Now that it’s stopped snowing at the Beach, most of Us are able to start cleaning up around the House, especially Outside. ALL Home Services are being offered at a 50% Discount for a Limited Time (Expires May 24, 2019). Click Here for a list of Services and Prices offered.
There’s no question that ordering from an E-commerce Site/Online Retailer can save you money, but is it really worth it if something goes wrong? I’ve ordered dozens of items from the US/Overseas and in general the experience has usually been positive. There are however several pitfalls that could make the experience a nightmare and actually cost you more money than having ordered the part from a local business.
Brokerage, Duties and Import Fees
Most Companies do not make it immediately known that you could be responsible for additional Brokerage, Duties and other Import Fees associated with the Item you are ordering. This could in some cases actually exceed the cost of the item you purchased. When in doubt contact the seller and ask if they will be pre-paying any additional fees on top of the shipping charge.
Cross Border Returns
Returns are always an issue with shopping online. This is however exacerbated with a Cross Border Return. Items such as Clothes, Auto Parts and Electronics can actually be more money to return than they are actually worth. There are potential Duties and Taxes that apply to the item that the company receiving the return may actually deduct or require you to Pre-pay in order to complete the return.
Unless you are 100% certain you will not be returning the item, then be wary of your purchase.
There are also issues with timing of returns such as companies that only allow 30 days but include the shipping time within that return window, actually leaving you with less time to process the return.
Warranty items may not have a local or authorized repair depot in Canada and may require you to ship the product back to the US, thereby incurring additional charges outside of the actual Warranty.
So is it all Worth It?
There are certain items that are only available in the country you are purchasing them from. The Canadian Market is no where near as big as the US market and oftentimes, many products or variations of products are simply not available in Canada.
Although many of these issues are also present when physically Cross Border Shopping, sometimes seeing it online makes the Online Transaction seem so simple and Transparent.
To answer the question, if you are aware of the pitfalls and still want to take your chances than it is entirely up to You.
How often does something that you see in a TV Infomercial actually work? If the answer is not often then you would be right about the “Gator Grip” Universal Socket. Socket Wrenches are designed to fit specific sized bolts. This allows you to quick remove stubborn bolts that would otherwise be difficult with a regular wrench or an adjustable wrench. A Universal Socket defeats the purpose of a Socket Wrench. I tried one of these and bent several of the pins trying to remove a regular automotive bolt. You’ll also notice that it is a 1/4″ inch to 3/8″ Adapter. Not exactly the strongest type of adapter combination. Watch out for these in the bargain/clearance bin at your local Flea Market:
Anybody that’s worked on a car knows how difficult it is to remove the Wiper Arms. This is especially the case for anyone located in the “Rust Belts” of the US and Canada. I recently purchased a “Wiper Arm Puller” for $5.00 from eBay. These have been sold for as high as $20 on Amazon. If you see this Tool, don’t waste a single dime on it and move on to something else. It most likely won’t fit your car unless you have tiny wiper arms and won’t have enough leverage to remove anything. Beware of this Tool:
Homeschooling requires many sacrifices. My Wife has had to sacrifice her Career and We no longer take as many vacations as we used to. We are on a very tight budget and many items we used to take for granted are now considered luxuries.
However, the benefits of Homeschooling FAR OUTWEIGH the negatives. My Wife is able to forge stronger and deeper relationships with Our Children and we also have access to programs only available to Schools and Homeschools.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada offers learning programs targeted to Homeschoolers. One recent program was a Squid Dissection and Free Admission to the Aquarium and it’s exhibits.
The best thing about the program is the very affordable rate and small class ratio. Since it also happens during the day, the Aquarium is mostly vacant which allows Children easy access to exhibits without the hassle of feeling herded like sheep during the busier times.
Ontario is one of the more liberal Homeschooling provinces and there is very little interference from the goverment or local school board.
If you are interested in Homeschooling this resource can get you started:
The internet is full of the advantages of homeschooling so if you are interested you just have to Search for them. Feel free to drop me a line also on what it’s like to be the Father (and Principal) of Our Homeschool.
Our mission is to build and sustain an intensive social program that provides free, ensemble-based music lessons to inspire children at risk to realize their full potential as students, musicians, and citizens.
Our vision is to instill a strong sense of community, self respect, and mutual support in our children through the pursuit of musical excellence in order to prepare them for a better tomorrow.
In addition to developing music skills, children will improve literacy and grades, gain confidence and self-esteem and build a solid foundation in their lives for the future.
Sistema Huronia Program Details
We are now in our third year with fifteen students in our youth orchestra.
We are being hosted at St. Paul’s Church in Midland.
Two hour after-school music program, four afternoons a week for thirty weeks.
Our children are playing violins, violas and cellos and a double bass.
Reasons to Invest in Music Education
Contribute to skill development in reading, language and mathematics.
Contribute to the development of skills considered basic for success in school, life and work including executive-function thinking, social and motivational skills.
Create environments conducive to student success by fostering teaching innovation, a positive professional culture, teamwork, community engagement, increased students’ attendance and effective instructional practice.
As a Professional Furniture Assembler, I have the opportunity to assemble various items from a multitude of Retailers and Manufacturers. Using this insight, I’ve passed this knowledge on to many of my Clients who have in turn made more informed decisions when buying Ready to Assemble Furniture or what is more commonly known as Flat Pack Furniture.
Flat Pack Furniture has become an integral part of owning a home. Flat Pack is Cheap and often suits the minimalist design of most modern construction. Flat Pack Furniture can be found in every Store from Canadian Tire, to Online Retailers all the way to the King of Flat Pack retailers – IKEA. Flat Pack is almost always made from Particle Board and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF).
While convenient, one of the biggest drawbacks is the quality from one manufacturer to the next. It’s no secret that Flat Pack is designed to be Cheap and functional. It’s not something that is passed down from one generation to the next. You may think that shopping at IKEA instead of Canadian Tire will get you a better quality product, but that is unfortunately not the case.
While it may not be immediately apparent, you can often see the Quality of construction on Floor models in the Store before you make your purchase. For bookshelves, you want at least a 5″8″ thick board. Some of the cheaper bookshelves use a 1/2″ board that will eventually “bow” over time. Some items use plastic fasteners instead of metal ones. This is especially the case with Height adjustment pegs and locking cams. IKEA is now using Plastic Locking Cams where metal ones had been used before. One such example at IKEA is their Iconic “BILLY” Bookcase.
The Quality of the Fibreboard and Particle Board will also vary from one manufacturer to the next. This often becomes apparent when the item is assembled. I have often found myself making on the fly “Repairs” to items in order to fix a poorly drilled hole due to poor quality materials used. Unfortunately there is no way to tell the Quality based on where the product is bought, as many products are often sourced from different countries.
Melamine and Laminates are the common finishes for Flat Pack Furniture. It’s relatively affordable and durable. In Recent years however, many companies are using a type of cheaply painted finish or a “wood grain/sticker finish”. A desk that I assembled recently from IKEA had a peeling finish only weeks after it was completed. It looked as though someone had taken a Dollar Store Kitchen Cupboard liner and used it all over the furniture.
In Order to make the right decision, Read the Reviews if the product is sold Online. Ideally you would visit the Retailer and view the floor models.
You can also ask a Professional Furniture Assembler as they have the experience and knowledge.
While Flat Pack is cheap and affordable, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for the cheapest possible product.
*** DISCLAIMER *** This is NOT an endorsement for Canadian Tire. This is a guide to a question I hear often: How good are the Power Tools at Canadian Tire?
Living in Canada, We’ve all been to Canadian Tire for one thing or another. Canadian Tire (or Crappy Tire as some people like to call it) has been around since 1922 and is very uniquely Canadian. Canadian Tire offers many products from various manufacturers and even have their own House Brand. Some of their Name brands are even made specifically for Canadian Tire. It’s not unusual to find a certain “DeWalt” Drill Model only at Canadian Tire or a Bauer Skate with a Cheesy Name instead of an actual Model Number.
Having used many tools as a professional contractor, name brand alone is not always the best way to judge a tool. Generally it’s an indicator but I have seen some Higher End German and Japanese branded Tools fail way to prematurely. Money does not necessarily get you the best quality.
One of the things many DIYers and even some professionals might have purchased are the Power tools. Canadian Tire carries. I personally have a few Mastercraft power tools that I have used on some projects around the house with good results.
These Canadian Tire house branded tools range from the basic “Certified” to the mid range “Mastercraft” all the way up to the “Maximum” Line.
For most people the “Certified” line is all they will ever need. This is the basic product line that will get a one time job done and not break the bank. You may even need to use the tool again in a few months or a couple of years later. These tools are not the most powerful nor are they the most durable but they fit most DIY projects well. The Warranty at this level is almost non-existent. I believe it’s 90 days exchange.
The “Mastercraft” line is a higher entry level to mid level brand. This product line usually has tools that provide more power and features but are still only designed for occasional use. The quality of the tools holds up enough to do several projects within the year and still keep going. The warranty at this level is usually a Year.
The “Maximum” line is the highest level. It’s supposed to be the top of the line Power tool you can get and in many instances is on par spec wise and quality wise with some of the more recognized name brands. At this price point, you’ll be getting a Power Tool that will be better built and have the power and durability to complete a month’s long project around the house. The Maximum line in some cases has a Limited Lifetime warranty on certain items and up to 5 years on Others.
I have used all 3 lines and prefer the “Mastercraft” and “Maximum” lines. The difference between the lowest end is sometimes not much different.
As is the case with Canadian Tire’s less than stellar Return Policy, always keep your receipt and deal with a local Store/Franchise/Dealer Location that you know will not abandon it’s customers.
There’s a reason some people like to refer to them as Crappy Tire…..
Gas/Charcoal BBQ Grills are available in a Huge variety of makes, models and features. With so many choices, how can the Homeowner determine which is best for them?
Having assembled various makes and models through the years we have some insight that can help you make a more informed decision. This is not a comparison of Brand A vs Brand B but a guide to help point you in the right direction. You will ultimately need to decide which model and features you would like and what you are willing or able to afford.
The main difference that sets the bottom of the barrel $50 grill at Canadian Tire, to the Middle of the road $900+ Home Depot Models all the way up to the $5000+ luxury grill from a Specialty Dealer is Build Quality and Warranty.
Low end grills are made with the cheapest quality materials and are meant to be thrown away after 2-3 years. None of the parts will be replaceable and you will be given the most minimal of warranties which usually only cover the product for a year. This is usually a replacement of the entire product rather than an actual repair.
Cheaper Grills are not made to be repaired and due to the lower quality construction, you will start to see significant wear and corrosion after only the first season. While you will find Stainless Steel grills at this price point, they will be made of a thinner gauge Steel. Performance may also be lower than expected and you will most likely find that the Heat distribution is not as even.
Some of the Lower end brands are: Broil-Mate, NexGrill, Master Chef, Char-Broil, RevoAce, Master Forge. These are found in most hardware, home improvement stores and Big Box stores.
The more expensive middle to high end offers better construction and replacement parts. These Grills are meant to last several years anywhere from 10-20 years. These grills often Warranty the Cook Box for 25 Years. The materials are made to last longer and they often include luxury features not found on lower end grills. These grills offer a more constant and even cooking temperature eliminating uneven “Hot Spots”.
These brands include but are not limited to: Weber, Napoleon, Broil King. These are also found in home improvement stores with some models having upgraded materials and being exclusive to certain dealers.
At the Top end of the scale are the Luxury Grills. These are made with the some of the best materials in the business and cost is no barrier to Quality. They are completely serviceable and have features not found in many of the Low to Mid end grills. They are stylish in design and you can rest assured that the Brand Name alone can be trusted to get you a Grill that you will have for many years to come. These are professional quality grills designed for the the most discriminating Chef and have the most comprehensive warranties in the business along with numerous options and accessories that enhance the grilling experience.
These brands included: Blaze Outdoor Products, Fire Magic, DCS, Lynx, Saber Grills. These Grills are only available at Specialty BBQ/Applicance Dealers and/or Online.
In the End, does a Top of the Line Luxury Grill cook a better steak than a Low End Grill? Absolutely Not. A more expensive grill can however make the experience more pleasant and more efficient especially when you need to cook for large number of guests. The key is to be realistic with your expectations and to be honest as to why you need a Grill and what you actually need it for.
Are you cooking the occasional Steak for your Family or do you plan to entertain the Entire Neighbourhood every Weekend?