Consumer Information

Black Friday in Canada

It looks like most of Canada’s retailers are in this year.

Black Friday specials can be found online at Amazon Canada, Best Buy Canada, Cabelas Canada, The Brick, Canadian Tire, chapters.indigo.ca, Dell.ca, Giant Tiger, HMV, Home Depot, Hudson’s Bay, Ikea Canada, Jysk Canada, Kobo Canadaicon, Leon’s, Long & Mcquade, Microsoft Canadaicon, Newegg.ca, Old Navy, Sears Canada, Staples, The Source and Tigerdirect.ca.

There are lots of deals to be had on televisions and appliances. But unfortunately the Samsung tablets I was eying are pretty much the same price, everywhere. And the blu-rays I wanted haven’t dropped in price significantly. I might wait until Cyber Monday for those, or use the Black Friday offer at Ebates.ca if I find a better deal.

By the way, you should note that gift cards can be found on sale as well this year so you might want to pick up a few if you’re going out today.

Browsing my flyers, i’ve run into 20% discounts on Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy gift cards at Canadian Tire, 10% discounts on Canadian Tire gift cards at Rexall and a 3000 bonus optimum points offer on $50 iTunes cards at Shoppers Drug Mart.

I believe the Shoppers Drug Mart offer ends today. But keep an eye out for offers on Google Play and Facebook cards in your local flyers. These pop up from time to time.

Black Friday Week

The Black Friday Week sales have started at Abes of Maine, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy Canada, BetterWorldBooks.com, EntertainmentEarth.com, Music & Arts!, Newegg.ca, Novica.com, www.telescope.com and WWEShop.com!. And I managed to find a great deal on the new three DVD Video Singles Collection from Depeche Mode, which was cheaper via the states because of the $20 exemption on postal imports for personal use.

I’m still waiting to see some of the blu-rays I want to drop in price. But the deals are generally good this year. Not as low as I wanted but good.

Unlike previous years, i’m not seeing major discounts on compact discs, DVDs or blu-rays and Best Buy Canada doesn’t have Black Friday Week discounts on them, at all. Those discounts will start on the 25th according to their preview.

They appear to be concentrating on more expensive items this year, like appliances and televisions. But there are a few deals to be had on laptops, tablets, toys and drones, although I personally would wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals for those myself ; Unless the discount is great.

I suggest that you look for previews of your local flyers and shop around.

Bell & Apple Team Up

Bell and Apple have partnered to offer their television and app services to their customers.

Bell Fibe TV subscribers who have iPhones and iPads had been able to view 450 channels and control their television receiver from an app since October 2013. But now Apple TV users who have a fourth generation device can view live channels and on demand programming from Bell Fibe TV.

Basically a person can now use their Apple TV as an additional Bell Fibe TV receiver, simply by downloading the appropriate app on their device. But it should be noted that an unlimited internet usage package is required to so because the content will be streamed off the internet, and not through your Bell Fibe receiver/PVR.

I suspect Rogers, Shaw and Videotron will eventually offer similar services shortly because they already offer apps to iOS and android users. And some individual television channels are already available on Apple TV.

Early November Sales

It looks like some online retailers are not waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to offer deep discounts :

New and used book retailer Alibris is offering the following offer : Receive $5 off $60 with code 5OFF, valid 11/16-11/30

Amazon.ca and Amazon.com are offering deals every day so don’t forget to add items to your wish lists and watch your email for deals on these items. And yes, Amazon.ca does offer free shipping on eligible orders over $35 and Amazon Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver can get free same day delivery on eligible items now.

chapters.indigo.ca is offering a 25% discount on eligible toy purchases of over $50 until November 6th. A free shipping offer is also available on eligible purchases of over $25.

Hudson’s Bay is also offering discounts on electronics and toys until November 6th. Use coupon code SUPER to obtain a 15% discount (20% discount for Hudson’s Bay credit card members). But free shipping is only offered on orders of $45 or more to Hudson’s Bay credit card holders. Other customers must surpass $99 to obtain free shipping.

Microsoft Canadaicon has several deals up and offers free ground shipping on qualifying items to most Canadian addresses. And yes, they do sell games, phones, and of all things, the Raspberry Pi 3icon.

Newegg.ca and Paypal are offering $25 discounts on eligible purchases of $200 or more until Midnight PST on November 7th, 2016. Just use PAYPALNOV25 as a coupon code and pay using your Paypal account. Click here for details. And you’ll note that this company also offer subscriptions to a program to ship qualified purchases for free. It’s called Newegg Premier.

Sears Canada is offering multiple discounts on electronics and toys until November 9th, 2016 ; $20 off eligible purchases over $100 if you use coupon code GIFT20 and $50 off eligible purchases over $200 if you use coupon code GIFT50. Click here for details.

American new and used music and film retailer Second Spin is offering the following deal : 25% Off CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray & Games at Second Spin code=NOV25SP Starts 11/1 Ends 11/7 .

By the way, to offer free same day deliveries to more Amazon Prime members, Amazon would likely need to build more fulfillment centres in or near the other major metropolitan areas in Canada.

They just happened to have fulfillment centres within the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver areas and that’s why members in those areas are able to take advantage of the free same day shipping offer.

I don’t think they will expand free same day deliveries elsewhere in Canada anytime soon, unless they decide to open a fulfillment centre in or near Mirabel (to service Montreal and Ottawa/Gatineau) and/or Red Deer (to service Calgary and Edmonton).

No to Internet Tax !

Apparently Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly is considering an Internet Tax to fund Canadian content, according to University of Ottawa professor Micheal Geist. And unfortunately for Canadians this tax may make internet access more expensive.

There are currently two taxes being considered ; One on content providers like Netflix and iTunes and another general sales tax on internet access. And although the previous tax may sound better than the latter, one has to wonder if all music, television programs and films purchased or rented online would be subjected to this tax, including those that are made available through the internet television providers.

SiriusXM subscribers are already subject to taxes and a “Music Royalty and Regulatory Fee of 14.2%”. But would the service also be subjected to this additional tax ? Will Apple Music subscribers need to pay for this additional tax ?

We currently pay nothing to listen to radio and to watch television offline. We also already pay taxes on compact disc, DVD and blu-ray purchases, which would not be subject to this new tax. It therefore makes no sense to charge people more taxes for the same content, especially when it involves the streaming of purchases matched or uploaded to a Cloud service.

Why does the government not fund Canadian Content by taxing Canadian broadcasters that run adverts online, when they stream foreign content ?

I’m sure Rogers and Bell would likely oppose this because they’d likely rather see the foreign services taxed instead. But the foreign services have no legal obligation to collect these taxes and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would disallow this requirement, if passed.

We also currently pay taxes on our internet provider subscription fees so any additional tax would simply make it unaffordable for many Canadians.

Canadians spent on average $203 per month on communication services in 2014, according to a CRTC Report released in 2015, an increase of approximately 6% from 2013 ($11.92). And according to CBC News, there was a 10% increase on wireless and internet services specifically from 2013.

To dissuade use of foreign services like Netflix and iTunes, Canadians are also already subject to data caps and the proposed tax would simply make the unlimited internet plans less affordable.

Many Canadians also still pay a “Digital Services Fee” on their cable, satellite and television subscriptions, a fee that cannot be justified now that an analog service has been fazed out.

Could the government not demand this fee be replaced with a Canadian Content Improvement Fund fee instead ? Or will this obsolete fee be buried like that of Bell’s $2.80 Touch-Tone fee, which netted Bell $80 Million in 2013 according to CBC News ?

At the moment Bell is claiming the Digital Service Fee is collected to improve their services. But isn’t that what their investors are paying for ? Why their customers are being asked to pay more per month for television ?

Prior to September 2014, cable and satellite television subscribers in Canada paid a monthly 1.5% fee to the Local Programming Improvement Fund, which netted $106 million in 2011 for television stations in markets smaller than a million. And although this fee was discontinued, these subscribers barely noticed because they were asked to pay more for their television subscriptions shortly after.

The average monthly rate for television services paid by Canadians climbed from $65.25 in 2014 to $66.08 in 2015, according to CBC News ; A difference of 83 cents per month when the average monthly rate for Canadians for the Local Programming Improvement Fund was 50 cents. And with the mandated “skinny package” changes some have seen their monthly rates rise significantly since the spring of 2016.

I believe it makes more sense to apply a Canadian Content fee of a dollar or two to the sale of television antennas, digital converter boxes, digital television receivers/set top boxes, satellite/internet radio receivers and streaming media players in Canada, although some members of the public would likely not enjoy the prospect of paying it in addition to a Provincial environmental handling fee and having both fees taxed.

Perhaps a monthly fee of 1.5% on unlimited internet packages or bundled packages over $150/month would be the path of least resistance because it would likely be negligible to the subscribers of these specific bundles or packages.

Rogers & Netflix

Rogers has decided to extend their Netflix offers to their existing Ignite subscribers, in lieu of the Shomi subscription that was included in some of their packages.

The offer, which will include a six month subscription to the Netflix Standard Plan, will be made available November 30th, 2016. And current members of Netflix will also be able to obtain a credit for this membership.

Unfortunately data caps will be an issue to some Ignite subscribers, who will need to limit their viewing to a select number of concerts, music documentaries and films in standard definition to avoid a data overage fee of $1.50/GB.

Existing Ignite users with unlimited usage plans will be able to view films in high definition but at about 4 GB each these films can burn through a 100 GB or 200 GM monthly usage limit quite quickly. And although newer Ignite subscribers have 125 GB and 250 GB monthly usage limits, they will also need to keep an eye on the amount of films, etc they view to avoid the data overage fees.

This of course depends on a person’s surfing habits. For example, i’m not a gamer, I watch television broadcasts on cable/PVR and I already own my favourite films on DVD and Blu-ray so i’m not expecting to stream a significant amount of content off Netflix. But even I am considering an upgrade to an unlimited usage plan because i’m a regular Youtube and Facebook user.

The success of this partnership will also depend on Netflix Canada’s content, that they have been promising to extend.

I haven’t been a Netflix Canada member for months so I don’t know if they’ve had some improvements. But i’m going to give them a chance for those six months.