May 3
  • The Park (PS4/Xbox One) - May 3
  • Coffin Dodgers (PS4) - May 3
  • Fragments of Him (PS4) - May 3
  • Table Top Racing: World Tour (PS4) - May 3
  • Tropico 5 (PS4) - May 3
  • Kathy Rain (PC/Mac) - May 5
  • Coffin Dodgers (Xbox One) - May 6
  • Ecotone (PC) - May 6
  • Stellaris (PC/Mac/ Linux) - May 9
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - May 10
  • Goliath (PC) - May 12
  • RefRain - prisim memories - (PC) - May 12
  • Doom (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 13
  • Homefront: The Revolution (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 17
  • Shadow of the Beast (PS4) - May 17
  • Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PS4) - May 17
  • htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PC) - May 18
  • Lastfight (PC) - May 19
  • The Way (PC) - May 23
  • Overwatch (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 24
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (PS4/PS3/Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC) - May 24
  • Total War: Warhammer (PC/Mac/Linux) - May 24
  • The Last Blade 2 (PS4/PS Vita) - May 24
  • Tropico 5 (Xbox One) - May 24
  • Kittypocalypse (Oculus Rift) - May 25
  • Excubitor (PC/Mac/Linux) - May 26
  • Daydreamer: Awakened Edition (PS4) - May 31
  • Dead Island: Definitive Edition (PS4/Xbox One) - May 31
  • The Elder Scrolls Online - Dark Brotherhood (PC/Mac) - May 31
  • One Piece: Burning Blood (Xbox One/PS4/PS Vita) - May 31

Dates TBA:

  • Shadwen (PS4/PC)
  • The Solus Project (Xbox One/PC)

Are you looking forward to getting your hands on any of these titles? Let us know in the comments!

Courier Conundrums: What is RFD's Least Favourite Shipping Courier?

Courier Conundrums: What is RFD's Least Favourite Shipping Courier?

By Simon Hung

Online shopping is one of the pillars of RedFlagDeals, as the convenience of being able order electronics, clothing or unhealthy amounts of candy without having to leave the comfort of your home is wonderful.

Despite the convenience, one of the things that drive us crazier than frigid office temperatures is the ineptitude and inconsistency of shipping couriers. It seems as though bad experiences commonly outweigh the good, whether your expensive gadget is left haphazardly on your porch, your parcel gets brutally damaged, your delivery estimate is delayed, or you receive a slip telling you to go to a warehouse to pick up your package.

A FedEx driver hand-delivered a package to me. I gave him a word of thanks but he dropped it.

Delivery mishaps are all too frequent and after one of our editors experienced a traumatic courier-related catastrophe, we set out to find out if there was any correlation between specific couriers and service.

Shipping couriers are an enigma more puzzling than the blue/black/gold/white dress and seem to be a lightning rod discussion topic in our Shopping Discussion forum (Exhibit A, B, C, D). In an effort to solve this enigma, we conducted a completely unscientific, informal survey within our office. The final results were interesting, though unsurprising, as every participant has had at least one issue with most major couriers.

Purolator and UPS each received 30% of the vote for worst courier (L), while Canada Post received 60% of the vote for the best (R).

Purolator and UPS shared the distinction of being the least favourite couriers among our staff, with each company receiving 30% of the vote. When asked why, a common issue with Purolator was the fact that they often left notices to pick up the package from an inconveniently-located depot (in Toronto, the main Purolator depot is located in Etobicoke, a suburb that requires an hour of travel from the downtown core). One person was even charged extra after asking for a re-delivery:

"They told me they attempted delivery twice, and then told me to pick up the package in a depot 45 minutes away from where I lived. I asked them to deliver it again and was slapped with a $10.00 fee. After calling them, I got the fee "waived" and delivery the next day, but they never credited the $10.00 fee and I had to call twice to get my money back."

Meanwhile, those who voted for UPS were flummoxed by their odd delivery windows and lack of awareness or effort when delivering expensive items. One staffer had a particularly memorable experience, for all the wrong reasons:

"They never ring the doorbell…they just put the item on my doorstep and leave. One time I bought a monitor during a Boxing Day sale and they left the item out in the snow. I was home and randomly checked the front door just in case and discovered my package was half covered in snow."

On the other hand, Canada Post was the popular choice for best courier, garnering 60% of the overall vote. However, many of the votes were merely by default, as the abundance of post office locations makes it less of a headache when you have to pick up your delivery. As many participants pointed out, they were the best choice in a pool of bad choices:

"It's sad that Canada Post is the best but the others are so awful that I know no other choice."

"They can get into my building. I live in an apartment."

"It's a pretty narrow win, but I can't say that Canada Post has actually provided better service than the other couriers, honestly."

"I can pick up at the post office near me. I don't worry about my packages being left on my doorstep and I can pick it up at off hours."

What’s interesting about our in-office results was the disdain for Purolator and tolerance of Canada Post, even though Canada Post owns 91% of Purolator. Conventional wisdom would hope that one day, maybe (just maybe), we’ll be able to pick up Purolator packages from Canada Post locations, but that may make too much sense for it to ever happen.

It's okay. He's a professional.

You've heard what we think, how about you? Answer our polls below to express your opinion on the worst and best couriers and be sure to share your shipping horror stories in the comments!

RFD Shopping Survey -- You Could Win a $50 Gift Card!

RFD Shopping Survey -- You Could Win a $50 Gift Card!

By RedFlagDeals.com Staff

Hi, RedFlagDeals.com readers! We're running a short survey to ask your opinions on shopping in Canada! After you complete the survey, leave a comment letting us know and we'll enter you in a random draw to win a $50 gift card!

Create your own user feedback survey
Big Heart, Small Budget: 10 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love

Big Heart, Small Budget: 10 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love

By Amanda Aikman

Remember, when you were a kid, and your mom would say the gifts that meant the most to her were the ones you made yourself? I am a mom, and I know she really meant it. But by now, she probably has her share of macaroni art and pipe cleaner roses, so it’s time to up your game a little.

With that in mind, we present 10 of our favourite DIY gifts for moms. Some are better suited to crafty types who are well versed in the glue-gun arts; others are aimed at beginners looking for impressive results with minimal effort. All will brighten your mom’s Mother’s Day and remind her why you’re her favourite child.

1. DIY Frame Vases

This one requires power tools and a little know-how, but the end result is a lovely one-of-a-kind piece she’ll be proud to display next to your graduation photo and softball trophies. And once you’ve made this cool frame vase for her, you’ll know what to get her for all subsequent occasions…flowers to put in this cool frame vase!

2. DIY Kitchen Tablet Holder

photo courtesy of TipHero.com

When is a cutting board not a cutting board? When you transform it into this cool kitchen tablet holder, that’s when. Your mom can conveniently reference all of the latest online recipes while she whips you up an amazing family dinner. Win-win.

3. Tub Teas

If your mom likes tea and taking baths, she’ll love these adorable and calming tub teas. After all, you’ve spent years contributing to her stress; the least you could do is contribute to her relaxation now.

4. Egg Carton Roses DIY Lamp Shade

Got an eco-friendly mom with a soft spot for roses? Than this one is for you. Plug in your hot glue gun and start eating a lot of eggs. Before you know it you’ll have a lovely lamp shade fit for the Queen of Hearts (or at least the queen of your heart).

5. 52 Things I Love About You Deck of Cards

photo courtesy of CountryLiving.com

Nothing melts a mom’s heart like her children telling her how much and why they love her. This project might be a little time-consuming, but it’s guaranteed to trump the bouquet of flowers or Pot of Gold chocolates your siblings are going to show up with…and really, isn’t that the point of Mother’s Day?

6. Mason Jar Picture Frame Vase

From candleholders to snow globes to artisanal cocktail vessels, the versatile and affordable Mason jar is constantly being repurposed. This time, it’s donning a coat of paint and a family photograph and becoming a cheery new vase for mom.

7. Fizzy Scented Bath Bombs

photo courtesy of PlaydoughtoPlato.com

What mom wouldn’t love a pretty, sweet-smelling, fizzy bath bomb or two? This project is easy enough for young children to help with (or do for you) and gives you an opportunity to play with shapes and colours to create a customized gift your mother will love.

8. DIY Photo Pendant

For a nostalgic twist, create a pretty, personal gift with photographs of your mom in her youth, of you as a child, or of your mom’s mom. Attach your custom pendant to a charm bracelet or chain, or if your mom’s not into jewellery, turn it into a magnet.

9. Brown Sugar Exfoliating Scrub

Treat your mom to a natural beauty treatment with this handmade brown sugar exfoliating scrub. With just a few ingredients from your pantry, a cute jar and some ribbon, you can whip up a pampering experience that will leave her skin feeling soft and smelling sweet.

10. DIY Vintage Teacup Candles

photo courtesy of HeyGorg.com

Vintage teacups are too lovely to stay packed away in the cupboard waiting for teatime. Pick a favourite to transform into a pretty homemade candle and impress your mom with your refined style and inventive craftiness.

PJ's Pets To Close 27 Stores Across Canada

PJ's Pets To Close 27 Stores Across Canada

By Ambia Staley

Some more bad news on the Canadian retail front, as pet store chain PJ's Pets and Pets Unlimited announced earlier this week that they will be closing 27 stores across Canada.

PJ's currently operates 39 stores across the country. In a press release, company Vice President Brad Hamilton did not give a reason for the closures, but stated, "We are saddened to say that we are closing our doors after almost 50 years of serving the pet community across Canada". The closures span 6 Canadian provinces, including 11 stores in Ontario, 6 in Nova Scotia, and 5 in British Columbia. You can view a full list of closing locations here.

Most locations are expected to begin closing on April 29. Between now and closure, the affected locations are offering 30% off all food, pet supplies, and accessories.

Le Chateau to Close 40 Stores Over The Next 3 Years

Le Chateau to Close 40 Stores Over The Next 3 Years

By Ambia Staley

Struggling Montreal-based retailer, Le Chateau announced this week that it plans to shut down 40 stores over the next 3 years in hopes of recalibrating the brand.

After closing 11 stores in 2015, the retailer still reported a $12.8 million loss over the last year, making it the 5th year in a row that the brand has reported losses. However, this is an improvement over the $38.7 million loss reported in 2014.

The news may come as a surprise to some, as Le Chateau's recent efforts to turn the tide -- including the closures of less profitable stores, renovating others, and refocusing the brand on a more mature audience -- seemed to be a viable plan. Last year, the brand also went to its founder, Herschel Segal, for a $15 million loan in hopes of elevating some of the financial problems.

The news isn't all bad, as online sales increased 34.8% in 2015. However, online sales only account for approximately 10% of Le Chateau's total income. Realizing that retail trends now largely lie with e-shopping, Le Chateau hopes that closing even more under-performing stores and putting more effort into online sales will help turn things around.

Out of the 40 stores to be closed over the next 3 years, 14 are expected to close in 2016. There is still no word on which locations are slated for closure.

Does this new development come as a shock to you? Do you think Le Chateau can prevent succumbing to the same fate as Danier, Mexx, and other failed retailers in Canada? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Microsoft to Stop Manufacturing Xbox 360 Consoles

Microsoft to Stop Manufacturing Xbox 360 Consoles

By Simon Hung

It’s the end of an era. The Xbox 360 has received its final Red Ring of Death, as Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, has announced that the company will stop manufacturing Xbox 360 consoles, effectively discontinuing the console worldwide after ten years of service.

Microsoft has halted production of the Xbox 360.

The move doesn't come as a complete surprise, given the fact that its successor, the Xbox One, has been on the market for almost three years and sales have been lackluster when compared to its competition. Plus, with current generation games having better graphics, the decline of exclusive first-party content and popularity of PC alternatives like Steam, the older hardware was dated and it was only a matter of time before Microsoft would shift their focus solely on the Xbox One to try and regain momentum in the console gaming market. In fact, you could argue that one of the signs of its demise was the fact that Microsoft was offering a mere $4.50 for a functional Xbox 360 console through its trade-in program.

Originally released in November 2005, the Xbox 360 was the first of the seventh generation consoles to come to market and has sold more than 84 million units as of June 2014. Its main competitors, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, were introduced one year later and are still currently in production.

It’s a bittersweet move for some, as the console is still popular in North America due to its vast library of games, affordable price and versatility with features such as Netflix streaming. However, Xbox 360 owners shouldn’t worry, as you’ll still be able to play games and use Xbox Live normally. In addition, Microsoft will continue to support the platform:

  • Xbox 360 owners will continue to receive Xbox Live services for their console, such as online multiplayer gaming and parties, access to the apps they use today, and Games with Gold and Deals with Gold.
  • Xbox Live servers that support Xbox 360 services will also remain online and active. Xbox 360 fans can continue to play their favorite games with the full support of Xbox Live.
  • Gamers will also be able to continue to buy over 4,000 Xbox 360 games or Xbox 360 accessories at retail and through our Xbox 360 store online, while supplies last.
  • Any Xbox 360 hardware will still be supported via Xbox Support.
  • Xbox One owners will be able to continue to enjoy available Xbox 360 games through Xbox One Backward Compatibility at no additional cost.

Remaining stock of Xbox 360 consoles and first-party accessories will be sold normally until depleted, so if you want to own a console for nostalgia or stock up on accessories like Xbox 360 controllers, be on the lookout for sales and promotions from major retailers like the Microsoft Store or Best Buy, as they could mark down the console in an effort to clear stock.

How do you feel about the end of the Xbox 360? Will you hold a candlelight vigil? Fire up Halo 3 one final time? Re-tell this classic joke? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Free Earth Day Events Happening Around Canada

Free Earth Day Events Happening Around Canada

By Ambia Staley

This Friday, April 22 marks the arrival of Earth Day. It's the one day of the year where everyone joins together to clean up nature, reduce their emissions and learn more about the awesome planet we live on!

If you're looking to do your part this Earth Day, there are plenty of events happening around the country -- many of which are free! For your convenience, we've gathered a few of the free events happening around Canada in the list below!

Toronto

Ottawa

Hamilton

Montreal

Calgary

Vancouver

How will you be celebrating Earth Day? Are there any special events in your area that you'll be attending? Let us know in the comments below!

Great Books You'll Want to Read This Earth Day

Great Books You'll Want to Read This Earth Day

By Ambia Staley

Earth Day is nearly upon us once again. It's that time of year where environmentalists and scientists stress the need we have to preserve the Earth, while the rest of us sit back and watch them on TV with all the lights and appliances simultaneously turned on in our houses.

If you're looking to appreciate the finer points of nature this Earth Day, or simply to learn different ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle, you'll want to check out our list of great books you need to read this Earth Day!

1. The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague

If you want to help preserve nature, it's a good idea to get out there and appreciate it in its full glory. What better way to do that than by observing one of nature's most majestic creatures, the shopping cart! This book includes pictures of various shopping cart sightings -- from within the deep forest, to the ditch around the corner from your house. Along with the great photos, there is also a detailed manual that will help you learn how to classify each and every cart you come across. With this book, you can easily give up fake hobbies like bird-watching and switch to observing a real creature.

2. The Pet Poo Pocket Guide: How to Safely Compost & Recycle Pet Waste by Rose Seemann

Anyone who has a pet knows that the amount of waste, as well as the plastic bags and cat liter used to contain it, can really add up. Instead of throwing your pet's poop directly into the garbage, this book comes with a list of detailed instructions as well as illustrations for all the different ways you can recycle your pet's waste!

3. The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society by David Waltner-Toews

If the subject of poop piqued your interest with the last title, then you'll absolutely love this book! This book goes into detail about the excrement from a variety of creatures, including beetles, cats and even humans, as well as the ecological, cultural, and health effects it has on our world.

4. Farming with Dynamite by E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Company

Originally printed in 1910, this brochure is one of many sales pitches from Du Pont, in which they list the benefits of their "Red Cross" brand dynamite in an attempt to raise sales. If you've ever thought about reducing your carbon footprint with some extreme farming or gardening, this may be one title you want to add to your library! Within its pages, Du Pont discusses various uses for their dynamite, such as stump clearing, blasting holes for planting, or regenerating tired out soil.

5. Making Pigeons Pay by Wendell Mitchell Levi

No, unfortunately this book is not a manual to help you exact revenge on that pigeon that pooped on your shoulder last week. This 1946 book is all about breeding and selling pigeons for profit! Why do you need this book, you ask? Well animal conservation one of our many responsibilities in preserving the Earth -- and if there is one thing the world needs plenty more of, it's the graceful and majestic pigeon.

6. Reusing Old Graves by Douglas Davies and Alastair Shaw

Looking for a unique recycling idea? Why not recycle an old grave? This 178 page book details the results of an extensive survey funded by the University of Nottingham and the University of York, and looks into public opinion regarding the reuse of old graves. Unfortunately this is not a how-to manual, but the authors' spadework has unearthed some interesting facts worth thinking about!

7. How Green Were The Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich edited by Franz-Josef Bruggemeier

When everyone thinks about Nazis and the Third Reich, what's the first thing that always comes to mind? Their effect on nature and the environment, of course! This book asks the important questions as some of the most influential German history scholars discuss how Nazis created nature preserves, curbed air pollution, and more in the early years of the Third Reich.

Bonus: Everything Is Going To Kill Everybody by Robert Brockway

Have you already given up hope that the world can be saved? Then you might want to spend Earth Day confirming your belief with this uplifting book that details just about every way that everything on this planet will kill you. Containing 20 illustrated essays, Everything Is Going To Kill Everybody will have you running for the cellar in fear of a oncoming hypercane hurricane!

Will you be turning off the computer and TV and doing some reading ahead of Earth Day? How do you do your part? Let us know in the comments below!

Recall Roundup: Costco Berries, The Children's Place Sleep Sets, IKEA Gothem Lamps + More

Recall Roundup: Costco Berries, The Children's Place Sleep Sets, IKEA Gothem Lamps + More

By Kate Musgrove

We think it's important to be informed of all the latest safety recalls -- after all, your health and safety might be at risk! Here's a quick roundup of what's been recalled in Canada recently.

Costco is offering free Hepatitis A vaccines (PDF) to consumers who may have been affected by the recall. The Hepatitis A vaccine is effective up to two weeks after exposure.

Walmart Ups Shipping Costs for Orders Under $25

Walmart Ups Shipping Costs for Orders Under $25

By Kate Musgrove

Many RFD readers were disappointed last year when Walmart.ca stopped offering free shipping on every order and unfortunately, their shipping and handling prices have gone up again. Originally, Walmart offered free shipping to your home on every order. After the changes last year, you could get free shipping on any order as long as you were shipping to a Canada Post or Walmart Grab & Go location. Now there's only free shipping to Canada Post or Walmart Grab & Go for orders over $25. Any order under $25 will be charged a $5 handling fee if they're shipped to Canada Post or Walmart Grab & Go. If you want your order under $25 to be shipped to your home, you'll be charged the $5 handling fee plus a $5.97 shipping fee. Those extra charges can really add up! For a real-life example, I tried ordering this $9.97 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure a few different ways -- here's how it priced out:

To home:

That's right -- a $9.97 item gets hit with $10.97 in shipping costs -- did I accidentally order this item from overseas?

To Canada Post or Walmart Grab & Go:

$16.92 to get the item delivered to a Walmart location. It is less money than shipping to my home -- but they're also basically charging me $5 to.... go to Walmart and purchase something.

Obviously, for shoppers, the most frugal plan of attack is to place orders over $25 or $50 -- that will save you the $5 handling fee, at least. But spending $25 just to get free shipping to store (or $50 to get free shipping to your home) isn't very frugal if you just don't need the other stuff. Either way, the massive increase in shipping charges -- they've gone from offering free shipping to your home on every order to charging a $5 surcharge simply to pick up an order in-store in the space of a year -- indicates to me that Walmart might be struggling to profit on the ecommerce side. Do you think we might see Walmart moving back to in-store sales only? It could be possible!

Netflix to Increase Prices on Grandfathered Plans

Netflix to Increase Prices on Grandfathered Plans

By Simon Hung

Netflix has become an essential staple in many of our everyday lives, with an abundance of content available and access to phenomenal Netflix Originals like Daredevil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, The Ridiculous 6 and more.

However, Netflix subscribers who have grandfathered $7.99 HD plans will have to pay more for their subscriptions, as the company will end the grandfathering period and phase out those old plans in favour of their new pricing tiers.

Netflix's current pricing structure.

Netflix expanded its streaming services to Canada in 2010 at a very appealing price of $7.99 per month. In May 2014, the company increased the price to $8.99 per month, but members who had subscribed earlier were grandfathered and were able to keep their existing plan for $7.99 per month. In October 2015, new pricing tiers were announced -- a basic standard definition plan was introduced at $7.99 per month along with a new premium plan with 4K streaming for $11.99 per month, while the price of their standard plan was increased to $9.99 per month. Like before, early adopters were grandfathered and were able to access the features of the $9.99 plan for $7.99.

Grandfathered subscribers were able to enjoy the features of the $9.99 plan for $7.99.

Starting this May, those early adopters will have to pay more to watch content in HD, as Netflix is ending the grandfathering period and converting all of these subscribers -- 17 million of them worldwide -- to their new pricing structure. Curiously, the company has not notified these subscribers of this impending change, even though it’s been widely reported by many news outlets.

Subscribers on grandfathered plans will have the option to continue to pay $7.99 per month with Netflix’s SD plan, but with that plan, you lose the ability to stream in HD and on multiple devices simultaneously. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month to stream in HD or $11.99 per month if you want 4K playback. No official date has been announced for the change, although a footnote on grandfathered accounts does mention that these plans are guaranteed until Monday, May 9, 2016.

An account footnote indicates that the grandfathering period ends Monday, May 9, 2016.

Though inevitable (Netflix has reportedly been planning for this change for over two years), this new strategy won’t sit well with some, especially in conjunction with the recent news that Netflix will aggressively crack down on members who use VPN services, although their rationale is that many grandfathered members will be willing to pay extra since they’ve been with the company for a long time.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber on a grandfathered plan, what are you going to do? Let us know by answering the poll below and sharing your thoughts in the comments!

Testing Out Walmart's New Grocery PickUp Service

Testing Out Walmart's New Grocery PickUp Service

By Thomas Kenzaki

Shopping for groceries is one of the things I hate most in life. It ranks somewhere between shovelling snow and being stuck in rush hour traffic. And now that I have kids, I'm even less interested in spending my free time shopping! When I learned that Walmart had brought its Grocery PickUp service to Toronto, I just had to try it out.

What this service provides is a way to order all of your groceries online and then go pick them up at your local Walmart store. You park in a designated pickup spot, call the number to tell them you’ve arrived and then they’ll come load your car up with your order.

This isn’t a new concept as Loblaws has a similar service called Click & Collect that has been around for a while now. What I like most about Walmart entering the game is that their pricing is often better than what you’d find at Loblaws. The downside is that you don’t get the wide variety of PC branded products at Walmart.

Having now used the service four times I can say that it’s been a consistently positive experience. Ordering is easy and no different than using Amazon or similar websites. You start off by selecting your store and also the date/ time you want to pickup your order. After you finish selecting all your items, you pay for your order and then wait for your pickup date/time. There is a $3 charge per order and there is a $50 minimum order amount to use the service. I'm definitely spending at least $50 per trip to the grocery store anyway, and the $3 fee seems pretty reasonable given all the time I'm saving.

The pickup process is also very good. After arriving at the store, I call a number posted at the parking spot to inform them I have arrived. Shortly there after, a store clerk would bring out a rack containing colour coded bins (which I assume indicates whether the items within need to be kept cold or frozen until picked up). After they’ve loaded up my car, I leave and am happily on my way home. Average time from driving in to leaving is around 5-10 minutes which I think is great!

The quality of the items selected has been good so far with expiry dates similar to those I’d pick out while shopping for myself in-store. The produce and other perishable items also were very fresh. Another plus for the service is that you can request a price match online after you’ve placed your order with any local competitors current digital ad. I like knowing I can price match without holding up other customers at the register. With their 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back policy it takes away a lot of the uncertainty you might have using a service like this.

Currently the service is only being offered at select Toronto and Ottawa locations. Have you tried it yet or would you like to see it roll out to your city? Let us know in the comments below.

DSW is Adding Six More New Canadian Locations in 2016!

DSW is Adding Six More New Canadian Locations in 2016!

By Kate Musgrove

DSW (that's short for Designer Shoe Warehouse) just announced that they're opening six new stores in Canada this fall! These six (plus four more in the process of opening this spring) will bring their total number of Canadian stores to 23. The newest locations are opening in:

  • South Park Centre in Edmonton, Alberta
  • Meadowlands Power Centre in Ancaster, Ontario
  • Vaughan Mills in Vaughan, Ontario
  • Tsawwassen Mills in Tsawwassen, British Columbia
  • 3091 Appleby Line in Burlington, Ontario
  • Central At Garden City in Richmond, British Columbia
And the four that are opening this spring are in:
  • Oakville Town Centre in Oakville, Ontario
  • Train Yards Shopping Centre in Ottawa, Ontario
  • Chain Lake Drive Plaza in Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Grasslands Shopping Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan

DSW carries hundreds of brands in Canada, although like any multi-brand discount store, you might have to do some digging to find what you're looking for.

10 Useful Items for When The Inside of Your Office is Colder Than the Arctic

10 Useful Items for When The Inside of Your Office is Colder Than the Arctic

By Ambia Staley

Temperatures may be rising outside, but the inside of your office may feel colder than skinny dipping in the waters off the coast of Eureka, Nunavut. This unfortunate situation could be occurring for any number of reasons: your boss is a tyrant who loves turning the AC to the coldest temperature possible, you're working in an old drafty building, or maybe you've discovered a wormhole to the heart of the arctic located in the vent above your desk.

You may not be able to turn up the temperatures inside your office, but thanks to the internet, there is a great selection of handy gadgets that will keep you warm and toasty. We've gone ahead and compiled some of the best items on the market that will help you stay warm at work.

1. USB Powered Mug Warmer

One of the worst things about a freezing office is that your morning coffee or tea can turn into iced beverages pretty quickly. If you want to keep your warm drink that way, you can plug this nifty mug warmer into your USB port and reduce your trips to the coffee machine or microwave.

2. Heated Hand Warming Mouse

If your hands get chilly while working away at your computer, this heated mouse comes in handy! Fitted with an infrared heating option throughout, you can keep clicking away without your digits freezing over.

3. Plush Heated Mouse Pads

If you're attached to your regular boring old, non-heated mouse, you can always opt for a heated mouse pad. They usually come shaped as adorable plush animals, and you can just insert both your hand and mouse inside it to keep working away with a toasty hand.

4. USB Heated Plush Handwarmers

If you're typing or filling out paperwork at your desk, how can you expect to keep your hands from turning blue? You could wear a pair of mittens, but then you'll have a tough time getting anything done without the freedom to use your fingers. You can instead pick up these nifty heated plush hand warmers which slide onto the back of your hands and keep them warm while leaving your fingers free to type away.

5. Bear Paw Heated Foot Warmer

If your hands are cold, there's probably a good chance your feet are cold too. It may be inappropriate to walk around the office and attend meetings in a pair of fuzzy Uggs or boots, so when you're seated at your desk, you can simply shove your feet into some heated foot warmers or slippers in order to keep your toes from falling off.

6. Arctic Zone LavaSeat Warmer

You know that horrible feeling when you sit on a cold leather car seat in the winter? Chances are if your office is freezing, you might get that same feeling sitting down in your computer chair. That's where the LavaSeat from Arctic Zone comes in handy! Simply microwave the seat for a short time, and place it on your chair for warm and toasty buns all day long.

7. CubeShield

If you're like me and happen to sit under a vent that contains a magic portal to the heart of the arctic, the CubeShield may help. Its main purpose is to provide a little extra privacy while shading you from bright lights, but it can also act as a shield to block some of the downward draft.

8. USB Heated Shawl/ Lap Blanket

If your office is so cold that even your warmest sweaters aren't helping, you can cover up with this handy USB powered warming shawl and lap blanket. Just be careful not to get too cozy when warming up with this blanket, or you'll end up falling asleep at your desk.

9. Iris Ohyama Desk Kotatsu

If you're familiar with Japanese culture or watch a ton of anime, you may have come across a kotatsu at some point. Essentially a covered table with a heater used in the winter, Iris Oyama has designed a smaller version that can attach to the underside of just about any desk. Simply turn on the heater and slip your legs underneath the cover to keep your lower half warm. The heater even comes with an automatic shut off timer to prevent you from heating up the office too much by causing a massive fire.

10. Selk'Bag Wearable Sleeping Bag

Are you still freezing after trying out the above items? If worse comes to worse, you can pick up a Selk'Bag! This handy wearable sleeping bag is lightweight and covers you up from head to toe. It also claims to keep you toasty in temperatures as low as 6°C! If you're worried about it not fitting in with your office dress code, it's lightweight and thin enough that you can simply slip a blazer over it in order to avoid stares from your boss.

Are you working in a freezing office? Have you thought up any out of the box solutions to keep yourself warm? Let us know in the comments below!

Select Canadian Starbucks Locations Now Serving Beer & Wine

Select Canadian Starbucks Locations Now Serving Beer & Wine

By Kate Musgrove

Select Starbucks Canada locations will be serving wine and beer starting today. It's part of their Starbucks Evenings effort with small plates, more upscale appetizers and wine/beer options.

To me, the move makes a lot of sense. For one, coffee and pastry are typically considered morning items and beer and wine are predominately consumed in the evening. This could increase the hours each day that Starbucks pulls in peak profit. Plus, beer and wine are high-margin items which, again, could increase the profit they're pulling in. I don't really go to Starbucks, but I think the option to have a glass or wine or beer instead of a cup of coffee in the evening would appeal to a lot of consumers. For example, if you're meeting friends and some of you are hankering for a Chai Tea Latte and some of you just want a glass of wine, this could be a great solution.

If you're interested in checking out the Starbucks beer/wine experience yourself, here are the Canadian locations now serving drinks:

  • 3079 Bloor Street West, Toronto
  • 446 Spadina Road, Toronto
  • 1740 Avenue Road, Toronto

Do you hope it comes to a neighbourhood near you soon?

Maxx Scoop Cat Litter Has Been Discontinued; My Life is Over

Maxx Scoop Cat Litter Has Been Discontinued; My Life is Over

By Kate Musgrove

It's a dark time in Canadian Cat History, as a few weeks ago Purina discontinued Maxx Scoop Cat Litter and replaced it with Tidy Cats litter. Pet-owners are furious and many are asking why such a popular, well-regarded product would be discontinued at all. Purina blames "low sales and a lack of demand" for the decision, which strikes many loyal pet-owners as strange -- many said it was the only cat litter that they or anyone they know used.

Tidy Cats litter, which has replaced Maxx Scoop, has been on the market in the US for 20 years, but initial Canadian reviews of it are dismal. I saw repeated complaints that it is incredibly dusty, doesn't clump, turns black and sludgy when wet, and it does not suppress litter box smells. The core of each complaint seems to be that the product isn't as good as Maxx Scoop and it costs much more which leaves many customers especially frustrated with the change.

Personally speaking, I have very reasonable, very well-behaved cats who have been using Maxx Scoop their entire lives. As it happens, I bought eight tubs of litter right before it was discontinued, so I haven't needed to use any new litter yet, but given the horrible reviews I'm really dreading making the shift. After all, I don't want to upset my reasonable, well-behaved cats by making a big change. According the reviews I read, many cats seem to be expressing their displeasure with the change by using the area around the litter box for their litter box activities which is.... not ideal. Have you tried Tidy Cats litter? How did your cats respond? And what did you think? Is it pretty much okay or is life as I know it over?

April 2016 Video Game Release Dates

April 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

April is almost here, and that means another month packed full of brand new video game releases! If you're still missing some March release titles, be sure to check out the full list of March 2016 Video Game Release Dates!

The release schedule for April is nearly as jam-packed as March's list, and there are a few highly anticipated titles hitting store shelves, including Star Fox Zero for the Wii U, and Bravely Second: End Layer for the 3DS.

If you're looking to get a few last minute pre-orders in, take a look below to see what's being released in April:

  • Adam's Venture: Origins (PC/PS4/Xbox One) - April 1
  • Strikebold! A Dodgeball Adventure (PC) - April 1
  • Green Game: Timeswapper (PC) - April 4
  • 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC/Mac) - April 5
  • Dead Star (PS4/PC) - April 5
  • Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy Pack (PS Vita) - April 5
  • Dirt Rally (PS4/ Xbox One) - April 5
  • Enter the Gungeon (PS4/ PC) - April 5
  • Quantum Break (PS4/PC) - April 5
  • Dead Star (PS4/ PC) - April 5
  • Strikebold! A Dodgeball Adventure (PS4) - April 5
  • Strikebold! A Dodgeball Adventure (Xbox One) - April 8
  • Dark Souls III (PC/PS4/Xbox One) - April 12
  • Ratchet & Clank (PS4) - April 12
  • Stories: The Path of Destinies (PC/PS4) - April 12
  • The Park (PS4) - April 12
  • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan (PC) - April 14
  • Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS) - April 15
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PC) - April 18
  • Gears of War 4 MP Beta (Xbox One) - April 18
  • Invisible, Inc. (PS4) - April 19
  • Pang Adventures (PS4) - April 19
  • Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom (Xbox One/Xbox 360/PS4/PS3/PC) - April 20
  • Megamagic (PC) - April 20
  • Rogue Stormers (PC) - April 21
  • Star Fox Zero (Wii U) - April 22
  • Star Fox Guard (Wii U) - April 22
  • htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PC) - April 25
  • Alienation (PS4) - April 26
  • Dungeons 2 (PS4) - April 26
  • King's Quest - Chapter 3: Once Upon a Climb (PC/PS4/PS3/Xbox One/ Xbox 360) - April 26
  • Lumo (PC/Mac/Linux) - April 26
  • Sega 3D Classics Collection (3DS) - April 26
  • MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies (PS Vita) - April 26
  • Stranger of Sword City (PS Vita) - April 26
  • The Song of Tyrim (PC, Mac, Linux) - April 26
  • Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge (3DS/ Wii U) - April 28
  • Lost Reavers (Wii U) - April 28

Dates TBA:

  • Amplitude (PS3)
  • Okhlos (PC/Mac/Linux)

Are you planning on picking up any of these upcoming titles? Let us know in the comments!

Game of Drones: Tips to Safely Fly Your New Drone

Game of Drones: Tips to Safely Fly Your New Drone

By Simon Hung

The popularity of drones has taken off in recent years and with prices steadily decreasing as the technology matures, they’re becoming more of a consumer product rather than a hobbyist niche.

Canada’s drone regulations aren’t as strict as those in the United States, where you’re required to register your drone with the FAA and fines for unregistered drones can be as high as $27,500 USD. The issue has stirred some debate south of the border, as responsible hobbyists feel they should be able to police themselves while others feel regulation is needed to discourage improper use.

Transport Canada has acknowledged that drone regulations are outdated and will be looking into and introducing updated regulations by 2017. Nevertheless, whether you use your drone for work or play, it’s important to know how to operate them safely, so we’ve listed some do's and don’ts for flying your drone.

DO read the regulations

If your drone is used for work or research and meets a certain weight criteria, you must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada in order to use your drone. Fines for improper use can be up to $5000.00 for individuals and up to $25,000 for businesses. In the majority of cases, using a drone for recreational purposes does not require a certificate or license. But, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the drone regulations in Canada before your first flight.

DO practice

Much to the chagrin of Allen Iverson, make sure you practice operating your drone and are competent and comfortable with your abilities to fly it. Practice in a backyard or park away from any bystanders before taking it out to a populated location.

DO check the weather

Even if your drone has auto-stabilizing features, wind and rain can create turbulence and make for an unstable flight. Always check the weather forecast before flying your drone to minimize the risk of damage and injury due to inclement weather.

DO prepare

Batman never goes into a situation unprepared and neither should you. Before you fly, charge your drone’s batteries and calibrate its sensors to ensure that they’re functional. It’s also a good idea to have a rough flight plan and check the surrounding area to ensure that there aren't any major obstacles or obstructions.

DO maintain sight

While many premium drones utilize your smartphone or tablet as a first-person viewfinder, be sure that you maintain a direct line of sight to the drone itself while it’s in midair. In many cases, it’s easier to navigate and avoid obstacles from a third-person perspective when on the ground.

DON'T invade privacy

Some wild animals may disapprove of drones.

This is an obvious guideline, but don’t invade the privacy of those around you. Not only does this include blatant cases like flying outside of your neighbour's windows, but also flying your drone around unsuspecting people in public, especially around children. You never know how some people may react to having a camera flown around them. Be vigilant and ask permission from others, if possible, if you plan to fly around them.

DON'T fly near buildings

After bighorn sheep, the second-most dangerous obstacle to drones are buildings, which can easily break your expensive drone or impede its propellers and send it crashing to the ground if you’re not careful. Avoid any potential drone or property damage by flying away from buildings.

DON'T fly over crowds

Some people may not enjoy being around drones or remote-controlled aircraft.

Even if your drone has self-navigation to guide it to safety, it’s extremely unsafe to fly above crowded areas like a city sidewalk or sporting event, as drone batteries are known to drain quickly and you can suddenly have a gravity-propelled projectile if the battery dies or you lose control. Plus, given the fact that some drones can sound like a swarm of bees, do what you can to prevent mass hysteria.

DON'T fly during an emergency

Never fly your drone during an emergency such as a fire or car accident. Your desire to have a neat viral video or photo can be detrimental to police and other emergency responders and the Internet is littered with cases where drone pilots have prevented crews from responding to major emergencies.

DON'T fly near traffic

The only thing more terrifying than a drone falling out of the sky is an out-of-control car on the road if the driver gets distracted by your hovering drone after mistaking it for a UFO. Don’t push your luck and stick to open spaces away from traffic to fly your drone.

DON'T fly near an airport

In cities like Toronto, it can be difficult to fly at minimum radius of 9km around airports (indicated in blue).

This one should be fairly obvious, as drones can pose a major flight hazard to aircraft. It also shows how outdated Canadian drone regulations are, as Transport Canada mandates that no one should fly a drone within 9km of an airport or helipad. However, in cities like Toronto, this essentially makes a large portion of the city a no-fly zone because there are multiple aiports in close proximity. Use common sense in these cases and don’t fly your drone anywhere close to where aircraft may take off or land.

DON'T break any rules

Major public areas like tourist attractions typically prohibit the use of drones because of safety and privacy concerns. The same can also be true in many apartment or condo buildings, where flying drones from balconies or the roof is prohibited by building management. Check with your building to see if you’re allowed to fly before taking to the air.

While these guidelines are meant for enthusiast-grade drones such as those from DJI or Parrot to keep you and your expensive investment safe, many guidelines also apply when flying model airplanes or consumer-oriented budget drones. With any product that can possibly fall out of the sky and potentially injure someone, it's important to take precautions and fly safely around others. Doing so will not only make your flight more enjoyable, but also give you a greater joy in vicariously living your fantasies of flight through your drone.