Category Archives: Smart Shopping

Buying Smart: Consumer Review Sites


Review Sites
Review sites can be a Godsend, but even here, it’s caveat emptor.

As I boldly claimed on the Start Here page when I was first establishing this site, with the wealth of information currently available on the Internet, there is no excuse for not informing yourself about consumer purchases before plunking down your money.  Consumer reviews on the Internet are a great place to get customers’ honest opinions about products, right?  Well, as I came to realize, no.  Honest, independent consumer reviews seem to be another thing that the Internet has given and then, for the chance to make a quick buck, taken away.  When looking up opinions and reviews online, it’s definitely caveat emptor.

To select the sites I discuss in this post, I started with the’s Top Consumer Review Sites list.  To be honest, I didn’t get all that far before I realized that I was wasting my time.  Maybe this list was put together poorly, or maybe most of the consumer review sites out there are garbage; it’s hard to say.  At any rate, a lot of the sites on that list are not what they first appear.  At the end of this post, I’ll tell you which review site I trust the most, and why.

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No Communications Revolution Here: Verizon in Canada Wouldn’t Really Change Anything

Verizon: preparing to fleece Canadians
Obviously, the guy on the bottom is Canadian.

It was recently rumoured that Verizon, a major US broadband and telecommunications company, was interested in purchasing Wind Mobile as a way to gain entry and an immediate customer base in Canada. The rumoured price for Wind was $700 million. This rumour, if true, could have a major impact on the Canadian wireless market.

But it won’t.

To be fair, I guess there has already been an effect. All three Canadian majors’ share prices fell significantly when the rumour started making the rounds. I’m guessing that the reason for this is that shareholders are assuming that if Verizon, white-knight like, comes onto the scene, Canadians will be saved from those nasty, evil, price-gauging um, other Canadians (the three incumbents), prices will fall, service (both the coverage and customers varieties) will be stellar, and all will be well in the Great White North.

Here’s what people forget: Continue reading No Communications Revolution Here: Verizon in Canada Wouldn’t Really Change Anything

Politeness: Surfing the Curve for Fun and Profit

Not known for politeness
How would you like dealing with asses all day?

As many current and former university students (myself included) will tell you, you don’t have to be smart to succeed in university, you just have to be smarter that the other students in your class. This is called surfing the curve, because regardless of how bad you may be in an absolute sense, as long as you’re good in a relative sense, you should be OK; if you’re above average, you’re pretty much guaranteed to pass and continue on to the next course. Curve surfers benefit from other students’ lack of attention, attendance, and interest in class; it’s not that they’re particularly bright, it’s just that they’re less dumb than the others. A cynical philosophy, it’s true, but not at all uncommon.

I was reminded this weekend that the same principle applies to politeness, and the result can put money in your pocket.

Continue reading Politeness: Surfing the Curve for Fun and Profit