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Tag Archives: scam

  • The Pow! Bang! Bam! Plan to Save Marvel, Starring B-List Heroes
    Marvel sold the rights to X-Men and Spider-man, then they were bought out by Disney, and now they’re making even more money than before. Why’s that?

    There were also people at Disney who expressed doubts about Marvel’s film strategy. Says Iger: “I remember someone [saying] on the Disney side, ‘Don’t you want to do Avengers first, and introduce Thor and Captain America in that, and then if they work bring them out afterward?’ ” Feige was adamant that this would be a mistake. He wanted audiences to get to know Thor and Captain America on their own before combining them with Iron Man and the Hulk. Disney was persuaded. Feige was relieved. He had enough things to worry about.

  • Autograph Fakery: Two Firms Monopolize a Lucrative Business
    In order to sell memorabilia nowadays, especially autographs, the article must be authenticated. Unfortunately, it looks like the business of authentication is fake! I think the people who run the businesses know this, but will keep at it as the money keeps rolling in.

    In 2007, a Philadelphia Fox News crew attended a memorabilia show at which JSA set up a booth to evaluate autographs, including those produced by baseball player Sal Bando, who was sitting just a few tables away.

    A Fox artist forged Bando’s signature with minimal practice; JSA approved it without incident.

    “That was a former employee of mine,” Spence says of the Bando auditor. “I believe he was caught off-guard. I wasn’t in the building at the time. They sort of blindsided him with the whole thing.

  • George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview
    I haven’t watched Game of Thrones nor read the Song of Ice & Fire series, but George R. R. Martin is very popular right now so I thought it would be interesting to learn more about him.

    We got into that fight on Beauty and the Beast. The Beast killed people. That was the point of the character. He was a beast. But CBS didn’t want blood, or for the beast to kill people. They wanted us to show him picking up someone and throwing them across the room, and then they would get up and run away. Oh, my God, horrible monster! [Laughs] It was ludicrous. The character had to remain likable.

  • Emerging adults need time to grow up
    There has been a lot written about the “emerging adults” in the 20-29 y/o range, but this author argues that a lot of what has been said is not entirely true and doesn’t take into account changing societal norms

    Emerging adults enter the workplace seeking what I call identity-based work, meaning a job that will be a source of self-fulfillment and make the most of their talents and interests. They want a job that they will look forward to doing when they get up each morning.

    You might think that this is not a realistic expectation for work, and you are right. But keep in mind it was their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, who invented the idea that work should be fun. No one had ever thought so before. Baby Boomers rejected the traditional assumption that work was a dreary but unavoidable part of the human condition. They declared that they didn’t want to spend their lives simply slaving away – and their children grew up in this new world, assuming that work should be meaningful and self-fulfilling. Now that those children are emerging adults, their Baby Boomer parents and employers grumble at their presumptuousness.

  • The Life of a Stolen Phone: For the Smartphone Industry, Theft Is a Part of the Business Model
    It’s not entirely surprising that phone manufacturers and carriers WANT you to lose your phone so they can sell you another one. It’s also not surprising that they would work to keep this business model continuing. But I am surprised how this article claims that smartphone theft is so common.

    It takes three people to commit the perfect smartphone robbery. Two of them identify a distracted, vulnerable person — usually a woman, police say — with a phone in tow. The third one carries a gun. He’s the “safety” or “trigger man,” whose role is to intervene only if the victim puts up a fight. In most robbery stakeouts, the trigger man stands by and watches while the other two ambush their victim and run. That lowers the risk, and raises the payoff: If the thieves are caught, they’ll be charged with petty theft rather than armed robbery.

It is pretty obvious that retail eyeglass stores is a false economy. I’m not even talking about the Western stores, but the Asian ones that you found at Pacific Mall et al. You go in, get a pair of glasses, and they charge you enough to use up your insurance allotment for the year (and maybe pad the bill a bit so you don’t have to pay anything). They are $300 happier, you are 1 pair of glasses (and no less money) happier, so everyone wins.

But it is obvious that there is a lot of funny accounting going on. First, you can look at the frames and they are exorbitant in price. A designer frame can set you back $400 or more. But if you can get past the sticker shock and ask the attendant, you will find that your total package including “extremely thin” lenses will be about $250 or $300 taxes in. They always give you a 50% discount on the frames!

Lately, I’ve been buying my glasses online, and I think this has become more and more accepted now. Clearly Contacts is quite popular, and you can get the same pair of glasses you would get from a B&M store for about $100. Other more shady places on the web can net you a pair under $30. The general excuse is that the retail stores don’t have the luxury of outsourcing to India or Pakistan to cut their lenses, and have to pay the cost of a storefront and staff.

Well that is a load of BS. I recently heard about a real store that is selling glasses for $38 a pair*. Maybe these are the same frame designs as I would get from China (i.e., shady places online) but if they can stand to at least break even, then your typical insurance fraud eyeglasses store is making over $200 profit per sale!

* Yes, I know you need a coupon to get it down to $38, but 38 is in their name so I don’t think they would ever stray from that price point.

You won’t see me tagging posts with both Facebook and IBM much on this blog since it is not good to mix work and personal life. But this is an exception.

The moral of this blog is that you shouldn’t work at IBM, file a fraudulent insurance claim, and post pictures on Facebook! Ha, it wasn’t me though, which makes this story an awesome tag cocktail instead of a rant.

Holy flying pigs, the SAF that I have been complaining about is coming to an end on Rogers. I’ve been cynical about this fee since the time of no-titles and incomplete sentences!

But this is Rogers so they will never do anything in YOUR favour. To replace the $6.95/mth, you are getting a government regulatory recovery fee which will range between $2.46 and $3.46 a month (depending on province). Oh, all your plans will also get $5 more expensive. Hell, I’m not dumb, $5+$2.46 > $6.95!

Ok, you do get three, free calling features for your extra $5 (does that mean you can’t get a free text plan?), like the free call display and call waiting that Rogers started charging for a few years back? I can’t tell if we are ahead or behind in this game. But before you give Rogers any credit for their newfound honesty about the SAF. Know this about the Government Regulatory Recovery Fee:

Liz Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Rogers, said the new billing structure is an attempt to offer subscribers more clarity on their monthly bills.

“What we will be breaking out is what you’ll be paying for your wireless services and what you pay for government charges, which will vary by province.”

Hamilton said the carrier will spell out the new fee breakdown on its website and clarify that it’s not a fee Rogers is mandated to collect on the government’s behalf.

I’ll stick to my $20/mth unlimited-weekend-after-8pm-calling, unlimited browsing plan thank you very much.

After going to Morimoto a few weeks back, this reporter’s story of an Iron Chef America taping makes more sense. I haven’t actually watched an episode of Iron Chef in its entirety, but my faith in TV expects that this sort of thing happens in reality tv all the time.

Several things slowly dawned on us as we watched the taping. The participants went about their tasks methodically but unhurriedly, as if they had all the time in the world. There was none of the huddling and dialogue among team members that we expected, even though they had to develop a menu from scratch using an unknown ingredient. Like a lightbulb coming on over our heads, we realized that the chefs had known the identity of the main ingredient all along, just as they had known ahead of time which Iron Chef would be paired with the challenger. How else to explain the utter nonchalance displayed by the sous chefs, who fetched ingredients and blended them; toasted, fried, and roasted them; then plated them like they were enjoying a relaxing holiday in the country. The Food Network has admitted as much, saying in the past that the contestants are given a short list of possible secret ingredients ahead of time so the reveal isn’t a total surprise. But I wonder if that list is really longer than one or two items.

What’s the difference between watching reality TV and real fictional TV? At least you’re not being fooled that what you’re watching is Real Life™.

We got my mom a (portable) photo printer this year since she always asks me how to develop photos stored on her computer. It’s not an easy process to explain, especially since there are so many, and the mechanics of copying on to flash memory is not straightforward. So the easy solution is to buy a system that will do this for her, as straightforward as possible. A photo printer that can only print 4×6 sounds like the way to go.

These things are a rip off. Not just the price (I only paid $30 for a normal “photo” printer that prints to 8.5×11 too) but for the ink and paper. The normal strategy is to refill the ink and buy paper in bulk (maybe dollar store too) right? Well they’ve out smarted you this time. Not only can you not refill, your ink can only print out a specific number of photos, let’s say 15. Once you’ve printed out 15 photos, you will have to replace the cartridge even if there is still ink. But fear not, they will sell you paper and ink packages that will let you print another roll of photos.

Every week in the mail, we get the Zellers flyer. They are very aggressive in advertising their deals in the neighborhood, since they are a stone’s throw away from me (well, maybe a paper airplane throw). They have a couple loss leaders which are decent deals, but the rest of the flyer seems to be price discriminated against stupid or lazy people.

A couple of weeks, I was flipping through and they advertised NHL09 for the 360 for $69.99. It was being sold everywhere else for $59.99, and that’s without any special coupons or deals. Last week, I was flipping through again and they were selling an Xbox for $299 with a free (platinum hits) game. Future Shop and Best Buy usually have Xbox deals where they bundle 2 free games, of which one of the game is a current hit. So even in a straight comparison, Zellers is a rip off. Looking at the fine print, I noticed that it was an Arcade system. You can get an Arcade system and 2 free games from Walmart for $177. That’s a 69%+1 game price differential!

Thinking about pirated DVDs makes me want to dig up my Economics course notes; too bad I threw them away. Anyways, I was curious to see that if selling DVDs for $2 each can result in a profit, how much money were they pulling in when they were going for 3 for $20? For brevity, I’m not going to recalculate the costs, even though they were probably higher. I’ll just say that it costs $1 per DVD, which means that at that time, they were making over 500% profit!

As an aside, now I see a lot of random stores selling pirated DVDs as a means to boost their bottom line. You can buy DVDs with your Chinese buns, or get a hair cut and pick out some DVDs. These places probably go through a middleman to get their DVDs, and I’m guessing that after the middleman markup, wholesale cost for each DVD is $1. Which makes selling DVDs a great side business.

But back when they were going for $7 each, I’d expect the (true) demand was lower. If you wanted to watch 10 movies a month, maybe you would only buy 3 at PacMall, and the remaining you would rent download or skip. Now, for the same expenditure, you can watch all 10! I’m going to assume that most people operate with a fixed entertainment budget though, and not attempt to buy every movie they want to watch.

While the influx of supply lowered the cost, I think people get caught up in the package deals, so they end up buying movies that they didn’t really want to watch in order to fill up their deal. I guess the DVD vendors get a slightly larger volume to offset the lowered costs, but we as consumers get the better deal for sure since we’ve lowered their profit margin to a much more reasonable 200%.

It’s not often that you witness a company self-destruct, but that seems to be what is happening with game publisher Eidos and hard-core gaming portal GameSpot. Eidos seems to have committed a great deal of its budget into their new FPS Kane & Lynch for the holiday season. I’ve seen commercials for this game on Space TV, but really wasn’t aware of what it was until the current scandal started, infact I thought it was somehow religious (i.e., Cain), but perhaps I got it confused with Assassin’s Creed.

This holiday season seems to have a cornucopia of “great” games, which even though I won’t play any of them, I’ve read all about. Think Mass Effect (again first heard about on TV), the aforementioned Assassin’s Creed (which is really due to the Jade Raymond scandal), Call of Duty 4, Super Mario Galaxy, Guitar Hero 3, Rock Band, Bioshock etc etc. Because there are so many great games, it’s difficult for a game without a lot of hype to get awareness and to bank the lucrative gift-giving season. So it’s not surprising to see Eidos market the hell out of Kane & Lynch, such as splattering their ads all over GameSpot.

What kicked off the debacle was the less-than-favorable review that Jeff Gerstmann, a 10-year veteran at GameSpot, wrote giving a 6/10 to the game. Surely a bomb in the video game ratings world. After a couple of weeks delay, Gerstmann was fired and the issue blew up in the face of GameSpot and Eidos when Penny Arcade posted a comic about Gerstmann. It may be a coincidence that is being overblown, but the negative reviews have been cleaned up, and anonymous insider accounts have given some compelling evidence of wrongdoing, centered around the issue that the new Editor-In-Chief seems to be more favorable to the Sales department that maintaining editorial integrity.

This has led to a devaluation of the GameSpot brand, as well as its parent, CNet, as people are beginning to boycott their services. It’s tough though as CNet is well diversified in its properties, owning MetaCritic, GameFAQs,,,, to name a few. However my guess is that the long term effect will reside with Eidos and game (and other media) reviews in general. This issue has focused the spotlight on Eidos and other shady practices are becoming apparent, including their manipulation of game (p)reviews by misquoting and displaying fake 5-star reviews. Along with movie studios using invented critics and publishers paying for book blurbs from well-known authors, it should be evident that there is substantial bias in “positive reviews” of entertainment.

After watching Beowulf and standing around for awhile deciding where to go to eat, we eventually decided on East!. East! was sprung from the owners of Spring Rolls and basically shares the same menu as them. However, they have a prime location being directly across from the City TV CTV building.

I know some people have an intense hatred for Spring Rolls, but I’m not sure what the issue is. It’s reasonably priced Asian food in decent decor. Basically you’re paying a few bucks more so you don’t have to eat off cheap Chinatown tables and plastic covers. East! was no different. The reason for this blog however, was to rely our experiences with the bill. We had a group of 8, so that means a mandatory gratuity; however in our separate checks, the accounting was bit like Enron. It looked a bit like the receipt on the right.




If you weren’t paying attention, you would see the $18, pay with credit card and then add the tip on — meaning a double tip and extra profit. Usually restaurants aren’t as shady and actually put how much they want for their tip; but in East!’s case, they changed the alignment of the cost, and removed the details, which makes the true nature of the bill easy to miss.

In fact, I would expect that most sketchy bill business would be in charging a slightly higher number than what you wrote down on the credit card receipt. Coincidentilly, I came across a neat, geeky way to protect against the restaurant changing the credit card value, although I doubt that I would actually call up the credit card company if I discovered a change. And it wouldn’t have helped in this circumstance.

My dad won one of those buy one get one free dinners at iCook Buffet from those scratch cards they have in the Chinese newspapers (it’s like playing the lottery, with a bonus newspaper consolation prize), so Pauline and I went to take advantage of the deal on Monday. We arrived at around 7:30, which I guess wasn’t prime dinner time; plus it was raining so I guess that explains why the place was dead.

iCook is a twist on traditional hot pot in that you have to go up and get your own ingredients, sauces, spices and drinks. In a way, it’s also like Mongolian Grill but you have to hot pot the food yourselves. The menu itself was kind of confusing, because they didn’t tell you how much or what the buffet is, they only listed various premium soup bases for $3.99+. Later on, a mixed couple came in, sat near us and were mega confused about what’s happening. Apparently the deal is that you get the buffet (i.e. $14.99) and then you could pick a premium soup base or get a generic base. We ended up ordering 2 premium soup bases which was dumb. They don’t mention that you can get a generic soup base on the menu.

So it was off to pick up ingredients. They had the usual stuff including mussels, shrimp and a million different type of (sea creature) balls. The good thing is that because it’s self-serve, you don’t have to wait for the waiter to bring back the huge plate of meat you ordered. Everything was fine and dandy until it came time to pay our bill.

First of all, it wasn’t really much of a “deal” as our bill came up to $28.12 including a mandatory 10% tip. I tried to pay with my Mastercard, and after 10 minutes of waiting for them to pick up the bill and process it, they came back saying that my card was not approved. Hrmm, I was no where near my credit limit and had used it successfully over the weekend. Maybe there was some credit card fraud that I didn’t know about, but I’ll check it out later. I was skeptical about being “not approved”, so I gave them my Visa to try.

Now, I was positive that this Visa would work, because I hadn’t used it since before I went to France, and there had been no weird items on my statements since then; in fact there had been nothing at all on my statements since then. So after 10 minutes of waiting for them to pick up the bill and process it (many servers walked passed us, but none of them picked it up — it wasn’t like the place was busy though), they came back to me and said my card was not approved.

Hmm, something fishy going on? So I made Pauline try her Visa and it went through and we paid. Weird eh? Maybe their POS wouldn’t take my cards, but my pet theory is that they wanted us to pay cash. Just to test out my theory, we went over to Shoppers (omg they’re everywhere) afterwards and bought some candy. I paid using my Mastercard and guess what, it worked. Surprise! I went home to check the balance on my Visa and it was at $0 with full credit. Surprise!

So was it a scam? I don’t know, but it’s definitely weird that neither my Mastercard or Visa worked on their system. It wasn’t like we were being cheap, we could’ve gotten normal soups and only paid $18ish.

This was the 2nd time I’ve been there too, the last time for dim sum. Although it was also a buffet, they brought us a lot of (carby, filling) stuff we didn’t order, and it ended up being a lot of food. Good thing I wasn’t a lightweight, otherwise maybe they would try some scam saying that you didn’t finish all your food so we have to charge you extra.