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Hey McDonalds Canada...... We want Gluten Free Burgers Too

I was surprised and inspired to read in an online  MSN article that McDonalds serves GLUTEN FREE BURGERS in several European countries! T...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is the REAL Program Behind Rewards Cards?

Ed Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, says corporations increasingly struggle to make sense of the big data sets they collect on their customers. (quoted from article "Beyond Spam"
at https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-hormel-spam/)

So we can agree that corporations are collecting "big data" on you and on me.....all of us, as often as they can.
Yes, they may be having trouble  managing and/or extracting helpful information from that  big data, but that is only a matter of time and acumen.

One of the ways in which corporations collect data on us, their customers, is through the use of "rewards points cards". These "loyalty cards" are swiped
whenever someone buys anything at a certain store, and reports precisely when ( precise dates and times), where and what a human is purchasing. It also records the total bill of that particular transaction....and how it was paid for.....cash, debit or which credit card.

Why do we use loyalty cards and thus voluntarily give corporations precious private data about our purchasing habits? Because we LOVE free stuff, even if the real value of the points is quite small in real dollars.

It may take someone two years to accumulate enough "loyalty reward points"
in order to purchase even $20 worth of free merchandise, but humans are toting around dozens of rewards point cards, with the mere whisper that they might score some great freebies in the near or unforeseeable future.

Does that mean that I denounce points cards? Nope. But I do want to remind my readers that whenever they are using ANY kind of rewards points cards, that their shopping data is being collected about EVERY SINGLE transaction they swipe that particular points card for.

Corporations spend billions of dollars annually to do market research and here we are giving it to them on a platter for free or next-to-nothing....by voluntarily using our rewards points/loyalty cards....(  a free coffee is all it takes for many of us to divulge tons of our most personal shopping habits!)

Collect travel miles? Yes, your transactions are being collected and stored and analysed so that big corporations can figure out how to market more products to us and part us from more of our money. No, they aren't necessarily out to steal from you, but their goal is to accumulate as much of your cash as possible through the sales and marketing of their products.

Am I anti-corporation ? Nope.....far from it. But I just want my fellow consumers to be aware of the information that they are freely giving away to large corporations simply by using/swiping their loyalty/rewards point cards.

On a bit of a side note....paying cash is still more anonymous than using a debit or credit card. But cameras are rolling anyway, recording all transactions on film no matter how we pay for it....and no matter which rewards point cards we may or may not be swiping.

But maybe just maybe, we can limit the amount of free information that we provide to big corporations for free or next to nothing. Maybe we can think before we whip out our fave points card the next time we run to the store.
Maybe we don't care who finds out what our favourite brand of corn chips are, and where we like to buy them, at what price and at what time of the day and with what form or cash/debit/credit we pay for that bag of corn chips. But maybe we do care.....and maybe we don't need to sell our most valuable information quite so cheaply. 

Thinkfully yours,

Friday, July 29, 2016

I just Don't Get It

There is a finite amount of oil in our earth's crust. Yes, folks may quibble about the actual volume....but there is a good consensus  that there is a REAL and DEFINITE measurable quantity of oil worldwide, which will eventually run out.

So, what I really don't get.....is even with all the haggling of OPEC and other oil producers, why hasn't the price of oil stocks bounced back?
Suncor,  (TSX:SU)    is still stuck at under $36 per common share as of today.....at $35.19 cdn.

Perhaps the stock market has become naively obsessed  with electric vehicles, without realizing that a significant chunk of our electrical grid is still powered by the oil and gas industry.

I've done a post or two about that before. Electric powered "anythings" are not necessarily green. It's all about what is used to create the electricity we will all be using.

As of 2014, 8.7% of Ontario's electrical grid is powered by the oil and gas industry. Yes, tis true.

For a break down of Ontario's Energy Mix....take a gander at this document:

Do you have some profound views about the lagging state of oil and gas stocks?

Eager for your feedback,
Thinkfully yours,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Honest Look at Insurance Companies

Just curious.....I've been hearing and reading about Life and Auto Insurance and I see there is a plethora of information about the "types of coverage" and "types of policies", but very little honest consumer reporting about how helpful and smooth certain insurance companies behave when it comes time to process a claim.

Such kind of "worst scenario" research is unpleasant to consider, but might be prudent for those who want a  REAL world honest appraisal of different insurance companies. Who really wants to think about what will happen if/when they pass? Who really wants to think about what will happen if one ever gets in a serious auto collision? Would we want our close family members to face a rude and unyielding insurance company that refuses to pay out? Or would we want them to deal with an insurance company that sets up so many
hoops to jump through that folks just give up before they resolve a payout dispute?

Most people know that insurance companies are the big money bag holders in the investment world. Anyone ignoring the power of Insurance Companies in terms of financial clout is foolish. The issue remains with the size. Everyone knows they carry a lot of weight and therefore are often intimidated into silence. They don't want to say anything publicly or "on the record" for fear that they will be sued by one of these mega wealthy Insurance giants.

So what's a gal to do? How did you make your insurance choices? Have you deliberately researched what  real live humans have experienced when they had to make a claim with a particular insurance company?
Was it easy to make the claim? Was it difficult? Was it done quickly or did it drag on for years?
Did they refuse to pay out based on some kind of unfathomable legal loophole?
Did you have to use an attorney to help you navigate and  understand the claim process?

Perhaps we need to rethink the whole "politically correct movement" which forbids polite folks from speaking candidly about religion, money or politics . Maybe it will empower more regular folks if we are MORE VOCAL  and more honest. Maybe we will all get a better deal and more reliable and predictable products and services from insurance companies if they realize that we will be holding them accountable and are willing to speak of our experiences. It is your money after all,....and if you don't care about your money.....who will?

Hashtag Consumer  Power ")

Thinkfully yours,

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Brilliant Substitute for Grass

Thinkfully yours,