One hundred and forty-eight

The ups and downs of online shopping

I got two dresses in the mail yesterday – shoved into my mailbox.  One I love and one I’m not so sure about.  Had I bought them in the store it would have taken me an hour of travel time, plus however long it took me to try on the dresses.  I would have bought the one and not the other.  I would have had instant satisfaction and could wear it right away.  Buying online meant choosing the dresses hoping I would like them on my body type and waiting two weeks to have them delivered (in that time I was sent an e-mail saying they wouldn’t be sending me the tank top I also ordered because they were out of stock).  By the time I finally received the dresses, the excitement of getting mail didn’t outweigh the fact that I’d moved on – I was no longer as enthusiastic about them.  And now do I send back the one that is ok, or do I keep it and wear it once and awhile?  I’m still not convinced about the merits of buying clothing online.

I also got an e-mail from Beyond The Rack saying that they don’t know when I’ll be receiving my red rubber boots I ordered off them three weeks ago.  “Your order was initially scheduled to arrive at Beyond the Rack last week, but the delivery from the supplier is currently being delayed.  Due to this unforeseen setback, we’ll be unable to pack and ship your order within the estimated 3-week timeline. Rest assured, we’ll make it a priority to pack your order as soon as we receive it from the supplier. We’ll make sure to keep you informed of all further developments, and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”  Beside the description of my boots at the end of the e-mail a highlighted bright orange box says “PENDING”.  Like they don’t know whether they will ever be shipped.  Hopefully I get them eventually.  Or at least get a refund.

And I haven’t even heard from the other place I bought a dress from.  No idea whether I will ever get it.  No idea if it has even been shipped.  Sigh.  The ups and downs of online shopping.

One hundred and forty-seven

Cheat!

I had to cheat today out of pure stupidity. I am kicking myself about it.  On my way back from my Orangeville visit to my friend’s mom’s house (where I gave the flowers I had delivered to myself at work minus the vase) I had to stop for gas.  Just like in extreme couponing month, the one thing I have as an exception to my rules is transportation.  I am allowed to buy gas, ttc tokens and cab fare.  So the buying of the gas wasn’t the problem.  It was the fact that I was chatting with my friend, ranting about something inconsequential, and I left the fuel cap on the roof of the car (with the little door open) as I drove off.  Yep, I drove back from Orangeville with gas fumes polluting the environment and surrounding the car.  I didn’t realize until I got back to Toronto and got out of my car.  By that time it was too late for a store to be open that sells them.  Despite checking the local gas station (apparently they sometimes keep ones that other people have ‘forgotten’ lying around, so if you ‘lose’ yours like I did, check there first before spending money on a new one), I had to wait until this morning to go to Canadian Tire to get a new one.

My favourite part of my Canadian Tire experience was the wall of gas caps.  Apparently this happens to more than just me.  I told the salesman my car make and year and he looked it up on the computer and handed me the right one.

But alas, I still had to cheat.  $11.29 worth of cheating.

One hundred and forty-six

Revelation in online shopping: you can buy beer, liquor and wine online and have it delivered to your house!

Many of us have used the infamous ‘dial-a-bottle’ at some point.  It’s late, you’ve gone to a friend’s house after work or being out, and you run out of alcohol.  You want to keep the party going, but aren’t about to get up and move to someone else’s house.  You call dial-a-bottle.  Some sketchy guy out of the trunk of his old car delivers a case of beer and a bottle of vodka for double what you would pay at the liquor store.  He looks around to see if any cops are around, you hand him cash (with a good tip, because you are pretty tipsy and he’s kind enough to deliver the booze late even though it’s illegal and he’s charging you plenty over what he paid) and he speeds off.

But buying alcohol online is new to me.  Along comes The Beer Guy.  A legal version of dial-a-bottle.  They operate only during LCBO hours of operation (no late-night deliveries from them).  They don’t mark up any prices – the same as LCBO and The Beer Store.  They deliver to the GTA, Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, London, and even Sudbury (full list of cities they deliver to here).

Delivery charges – the minimum delivery charge depends on your city (Toronto is $10) and an overage charge of $1.50 can also apply for the each of the following:
• every 12 bottles of beer over 36 bottles of beer
• every 1 bottle of liquor over 3 bottles of liquor
• every 1 bottle of wine over 3 bottles of wine
• a required stop at BOTH the LCBO and The Beer Store

Now I haven’t actually used this service yet.  I was going to last night, but I finished work too late and as I said earlier, they are only open for liquor store hours.  But I will try it out and I’ll let you know how it goes.  There are many great testimonials on the website, if you’re weary about the company.  It seems pretty legit.

“Many house partiers are disappointed when the booze runs out. So what does a person do next?  You may want to switch to another house, or hit up a local bar or club, but finally there is a better option available for everyone. People can order more beer, liquor or spirits, or wine ONLINE through The Beer Guy, the first online alcohol delivery service. Your order will be there within ONE hour of ordering, so when you notice you’re starting to run low, go to http://www.thebeerguy.ca/ and place an order for more! It’s that simple!”

I can see how this would be great if you don’t have a car and don’t want to carry the beer or liquor to your house.  Or maybe during the winter if it’s really cold and you don’t feel like heading outside.  But how often do you run out of alcohol by 9:45pm (when the company closes most days)?  I wonder how busy they actually are?

One hundred and forty-five

Today I did one of the funniest (and slightly embarrassing) things that I’ve had to do this month – I had flowers delivered to myself at work.  Not only were they delivered during the busy lunch period, but they also had my name on them and a card which I wrote to myself so it didn’t look suspicious.  Everyone asked me who the flowers were from, like I had a secret admirer or a lover to send me daisies.  Eventually I had to come clean – I had to tell them I sent them to myself!

Let me start at the beginning.  Tomorrow I’m going to lunch at my friend’s mom’s house.  This morning I realized I had nothing to bring her.  I can’t go empty-handed to anyone’s house when they are gracious enough to have me in their home and feed me, let alone a mom’s house!  Normally I would just stop at the florist, corner or grocery store on my way to pick up flowers.  But alas, with only ‘online shopping month’ I can’t do that.  So just before work (and running late), I searched online for flowers that could be delivered same day and found Brant Florist.  Unfortunately the cheapest flowers are either three red roses for $39.99 (not appropriate to bring to a friend’s mom unless you’re trying to tell her something) or the daisies I bought for $49.99 ($56.49 with tax).  Slightly ridiculous for flowers, considering you can buy a decent bouquet at the grocery store for $30.  At least these ones came with a vase and I need a vase.  So I’m wrapping to flowers up nice and keeping the vase.  (I really hope my friend’s mom never reads this!)

It was really easy to buy flowers online and I love the fact that I could get them delivered a couple of hours later.  If you ever forget your grandma’s birthday or your anniversary, jump online and you can have a lovely bouquet sent that day.  It’ll seem like you had planned it long in advance.  Just remember, though, it won’t be cheap.  The delivery and service fees are built in to the price which adds those extra dollars.  Once again you are paying extra for the convenience of online shopping and delivery.

And note to everyone, if you’re going to have flowers delivered to yourself at work, just pretend someone great bought them for you.  People like the romantic idea of it and it ruins it when they find out they are from you to you.

One hundred and forty-four

Online event tickets

The type of online shopping I generally do the most of is purchasing event tickets.  Concert, theatre, and cinema tickets are all easily purchased online.  There are many websites dedicated to online ticketing, which are easy to use, fast (when you are afraid the show will sell out – much faster than waiting for an operator on the telephone), and give you the option of printing your tickets at home (no more waiting in line at the box office to pick them up).  Unfortunately most online ticket agents do charge a large fee (the worst is Ticketmaster which can charge fees over $10 and you have to go pick up the tickets at one of their agents or have them mailed to you).  But there are ways to save money on the tickets, so those fees don’t seem that bad…

Tips to getting discount tickets

  1. Join the fan club of the band, e-mailing list of the theatre company or rewards club of the cinema.  Pre-sales and discount deals will be sent via e-mail through these lists.  I just bought Blue Man Group tickets for half price ($100 off – yep it costs that much to see them) and a musical called Next to Normal tickets for only $25 each – both because of discount codes found on the mailing lists of the producing companies Mirvish and Dancap.  These deals weren’t available when I tried to buy tickets without the codes.
  2. Back to couponing – look out for deals on the group buying coupon websites.  They frequently have great deals to theatres or other events.
  3. Buy a subscription to a venue.  Buying in bulk gives you discounts to the shows you want to see at that venue you like.  The earlier you buy a subscription for a season, usually the cheaper it is.
  4. Look out for cheap tickets on online auction websites and classifieds.  Sometimes these will be way more expensive, but there are the occasions when someone needs to get rid of their tickets last minute and will offer them for a discount.
  5. Buy directly from a venue if you can, instead of buying from the ticketing agents.  The venue usually charges less fees.