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How To Get What You Want

How To Get What You Want

By Kate Musgrove

I've been with RedFlagDeals.com for more than seven years and over time, I've gotten pretty good at getting what I want from most retail situations. Here are five things I've found helpful:

  • If you want something, ask for it. It's an incredibly basic tip, but one that can be easily overlooked. If you wish the price on an item was lower or you wish what you were buying came with some bonuses, ask for them. You may be surprised at how frequently it works. Recently I had to get some USD cheques from my bank. The standard policy is to charge $6 for each USD draft, a fee I would rather not pay. So I told the bank teller that I'd like her to waive the charges. And she did.
  • Be polite. Even if you are dealing with a total mess of a situation (genuinely terrible service or a total lemon of a product) you're going to get more accomplished by being firm, informed and polite. Even if the business has completely fouled up their dealings with you, it's better to point that out in a reasonable and rational tone. (In all honesty, I'm great at yelling -- but I promise, it's more effective to be calm and polite.)
  • Do your research. Calling your telecommunications provider and asking them to lop $30 off your bill right then and there probably won't be effective. But if you research what their competitors are offering, you may be able to get them to match the deal. And don't forget to research what your current provider are advertising as well. Pointing out that great deal they're offering to new customers might get them to adjust your plan to match.
  • Call, call again. Sometimes you can't get what you want because you're asking the wrong person. Or sometimes, a store employee can't help you, but the store manager can. And if you're not having any luck with a customer service agent over the phone, call back later and speak to someone else. Or try another angle completely. A couple of years ago I booked plane tickets to Mexico through Orbitz. The flight was on WestJet. While I was there, the friend I was staying with asked if I wanted to stay a couple more days. I said yes, absolutely -- as long as I could get my ticket changed. The information I got with my booking said to call Orbitz in the event I needed to make any changes, so I did. They said nothing could be done. Then I called WestJet. They were able to move my return ticket three days and they only charged me the difference in fare -- which was less than $10!
  • Don't be afraid to walk away. This can be a hard tip to adhere to if you're an impulse shopper, but if you're not getting the kind of deal you want, walk away. Sometimes your willingness to leave spurs an employee to make one last, low-as-they-go offer. Sometimes it doesn't, and that's okay too -- you can come back later and deal with someone else. In a broader sense, pointing out that you're willing to cancel your services with the company is often a huge motivator.

What's your best tip for negotiating?

Ways to Keep Cool During a Heat Wave

Ways to Keep Cool During a Heat Wave

By Chris Van Loenen

It’s been scorching hot in Toronto this week and for those who are unfortunate and without air conditioning, chances are you’re thinking of ways to cool down. So, whether you live in The6ix, or in another one of our lovely cities without such a catchy Drake-given nickname, read on and stay cool!

1. Buy a Fan

This is a no-brainer. If you don’t have AC, you’ll need a fan. Chances are you already own one. Turn it on now. Plus, you can amuse yourself by doing the Darth Vader voice!

fan

2. Create a Cross-Breeze

If your place has windows across from one another, open them to create a cross breeze. Imagine the possibilities if you have a fan oscillating at the same time?

3. Go to a Mall

The AC in shopping malls is always cranked. If you’re able, go for a walk, grab a cold drink, and take advantage of the free AC. Plus, malls are always filled with interesting people! (Okay, you got me, that last one might not be a perk.)

mall 4. Stay in the Shade

Another no-brainer. But important especially if you’re like me and want to be outside as much as possible in the summer.

5. Put Buckets of Ice in Front of a Fan

I’ve never heard of this before today but apparently it’s a thing. Give it a go.

6. Find a Pool or a Beach

Water. Cool, refreshing water. Surely your city has numerous indoor and outdoor pools you can visit?

7. Cold Shower

If you can't get to a pool or a beach, you can hopefully get to a bathtub.

popsicles

8. Close all Your Drapes/Curtains/Blinds

While you’re at work or lounging by the pool, keep all your window coverings closed to help diminish that pesky heat from entering your abode. Then when you get back home you can open everything up and get those cross-breezes going.

9. Eat Popsicles!

Eat popsicles all the time. They’re delicious. Or ice cream, or anything in this family of delectable treats.

10. Turn off Unnecessary Electrical Items

Electric objects generate heat. Try to limit your use of appliances and lights at home when it’s blazing hot outside.

Optimum Points 101: How To Master the Optimum Program to Maximize Your Savings!

Optimum Points 101: How To Master the Optimum Program to Maximize Your Savings!

By Elaine Jair

It's not uncommon to see many RFD-ers go crazy over Shoppers Drug Mart's 20x the Optimum points offers or bonus redemption days. However, it has come to my attention that aside from a handful of savvy RFD-ers, a lot of individuals are still unaware of how to properly use Optimum points to earn maximum savings from Shoppers Drug Mart. Oftentimes, it is said that the items at Shoppers Drug Mart are priced at a premium so there's no way that it would be worth it to purchase anything there. But, as some of you may already know, knowing how to collect and spend Optimum points is a great way to get tons of deals from Shoppers Drug Mart. For your convenience, we've compiled a handy How-To guide to Optimum points!

What are the Benefits to Using the Optimum Program?

If you've perused our forums, you've probably come across some community members that somehow managed to purchase an Xbox One or PS Vita at a ridiculously low price by using their points. Not every Shoppers Drug Mart has an electronics department, but if your local one does, using Optimum points is a great way to score deals on consoles, video games, cameras, and other electronics. After all, if you've been diligent in collecting points, you can save up to $170 on your purchase. Ladies, you can use your points to grab huge discounts on prestige cosmetics that would otherwise be out of your budget. The savings on these big-ticket items is precisely what makes it worth it to take advantage of the Optimum program. Of course, you can also redeem points on minor purchases and get free groceries and the like, which is valuable in a different way.

Introduction to the Optimum program:

The Optimum program is free loyalty program offered by Shoppers Drug Mart. Once you sign up, you'll receive a physical card and emails that alert you to any deals and bonus offers that you may be interested in. Recently, Shoppers Drug Mart has launched an app that will allow you to immediately load your offers to your phone for redemption. By using this app, you can also forgo the physical card and scan your phone instead to earn points.

Each dollar that you spend at Shoppers Drug Mart will earn you 10 Optimum points. According to Shoppers Drug Mart's current redemption rates, you can save a whopping $170 on your purchase if you have spend 95,000 points! 95,000 points is not a small sum and normally - based on this conversion rate - you'd have to spend $9,500 at Shoppers Drug Mart to earn that many points. Seems like a crazy amount of money, but this is where bonus points days and bonus redemption days come in handy.

Best Ways to Earn & Spend Your Optimum Points:

Regular/Personalized Offers: Shoppers Drug Mart sporadically sends out daily or weekly bonus points offers when you purchase specific items. For example, purchasing items from Shiseido may net you 10x the points; or you may receive 8000 bonus points when you purchase a fragrance from another brand. These are the most commonly seen offers from Shoppers Drug Mart and are a quick and easy way to earn bonus points, especially if the specific items in question are ones that you actually need.

Bonus Points Days: Every so often, Shoppers Drug Mart has a bonus points day that goes something like this, "Spend $50 or more on almost everything and earn 20x the points!". In other words, when you spend $50, you'll earn 10,000 points instead of the customary 500 points. In other instances, Shoppers Drug Mart will award you with 18,500 points when you spend $75 or more. With this offer, you'll earn a total of 19,250 points (18,500 points plus the points from your $75+ purchase). In our experience, these bonus events happen around twice a month. When you take advantage of these events, it's suddenly a lot easier to save up to 95,000 points, especially if you stock up on certain items or make multiple purchases. If we had to choose between these two offers, the 18,500 bonus points with a $75 purchase is probably the better deal.

Bonus Redemption Days: Another way to maximize your savings at Shoppers Drug Mart is to spend your points during bonus redemption days, which is especially great if you earned your points through a bonus points day. Roughly once per month, Shoppers Drug Mart will have one weekend where you'll get more value out of your points: e.g., spending 50,000 points will get you a $100 discount instead of the customary $85, while spending 95,000 points will get you a $200 discount, instead of the normal discount of $170.

Mega Redemption Days: A third promotion that Shoppers Drug Mart hosts occasionally is an event that allows you to spend X amount of points and earn Y back. For example, you can spend 90,000 points and earn 30,000 points back -- so you're basically redeeming 90,000 worth of points for just 60,000 points. On even rarer instances, Shoppers Drug Mart will combine this type of promotion with a bonus redemption offer. For example, you can spend 95,000 points and get $170 off your purchase and receive a bonus 30,000 points back. This is one of the best offers we've seen from Shoppers Drug Mart as you're essentially getting $170 off your purchase by spending only 65,000 points. These events happen relatively rarely, but are a great way to get some extra bang for your points.

One thing to remember when redeeming points is that taxes will be applied to your purchase before discounts are applied. For example, if you make a $150 purchase, the discount will be applied accordingly: $150 plus tax minus the discount.

Why You Should Be Nice to Mom and Dad:

Thursdays are Seniors' Bonus Day at Shoppers Drug Mart, which means it's time to bring mom, dad or a grandparent over the age of 55 along with you on your shopping trip. On this day of the week, you'll automatically get a 20% discount on your purchase of regular priced items, including groceries and daily necessities. Plus, in case you can't wait for a bonus redemption day to spend your points, Thursdays are your next best bet to save on your purchase. Not only will you get a base discount of 20%, you'll save even more on your purchase by redeeming points on this day.

This is just a very basic guide to the Optimum program and a way to get new users' feet wet. Once you understand the basics behind the program, you can start being more creative on how you earn and spend your points to get even more savings.

#DarkTO: What are You Throwing Away After Yesterday's Power Outage?

#DarkTO: What are You Throwing Away After Yesterday's Power Outage?

By Kate Musgrove

Several sections of Toronto lost power for four or five hours last night.

If your home lost power, you might need to clean out your fridge. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if the power is out for less than four hours and you haven't opened the door of the fridge most of your food should be okay -- which is frustrating if the power goes out for just over four hours, like last night. And you don't want to open the fridge to see if it's still nice and cold inside because opening the fridge will let all of the cold air out!

After some internet searching I determined that to be safe, I should toss milk, poultry, seafood, eggs, soft cheeses, lunch meat, pre-cut/pre-washed packaged greens and any opened jarred food (like spaghetti sauce, or creamy salad dressing). I'm a vegetarian, so those guidelines left me relatively unscathed, but I did have to throw out $8 worth of super-organic, farm fresh eggs. (Which left me with less than ideal breakfast options this morning.)

Fortunately, last night's outage was short enough that everything in my freezer was okay -- a full freezer that remains closed will keep food safe for 48 hours. (Although a half-full freezer is only good for about 24 hours.)

What would you do with a fridge full of food after a four-hour power outage? Do you toss everything, or keep eating even if it might be a terrible idea?

Recall Roundup: UppaBaby Strollers, Teavana Glass Pitcher, Select Instant Pot Smart Cookers + More

Recall Roundup: UppaBaby Strollers, Teavana Glass Pitcher, Select Instant Pot Smart Cookers + More

By Kate Musgrove

It's important to be informed of all the latest safety recalls -- here's a roundup of what's been recalled in Canada recently.

Also in the news lately has been the IKEA dresser recall in the US, although it's important to note that the dressers are safe if the anchoring kit that comes with them is used. If you have an IKEA dresser that is not properly anchored, you can request an anchoring kit online here, by phone at 1-866-866-IKEA or in person at the Return/Exchange counter in any IKEA store.

RFD Pro Tip: Use 10MinuteMail.com to Sign Up for Bonus Discounts on Your Online Purchase!

RFD Pro Tip: Use 10MinuteMail.com to Sign Up for Bonus Discounts on Your Online Purchase!

By Elaine Jair

Ever visit an online retailer and receive a pop-up that goes something like, "Subscribe to our newsletter and get 50% off your next purchase"? If you're like me, you'd get super excited and immediately input your email address, only to find out that you already subscribed last month. If you're really desperate for some savings, you could generate a whole new email account, but it might get a little tiring by the second or third time you run into this problem.

So if this is a problem you face, here's a little pro tip for you to shop like a true RFD-er: 10MinuteMail.com. I recently just discovered this website and it is seriously a godsend. For those of you who have never heard of this website before, it basically generates an email account for you that will exist for just 10 minutes (you can request additional time if necessary). Just copy and paste the e-mail provided and enter it at the online retailer of your choice. Within a couple of minutes, you'll receive an email with the promo code and what not in your 10MinuteMail.com mailbox. Rinse and repeat, and you'll get some great savings on your online purchases!

Super convenient and easy for those of you who like to maximize your discounts. Plus, you'll get all of the discounts without having to worry about spam mail.

Best of all? When your 10 minutes are up, you get redirected to a page that calmly tells you that your e-mail address has self-destructed...

... which makes us feel kind of awesome.

Close enough, right?

Windows 10 Will Be Available as a Free Upgrade on July 29. Here's How to Get in Line!

Windows 10 Will Be Available as a Free Upgrade on July 29. Here's How to Get in Line!

By Kevin Ngai

The future of Windows is just about here. Microsoft will be launching Windows 10 on July 29. It will be available in 190 countries with existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users having one year to upgrade for free (until July 29, 2016) to the new operating system.

Windows 10 is an entirely new iteration of the long standing Windows operating system. Microsoft believes the future of Windows is as an universal platform and not just for an operating system for 32 and 64-bit PCs. Windows 10 will also run on tablets, smartphones, Windows for the Internet of Things, and more. It aims to undo the unintuitive user interface of Windows 8, by bringing back the Windows 7-style Start menu that many people know and love. Along with new features such as Cortana and Microsoft Edge, their new web browser, Windows 10 is making a big push on Universal Apps, both built-in and third-party. As with any new operating system, a word of caution to those of you who own many peripherals, you may want to hold off to ensure the drivers for legacy devices are supported in Windows 10 before upgrading.

To reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10, just use the "Get Windows 10" app in the task bar. If your machine is up-to-date, you'll see a small icon of the Windows logo on your task bar next to the internet status icon. Clicking on it will open a window that details the upgrade process and reserves your place in the queue to download the free upgrade. You can also use the app to confirm your reservation, check compatibility of your device with Windows 10, or even un-reserve if you change your mind and wish to cancel. On July 29, when Windows 10 is available for your device, it will download in the background and you'll get a notification to upgrade immediately or re-schedule at another time.

After July 29, Microsoft will be rolling Windows 10 out in a phased approach to manage the demand. It will be released for desktop PCs and laptops first, then to smartphones, the Xbox One, Arduino machines and finally its HoloLens. The easiest and quickest way to secure your free upgrade is to reserve it in advanced. For more details, FAQs and Windows 10 specifications, follow this link.

If you're running a Windows operating system older than Windows 7 you're not eligible for a free upgrade. Windows 10 Home will cost$120 USD, while Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 USD for a single license.

Some Great Stats from Amazon Prime Day in Canada

Some Great Stats from Amazon Prime Day in Canada

By Kate Musgrove

Amazon emailed me this morning with some fun facts from the first Amazon Prime Day in Canada and I thought I would pass them along.

On July 15:

  • Amazon.ca sold enough diapers to diaper every single baby born in Canada this year.
  • Amazon.ca Prime members bought enough AeroGarden Indoor Gardens to make over 3,000 salads at the same time.
  • Amazon.ca sold enough Instant Pot Pressure Cookers to make more than 55,000 servings of poutine gravy at the same time.
  • Amazon Prime Canada members purchased enough Hoover Upright Vacuums to reach the highest point of Niagara Falls six times over if stacked end to end.
  • They bought enough Breaking Bad DVD sets that it would take more than four years for someone to watch each disc back to back.
  • Amazon.ca Prime members bought enough GoPro cameras to record over 650 hockey games without stopping to recharge and enough watches to give one to every active NHL player in the world.

All in all, it was a big day for Amazon, despite some grousing about the deals.

Lululemon Breaks Into the Brewery Business

Lululemon Breaks Into the Brewery Business

By Kate Musgrove

In the news today: Lululemon has launched a new, limited edition beer called Curiosity Lager. With just 80,000 cans made, it will be available in BC and Alberta beer stores and will be served at the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

This honestly reminded me of when Michael Jordan stopped playing basketball and picked up baseball instead. Lululemon is an apparel powerhouse that makes great pants and extraordinarily comfortable workout gear and I'm not sure I see the value in diversifying their business in this way.

I also think that the beer, much like Jordan's actual MLB playing time, will be around for about a day and then disappear in to the annals of history. Are you interested in trying it?

18 Free Meal Challenges Across Canada for the Hungry and Frugal

18 Free Meal Challenges Across Canada for the Hungry and Frugal

By Elaine Jair

I was watching Man vs. Food the other day and got to thinking about food challenges across Canada. After all, if you're confident in your eating abilities and a frugal person, what better way to get some food in your stomach for free than by taking on a food challenge?

There are many, many more challenges available across Canada. While not all of them will offer a discount or a free meal, you can still win other prizes, such as cash, free t-shirts, and of course, invaluable bragging rights! Since we're not all professional eaters, I decided to pick a few of the most tasty-looking and relatively do-able challenges to get you RFD-ers started. Restaurants are scattered across Canada, but most of the ones featured on our list can be found in British Columbia and Ontario.

In no particular order, here are the 18 food challenges across Canada for the hungry and frugal:

texx burger
  • Olde Dublin's Mount Dublin Burger Challenge, Olde Dublin Pub (Charlottetown, PEI): Finish a 5lb burger (12 patties with cheese & bacon) and a side of fries within 45 minutes and you'll get a free meal, free shirt and your name on their Wall of Fame!
  • The Texx Big Burger Challenge, Texx Big Burger Restaurant (Surrey, BC): Finish a 3lb burger in 30 minutes and you'll get the meal for free plus another free regular burger. If you're ambitious, aim to beat the current record of 8 mins and 47 seconds and you'll get a second free regular burger and $200 cash money.
  • The Wild Wing Challenge, Wild Wing (Surrey, BC): Finish 4 lbs of wings in 25 minutes and a side of Gar Par fries to get a free meal and your picture on their Wall of Fame!
  • The Baselines Ultimate Burger Challenge, Baselines Pub & Grill (Surrey, BC): Chow down on a 4.5 lb burger (2.5 lb patty with toppings and a big bun) within an hour to get a free meal, free shirt, and a place on their Wall of Fame.
  • Cilantro's El Diablo Burrito Challenge, Cilantro & Jalapeno Mexican Restaurant (North Vancouver, BC): Down a 3lb Ghost Pepper Burrito in 20 minutes to get the meal for free and a place on their Wall of Fame.
  • The Two Pounder Burger Challenge, The Two Parrots Perch & Grill (Vancouver, BC): Finish a 4lb burger (2 lbs of beef, 2 lbs of bun and toppings) within an hour and get your burger for free and your picture on their Wall of Fame
  • Mrs. Riche's K2 Mountain Burger Challenge, Mrs. Riches Dinner Club Cafe (Nanaimo, BC): Finish the K2 Mountain Burger -- two pounds of prime ground beef, 2 piles of ham, slices of cheese, bacon strips, twin fried eggs, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and mayo on top of a monster sized bun -- plus a huge side of fries within an hour to get a free meal and a free t-shirt.
  • Canadian Brewhouse's Rita Burger Challenge, The Canadian Brewhouse (Calgary, AB): Finish a 5.5 lb burger with all toppings and a large poutine on the side within an hour for a free meal.
  • Woody's Mountain Man Burger Challenge, Woody's Pub & Restaurant (Winfield, BC): You have 45 minutes to complete a burger comprised of one pound of patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings, chipotle BBQ sauce, burger mayo, lettuce and tomato; and a side of fries. If you complete this challenge, you'll get your meal and a shirt for free, plus your picture on their Facebook wall of fame!
  • Smokin' Tony's BBQ Behemoth Challenge, Smokin' Tony's BBQ (Waterloo, ON): Finish a 4.5 lb sandwich (pulled pork, beef brisket, cheese, sauteed onions, and coleslaw on a rosemary focaccia bun) and a large side of fries in 30 minutes and you'll get your meal for free, a free t-shirt, and your picture up on their Wall of Fame.
  • Stack's Great Stack Challenge, Stack Restaurant (Toronto, ON): Down two 1 lb Stack burgers, 1 lb of fries and a milkshake in 30 minutes to get a free meal, free shirt, and your picture on their Wall of Fame
  • Corned Beef House's Sandwich Challenge, The Corned Beef House (Toronto, ON): Finish off a corned beef sandwich featuring 40 oz of meat and toppings within 1 hour to get a free meal and your picture on their Wall of Fame.
  • mo breakfast
  • Mo's Ultimate Breakfast Challenge, Mo's Family Restaurant (Oakville, ON): Take on this huge breakfast (three eggs, three pancakes, three slices of French toast, three sausages, three slices of bacon, three slices of ham, three orders or hash browns, and a glass of coffee or juice) within an hour to get the meal for free.
  • The Shamrock Burger Challenge, Sham Rock's Pub & Grill House (Whitby, ON): You have 25 minutes to finish off a 1 lb burger, a side of poutine and a side of onion rings to get a free meal and a place on their Wall of Fame.
  • The Hwy 55 Burger Challenge, Highway 55 Restaurant (Oakville, ON): Finish off a 4 lb burger (55 oz of meat with at least 4 topping), a side of fries and a 24 oz soft drink in 30 minutes for a free meal.
  • Real Sport's 67oz Hail Mary Steak Challenge, Real Sports Bar Grills (Toronto, ON): Finish a 67 oz steak, 1 lb of fries and 1 lb of coleslaw within an hour to get your meal for free and a place on their Wall of Fame!
  • D&S Southern Comfort's Determinator Burger Challenge, D&S Southern Comfort BBQ (Ottawa, ON): Down 5.5 lbs of burgers, texas toast, bacon, cheese and toppings served with fries, coleslaw and pickles in one hour to get your meal for free and have your picture placed on their Wall of Fame.

It goes without saying that if you fail to complete the challenge, you'll need to pay for the meal. Considering that some of the meals can be quite pricey (the 67 oz Hail Mary Steak Challenge costs $80!), we'd recommend you start off with challenges that you are certain you can finish.

Let us know in the comments below which challenges you've tackled and which ones we've missed!