Insight
  • Most people consider themselves sharp enough to know when someone is trying to work them over but for scam artists and fraudsters, all they need is for you to let your guard down for a second and the ruse is on.

    That’s probably why fraud cases cost Canadians an estimated $10 to $30 billion a year, according to the RCMP.

    The summer is prime time for scams. People are outdoors more, attending scalper-saturated stadium shows, unafraid to spend a little extra here and there on vacation or to take advantage of the nice weather by sprucing up their home with a few renovations.

    Even some timeshares – with their too-good-to-be-true prices and free lunch (what? who says no to a free lunch?) – have a tendency of preying on carefree tourists and scamming them out of millions of dollars.

    There’s no shortage of swindles out there but the best way to beat the fraudsters at their own game is to keep sharp and avoid sketchy situations. Check that businesses are registered on the Better Business Bureau and

    Read More »from Money Minute: Top 3 summer scams
  • That unchanging Tim Hortons cup is to Canadians what the fierce, talon-outstretched bald eagle is to Americans. And it is through that civic pride that Tim Hortons has bedded a nation of coffee guzzlers, filling two billion cups of Timmie’s each year in Canada and building a sprawling empire of 4,500 franchises from Toronto to the Persian Gulf.

    It's the same fierce loyalty that helped earn the company a net income of $424.4 million last year, not bad considering most items on the Tim Hortons menu fall under the $5 mark.

    But while the chain has jockeyed from Canadian ownership to American ownership and back again, flexed its tech-savvy muscles (Double Double Card anyone?) and added some off-brand menu items like paninis and lasagna, it has held that nostalgic feeling Canadian’s remember from early morning hockey practices and Timbit-flush, all-Canadian roadtrips.

    The next four years are looking particularly aggressive with the brand opening 800 more stores by 2018. The expansion is

    Read More »from Just Explain It: Is Tim Hortons a good franchise to own?
  • The $3,923 a night makes Clayoquot Wilderness Resort the most expensive hotel in North America, and number eight in the world.The $3,923 a night makes Clayoquot Wilderness Resort the most expensive hotel in North America, and number eight in the world.

    As it turns out, the most expensive hotel in North America is tucked in the wilderness of Vancouver Island’s west coast – an area better known for Canuck surf bums then high-class glampers.

    [ Here's a whack of hotels remarkable for their luxury, remoteness, beauty, oddity & expense ]

    The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, a luxury campsite hidden in the Clayoquot Sound World Biosphere near Tofino, costs a couple around $3,923 a night in the summer months making it also the eighth most expensive hotel in the world, according to a survey by TravelMag.com.

    Clayoquot guests can cozy up next to the wood stove in what looks like a tent version of a sprawling Antebellum mansion.Clayoquot guests can cozy up next to the wood stove in what looks like a tent version of a sprawling Antebellum mansion.

    Clayoquot guests hoping to cozy up next to the wood stove in what looks like a tent version of a sprawling Antebellum mansion complete with antiques, a king-sized bed (obviously) and en suite bathroom should be advised – there’s a minimum three nights stay. After all, regal camping just isn’t regal without a $12,000 price tag. But if there’s any pretentiousness there, it’s of the “only-in-B.C.” variety.

    Getting to the resort requires a

    Read More »from Clayoquot Wilderness Resort named most expensive hotel in North America
  • If Wednesday is “hump day”, then there should be a special name for Thursday that reflects our collective fantasy about the four-day work week.

    You don't have to be a 9-5 working stiff to dream about this concept. A survey of millionaire investors in the United States by the Spectrem Group found that even affluent individuals aren't opposed to a more flexible workplace schedule.

    When asked their opinion on a shortened work week, 70 per cent of millionaires (those with investible assets of a $1 million or more, not including the primary residence) agreed it was a “valid idea.” Women are the most enthusiastic, with 82 per cent of female respondents throwing their support behind the idea, compared to 62 per cent of men.

    Broken down by household income, the biggest supporters of a four-day work schedule are investors who earn less than US$100,000 (76 per cent). Those who make more than $200K are lukewarm to less time on the job, with just over half (56 per cent) agreeing the idea has

    Read More »from Four-day work week gains steam among wealthy
  • Vancouver and Toronto have fallen several rankings on Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey but that doesn’t mean they’re getting any cheaper for Canadians to plant their roots.

    The fall is more likely the result of the weakened loonie and sluggish price increases compared to New York, the survey’s base city.

    “We've observed that year over year it's almost a 10 per cent (decrease),” Luc Lalonde, principal at Mercer Canada, told Yahoo Canada Finance. “That is by far the main reason why we saw the cities go down in the rankings.”

    Vancouver ranked in at 96, toppling thirty-two places from last year. Toronto sat at 101 on the list, falling thirty-three spots from 2013.

    Both Montreal and Calgary ranked 123 and 125 respectively.

    The yearly survey takes a gander at the most expensive cities for expats around the world, considering the comparative cost of more than 200 items from housing to food and entertainment.



    It’s worth noting that the cost of living data was pulled back in March, which was

    Read More »from Vancouver reigns as Canada’s most expensive city to live
  • Summer is supposed to be the time of year when Hollywood rolls out its blockbuster films and rings up big sales at the box office.

    That hasn’t been the storyline so far this year, at least not in North America.

    Box-office sales in North America dropped to their lowest level in 15 years for a July 4 weekend and were down about 44 per cent compared to last year, according to media measurement company Rentrak Corp.

    Box Office Mojo, says overall receipts in North America are down 17 per cent since the start of May.

    In Canada, sales are down about 7 per cent in the April-June period according to National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine, using data from the Movie Theatre Association of Canada.

    “There’s no denying that the movie slate materially under performed expectations,” Shine says in a recent note.

    There are a number of theories about what’s keeping people away from the theatres – everything from the World Cup stealing captive audiences to binge-watching Netflix subscribers who can’t

    Read More »from Summer box office sales slump to 15-year low
  • With Canada Jetlines’ plans to raise $10 million and list on the TSX Venture Exchange, Canada could be one step closer to getting the country's first ultra-low cost airline.

    The Vancouver-based discount carrier is hoping to entice flyers with fares 40 per cent cheaper than Air Canada and WestJet, Jetlines President Dave Solloway said in an interview with the Financial Post.

    But if Jetlines plans to follow through with a European-style discount model, passengers can expect to dish out for the extras including meals, drinks and luggage space.

    “When you look at the operation of these types of airlines, what they’re going to do from a route network perspective will be interesting,” AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray told Yahoo Canada Finance.

    The big questions, he says, revolves around what cities the Jetlines will fly to and from as European ultra-low cost airlines have a tendency to operate out of tertiary airports just outside the big cities.

    “Even way back when WestJet first started

    Read More »from Can an ultra-low cost airline work in Canada?
  • Have you tried Lufthansa’s leberkas meatloaf and sausages with sweet mustard? It goes perfectly with the rush of conning your way into the airline’s business class lounge.

    At least that was the line of thinking for a man who used the flexibility of the airline’s one-way fare from Munich to Zurich to gorge himself on the spoils of Lufthansa’s Munich lounge.

    The scam seems easy enough. Buy the ticket, hang out in the lounge and rebook when you’re full up on Auntie Lufthansa’s meatloaf. Ultimately, the airline caught him and the court ordered the airport freeloader to fork over $1,875 for the 35 free meals – more than twice the cost of the initial ticket.

    While the airport Robin Hood may be living out the dream of anyone who’s fantasized about sticking it to an airline, don’t expect to pull the same scam at Air Canada’s Pearson Maple Leaf lounge.

    Unless, you’re willing to fork over big bucks for the Executive Flexible ticket in the name of free airport food, using the Maple Leaf lounge at

    Read More »from Business lounge freeloader gets the boot
  • As if the Double Double wasn’t addictive enough, Tim Hortons and CIBC just gave caffeine fiends an even quicker and more enticing way to, well, get a quick fix – the Double Double Visa Card.

    Launched Wednesday, the “high-tech” credit card has physical buttons built into it that lets coffee lovers quickly switch between a Visa account and Tim Hortons’ loyalty program, Tim Cash.

    Seems on point for rewards-obsessed Canada where half of reward holders last year carried four or more loyalty cards in their wallets, according to an RBC survey.

    The reward cards offer a tidier and more tech-savvy contrast to McDonald’s McCafé Rewards card, which are printed on the side of the cup.

    It also goes toe-to-toe with the My Starbucks rewards card, which gives loyal customers coupons after a certain level of points.
     
    “The only thing with those two is it’s hard to put an actual value on what that free one is worth considering a lot of times McDonalds gives free coffees away and Starbucks’ rewards depend

    Read More »from Tim Hortons targets caffeine lovers with Double Double Visa card
  • The narcissist. If you’ve ever worked with someone with this particular personality trait, you already know how annoying he or she can be.

    This is the person who boasts all day long about their a-ma-zing accomplishments, only to be surpassed by some other incredible feat of their own doing.

    So obnoxious. It makes you wonder how on earth they were ever hired in the first place.

    The thing about narcissists is they don’t initially come across that way. In fact, a new study out of the University of British Columbia suggests this uber-confident personality type is so appealing, at least at first, that narcissists stand a much better chance at winning over the boss during a job interview than candidates who are more modest about their accomplishments.

    Del Paulhus, a University of British Columbia psychology professor and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, said a job interview is one of the few social situations where narcissistic

    Read More »from Job interview process favours narcissistic candidates: study
  • One of the most coveted retail destinations in Canada isn’t in the heart of the country’s biggest city, but instead surrounded by major roadways well north of Bay Street, where a number of foreign retailers have chosen to make their debut.

    Yorkdale Shopping Centre was picked by more than a third of retailers entering Canada last year, notes Retail Insider in a recent report.

    “From the inexpensive to luxurious, Yorkdale has been Canada’s entry point for many foreign retailers for a number of years,” it says.

    It cites a number of outside brands to take up space in the giant mall, soon to span two million square feet, including Telsa Motors, Kate Spade and Mulberry in recent years.

    Yorkdale is adding an extra 300,000 square feet to its property, including the largest Nordstrom store in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), set to open in 2016.

    Sales at the mall surpassed $1 billion between June 2012 and May 2013, and are forecast to reach $2 billion by 2018. That would make it North America’s

    Read More »from One-third of foreign retailers enter Canada through one Toronto mall: report
  • Move over old-money millionaires. The number of nouveau riche in the world is growing at pace never before seen in history, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing any time soon.

    That’s one of the key findings of the latest World Wealth Report, released this week by global consulting firm Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management.

    The report shows staggering year-over-year increases in 2013 in both the number of people considered to be high-net-worth individuals and record-setting global fortunes.

    A high-net-worth individual is defined as someone with at least US$1 million in investable wealth, excluding one’s primary residence.

    According to the report, membership in the world’s wealthy club climbed by 1.76 million last year, marking a 15 per cent growth rate and the second-largest increase since 2000.

    At the same time, their investable wealth grew by nearly 14 per cent to reach a record high of $52.6 trillion.

    Just who are these folks, you ask? (And are they single?)

    What countries house

    Read More »from Pace of newly-minted millionaires spikes as wealth hits record high: RBC
  • An unprecedented number of Canadians are staying put in the same job, bringing some surprising stability to the employment market, except of course for those trying to get in.

    A new report from CIBC World Markets says the number of Canadians who have stayed in the same job for more than 5 years is at a record high, while those with less than a year in a role is at a record low.

    "This stable and boring job market is the complete opposite of what was envisioned not too long ago," CIBC economists Benjamin Tal and Nick Exarhos say in the report.

    The findings, which use data from Statistics Canada, disrupt the notion that employees are becoming more disposable.

    The economists say that’s because employers are working hard to hang on to their qualified workers, particularly as the Baby Boomer generation continues to retire. Many workers are also staying put, for fear of joining the ranks of the unemployed. After all, there are still 1.3 million unemployed people in Canada, and the jobless

    Read More »from Canadians staying in jobs longer than before: report
  • There’s no denying that the gender gap still plays a role in women’s place and pay in the workforce. But there’s another factor that’s far less recognized when it comes to workplace equality: the confidence gap.

    While self-doubt can hold women back from climbing the ladder, it’s also something that even the most successful women have experienced. And it seems as though women simply aren’t as hard-wired for confidence as men.

    Those are some of the findings that Katty Kay and Claire Shipman discovered during the writing of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know.

    These two women are extremely accomplished: Kay is the Washington, DC, anchor for BBC World News America; Shipman is a political correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America. Between them, they have six kids.

    Yet Kay herself, who has interviewed dozens of world leaders and speaks several languages, admits to having felt unsure of herself during the course of her career.

    “For

    Read More »from Crisis of confidence for women in the workplace?
  • Increased competition among Canadian retailers has cut the price of some goods and services, but rising energy costs appear to be quickly making up the difference and threatens to dampen economic growth in the country.

    A new report from Scotiabank says the average cost of energy prices and utilities has risen by about 5 per cent this  year “eroding the purchasing power of Canadian households.”

    “The subsequent squeeze on household budgets will likely reinforce a more cautious consumer spending profile over the coming year,” writes economist Adrienne Warren.

    That’s worrisome at a time when economic growth remains sluggish. Canada’s gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to Statistics Canada, the smallest increase in over a year. Bad weather in parts of Canada is being blamed, but the results still fell short of analysts’ expectations and is down from the 2.7 per cent growth seen in the fourth quarter of 2013.

    Read More »from Rising energy prices costing Canadians billions
  • Don’t like the price tag on that pair of pants you’ve been eyeing or what the grocery store is asking for a loaf of bread? A new report says the cost of those and other goods could soon drop as many Canadian retailers prepare to slash prices to lure consumers.

    The Canadian Retail Insights Report, released by credit card company American Express, says 48 per cent of Canadian retailers surveyed plan to drop prices this year, up from 35 per cent when they first did the survey in 2012. It says 83 per cent of Canadian retailers plan to offer sales, promotions or discounts to attract customers.

    The survey, conducted by Nielsen between March 17 and April 3, included 375 businesses across Canada that sell products such as gas, groceries, pharmaceuticals, food and clothing. Among those industries, 89 per cent of general retailers said sales and promotions are a top strategy to promote customer loyalty, as well as 86 per cent of apparel companies and 85 per cent of grocery stores.

    "Canadian

    Read More »from Canadian stores set to drop prices to keep customers
  • We can thank Walt Disney and his cabal of adorable cartoon characters for instilling in us one of the primary tenents by which many of us continue to live today. Call it the Thumperian Principle: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
    You remember how it goes.

    But according to a new workplace study out of the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, the advice from the Disney briar patch may be causing more harm than good. Turns out, being ignored at work is worse for our physical and mental well-being than verbal abuse, intimidation, humiliation and even sabotage.

    People who say they have experienced ostracism in the office are significantly more likely to report a degraded sense of workplace belonging and commitment, a stronger intention to quit their job, and a larger proportion of health problems, the study found. At the same time, managers and staff at the 90 Canadian companies surveyed told researchers that they felt ostracizing behaviour

    Read More »from The quietest, most vicious kind of workplace bullying

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