July 4, 2014 | In: Opinion

On Giving Discounts

I do some serious online shopping every month. One thing that I have learned is not to buy anything that is not on discount, unless I really need it, and unless I really need it now.

So, I see something, and I wait for it to go on discount, and once it does, I wait for it to go on discount the second time (maybe the second time it’ll be cheaper), and, if it’s cheaper on the second time, then maybe I wait for a third round of discounts, or I would just buy it. If it’s not cheaper on the second discount, then I will wait for a discount similar to the first discount, then I will buy it.

I’m sure that there are many people who are like me, the thing is, when you see an item on discount, you automatically think that its real price is the discounted price, and not the original ticker price. The more discounts an item receives, the less value that item will have from the customer’s perspective.

Of course, there are discounts and discounts. For example, car manufacturers make some discounts around September on the current year’s models to get rid of their old inventory and make place for the new inventory. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about selling some furniture with a ticker price of $2,000 at $1,000, because of a discount. I’m talking about selling hotel stays at 70% off.

I’m not personally annoyed by discounts, in fact, I love them and I use them to my advantage. But I think marketing has to come up with a better alternative to discounts, since most people no longer buy anything at full price, and those who do, are one of the following: 1) They are suckers, 2) They’re not paying for the items they’re purchasing (most likely their company is paying), 3) They need the items they are buying at full price immediately.

If we know that everything will be on discount at some point of time, then there is no point of having a discount at all.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I was doing some groceries the other day and I thought Watermelons could be refreshing in this hot Montreal summer, so I bought one. It was on special for $2.99, the watermelon weighed something like 4 kilos, or about 9 pounds. That watermelon came from Florida, which is a 1500 miles away or a 22.5 hour drive (non-stop).

Then it struck me – $2.99 for such a big item is cheap, very cheap, I mean very, very cheap. Let me tell you what happens for that watermelon to reach me:

  • The owner of the watermelon business must spray the farm against insects and reptiles. He must also ensure that it’s watered all the time (watermelons use a lot of water) and he must ensure that he’s using the right soil.
  • He should then hire a bunch of illegal immigrants to physically pick those melons and put them in a warehouse in a pyramid shape.

  • He should then hire another bunch of illegal immigrants to package those watermelons.

  • He should then contact the wholesale fruit and vegetable merchant and sell him the watermelons.

  • The merchant should ask his secretary to prepare the export documents and then use one of his trucks to export the watermelons to Montreal.

  • The truck has to go through the customs and then head to Montreal.

  • The truck should then delivers the watermelons to a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Montreal.

  • The fruit and vegetable wholesaler should dispatch the watermelons, along with other vegetables and fruits, in one truck to the grocery store I buy from.

Now the question is, how much expenses did that watermelon incur before reaching me. As you can see, it’s a lot, and there are many, many indirect/hidden costs that I haven’t even mentioned anywhere. I just mentioned the direct costs.

Can that watermelon really sell for $2.99? Apparently, it can. Maybe there’s just more to this thing, but for now, I will enjoy my watermelon while we all pretend that the watermelon business is a profitable one.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

A couple of years ago, I used to have a TFSA account as part of my BMO Investor Line account. Every year I was able to move an additional $5,000 to my TFSA account. For those who do not know, a TFSA account, which stands for Tax Free Savings Account, is an account that, as the name suggest, is free from taxation. In other words, any profits you make from a TFSA account (interest, stock trading, etc…) will not incur any federal or provincial tax. So, if you were smart and made $100,000 from that $5,000, you will not pay a penny in taxes on the $100,000 you earned.

Of course, we all know that Canadian stocks are boring compared to their US counterparts. That’s why, many Canadian investors ask the following question: “Can I purchase US stocks with a TFSA account?”

The answer is yes! You can buy US stocks with your TFSA account. There is one problem, however, is that you’ll be stuck with an unfavorable, bank-set CAD/USD exchange rate if you buy directly from your TFSA account. As such, a wiser thing to do would be to buy US stocks in USD, and then move them to your TFSA account, instead of buying US shares with CAD directly from your TFSA account (since the bank will need to convert your money to USD before selling you those shares). This way, you will be avoiding the exchange rate when converting from CAD to USD.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Back in 2008, I suddenly got interested in doing an MBA. I thought it would enhance my career and it will allow me to find better jobs (back then I still wanted to work for other people – not anymore). For some reason, I attended a seminar of an Executive MBA program at one of the most prominent universities here in Montreal. Surprisingly, I was impressed…

I was impressed by the quality of the teachers and the quality of the program in general. I remember they also had a 1 month field trip to a business-important country (such as Qatar, China, etc…). In short, the program was brilliant. What made me unable to join the program (back then) is that it cost about $80,000 to do. Yes, it was tax deductible, but, considering my responsibilities back then, I just couldn’t afford it. Oh, and by the way, unlike regular MBA, neither the Federal nor the Provincial governments subsidized this program.

Fast forward to 2011, where I joined the regular MBA program for the second time, and I discovered that it wasn’t worth it. Some might argue that the real value of an MBA is the professional network that you can create and later use to your advantage, but the problem is, my professional network was a bunch of people who were no older than 25 years and with minimal work experience (and, of course, with no management experience at all, which made me wonder how they made it into the program considering that being a manager for a specific period of time is a requirement). One of my colleagues never had a job in his life, and I’m not kidding.

Everything is different between an Executive MBA and a regular MBA. The professors in an Executive MBA are real professors, there is much more seriousness in an Executive MBA, and the quality of the network that you can potentially build in an Executive MBA is much higher than that in a regular MBA. Of course the tuition fees are definitely much more expensive in an Executive MBA, but at least you’ll get something for your hard earned money.

If you really want to do an MBA, then do an Executive MBA in a top-notch university, otherwise, save your money for a down-payment on a house. It’s a much better investment.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

A friend of mine is currently looking for a job, and so he’s writing a resume. I can tell, with confidence, that 75% of his resume is pure lies, about 20% of his resume is truth mixed with lies, and about 5% of his resume is exaggerated truth. He got his past 2 jobs with a similar resume, so, I guess it’s working for him.

Unfortunately, my friend is not alone, anyone who’s anyone is doing this. Granted, the percentage of lies varies slightly from one resume to another, but, lies are lies (in other words, you are hiring a liar). The problem is, candidates are taught that it’s best practice to submit a different resume that will match the skills needed for each and every job they apply to. Of course, that’s not technically possible without lying.

Lies aside, resumes are also a pain to read. Why would I care about someone’s hobbies if I want to hire him? Why would I care about someone’s work experience from the 90’s? Why would I care about a nearly endless list of programming languages that the person claims to have worked? Why would I care if the person speaks Swahili when the job only requires English?

In my opinion, the CV, if it’s really necessary, should only be a few lines long. This will make the process of writing and reading that CV a light, non-painful process.

I personally would not ask for a CV from a candidate. I would just ask them to perform a task for me in their field of expertise. If they did it, then they’re good for the job, if they didn’t, then, I’m sure someone else will.

I hope this little rant of mine gets viral, so that this whole resume practice (and the industry built around it) will end.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Yesterday I was watching a documentary on Napoli (feels weird when I call it Naples), and how life is becoming increasingly hard there, and how unemployment is skyrocketing and how people are closing their shops because of the high taxes.

15 years ago, I used to play a game called Caesar III, in that game, you were allowed to control the lives of the citizens of a Roman village. For example, you were able to increase taxes if you needed money, and when I did that, people used to leave the village, and thus I ended up with less money (instead of more).

What’s happening in Napoli, and in Italy in general, is even worse. The government wants to collect more taxes, so they suffocate businesses with taxes, and so these businesses lay off their employees, and so these employees will start collecting unemployment benefits. Which means that not only the government has less people that are not paying taxes, there are more people that are spending those taxes. Definitely not a good sign.

This issue is creating an avalanche that will soon sweep through the country and throughout Europe in general. I’m not sure how long Italy will be able to hide the fact that not everything is well over there. By the way, Italy’s GDP is 10 times the size of Greece, so imagine the impact Italy will have on the financial markets once the bluff is called.

I think it’s time for a little correction though – the Dow industrial average is now trading near a record (the record was touched last week by the way, but it seems there’s a huge resistance at 17,000).

I think we only have to wait, somebody must be buying a lot of FAZ at the moment, waiting for the opportune moment.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Recruiters are the vermin of the 21st century, they are parasites that suck blood from hard working individuals, they are hyenas that scavenge on the dynamics of every corporation out there, they are horrible, horrible creatures and they, like real hyenas, work in tandem. They create nothing, benefit nobody, and hurt the world’s economy. They are a complete abomination and everyone knows that. But, they are still there and they are flourishing. What’s going on?

Well, the reason why recruiters are flourishing can be traced to only one reason, HR! Yes, unfortunately, that very, very important department in any company is the sole cause for recruiters to exist. Let me give you an idea on how the recruitment process works in large companies:

  • An IT manager informs HR (through email) that he’s in need of a programmer.
  • HR informs its growing list of recruiters that they are in need of a programmer with a specified skillset.

  • The recruiters scan their databases and post the job on their LinkedIn account.

  • The recruiters then get contacted by candidates, and then forward all eligible candidates to HR.

  • HR interviews the candidates sent by the recruiters (by the way, some recruiters conflict with each other, where they both send the same candidate for interview with the same company for the same job), and, after screening, send the candidates that they think are right for the company to the IT Manager.

  • The IT Manager is stuck with a few candidates that may or may not be what he wants, and so the recruitment process is repeated.

Now, what happens is that the HR staff often purposely dismiss the right candidate because they just don’t like him, or because he’s slightly over the budget, or because he’s left handed. I mean, HR cannot interview the candidate technically, only the IT Manager can. Additionally, it is the IT Manager that has to live with that programmer, and not HR. If the IT Manager likes a candidate, then he’s free to give that extra $10,000 that he wanted (and that the recruiter was taking), he’ll be willing to tolerate his introversion, he’ll be able to tolerate his weird eating habits, he’ll be able to tolerate his smell, his insane behavior, etc… Unfortunately, with HR in the middle of the process, all these bright candidates that are usually not perfect are filtered out, and all that is left is the mediocre ones who cost more when taking into consideration their output, and who won’t take the IT department of the company to next level.

In the past decade or two, HR has morphed from office management into a controlling authority over virtually every aspect of the day-to-day activity of the company concerning employees. Also, since HR are not competent technically, they rely on vampires recruiters to hire new staff, which means that all the resources hired through HR cost more, a lot more! Too bad!

I think the solution would be to get HR out of the hiring process, and go back to the good old method of when the IT Manager posts a job on a website, and then waits for those resumes to flow in. Companies following strategy will experience a significant reduction in costs and a huge increase in productivity. By the way, this strategy is the secret why small companies excel when it comes to choosing the right resources.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Newcomers to Canada realize, within a few weeks, that having a credit card makes a lot of things easier of them. They can shop easier, they don’t have to pay transaction fees, and they can shop online anywhere. However, with no credit history whatsoever, will banks give newcomers credit cards, and, if yes, then what is the credit limit on these cards?

The answer to the first question is “yes”, banks do give credit cards to newcomers as long as they have a bank account and a permanent residency status in Canada (some people on special visas are able to get credit cards from the bank as well). So what about the second question? What is the credit limit on credit cards for newcomers?

I noticed that all newcomers get a credit limit of $500 – yes, I know, it’s not a lot, but it seems to be a standard. Any bank you go to, the credit limit will be $500 – no exceptions. It seems that $500 is the risk that Canadian banks are willing to take with newcomers (because newcomers can always return to their original country without settling their credit cards).

Will there be fees on these credit cards?

Typically, these credit cards will have no fees whatsoever (since they are pretty basic). Credit cards that have fees are usually those with perks and a higher credit limit.

Is it a good idea for a newcomer to have a credit card?

Definitely! A credit card makes many transactions easier (you can also pay recurring bills using your credit cards without incurring any fees) and will help the newcomer build a credit history – which is something necessary to get a housing or a car loan.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I was asked by a friend who was a bit strapped on money on what happens if he didn’t pay his taxes on time for the Quebec government. I told him that the Quebec government follows the below process:

  • If the payment is not received by April 30th for the taxes owed for the previous calendar year, then the government will start charging you a yearly interest of 6% on the balance remaining (interest is accrued daily).
  • If the payment is not received by June 5th for the taxes owed for the previous calendar year, then, the Quebec government will send you a Notice of Recovery, asking you to pay your remaining balance (which will include interest up to the day of the letter) and giving you the option to defer the balance using the PAD (Payment Arrangement Proposal) program.

  • At a certain point, the Quebec government will give up on you and will send your file to a collection agency, where you will incur an additional $100 of penalty because of this file transfer.

So, if you haven’t paid your taxes yet, then do it quickly, because first of all it’s your duty towards your country/community to do it, and, second of all, you will incur taxes and various fees if you don’t do it immediately. Note that according to the Quebec government, they reserve the right to deduct the money you owe them from any payment made to you by a public body. It’s not clear though whether the term “public body” only applies for Quebec or to the Canadian government in general.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

As I mentioned in a previous post back in February, Sony got out of the PC market, possibly forever. This news was a breath of fresh air for the makers of junk-packaged-as-laptops laptops such China’s Lenovo, China’s Japan’s Toshiba, China’s America’s Dell, and China’s America’s HP: they all now have one less competitor to worry about, and Sony was a real competitor: Sony’s laptops were of much better quality and had a much higher value for money compared to any of the above companies. In fact, the last Sony VAIO Z that was made back in late 2011/early 2012 had better specs than the best ultrabook currently on the market, and we’re in mid 2014 now.

In any case, the departure of Sony signaled the demise of the laptop market in general. The desktop market, for those who remember, experienced the same demise when laptops started taking over in the early 2000’s. The lower desktop sales lead to a higher price in the desktop price. Back in 2005, you could buy a desktop computer for $500 including the keyboard, the mouse, and a beautiful 20″ screen. Fast forward to now, and a similar desktop (with today’s specs) would run you about $1,500. The build quality is slightly better than 2005, but not enough to warrant the $1,000 price increase.

With tablets and smartphones taking over, laptops are now going through the same phase that desktops went through in the early 2000’s. The price of laptops is now super cheap, but, slowly but surely, we’ll see an increase in prices, until we get back to the $2,000 tag price that laptops were selling for back in 2003 (Sony Vaio Z laptops were selling for roughly $4,000 back then). The reason for that is that laptops sales are diminishing every month (nearly everyone has a tablet right now and/or a smartphone, and is using either to browse the Internet), which means that mass production of laptops will stop at one point, which means that laptops will sell for more.

At a certain point of time, the only people using desktops will be banks and designers, and the only people using laptops will be developers. You heard it here first!

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

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