On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Harper Years

When you tour the Pentagon in Virginia, they brad about all the money the government has saved over the years by not having to rent a bunch of buildings. Now you could certainly argue that building a national defence headquarters visible from outer space (as well as jet flying altitude) was not the brightest idea militarily, but it would be hard to dispute the cost savings.
Scott Brison somehow managed to convince his colleagues (or his colleagues convinces him, who knows) that leasing buildings was the way to go. When hearing the words "leasing cost savings", some of you, I'm sure, thought of that other Nova Scotian, the one who moved back to Quebec.
Hat tip to Calgary Grit for linking to a Globe and Mail article outlying how the entire civil service thinks its a bad idea (slight exageration on my part). It's like the Conservative Party read Stevie Cameron's book: On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years. But instead of avoiding the pitfalls, it is as if they are treating it as an instruction manual. All they need now is a Mila.
Ironically, the unelected Minister of Public Works, Michel Fortier, reasons that we need privitisation because the buildings were poorly maintained. As many of you know, maintenance was privatised by the slashing Liberals in the late 90s.

Ottawa risks big bill over sale of buildings

From Monday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Senior federal officials warned that the planned sale of nine government buildings could cost Ottawa up to $600-million over 25 years, and recommended a full risk analysis be conducted first, sources said.

But the Department of Public Works forged ahead with the project, saying that soliciting bids for the real estate was the best way to see whether it was a profitable proposition.

About a dozen bids have been received for the buildings, one senior government official said. Public Works would analyze the offers and proceed only if it makes financial sense, he added.

"If this ends up costing money to the government, we will not do it," the source said .

Another source, however, said there have been strong reservations regarding the project in senior government circles. A number of officials, according to the source, have warned that "the financial risk to the government has not been measured."

Central agencies such as the Finance Department and the Privy Council Office - which acts as the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office - have called for a thorough cost-benefit analysis to be conducted before opening up the sale to tenders.

The fear is that the "potential savings have been overstated and the potential risks ignored," the source said.

Without that risk analysis in place, senior government officials urged Public Works to sell a smaller number of buildings at first to see whether the project could work.

According to Finance and PCO officials, the sale of the nine buildings is a gamble, generating up to $250-million in savings if it works, or losses of up to $600-million if it fails.

Last year, Public Works hired two banks to look at a sample of 40 federal buildings to determine the best way to raise funds to renovate Ottawa's real-estate portfolio.

BMO Capital Markets and RBC Capital Markets Real Estate Group advised the government to get rid of nine buildings in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

In an optimistic report, the advisers recommended the use of a process known as a sale-leaseback, by which Ottawa is promising eventual buyers that it will rent the buildings for the next 25 years. In return, the new owner will be responsible for upgrading and managing the buildings.

The main union for federal civil servants is strongly condemning the planned sale. Public Service Alliance of Canada vice-president Patty Ducharme said the government will likely pay back twice the purchase price in rent over 25 years. "For the landlords, it's a gravy train," she said.

Public Works Minister Michael Fortier is a strong supporter of the project, and he called on RBC and BMO this year to find the best bids for the nine buildings.

Mr. Fortier has obtained the political backing to launch the project by promising to get any deal vetted by an independent third party before it is presented to cabinet for approval.

Mr. Fortier said Ottawa needs to pump in billions to renovate its entire real-estate portfolio, and has to find innovative sources of funding. The nine buildings are valued at more than $1-billion in total.

They include the six-storey Canada Place in Edmonton; the Harry Hays building in Calgary; the Skyline complex of seven buildings in Ottawa; the Joseph Shepard building on Yonge Street in Toronto; the Thomas D'Arcy McGee building on Sparks Street in Ottawa; the Howard Green building and the historic Sinclair Centre in Vancouver; a building on René Lévesque Boulevard in Montreal; and a building in Westmount, Que., that used to house the RCMP.

"The government has not always taken care of its buildings in the same way as a traditional real-estate owner," Mr. Fortier said this year.

The goal is "to stop the bleeding and to manage the portfolio so that in five, 10, 15 years, we are not faced with an even bigger figure [to renovate the buildings] as we are facing now."


Canada's Kyoto target: only buy stuf made in China.

Allot of thing are made in China. But a simple way for Canada to meet it's Kyoto target would be to buy more products made in China (instead of made in Canada). Furniture, cars and parts are often made in Canada. They could easily be imported from China. When you buy a product made in China instead of Canada, you are directly contributing to lowering Canada's global warming carbon emissions. Every China made product emits 100% less Canadian carbon than a Canadian made product. So when you replace all your light bulbs, make sure they are made in China.  
Come on people. Our reputation as a global warming fighter is a stake.

iPhone: Why All the Advertisement?

If the iphone is so good, why have I seen their commercials 50 times before the product is even available*? Granted, I have a DVR and I press play every time I see it while I'm fast forwarding over commercials. Also, I'm probably a member of the demographic Apple is going after. And I do watch an unhealthy amount of TV. Still, seems to me that Apple has spent a fortune hyping this thing. If it's that good, shouldn't they have used word of mouth (à la Google, Youtube or Myspace)?
Speaking of Youtube. During "The Loop" on Fox Sunday night (a great show by the way), I saw the first bad Apple iPhone commercial. Because of bad DVR planning, I was watching all the commercials, so perhaps that was the problem. However, I'm not forking over 600 hundred hard earned dollars to watch Youtube videos on my cell phone (especially factoring the obscene bandwidth charges). To me, that commercial was classing demand creation. We have a product, let's figure out how we can crate a demand for it.
It was like seing a nerd driving a Porsh or a fat guy driving a Smart car. The iPhone immediatly lost it's appeal. The reason for the iPhone Youtube commercial is because a Google exec is on the board of directors of Apple. Youtube (owned by Google) is spending stupid amounts of money making their videos viewable on the iPhone. So I guess the commercial was part of the deal.    
*The iPhone will be available in the USA on June 29th. It will only be available in Canada when Rogers empties their warehouse full of Moto Razr phones (sarcasm). But the fact that the commercial isn't playing on Canadian TV makes me seeing it 50 times that more shocking (most American shows, such as the Simpsons, are simalcast on a Canadian network, and the Canadian network's commercial play on the American station).


Vive le Canada francophone!

24 juin. Bonne fête Canadiens-français! Quelle belle coïncidence que la fête de Saint-Jean Baptiste coïncide presque avec le solstice d'été. Malheureux que nous sommes à l'extérieur du Québec, on se reprendra lors de la fête du Canada (à l'ecception de la ville de Moncton, où les gens, comme moi, semble tous travailler dans les centres d'appels, 24/7, sans congés fériés).
Je propose qu'on amende la loi fédéral afin de rendre la dernière semaine du juin, congé férié. Ça serait plate pour la majorité de la population qui travaille sous juridiction provinciale, mais bon, je ne veux pas être une semaine sans pouvoir faire l'épisserie.
Selon Wikipedia (donc, à confirmer):
"La fête de la Nativité de Saint-Jean-Baptiste est aussi la fête nationale des Canadiens-français depuis 1834 lors de la création de la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Jean le Baptiste a été décrété patron des Canadiens-français en 1908 par le pape Pie X. En 1977, la fête de la Saint-Jean devint la fête nationale du Québec, incluant les Québécois de toutes origines."

New Yorker Emigrates to Toronto and ends up Unemployed.

L-Girl, from wmtc.ca, immigrated (or is it emigrated?) to Toronto a couple of years ago and is now struggling, desperately looking for work.
Now being unemployed is certainly something I can relate to. And I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. Not having anything to do is easy to overcome, not having any money, not so much.
She banned me from commenting on her blog because I called her and her husband "the stupidest couple in the world". You see, they left for "political reasons". But more importantly, who in their right mind leaves New York City to move to Toronto (worst, they actually ended up in Mississauga)? What, you needed big box stores that badly? There is actually a post where she describes driving from Mississaug all the way to Oakville for groceries!
Anyway, nothing stopping her from moving back to the USA. I wish that were true for the rest of us. I've never figured out why the French and Irish can work in England (and vice-versa), but Canadians and Americans are treated the same way as Iranians or Ethiopians. Let people make their own mistakes. It is called freedom*.
*New Zealanders can work in Australia (and vice-versa), Norwegians in Sweeden (and vice-versa) and you all know about the European Union. Are there other examples?


Stupid Americans

"From the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, to wit, that angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of the St Croix River to the highlands, along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the St Lawrence, and those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the northwestern most head of the Connecticut River…"
When I read this paragraph from the 1783 Treaty of Paris, it was blatantly obvious to me the green border on this map is the one that was agreed on, at least in writing.
However, you could certainly argue that the intent was the pink one. The pink one would have made the most sense on the ground (and would today help us Maritimers avoid an aggravating detour further north when traveling west for work). The Americans could hardly lay claim to the land north of the pink border, and the British would have had no logical reason to give it the Americans. The only human inhabitants of the area were French (aka Acadians) and Aboriginals (aka Indians).
Thus the compromise, I guess, between what must have been the intent and what was actually put in writing.
Considering that this paragraph almost lead to war, it might be a good idea, in future, to include a map in future treaties, eh!


Ronco bankrupt, Willi Waller 2006 still popular

Translation of Willi Waller 2006 , the uber popular clip from the Montreal site, Têtes à claques (dumb dumbs). Quebec accent but with frequent and completely unnecessary use of English words such as "beautiful". By the way, "Uncle Tom" is meaningless in French.

Many of Ron Popeil's infomercials appeared in French in Quebec with hastily done voice overs.

Willi Waller 2006:
-Hey, my friend. You like eating potatoes?
Mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, Cheese Whiz potatoes? Well Uncle Tom has a great product for those of you who love potatoes: The Willi Waller 2006.

Now with the Willi Waller 2006, it wont take you three times less time to peal potatoes, it wont take you four times less time to peal potatoes. No, with the Willi Waller 2006, it will take you twice less time to peal potatoes.

So you're probably saying "Wait a minute, Uncle Tom, what you are saying, what is coming out of your mouth, it's impossible, it's nonsense.

Well I completely understand your scepticism. But look at the following demonstration.

(New screen with pictures of potatoes)

To the right, a big potato with the Willi Waller 2006. To the left, an other big potato, but no Willi Waller 2006.

Now look at the difference. Attention, 1,2,3,4 GO!

(music and pealing of potatoes)

You see how it is easier with the Willi Waller 2006, eh?

Isn't that beautiful?

(back to guy in the kitchen)

But the best part is that for 4 easy payments of $29.99, do you know how many Willi Waller 2006 you will get, not one, not two, not three, but fourteen Willi Waller 2006. Unbelievable!

You'll be able to put one everywhere: in the car, at the cottage, in the living room, in the toilet, in the office. You will even be able to give some to your friends!

(testimonial from Guy with a beard)

-Well since the Willi Waller 2006 has entered my life, well... I'm ecstatic.

(testimonial from women in pink sweater)

I swear that since I started using the Willi Waller, my potatoes taste way better.

(testimonial from voluptuous women in black top)

-Thank you Uncle Tom, thank you.

(back to Uncle Tom in the kitchen).

-Isn't that beautiful, eh?
Call right now for this fantastic offer. Take out your credit card, and compose the number on your screen. And if you call right now, we will even ship you an extra handful !

I swear, with the Willi Waller 2006, never has eating great potatoes been so easy.

(Voice of producer)
Cut, we'll make one more take, but with more energy, eh.

-(Uncle Tom) Ah, for crying out loud, that one was good.

-(Producer) Put a bit more energy, and it will be perfect, OK.

-(Uncle Tom) So you want a bit more "dumb ass", eh?

-(Producer) Yeah That's it. Now, 3, 2, 1, Action.

-(Uncle Tom) Hey, my friend, do you like eating potatoes?

Ronco, the company that spent 55 million dollars buying out the Spray on hair guy, just filed for chapter 11.

From Wikipedia:
Ron Popeil's

Impact on popular culture

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded the song "Mr. Popeil" on his second studio album, "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D. The song was a "style parody" (i.e., not a direct parody of a specific song, but emulating a performer's specific style) of the early music of the B-52's (and bore a striking resemblance to their first hit single, "Rock Lobster"). The verses are structured as pitches for unnamed but easily recognizable Ronco products, and draws upon all the catchphrases associated with the Ronco infomercials, including the phrases "It slices! It dices!", "Take advantage of this amazing TV offer!", and " Now how much would you pay?". One of Weird Al's background vocalists was Lisa Popeil, daughter of Sam Popeil, sister to Ron Popeil [2]. Lisa continues to perform backup for Weird Al's songs, including his 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood.
  • The "Veg-O-Matic" was parodied by Dan Aykroyd in an episode of Saturday Night Live as the "Super Bass-O-Matic '76". This parody is mentioned in the Biography episode on Popeil.
  • "Dodge Veg-O-Matic" is a song by Jonathan Richman from the album Rock N Roll With The Modern Lovers (1977).
  • The "Veg-O-Matic" provided the inspiration for the "Sledge-O-Matic" routine used by comedian Gallagher for the last quarter-century.
  • In the film Major League, while hazing rookie Rick Vaughn, Roger Dorn asks if he had cut his hair using a "Veg-O-Matic".
  • In the episode "A Big Piece of Garbage", from the television series Futurama, Popeil is said to be the inventor of technology that allows heads to be kept alive in jars indefinitely (Popeil's own head, voiced by himself, appears in the episode). In the later episode " The Luck of the Fryrish" Fry keeps his lucky seven-leaf-clover in a "Ronco Record Vault"
  • In the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Radio Bart", Bart Simpson receives a "Superstar Celebrity Microphone" for his birthday. The toy and the TV advertisements for it were modeled after Ronco's "Mr. Microphone".
  • In the movie Old School during the morning-after hangover scene, Ron Popeil is on the TV Vince Vaughn and company are watching.
  • During a scene in Elizabethtown, you can see Popeil showing his knives on Orlando Bloom's television. (Bloom's character was having suicidal thoughts.)
  • The Daily Show featured a clip with the famous line "Set it and forget it!" — from the Showtime Rotisserie commercial — after showing the "catch phrase" discussions of the Senate debating over the War in Iraq.
  • Robin Williams, in his role as Mork in the TV show Mork and Mindy goes off on one of his (un)usual tangents with a kitchen gadget, saying, "It slices, it dices, it makes julienne fries, whatever those are!".
  • Popeil's fans have been inspired to repeat one of his more memorable lines, "Shoestring potatoes, shoestring carrots!"
  • The Beastie Boys reference him in their song 'Crawlspace', when Adrock says "I got more product than Ron Popeil"
  • The character RJ Raccoon in the film adaptation of Over the Hedge uses a Popeil Pocket Fisherman several times throughout the film.
  • In Blue Man Group's How To Be A Megastar tour, the blue men purchase a "rock concert manual" from a parody company entitled Rodco for $4,000.
  • In 1993, the Ig Nobel Award for Consumer Engineering was presented to Ron Popeil, "incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television, for redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler."
  • In "X-Men 2", Popeil is playing on the television briefly when the school is attacked

L'apathie et les Tète a claques

Comment expliquer que seulement 7% des visionnement du dernier clip des Têtes à claques ont généré des votes?

Pourtant, les clips sont inégaux. Il y en a qui sont moins bonnes que d'autres. Comment savoir si un clip est vraiment "winner" si les spectateurs ne votent pas?

Pis c'est pas compliqué voter sur le site. Il ne suffi que de cliquer sur l'étoile choisie.

Je serais curieux de savoir qui vote, et qui ne vote pas. Est-ce que les spectateurs plus âgés ont plus tendance à voter que les plus jeunes (comme dans les élections municipales/provinciales/fédérales) ?

Il n'y a aucun doute que les Têtes à claques sont populaires.

Les recherches reliés aux "Têtes à claques" sont la façon la plus populaire d'arriver sur mon blog. Et je n'ai aucun doute que le clip Willi Waller 2006 a effectivement été visionné 11,7 millions de fois (je l'ai visionné au moins 6 fois moi-même). On peut comprendre que dans le cas du Willi Waller 2006, on ne soit pas porté à voté. Soit qu'on a déjà voté, soit qu'on est tout à fait d'accord avec les 323 000 votes qui considère le clip "fabuleux"/ 5 étoiles.

Mais c'est peut être aussi la faute du site. Voyez-vous, si 400,000 spectateurs décident qu'un clip est pourri (moche), il sera classé au premier rang puisqu'il a obtenu le plus de votes. Plutôt bizarre comme système.

The no Fly list is the Answer to Global Warming

(warning, this post contains sarcasm).

Are you addicted to flying? I am. Lucky for me, poverty has nicked the habit in the short term. But what about when I get a better job. Will I be spending money that should go to retirement planning or furniture upgrades, on frivolous trips?

Just like compulsive gambler can put themselves on an exclusion list at casinos (must be a rather small list, as employee casino employees are supposed to remember your face), so to can compulsive flyers put themselves on the no-fly list.

This list is set up by CSIS and one can only assume is part of the federal government's global warming strategy (over the same distance, two people flying cause more carbon emissions than two people in an SUV).

So do the environment, and your budget, a favour. Put yourself on the no-fly list. To do so, write to CSIS or simply befriend one of the many Canadian terrorist organisations.

Furthur reading:
-Unfit to Fly in Canada?
-Canada to Launch 'No-Fly' List in June
-Critics raise alarms over Canada's no-fly list


iPhone in Canada: Not.

I blame an article in Wired and some pretty cool commercials, but I desperately want Apple's new cell phone, the iPhone. It combines cell phone, digital camera, web surfing and MP3 player. So really, I'd be saving money by spending 6 or 7 hundred dollars on one. Yes, I can surf the web on my current phone, but only in black and white and on the "mobile web".

Surfing the Internet on your phone is one of those activities that sound cooler in theory than in practice. I've spent maybe 1 hour on the web with my phone in the 5 years that I've had it (and no more than $2). Still, it is perilous to dismiss anything to do with the Internet. Because in case you hadn't noticed, the Internet has become quite popular.

The Apple phone uses GSM technology, so you non-Rogers/Fido customers are out of luck. But even current and potential Rogers customers will have to wait. No firm Canadian launch date has been announced. That is probably smart for Rogers. The company has been burned before by non-existent demand for Internet enabled phones (which was the whole point of spending tens of millions to switch to GSM technology) while being stunned at demand for SMS and camera phones (Rogers could have stuck with first generation TDMA for that). And Apple has a pre-iPod history with a portable device, it was called the Newton. I wanted one of those to, initially. But I never bough one. Carriers are so desperate to generate revenu from their GPRS and Edge investments that they are now pushing TV on cell phones.

Will I buy an iPhone? After all, for the price of the iPhone, you can buy a spanking new computer, an HD-ready TV or about 35 lap dances... On the other hand, for the price of a diamond ring or necklace, you could buy a couple of iPhones (and as far as I know, the iPhone doesn't cause bloodshed in Africa and isn't used to launder money).


Sidewalk Ruins Driveway

Yes, I've just bought a new scanner/colour printer/colour fax/colour copier (Brother MFC-240C, $130 at Staples, USB cord not included). But if you think that scanning the local paper is bad, just be thankful I don't have your fax number, as I'd be faxing you clever blog posts I find on the Internet.

Nevertheless, I think the front page picture from the Friday May 25 edition of the Moncton Times and Transcript is blogworthy.

The picture is pretty self explanatory. The owners put in the driveway without consideration to an eventual sidewalk being put in (they assumed, wrongly, that it would be put on the other side of the street).


46,700 runaway kids in Canada in 2006

According to the RCMP, 46,700 "children" (I'm assuming this includes all people under 18) ran away from home last year. Only 46 were deemed to have been kidnapped by a non-parent.
This means that stranger kidnapping is a virtually non-existent problem. Well, at least relative to more probable causes for child injury: lack of sidewalks, parents who smoke, vehicle injury and, unfortunately, parents causing psychological/physical/sexual trauma.
That doesn't mean that kids can start accepting candy from strangers. You don't need to be a kidnap victim to be sexually abused or otherwise harmed.
But I think we need to realise that many children, for whatever reason, are desperately unhappy at home. Often with reason. Send your donations to Child Find et. al. if you want, but be sure your governement is sufficiently supporting child welfare services (Children's Aid Societies, etc...). In many cases, strangers (social workers, school psycologists, shool nurses)  may be exactly what children need.

George Bush is a Hero

Well, not necessarily my hero, but I'm sure some people look up to him.

The Iraq war has been deadly and quite expensive (as pointed out by the widget on Red Tory's blog). Still, what people have to remember, it is not a zero sum game! Death and expense would have occurred without the Iraq invasion.

You could even argue that the semi-civil war would have occurred sooner or later, with or without the American presence. (Creating Iraq was not Britain's best idea).

The embargo against Iraq, that countries like Canada participated in, in the context of the lack of weapons of mass destruction, was completely immoral. Between 500,000 and 1 million people died because of it! And although the oil for food program alleviated much of the hunger caused by the embargo, it also allowed Hussein to buy favours and friendship thanks to corruption, possibly prolonging his stay in power and making the embargo counter productive.

The embargo had to end. But so did Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.

Let's recap the carnage caused by the man:

-Invasion of Iran
-Invasion of Kuwait
-Bombing of Israel
-Use of chemical weapons against the Kurds
-Destruction of the habitat of the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq
-Lighting the oil fields of Kuwait when fleeing the country
-Tried to kill George Bush Senior.

Hello! You try to kill a guy and his son becomes the president of the most powerful nation on earth. Time to take early retirement.

How could the United States not invade a country that tolerated Saddam Hussein as its leader?

In the 20th century, more than 50 million people died because of four men:
-Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-Tung)
-Paul Pot.

It is hard to predict how many more people would have died thanks to Sadam Hussein, but I say enough was enough. He had to go. The Iraqis didn't get rid of him, so then George Bush Jr did.

Internet haute vitesse en region au Canada

Au Canada, arrive en ville! C'est ce que semble dire Sympatico, Rogers, Cogeco, Vidéotron et les autres à leurs clients ruraux canadiens qui auraient l'audace de demander l'Internet haute-vitesse (haut débit). La pluspart des clients ruraux au Canada doivent en effet se limiter au modem 56kbps.

La haute-vitesse (128kbps et plus), que ce soit par cable ou ADSL, n'est simplement pas disponible hors des régions urbains. Il y a certaines exceptions, dont notamment le Nouveau-Brunswick, où la compagnie de téléphone (Aliant) a reçu des subventions pour étendre le service ADSL aux quatres coins de cette province encore très rurale.

Par contre, l'Internet par satellite est une option. Plus cher que l'Internet par cable ou par ADSL, pour la pluspart des gens, c'est probablement moins cher que de déménager en ville.

Galaxy Broadband offre l'Internet par satellite pour 77$/mois à 128kbps (107$/mois pour 200kbps). On n'a pas besoin de ligne téléphonique. Utilise la bande Ku.

Telesat (bande Ka), disponible pour environ 70$/mois (512kbps) ou 207$/mois (2 mbps).

Barrett Xplore
Couverture nationale - Concessionnaires dans l'ensemble du Canada
Le service en bande Ka est offert sous la bannière XplorNet.

Couverture nationale – Service offert aux entreprises seulement. Concessionnaires dans l'ensemble du Canada
1-800-871-3011 http://www.infosat.com/
Le service en bande Ka est offert sous la bannière Haute vitesse Enterprise (HSe).

Bell Aliant Regional Communications L.P.
Offre le service dans les provinces de l'Atlantique
1-800-565-6283. Aliant

division de Northwestel Cable Inc.
Northwestel offre le service dans les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, au Nunavut, au Yukon, en Alberta et dans le nord de la Colombie-Britannique.
http://www.netkaster.com/ Courriel : info@netkaster.com
Le service en bande Ka est offert sous la bannière NetKaster.

Service offert dans le nord de l'Ontario Cliquez ici pour visualiser la région desservie. http://www.bellnordiq.ca/fr/about/reach
Service résidentiel : 1-800-360-8555 Service aux entreprises : 1-800-360-2373

Service offert dans le nord du Québec
Cliquez ici pour visualiser la région desservie. http://www.bellnordiq.ca/fr/about/reach/
1-888-Télébec (835-3232) http://www.telebec.com/

The Economics of Confusion

Canada Is Efficient
In some countries, say Ireland or Morocco, the price you are going to pay for a product or service is unclear. In some cases you are supposed to haggle, in others, it is a take it or leave it situation. The Irish shop keeper will basically charge you what he or she can get away with.

I used to pride myself by thinking that I live in an efficient country where we don't haggle over things like groceries or electronics. This contributes to lower prices and just makes life easier. Quebec even has legislation requiring shop owners to put the price of items on or near the items. Other provinces, such as New Brunswick, don't have this requirement, but general customs and the federal competition legislation usually keeps thing clear at the store.

Incremental Pricing
If there were "Premium Electricity", people would buy it. Some people are that stupid. Incremental pricing is a fact of life in Canada. Hair cuts, movies, air travel, gas, cars, you name it, there are different prices for the same product or service. Even at the grocery store you have to be careful what size you buy as the price can vary significantly (bigger isn't always better). This makes comparing prices more difficult. For example, you have to compare the adult movie ticket price to the adult price at the other company, not to the student price.

Sign this contract so you don't bolt when we rob you
Phone and cable companies, however, have crossed the line from incremental pricing to confusion economics. Their pricing is intellectually dishonest. In other words, they lie.

System access fee, digital service fee, 911 fee, installation fee, migration fee, early cancellation fee, downgrade fee, moving fee. Try and compare one long distance plan to an other. Or a cable plan to satellite. If you have a pamphlet, there is usually fine print outlining the fees. And if you are a university graduate, you can probably figure it out. However, radio, TV, and phone orders all contribute to dishonest pricing being advertised as the fine print is non-existent. Even on the Internet, some times the price you see on the web site (if you can find it) is not what you will see on your bill.

Utilities have taken advantage of our cultural acceptance of additional charges, thanks to various sales taxes, and freely add extra charges, often disguised as taxes (System access fee and 911 charge, for example).

Churn, customers swapping service providers, is a huge problem for companies. I've seen customers switch Internet providers three times in the same year. Some times the customer is to blame, as they simply have an irrational urge to save money, even at the price of time and major inconvenience. But I'm convinced companies are to blame as well. The pricing is so complicated that people switch thinking they will get a better deal, then bolt when they get their first or second bill and realise they are paying more than they used to, not less as they thought.

What is this, the third world?
This dishonesty in pricing is inheritable inefficient. Short term profit for long term pain. Companies spend hundreds of million of dollars on branding only to have it destroyed by an extra 5 dollar access fee. If Rogers or Bell will rip you off, why not try the no name provider/reseller?

Red tape please
So this is what I propose: Red tape. Yes, a bit of red tape can go a long way to making our economy more efficient. Do we need three types of gasoline? No. Gone. First class on flights? Contributes to global warming. Gone. System access fee, digital service fee, 911 surcharge, etc, etc. Gone.

Life would be simpler and companies would have to concentrate once more on providing the best service at the best price. Imagine that!


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