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Amazon Announces Free Same-Day Shipping to Prime Users in the U.S

By Elaine Jair

Amazon Prime in the United States has always offered some pretty sweet perks to members and with the intense shipping war that's been going on between Walmart, Amazon, Uber and even Google, Amazon is kicking things up a notch to try to pull ahead of the competition.

Starting May 28, Amazon is offering free same-day shipping to Prime users in the States when they spend over $35. If you haven't heard of same-day shipping before, here's a quick lowdown: place your orders before 12 PM and Amazon will have it shipped to you before 9 PM on the same day. This service has been available to Prime users in the States for a while, but normally, it would cost a flat per-order fee of $5.99.

So when will this awesome offer be available in Canada? While offers same-day shipping (it was introduced to Canada in November 2014) to those in Toronto and Vancouver (see a list of eligible postal codes here), there's no word on whether or not this offer will be introduced in Canada. I talked to a customer service rep yesterday to ask about this and his answer was simply that Amazon will send an email to Canadian Prime members if this offer ever crosses the border. Currently, Canadian Prime members pay a flat per-order fee of $6.99 for same-day shipping while non-Prime members pay $11.99 for the first item and $1.99 for each additional item.

Google Shows Off Android M at its I/O 2015 Keynote

Google Shows Off Android M at its I/O 2015 Keynote

By Kevin Ngai

The annual Google I/O developer conference kicks off today and you can watch the opening keynote livestream here. If you don’t have the time to enjoy the two-and-a-half hour keynote in its entirety, keep reading for our summary of today’s biggest announcements!

Android M was the biggest announcement today for Android users and it appears to be focused on optimizing stability and improving the core user experience. Google did not say what the version number or name of M will be just yet, but showed six key areas this update will focus on. This includes how Android handles apps permissions, web browsing with its Chrome browser, upgrading the built-in app linking system, introducing a new mobile payments system called Android Pay, native support for fingerprint sensors, and promises of extended standby time and improved power charging with USB Type-C. A Google M preview is available for developers today, while a full release is expected later in the year.

For the rest of the wide world of consumers, Google Photo was by far I/O’s most significant news. Google Photos is a new, standalone app that will be available on iOS, Android, and the web starting today. It gives you a single cloud based home to store all your photos and videos, and access them from any device. You’ll be able to backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. The resolution is limited to 16MP for photos and 1080p for videos (sorry RAW camera shooters). You can download and read all about Google Photos here but all you really need to know is, I repeat, you’ll get unlimited storage for free! Google is making a serious play for your captured memories which I feel could become a game changer.

Google dropped a ton of information on what it has in store for us for the rest of 2015. The only thing missing was no new phone, tablet or Google Glass hardware was announced or shown today, which was unfortunately expected.

Day 2 of Google I/O continues, you can create your own custom I/O schedule and watch sessions throughout the event here.

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Canada's Tampon Tax Finally Comes to an End

By Kate Musgrove

After 25 years of charging tax on tampons, sanitary napkins and other menstrual products, Canada has made the move to treat them as essential, non-taxed items. The bill was brought forward by MP Irene Mathyssen and the change will take place on July 1, 2015.

The basic practice in Canada is that the categories of basic groceries, prescription drugs, agricultural products and farm livestock and medical devices (like hearing aids and false teeth) are not taxed and many felt that menstrual products were incorrectly categorized as a non-necessity. By comparison, chocolate chips, pudding and ice cream (when not sold in single servings) and coffee beans are not taxed, although toilet paper is.

Previously, menstrual products like sanitary napkins and tampons generated $36 million in tax revenue each year.

How To Get What You Want

How To Get What You Want

By Kate Musgrove

I've been with 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?

A Lannister Always Pays His Debts. Will You?

A Lannister Always Pays His Debts. Will You?

By Kevin Ngai

Game of Thrones has officially surpassed The Sopranos to become the most watched show in HBO’s history. It’s also the world’s most pirated show ever -- it’s the catnip for illicit downloaders!

If you're one of the millions to have downloaded an episode of Game of Thrones this season, you may have been served with a cease and desist email in regarding to your internet activities from your internet service provider (ISP) recently.

For those of you who haven’t received a notice, this is my public service announcement to inform you that Canada passed a new anti-piracy legislation which took effect on January 2. For more information you can read about the Copyright Modernization Act here.

In summary, this new legislation, now requires ISPs to send notifications to you whenever content owners such as HBO contacts them about the possible unauthorized use of their material such as the illegal download of Game of Thrones traced to your IP address!

I’m sure we’ve all heard the occasional story of Canadians receiving such notices for the past decade, so what exactly has changed on January 2? From my understanding, ISPs are now obligated to send you a notice so they’re not liable for your actions. This is now formally part of the law which wasn’t the case prior to this year. The notification will provide details of the title of the copyrighted material, the IP address that was used, and the time the alleged infringement occurred.

I do not know whether or not they’re meaningless. I feel these notices currently serve the purpose of an education system to raise awareness and discourage online infringement, as opposed to suing people. Keep in mind, the ISPs are required to retain the information for six months, up to one year after they send the notice. Giving the rights to content owners to decide whether they want to pursue legal process.

You may as well start thinking about where you stand on piracy, because the day may come for a wider spread crackdown on downloading activities in Canada.

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Purchasing an Inflatable Pool for the Summer? Check Your City's By-laws First!

By Elaine Jair

Summer's just around the corner and for those of you who are looking into purchasing an inflatable pool or hot tub for your backyard, here's a little heads up.

Many of you are probably already aware that installing a pool in your backyard requires a couple of permits from your city. However, what you may not be aware of (and what I definitely wasn't aware of) is that inflatable pools and hot tubs are also governed by the same by-law.

While you won't require any building permits, you do need to ensure your swimming pool is properly enclosed. For example, in Mississauga, a swimming pool is defined as any body of water that can hold water exceeding 24" in depth at any point. If your pool does exceed this depth, you'll need to apply for a Swimming Pool Enclosure Inspection Approval form, which goes hand in hand with a $280 + HST Pool Enclosure Inspection fee. This fee is not refundable, which means that affordable little inflatable pool you spotted has just gone up in price by $300. Not to mention, your approval form will only last you one year from the day you received it, and you'll need to pay the inspection fee again next year. There are some variations depending on where you live - for example, in Toronto, the limit is 23.5" and in North Vancouver, the limit is a surface area of 150 square feet and a depth of 18 inches - so you should definitely check your city's by-laws for the most accurate information pertaining to you.

Filling a pool without the approval form is considered illegal and could result in the seizure of your pool, draining of your pool, a penalty and/or you may have to shoulder the expenses that the city occurs during this process. You may be tempted to take a chance, but officers acting under this by-law are well within their rights to check your property at any time to ensure you are complying.

With inflatable swimming pools becoming more and more accessible, it's important to keep in mind that not all retailers will remind you to check your city's by-laws; it's ultimately up to the consumer to ensure they are abiding by their city's by-laws.

Future Shop is Open For Business?

By Kate Musgrove

Yesterday my boyfriend and I were playing Yahtzee on our phones with the Android app. Between games, he got a pretty interesting ad at the bottom of his screen.

Let me zoom in on that for you.

It's an ad that says Future Shop is open for business.

Obviously, I assumed it was an old ad from before Future Shop closed all stores in Canada. But it wasn't. I clicked through and landed on a store locator page that confirmed yes, Future Shop is open for business... while it converts to Best Buy. A few seconds on Google revealed that they're also sending out emails to that effect (via Nicholas Boshart on Twitter).

For me, the question is: what's up with these ads? I mean, Future Shop isn't open for business! But when Future Shop announced they were closing, I was surprised at the number of people who hadn't realized that they and Best Buy were owned by the same company. So maybe this is part of an effort to let people know that they can still shop at Future Shop (except that now it's a Best Buy).

Walmart Launching Unlimited Free Shipping in The US -- is Canada Next?

By Kate Musgrove

Here's some interesting news from south of the border -- Walmart is launching unlimited free shipping for $50 a year in the US! The service is said to be like Amazon Prime (although it's half the price, as a year of Amazon Prime runs $99 in the US) and purchases will arrive in three days or less.

Right now, the program is invitation-only, and about 1 million products will be eligible for free shipping. ( currently carries about 7 million items total.) The real question on our minds, of course, is it coming to Canada next? We haven't been able to come across any indicators that it is.

I have to admit that I haven't done any shopping at since they ended free shipping on all orders on April 2. And while I can certainly see the appeal of something like this shipping promotion, I also kind of feel like you're paying money to Walmart (or Amazon) so you can.... buy more stuff at Walmart (or Amazon). And for me, that doesn't feel like a particularly valuable proposition.

How Do You Browse RFD?

By Kate Musgrove

Recently I was looking at the stats for over the last year. While I was digging around, I discovered that out of our total traffic:

  • 0.12% are using the PS Vita Browser to read RFD
  • 0.11% are using the Nintendo Wii to read RFD
(this is exactly what it looks like, right?)

Now I just need someone to browse from their internet fridge and my life will be complete.

What's the weirdest device you've browsed the internet on?

IKEA to Open Two Tiny "Pick-Up Point" Stores in Canada

By Kate Musgrove

IKEA has great furniture at great prices -- but there are only 12 locations across Canada, and if you're not near one, shipping costs can be astronomical. IKEA is looking to ameliorate that problem by opening two tiny "pick-up point" stores in Canada later this year! The stores will be opening in London, Ontario and Quebec City, Quebec, both cities that are a fair distance from the closest true IKEA location. You'll be able to find them at:

  • 3198 Wonderland Rd S, London, ON
  • 3111 Avenue Watt, Quebec City, QC

Each location will be about one-tenth of the size of a regular IKEA location and will carry 99 of their best-selling items, plus serve as a pick-up depot for internet orders. (A standard IKEA is 323,000 square feet and carries a fair portion of IKEA's 12,000-item product range.) Currently, there are IKEA Pick-Up Point stores in Spain, Greece and Thailand.

We can't wait to check them out!