Westjet Announces Value Awards

I just got back from a trip to “The Big Smoke” (that’s Toronto for all you non-Canadians out there), so I thought a travel related post or two might be in order.

I flew Westjet on this trip, which I must say was a welcome change. It was a markedly better customer service experience than I remember receiving from “Canada’s national airline”. At any rate, perhaps I’ll post about that at a later date. This post is about something else.

On my way home, I looked through Westjet’s in-flight magazine UP!. In there was an article announcing their “Value Awards 2010 – The best-value travel experiences in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.” Since this blog is about value, it seemed like perfect thing to share with you.

For the past three years Westjet has been asking their customers to share their opinions of the travel related locations that they feel offer the best value. People vote at for the best values in a number of categories.

This year’s list of winners will include some places that won’t surprise you much, and many that you may never have heard of at all. You will notice the heavy Western leaning to the winners and runners-up in several categories. I can’t help but feel that the results are skewed by the fact that Westjet has a much larger customer base in Western Canada than it does in the East.

Despite that reservation, I did find the list interesting and I hope you will as well. Remember to keep in mind that these are the locations that received the most votes for best value, rather than the best at any price.
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Posted by on July 7, 2010 in Travel


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Which automobile manufacturers are taking you for a ride?

Now that the Canadian dollar is hovering around par with the US greenback again, we will likely be hearing plenty of complaints about the fact that things still cost more here in Canada than they do in the US, even though our dollar is worth the same or even more.

It seems to me that nothing illustrates that complaint better than comparing the cost of  the same automobile on both sides of the border. Canadian consumers have been suffering for a number of years from new car prices that seem to ignore the comparative value of our dollar. As a result, used car dealerships and individual consumers have been importing vehicles from the US in record numbers over the past few years as the Canadian dollar has continued to strengthen.
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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in Automotive


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Service Review – Domain Registrar – Hover

When I first registered more than ten years ago, I wanted to use a Canadian domain registrar that was trustworthy and reasonably priced. As usual, I was not looking for just the lowest price, but the best value. Even that long ago there were plenty of domain registrars to choose from, but I didn’t want to go with some fly-by-night organization that would fold on me after a couple of years. I did my research and I found Domain Direct, a domain registrar owned by Tucows, a Canadian internet pioneer.

What I liked about Domain Direct at the time was that they were Canadian, they were affiliated with a well-known company, they offered a solid suite of domain registration and related services which were all reasonably priced. Well, after buying two other domain registration companies and combining and rebranding them all at, I am happy to say all the reasons I chose them in the first place still apply.
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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Service Reviews


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Purchase Decision – Media Player

So if you are like me you probably have a lot of media stored on various devices throughout your house. That media probably includes pictures, ripped music, home videos, recorded TV shows, backed-up DVD’s etc.  To use that media, you are probably watching/listening/looking at it on the device it is stored on or making copies on other media (USB drives, DVD-R’s, etc.) so you can watch/listen/look at it on other devices. It’s all a bit cumbersome, but it probably works if you put the time in to make it work.

I have a Windows Vista slimline-type desktop and a Windows XP laptop that access my media and other files over a wireless network. My files are stored on a Network-Attached Storage device (NAS) that is essentially an external desktop hard-drive/enclosure with a network jack (RJ-45) in the back of it.  It’s great that my media is stored in one place and I can get to it from either machine, but I have a nice home theater setup that I would like to leverage to access play that media.

Up until now, I have been using my laptop to serve up media to the home theather system. It is a bit of a cumbersome exercise to hook up the laptop when I need it and access the content I want. It’s workable, but I want something that does not require setup every time, and I am not prepared to devote the laptop to servicing this requirement only. I have decided that I need some sort of media player that I will hook into my home theater system and leave there most of the time. An additional feature I would like to have is the ability to take this player to other places fairly easily.

What type of media player?

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Posted by on March 21, 2010 in Consumer Electronics


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Customer Service Experience – Scosche

I  recently purchased a Scosche IBHPK Bluetooth headphone kit at a local retailer. My plan was to use the headphones with my iPod Touch, which has Bluetooth capability onboard. In addition to the headphones, the IBHPK kit included an iPod compatible Bluetooth transmitter which gives any iPod with a standard sync port Bluetooth capability. The IBHPK kit was on sale because it was an older model.  I read some reviews on it and decided to go ahead and make the purchase.

Unfortunately the particular item I received had some issues pairing with the iPod Touch. It paired fine initially, but it would not reconnect after the Touch was taken out of range. The headset’s rechargeable battery had to be drained completely to reset it so it could be re-paired. This obviously was not going to work.

Initially I was simply going to return the item to my local retailer, but I thought I would send a note to the manufacturer to see if there was some workaround I should be trying that was not detailed in the manual. I went to the Scosche website and sent a message describing the issue with the product.

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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in Customer Service


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Canadian Black Book Announces Retained Value Awards

Canadian Black Book, the company that publishes the Canadian automotive industry’s used car value “bible”, announced their fifth annual retained value awards yesterday. These awards recognize the 2006 vehicles in 17 categories that experienced the lowest average depreciation in the first four years of ownership. Black Book indicates in their press release that past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but I think we can all agree that its better than not winning.

Not suprisingly, Japanese brands dominated these awards with 13 of the 23 winners (including ties). Despite their recent troubles, Toyota took home the most awards of any brand with 6. Honda was second with 3 winners.

German nameplates had the second large block of winners with 8 of the 23 winners (including ties). BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen each had two winners.

The only American company on the list was Chrysler, with the Dodge Sprinter. I’m afraid I can’t really call this vehicle American since it is built by Mercedes-Benz and is a left over from the failed marriage of Daimler-Chrysler.

The Mini Cooper seems to stand out as the only vehicle from a brand that isn’t Japanese or German. That said, BMW owns the Mini brand and the new Mini’s have significant BMW engineering influences. Although final assembly is still done in the UK, I’m calling this one a German car too.

So that’s 13 wins for Japan, 10 wins for Germany, and 0 wins for every other country. Very interesting.

Here are the winners by category…

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Posted by on March 9, 2010 in Automotive


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Purchase Decision – Mobile Phone – Part 2

In my last post on this subject, I decided that I was going to go with a regular cell phone rather than a smartphone. In that post I listed my requirements, and I came up with a list of cell phones that I thought should meet my needs. In this post we are going to dig a little deeper and narrow the field of candidate phones, and then make a final selection.

What carrier should I go with?

One way to narrow the group down in a hurry is to make a decision on the network I want to be on. This criteria may not make a lot of sense to someone living in one of Canada’s largest cities, but anyone who lives in Atlantic Canada and spends any time outside the major centers knows that the network really does matter.

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Posted by on March 2, 2010 in Consumer Electronics


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Purchase Decision – Mobile Phone – Part 1

The time has come to replace my 4-year-old mobile phone and I have some decisions to make. As with any purchase decision, I like to do the research so I am going into it with all the information I need to make the best decision. In this case I had a few decisions to make and I researched them in order. This post is the first of two which discuss my major decision points along the way.

Decision 1 – What type of phone?

To paraphrase Shakespeare…

“to smartphone or not to smartphone, that is the question.”

Indeed, that is the question that anyone buying a mobile phone these days should be asking themselves. Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of cell phone buyers are really asking that question. I see a lot of people buying smartphones without much thought as to whether the enhanced feature set offered by these phones justifies the much higher upfront and ongoing monthly costs.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Consumer Electronics


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What is value?

After a multi-year hiatus I am relaunching as a blog. I thought I would take the opportunity with my first post to discuss what value is really about.

It seems these days we too often confuse the words “value” and “inexpensive”, and seem to use them interchangeably. I see many organizations using the word “value” in their branding when what their brands really are about is “inexpensive” products and services. In my opinion, a quality service or product offered at a fair price is much more likely to offer value than a lower quality product or service at a lower price.

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Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Site Description



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