Mexican Tales – Part 3 – Observations and Commercialism

I’ve been spending part of the winter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the past few years now. It’s a beautiful port town with friendly natives and Mexican charm, gorgeous weather, and good value for our Canadian dollar. But I’ve also noticed commercialism making its way into the way of life there.


Like everywhere else in the world, prices have gone up in PV across the board – food, taxis and housing. As many tourist destinations hike prices I noticed that PV seems to be going in that direction. Typically, the average working Mexican could not afford to eat or shop in the tourist zones as their earnings are on par with their cost of living. The tourist areas have been growing in price. Similar to how Cancun has become so Americanized in recent years that some say it’s lost its Mexican charm, but not quite there yet. I hope it doesn’t lose its Mexican charm. But it’s definitely the North American expats – both Canadian and American that are surely driving up the prices with all the growth PV has been enduring, particularly in buying up real estate there.

Bartering on the beach or market has become more of an educated procedure rather than a fun past time. It used to be sellers would start a bit higher on pricing, knowing they had to leave room for haggling, which is something they expect. But there seems to be a new theme now in educated guessing if you’re a savvy bargainer – which I am. Seems to be the trend for these items when you ask the price they will charge double the price they’ll ultimately accept, plus maybe a few hundred Pesos on top for good measure. Since I love to go to markets and look at price tags, I have a good idea of how much I should be paying for something. For example, I’d bought a beautiful silver elephant pendant encrusted with colored rhinestones inlaid, at a pop-up market for something like $25 Canadian dollars. The asking was equivalent to $35. A week later I saw the same pendants at another market asking for $80 equivalent. I said thanks and walked away, and the seller was snarly when I told him I already had one for way less money. I couldn’t help but notice how the market sellers  have raised prices on everything, leaving me feeling as though something in the art of markets has been lost. Mexican prices are fast becoming North American prices, taking away part of the allure of market shopping. But it’s fun to visit the various markets just to see some of the wonderful artists and their creations, regardless if I’m purchasing or not.

I realize that everyone has to make a living, but hiking the prices more than double on items you can find cheaper elsewhere is a tad greedy. I find the fair pricing system I abide by when buying from those sellers is to offer half of what they ask. maybe even 100 or 200 peso lower than asking with leaving negotiation room. And that’s what we should be paying.

Below are some pictures of some the artwork downtown on the Malecon (Boardwalk)

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta


art broom

donated art bench
You will find several of these beautiful mosaic art benches donated

Heart exhibit

Heart love

Cactus sandals

Cold beer humor


As far as taxis and restaurants, they’ve gone up a bit too, but not drastically. For example, If you ordered a beer at the pool last year it was 20 Pesos, about $1.25, now it’s 30 – $2. Mixed cocktails at the pool were 50 Pesos – about $3, are now 80 Pesos, now more like 5 bucks and change. Short taxi rides remain at 50 Pesos, but rides to downtown or marina have gone up a buck. You can’t blame them, besides cost of living inflation, when it’s the tourist area, this is where they make their seasonal bucks. But real estate has gone up 20% since last year!

In the last few years North Americans are buying up condos in PV. The construction is ongoing. Pre-sale construction is hot. Here you can purchase a property (if any left) before they’re built with 20-30% discounts. Hub and I looked at a few with my new friend Gabe from Boardwalk Realty, who I connected with when I started looking at real estate online and signed up to receive MLS listings a few months before we got there. He showed us around the trending areas and we found a lovely location we would love to buy in, only that’s on hold as the economy is in a global tailspin and our already crappy Canadian dollar has nosedived to disgusting value. But, I have no doubts that this global declining economy will be just that – global, especially after this Corona madness, and I don’t plan on doing any real estate transactions till our dollar gets healthier and the housing market gets hit again as it seems to be on its way.

As the end of our vacation neared and my husband was unwell, along with the growing threat of the Coronavirus, I was anxious to get home.

In our lobby going to the ‘last supper’

I always miss the most beautiful sunsets.

sunset nite

orange sky sunset



Stay tuned for the last post on my Mexican Tales. Yup, it’s the travel log of our journey  home!


Savvy Online Shopping – What to Watch Out For – Just Sayin’

Today I’m back with some of my online shopping and shipping tips. It seem’s every so often there seems to be a kerfuffle when I place an online order. And because it seems I do a lot of online ordering, there’s bound to be mix-ups or snafus every once in awhile. I will add that thankfully, I’m not yet at the stage in life where I must have my groceries delivered, as I much prefer to choose my own produce and make sure I’m not getting any dented cans or ‘almost ready to expire’ products. My latest snag prompted me to write this post so I can share a few handy tips on what to look out for when placing an online order.


So what prompted this little informative rant? I was recently  on a hunt for my favorite lipstick, which I sadly discovered is soon being discontinued – once again, as many of my favs have disappeared through the years in Sephora. My first go to site was our big pharma site with a host of beauty products they sell online but not in all their stores as there are a multitude of product lines and only so many a store can carry. I prefer to check out sites in Canada first, as if I have to order from the U.S. I get hit with a multitude of duties on top of outside Canada shipping. When I get that desperate (as I have with other products gone astray), only then will I order from Ulta in the U.S. who, like Sephora, carry all cosmetic lines.

My recent order through Shopper’s Drug Mart required a minimum of $50 spent to get free shipping. As I have currently stockpiled 5 of these lipsticks, I thought I’d order a few more for my collection and of course the order came to $49 and change – pennies short of free shipping, so I decided to add in a bronzing cream I love because my current one is almost empty, but could have waited a month or so for. So my order now was well over $50. A few days after I placed my order I received an email confirmation, “Your order has shipped”, only at the bottom of the email, there was a notice saying – sorry the lipsticks are out of stock. The email had a new total being charged to my card – now well under $50, but they had taken the liberty now to charge me an additional $8 for shipping! No way was I paying shipping on that order!

Here’s the deal online companies, if items are out of stock which weren’t out of stock when I ordered, I think I deserve the courtesy of knowing before hand in a separate email, offering me a chance to add to the order or cancel. But they took the liberty of sending the bronzer cream without the rest of my order and slapping a shipping charge on. I promptly called their customer service number and told them exactly what I wrote here. ‘Please don’t take the liberty to ship half an original order without my consent and adding your shipping charge because YOU couldn’t fulfill the order.’ Yes, it was a bit time consuming, but I don’t appreciate companies taking my money without my consent. And of course, they reversed the shipping charge.

When online shopping, it’s important to check our emailed receipts to make sure we haven’t been wrongly charged, and correct sizes and items are listed to make sure  receive exactly what we ordered – even with that, sometimes wrong things are sent in error, but checking receipts and Visa statements are a first line defense.

I do usually order online from my specific favorite companies and am pretty familiar with their shipping practices. But when I order from an unfamiliar site, the first thing I do before ordering is click on their shipping policies to learn what I’m up against.


What to Look at When Ordering Online

First, if you’re unfamiliar with shopping on a certain site, I recommend Googling them up to check out reviews and recommends for that site, which will undoubtedly give you an idea of their customer service, should you require contacting them. I’ve come across a few popular sites over time that majority of complaints from customers was the terrible customer service and policies when it came to returns. That’s enough info for me to send me looking somewhere else to do my business. We should also check for reviews on a product we’re interested in ordering, on the actual site. Reading product reviews gives us a better idea of the product once someone has actually received theirs. Now, this isn’t to say that all reviews are helpful, as many of us readers know, not all book reviews are useful and sometimes irrelevant to a book.

Reviews are supposed to be helpful for others to aid in helping us make our decision to purchase. Sure, it’s okay to state how much you may love a product, but not adding any descriptions, such as sizing issues if it’s a garment or shoe, actual size of a product compared to what’s advertised, shipping issues, etc., isn’t helpful.

Below, I’ve done a little comparison of what to include in a good product review as opposed to what isn’t helpful:



  • Size comparisons, such as: “I’m usually a size 6 or small, and I needed to size up in this.”
  • This shoe fit too tight – size up.
  • This blender died after 2 months use – if I see a few of these comments, I’m on to a different brand.
  • The color of the product isn’t the same as what’s displayed on product page.
  • Book reviews that give some insight to fellow readers what the book is about, how they related to plot or characters, pacing, something the reader took from the book, and how the book left them feeling.


Not Helpful:

  • I love it!
  • So beautiful, glad I ordered it.
  • Wished I ordered in more colors.
  • Book reviews with no substance and nothing to entice a fellow reader.


Just Sayin'



I know as an online shopper, I rely a lot on other people’s reviews before I venture into making a purchase. Good reviews help others make an informed decision. Yes, it’s okay to share the love for a product we’re happy about, but without adding useful information, a review will serve no purpose other than to high-five the seller.


Remember this checklist before making your online purchase:

  • Check reviews on the site you’re ordering from.
  • Check shipping policies and ‘additional’ charges – especially if you are going to order from out of your country.
  • Check reviews under products you’re interested in purchasing, and read both negative and positive comments to help aid your purchase decisions.
  • Check Customer Service and ‘Contact Us’ on the site to make sure their return policy is fair and doesn’t require you to take a hit as penalty for returns, and that there is a contact phone number.
  • MAKE sure when placing an order on a site that isn’t from your country that you click on the right currency for your country, because if you will be paying in foreign dollars, you are looking at an exchange rate plus an additional bank charge on your credit card for the conversion. This will help you decide if paying the additional exchange plus shipping and duties are really worth purchasing the item.
  • Lastly, if you get surprisingly dinged for a shipping charge unjustly added, make sure to contact the company to have the charge removed.


Remember: It’s important to always check your receipts, emails, and credit card statements to make sure you haven’t been wrongly charged.

If you would like to add a situation you may have encountered that could help others, please feel free to add to the conversation in comments.


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column with D. G. Kaye – #Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

Friday blogshare



Today I’m sharing my latest post – Part 2 of the Cruise series, where I write a travel column over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Invitation. In today’s article you will find everything you need to know about booking cabins, excursions, shopping aboard and some personal tips I’m sharing. Hop on aboard and visit me over at Sally’s blog.


Travel Talk with D.G. Kaye



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column with D. G. Kaye – #Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips


Delighted that D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies is now a regular contributor to the blog with her new Travel Column. Debby is a non-fiction author who has received wonderful reviews for her inspirational memoirs. She also is a seasoned traveler and her book Have Bags Will Travel is packed with useful information and entertaining stories of her own adventures.

Last time Debby shared some important information on cruise lines, the various standards of cabins available, and the best place on the ship to be if the weather is a bit choppy.

You can read that post in the directory



Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips

In my first post in this series I covered what to look for when considering booking a cruise. Today I’m going to cover some of the activities available while on a cruise, and some tips on how to save money when booking those activities.

Packaged Deals

Many cruise lines offer package deals you can purchase pre-cruise or while onboard such as beverage packages. Yes, it’s true that soda pop, tea, coffee, and some juices are free to drink while onboard, but beer and alcohol, bottled water, specialty drinks and coffees, smoothies, etc. are not part of free.

If you’ve re-booked a cruise on a previous sailing or if you luck into a promo offer at the time of your booking, often cruise liners will offer you bonus incentives at bonus pricing. With Celebrity, their promos change often and depending when you book you will be offered to choose 2 or 3 packages to add on to your cruise FREE. The choices can be anywhere from a drink package (including alcohol), your tips paid for the entire cruise, a $200 – $300 onboard credit (my fav!), or free wifi (rare but I managed to catch one). So do make sure to check on the special offers to get the best bang for your bucks while booking. You can always book a drink package of your choice once onboard, but typically, you’ll get a better deal when pre-booking your packages.

Note: I highly recommend if you aren’t offered a free drink package, to buy one at a reasonable price comparatively to paying for each drink you consume on the whole cruise. Without a prepaid all you can drink package the price of alcoholic beverages and any specialty drinks can add up to well over $1000 if you’re taking a 2 week cruise. For example, premium bottled water will run you close to $4 a bottle. On a hot pool day I have no trouble drinking at least 6-8 bottles a day. And that’s not counting a specialty coffee in the afternoon and a cocktail or two before dinner then wine with dinner. I would have no problem spending at least $80 a day just in beverages!


When purchasing drinks, sundries or any other service related product while onboard, you just use your ship card to make those purchases. The card is your method of payment for anything purchased onboard without having to carry money around. When purchasing service related products, you can expect to see a service charge added to your bill if your purchase isn’t included in a package.

You will also be expected to leave tips at the end of your cruise to your cabin steward and restaurant staff who have served you nightly in the dining room. These tips are pre- calculated on a daily basis and will vary from ship to ship but will typically run at approximately $12 a day per person. This is where choosing the ‘tipping package’ will save you a few hundred dollars, already paid for. Some passengers get angry over this tipping charge and if you find it a problem, you can always go to the front concierge desk and ask them to remove the charges from your room bill. But I will state that the staffers work hard and many long hours daily, so my take is that it’s relatively cheap to tip those amounts compared to if you were to tip every single time you were served food or ordered a drink. . . Continue reading



Source: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The #Travel Column with D. G. Kaye – #Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting to Know You #Interview with D. G. Kaye | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting to Know You #Interview with D. G. Kaye



 I’m delighted to share my latest interview over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Invitation where Sally has kindly invited me over to reveal a few little known facts about me.


My guest today probably needs little introduction to most of you who are regulars to the blog. Debby Gies…D.G. Kaye is a very popular blogger and non-fiction author who generously supports us all across social media. We have been connected for nearly four years and that initial contact has turned into a friendship that is treasured. There is a lot of talk about online relationships not being as valid as offline friendships, but I disagree.

The wonder of our modern age is that when you meet someone like minded, who lives thousands of miles away, you can communicate both in writing and visually. Of course publicly on social media but also privately in direct messages, emails and face to face using Skype or similar.

For me that offers so many amazing ways to enjoy a friendship.


Now time to find out which of the questions Debby has chosen to respond to and more about her books later in the post.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

I love this question and love fashion. I’m very up to date on trends in fashion. I’ve been a fashionista since I was a young girl. That doesn’t mean that I would wear all the fashions I love, not everything looks good on everyone. There are plenty of styles and trends I adore, but know instinctively that not all styles are made for my body shape. Some trends are more suited toward a particular body type despite them being advertised in a wide array of sizes.

Fashion sense isn’t only about what’s on trend but being aware of what is stylish and knowing how to put ourselves together with what looks best on us. I’ve had several years of experience in the retail and wholesale end of the clothing business and besides what I learned in the biz, I am gifted with an eye for style. I have a style of my own. I wear what pleases me, and I look for styles that will accentuate my finer qualities and keep the eyes drawn off the maybe-not-so finer qualities. I’m often complimented on my outfits and flair for style. I love wearing bright and bold colors, which I can pull off with ease because I have a big personality that can carry it.

Sally here:  one of my favourite photos of Debby dressed for her Mexican vacation… fabulous. . . Continue reading






Source: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting to Know You #Interview with D. G. Kaye | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

Have you Heard of ‘Spresso’ Socks? – No, not the Coffee!

Healthy Tips for Your Legs

Healthy Tips


When my husband was in the hospital, a nurse had measured his legs – length, calf and ankle circumference, to fit him for what are named ’embolism prevention socks’. They look like white opaque thigh-high stockings that they put on him to to prevent blood clots from forming while lying in bed for extended amounts of time. I was already aware of the fact that sitting for a long time – particularly in a cramped airplane could promote a blood clot, but wasn’t aware that lying down for prolonged time could cause the same problem. But these particular stockings are for bedridden patients and those who are post surgery.


How do those stockings work to prevent blood clots or what is known as ‘deep vein thrombosis’?

The tightest part of the pressure begins at the ankle and lessens as the sock goes up. This is to keep the blood flowing back through the body to alleviate it from pooling around the legs. Blood has to work against gravity to flow back and circulate through the body. This is why the legs are measured – particularly focused on the ankle and calf to get the correct fitting stocking. These socks help reduce swelling in legs, help alleviate throb from painful varicose veins. It’s important that these stockings are fit correctly so they are not causing problems instead of alleviating them, this is why it’s important to measure ankle and calf circumference before purchasing. You can find more detailed information on how to use and measure compression socks HERE.

There are also various types of compression socks available that don’t go up to the thigh, but are more like a knee sock, or just over the knee. The older versions of these socks aren’t always beneficial because if they have bands at the top of the sock which counteracts the benefit of the compression with the easing of pressure as the sock gradually goes toward the knee. Many people wear these socks for traveling on airplanes, to alleviate edema in swollen legs, sitting for prolonged amounts of time even at home, pregnancy pressure on the legs, and even for standing long spans of time such as at work, hiking, or any other activity that keeps one of their feet for lengthy periods of time.


I had occasionally seen people wearing these types of socks. Some looked quite uncomfortable and not visually appealing, some looked like the band at the top were digging into the leg. And most of all these socks can be quite expensive, usually sold at a home care or medical supply stores, pharmacies or doctor’s offices. But ironically, after a few days of getting my husband home from hospital I was tuning into my local Shopping Channel station and they were advertising Spresso Socks as the special of the day for $29.99! Wow, that’s a deal, I was thinking. I continued to watch the show with the vast array of patterns and colors offered in these socks and then went onto the website to read reviews – I always read reviews before purchasing online, particularly for a new product.

The reviews were raving, and there were many of them. People have found those socks good for so many reasons, from using them for athletic sports to travel, to just sitting too much on their couches. And it got me thinking that perhaps I should get a pair myself to have on hand for my own next venture on an airplane and maybe even when I’m sitting on my computer for too many hours. I also thought I’d grab a few pairs for my hubby for his own long sits on his couch and just for everyday use.

Read more about Deep Vein Thrombosis and how to best avoid it from happening with compression socks HERE.

Read more about how compression socks work HERE.

From the time I drafted this post to posting, I received my purple Spresso socks. I love them. I tried them out one day while working at the computer for a few hours and I have to say after taking them off my legs felt refreshed. Now, I just have to get on an airplane and go somewhere!

Just Sayin’ – Get Your Best Deals When Purchasing Apps and Website Services

Get Your Best Deals When Purchasing Apps and Website Services


Just Sayin'

Today’s episode of Just Sayin’ focuses on how to get your best price when purchasing apps and programs to aid in your writing/editing, security and antivirus programs for your computers, and for website domains and services that apply to your websites.


We see ads all the time for something every time we open a web page it seems. Those are usually targeted ads that follow us after we’ve visited a website and showed interest in a certain product. I find those ads haunting and annoying. But there are plenty of ads for products we may find useful but may not be aware of –  apps or programs that can aid us in our writing, particularly, editing apps.  So today I’m going to share a few ways we can find those deals and cut costs for products we may find useful or may already be using for our websites which require annual renewals.


Let’s start with apps and programs for editing. There are numerous apps available for writers to download for free as well as offered paid versions. Grammarly, Hemmingway and Prowritingaid are just a few of many that all do basically the same thing and are all limited as to what you can do with the free versions. Free versions will do the job just fine for some but paid versions offer many more capabilities. Free versions in these types of programs will offer spell and grammar checks on our writing, but if you’re looking for more such as: style check, fragmented sentences, plagiarism checks, find passive words, adverbs, and many more, you may want to opt for the paid versions.


But I’m not here today to promote apps and programs, merely to share with you where you can get your best deals on such items.




If you’re a writer and like to keep up to date in the self-publishing world, there are many pioneers in our industry who offer email subscriptions to receive news, updates, conferences, podcasts, webinars, as well as promotions on products. Some of my favorites that I’ve been subscribed to for quite a few years now are: The Bookdesigner (Joel Friedman), Jane Friedman, The Publicity Hound (Joan Stewart),  StandoutBooks,    and Sacha Black, just to name a few.


I receive a few emails, some weekly and some monthly from these folks and that’s how I keep abreast of what’ going on, what’s upcoming and many times, what’s being offered free and/or on discount as far as writing and learning tools and courses, apps, plugins, and writers conferences.  Often one of these sites will offer a promotion or sale affiliated with another writer or programmer they are promoting offered at deep discount prices. In the past I’ve purchased author media kit templates from The Bookdesigner and joined in many free webinars to learn about a new product or program for writers. I’ve purchased lifetime licences for photo editing apps, a great savings on Prowritingaid for a 2 year licence when Standoutbooks featured them in one of their newsletters, and more things I can’t even remember.


My point is that by signing up for newsletters with reputable people who have good info to offer, it benefits us in more ways than one. Subscribing to worthy newsletters is like subscribing to an author’s newspaper. Stay up to date and keep in the know of what’s being offered at discount prices.


Auto-Renew Caveats


Many of us use products to maintain our websites and at the very least use antivirus or malware protection products. Once you’ve signed up for and/or downloaded these products there always seems to be a spot where you can click on to auto-renew for when the product expires in case you forget. Often a supplier has auto-renew automatically and conveniently ticked off for you, this is important to have a look at and if you find it’s so, uncheck it. Don’t worry that if you don’t check this option you may forget when it’s time to renew. That’s not going to happen because the supplier won’t let you forget. They don’t want to lose you so you will receive plenty of emails in advance of your expiring product reminding you to renew.


But why not auto-renew? Because several products you may have initially bought at an introductory price, and the renewal rate is going to be higher. Or maybe just popularity, demand or greed sets in and that too raises the price. A great example of this is: Say you went self-hosted and purchased your domain as a first-time customer and paid $5.99 for the year, that a great deal!  But when renewal time comes along that same domain could cost you $30. I know, because I’m self-hosted. So, no thanks! I’m not auto-renewing, I’m doing my homework.


All webhost sites offer promotions on all their products from domain names to security applications to webhosting. Many times you don’t even have to go their site to find them. THEY WILL EMAIL YOU. Every year my website comes up for renewal, about a month or so before I begin receiving many email offers from my webhosting offering discounts on products from 20-40% off! Often those promos don’t apply to ‘existing products you’re already using’. And if that’s the case, I call them direct for my renewals and usually ask them to cut me some slack on the price because I’m an existing, repeat customer, and I may happen to mention,  ‘a struggling author’. Trust me it works! And if you renew for more than one year on your product the savings get bigger.


The same procedures as listed above apply to antivirus and malware products. Don’t auto-renew. Check their website for deals or call the company and ask if they’re running any promotions for that product for you to have incentive to stay with them. Check online at your local Staples, Best Buy or Office Depot store for sales on those products. Every week there’s usually a sale on antivirus products from one company to another and you don’t even have to go out to buy it, you can download it from the comfort of your own home. Do your homework!


I hope I’ve given you some good ideas on how go about getting your best deals on products that are necessary to our writing lives and a few that make our lives easier.

Just Sayin’ – Have You Had a Bad Experience with a Service bought through Groupon?

Beware Prices that Look too Good


Just Sayin'

Today’s episode of Just Sayin’ is a little different in that I’m going to share my recent experience using a Groupon certificate.


A few weeks ago it was my birthday and my lovely cousin/friend Cousin D, suggested we were both long overdue to have a massage. We had talked about going to a ‘real’ spa for a treat but time and money factored in and when I suggested to D that we should look on Groupon for discounts to spas and found a few, she offered to pay for mine as a birthday gift and we’d go together. The one we chose was not far from where we live and we got to choose which type of massage we wanted for 45 minutes plus an additional 30 minute foot massage. Sounded heavenly, but was more hellish.


I did what I thought was my due diligence in reading the many reviews saying how wonderful their experiences were at the massage salon and the photos seemed like it was indeed a nice spa-like atmosphere. Its location and address is in a busy, thriving neighborhood, and the half price deal through Groupon was tempting at $60 a person, so D purchased the certificates.


D asked me to call and book our massages. The Asian girl who answered the phone had a difficult time understanding me. I was asking to book on the coming Saturday and she managed to tell me that I could come at 10am or 5pm. As those weren’t my ideal times to go, I proceeded to ask her about the following Saturday (almost 2 weeks in advance) and she gave me the same time availabilities. By then I caught the drift. I asked her if by any chance if those were the only available times on Saturdays for Groupon certificate holders, and she chuckled and said yes. After asking her why she didn’t just tell me that from the beginning and having to explain what I had just said 3 times I went onto the next topic of asking if they are registered massage therapists and could get a receipt back to claim back from insurance. she said yes. Then I proceeded to try and book. I didn’t have the voucher numbers, D did, so after 20 wasted minutes on the phone I couldn’t book. So D called them back with the numbers.


This past Saturday, D and I went for our massages. We were given the address which was located on a busy street in a retail plaza but when we got there, found the place was around the back of the building with no signage in front. I was already leery,


We walked into the small salon  and had to fill out a lame form. I’m saying lame because I’ve had hundreds of professional massages through the years from a woman whose house I used to go privately to spas through my travels and no matter where I’ve gone, the first visit they normally have me fill out a form asking about health questions, issues why I am having the massage, any medications I’m on, a few more usual things and then sign a disclaimer. This form basically asked for name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, and occupation. I didn’t bother filling in the last two. And found out there was not going to be any type of receipt that could be used to claim back from insurance.


The older Asian woman at the desk in the tiny reception area proceeded to ask us what type of massage we wanted, offering a variety of choices from deep tissue to hot stone and about 5 more in between. The place was deserted so I asked her which masseuse specialist is on duty for that time and what does she specialize in. She responded by telling me her masseuses do every kind of massage. I smelled a rat. I’ve been at enough spas to know that when there are several types of massage offered there are several masseuses because they all specialize in one or two types of massage. I normally love a hot stone massage, but have had a few crappy ones in my lifetime and really needed my neck and shoulder worked on with deep massage so I opted for that.


The reception lady asked us if we wanted to go separately in rooms or have a couple’s room, which we opted for to enjoy together.  After we were instructed to get undressed down to our underwear and hop on to the tables, within a few minutes 2 young Asian girls came in. I was to have the deep tissue massage and D was have Shiatzu, only the 2 girls seemed confused as to who was having what and stood there for about 5 minutes chatting in their language before they each chose one of us to work on.


The massage part before the foot massage was to be 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into what was supposed to be my massage she was still warming up my body with the blanket on, rubbing my back in one spot as mother would rub a child’s back. I began getting tenser by the moment with displeasure. I finally lifted my head and asked her when she was going to start the massage and was she going to take off the blanket and use some oil. She chuckled that innocent little girl ‘oh yes’ chuckle and began rubbing my back in the same spot and method she had done with the blanket. Again I lifted my head, trying my best to not scream and with disciplined and forced patience I reminded her I came for a deep massage not a pat on the back. She began jabbing her elbows into my spine, certainly not a spot that felt good and didn’t bother to move her hands around to feel where the tight spots were. After several loud bursts of ‘ouch’ from me from her continuous elbowing my spine I snapped.


I wrapped the blanket around myself and sat up and pointedly told her that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. My cousin knew my patience had worn thin and I didn’t hear her moaning of any pleasure herself without having to tell her girl where to massage and repeated requests of asking for some pressure, but at least she was having some sort of massage.


Cousin D’s masseuse began speaking in her language to mine and my girl walked out. For another 5 minutes I just sat there and told D this was ridiculous and I’m getting dressed and waiting in the car. In that moment, an Asian MAN walks in our room, introduces himself as the manager and asks me what the problem is. I recapped the experience to him but I couldn’t make out much of what he said other than he’ll send in another girl and add back 15 minutes of time. By that time, the FULL BODY massage I’d paid for 45 minutes was well into half hour passed and the first girl had barely massaged only 1/4 of my lower back, hadn’t even touched shoulders or neck. The new young girl proceeded to start over with the ‘warm up’ and I told her to get moving with the real massage. By that time I was so tense from frustration and wanting to slap them all in the head that it would have taken a good masseuse to make me unwind. But no such luck.


I told her to work on my neck and shoulders, but she never once addressed any of the knotted tension spots on my upper back and never touched my neck where my tension is always held and was ready to combust. She then moved down to my calves, not massaging them but merely making a semi circle with 2 fingers on each hand and running her hand up and down my calves for about 30 seconds. And then she proceeded to attempt to give me a foot massage. She bent back my toes then pulled each one in succession and began Karate chopping my calves for another few seconds then asked me to turn over so she could do my arms (after reminding her she hadn’t yet touched them).


During this time my cousin’s massage was still ongoing and I could hear her pleasureful moans as her foot rub continued for some time. When my girl barely touched my forearms and hands for a few minutes I asked her if that toe rubbing thing she did on me was my foot massage, she chuckled with her naive laugh and said yes. In that moment my cousin’s timer went off, indicating her massage had come to an end and my girl put the blanket on me and informed me I was done too.


That was it! I darted up from the table and my anger and frustration was unleashed. I asked her how could my massage be over when my cousin and I started together and I’d lost nearly half an hour of nonsense no massage and waiting for another girl, and I was to have time lost made up. And then I blasted her for rubbing and pulling my toes for 2 minutes and telling me that was a half hour foot massage. I asked her if a foot massage was supposed to feel good because I wouldn’t know it. I told her that nobody knows what they’re doing in that place and it was the worst massage I’ve ever had in my life with not one but 2 girls. I continued to mutter my frustrations under my breath as I scurried to get the hell out of that room. My cousin followed not saying a word and I had no words left to say or I was going to scream at the top of my lungs at the disgusting, unqualified service they offered.


The woman at the desk proceeded to inform us we could leave a tip. I looked at her with death eyes and said in shouting voice “Are you kidding me????” I stormed out the door shouting out loud all the way to the car how horrendous that place was.


Lessons I learned:


  • Groupon reviews I read must have been bogus
  • When calling to book an appointment somewhere and communication isn’t understood with a receptionist, it’s a big indicator of worse things to come.
  • When you’re not asked at booking time what type of massage you are booking, it’s another indicator you’ll be getting a Jill of all trades, or maybe of none.
  • All signs that lead to misunderstood conversations and disorganization are a certainty for disappointment.


I will add after relaying my ungratifying massage situation to my sister, she informed me Groupon had tried to get her business to sign up with them to bring her more business. After she investigated how beneficial it would have been for her business – giving away car cleaning services for half price and minimal cash back from Groupon she declined to be part of it claiming it was an option for them to make money, rather  than for her as she’d be giving away labor-intensive work time to hope she gets a few more customers from it.


It’s possible that some of the Groupon certificates may be worthwhile such as certificates for discounts in restaurant or entertainment but I highly recommend reading the small print for services, and I’d call the business to inquire before purchasing vouchers.. Often there are many exclusions and inclusions that must be adhered to in order to get the benefit from the coupon.

Just Sayin’ – Part 2- Getting the Best Price in Department Stores

Taking Advantage of Department Store Sales

Just Sayin'


                                                                      Department Store Sales Tips


Welcome to Part 2 of my economical shopping tips. Today I’ll be talking about how I get the best deals when it comes to shopping in department stores.


How many times have you gone shopping for something in a department store randomly just to browse and maybe discover an item you wanted to buy, or purposely set out to purchase a particular item and perhaps that item wasn’t on sale? Did the fact that it may not have been on sale deter your from buying it? Or do you only wait for sales before you decide to buy? Well today I’m going to share a few smart shopping habits I’ve developed through the years to ensure I’m getting the best price for my purchases.


I’m not going to pretend that I’m the most frugal person on the planet, but when it comes to shopping for fashion and beauty items I don’t appreciate being a ripped off consumer when I purchase something only to find it’s on sale the following day or week. So I feel as though it’s my duty to keep on top of sales.

I do love to shop and keep on top of fashion trends and keep an eye on items that spark my fancy.  This may be just window shopping or checking things out online and it doesn’t mean every time I do so I’m buying, but I’m observing and making note of items I may like to purchase if they go on sale. And as it turns out, in most departments stores the likelihood of an item I have my eye on does eventually go on sale.


Department stores such as Macy’s and Lord and Taylor in the U.S. and here in Canada, our Hudson’s Bay (a.k.a. The Bay) use a rotating cycle  for their sales. These stores run what’s known as ‘The weekend sale” every weekend, and often other sales are run intermittently such as a flash sale (one day only), holiday sales, seasonal sales, where merchandise maybe be offered from 20 – 40% off for a time limit, as well as bonus sales for members who have and use their loyalty membership card for purchase.

It’s a huge marketing game, and if you keep track of these sales you’ll become more aware of how often the sale prices will rotate on particular items and brands weekly. For example, I love my Hudson’s Bay department store and buy most of my household small appliances, clothing and shoes from there. I have my favorite clothing and shoe brands and I often receive advance sale notice by email offering extra discounts for upcoming sales, or I’ll go to their website anywhere from Thursday night after midnight through Sunday to check out their weekend sale and have a look at the weekly flyer to check if there’s anything I’ve been eyeing that will be on sale.

Every week certain brand items will be on featured sale, offered at anywhere from 25 to 40% off regular price. If something I’ve been keeping an eye on happens to go on sale, I just might be inclined to order it at a tempting price. I’ve come to learn that each weekend sale, a group of clothing brands will be on sale and the following week another group will be on sale, and so on, learning that if an item I’ve been wanting isn’t on sale one week, it will more than likely go on sale the following week or perhaps the week after.


You may be thinking, what if you need that item today or for an upcoming occasion and you don’t want to take a chance that by the time it goes on sale they may be sold out of your size or perhaps completely out of stock. Here’s my advice: Buy it and keep your receipt.

I’ll admit that years ago I used to frown upon chronic ‘returners’ of merchandise until I realized how much money I could save becoming one of those people myself.


[bctt tweet=”Did you know you can return merchandise without returning it to get a rebate? It’s called price adjustment. ” username=”pokercubster”]


  • Most stores have a deadline for returning merchandise and limits will vary by store. For the purposes of explaining how it works I’ll talk about The Bay here in Canada. The Bay offers a 30 day return policy for merchandise not purchased with a department store credit card and 90 days returns for those with the card. Of course there are time limit exceptions on bigger ticket item purchases such as furniture, appliances and jewelry where you may only have 2 weeks to a month for returns, but basically, this is a generous amount of time to be able to return items.


  • But why would I want to return an item? Here’s the deal – keep that receipt. All merchandise may be ‘price adjusted’ within 7 days of purchase. So let’s say I purchased something at full price (rare, but it happens) and the following weekend it becomes 30 or 40% off. You can count on me doing a price check on an item I recently bought and if it’s on sale the following week, I’ll be dashing to my nearest Bay with my receipt for a price adjustment, money credited back to my account if the item goes on sale within 7 days. I’m not really returning the item but I’ll need my receipt for proof of purchase to credit back the difference to my account. I can pretty much predict that the shirt or pants I purchased the week before not on sale then, will be on sale the following week, and if not, almost certain it will be the following week.


  • But what if that item I bought doesn’t go on sale until 2 or 3 weeks later? Let me preface by saying that I do have a knack for knowing what a popular item is and I’m a great predictor of knowing a certain item won’t be around for a long time. Those circumstances may give me reason to purchase at full price because if I wait for a sale they may be sold out. That said, I will purchase the item and not wear it, keeping the tags on awaiting to ‘return’ it. If I anticipate that item I’ve purchased will be on a sale within the next few weeks and the 7 day price adjustment period has passed, and it finally does go on sale, I return it. After the return transaction, I tell the clerk I’d now like to re-purchase that same item. It’s legal and once you’ve returned it for a refund, it automatically goes back on sale for whatever the sale price is that day. Someone’s going to buy it, so why not me rebuying at a better price? The money is better in my pocket right?


  • Beware: If you’re a last minute shopper and buy that dress days before the event you want to wear it, if it doesn’t go on sale within 7 days to adjust your receipt and it does the following week after you’ve worn it – tags off – you’ll be out of luck for the return and re-buy.


  • Things to keep in mind:  If you plan ahead for occasions you know you’ll be needing a new blouse or outfit for eventually and purchase that item in well-planned time, this will give you time to let it stay unworn with tags still on and eligible for it to go on sale before the time comes you have to wear it. Remember, if you’re going to do a return, the tags must still be attached to the merchandise and not worn. This is why it pays to plan ahead and purchase ahead of time for upcoming events.




  • If you can wait for an item to go on sale, do so.

  • If you can’t wait and purchase an item, make sure to check the following weekend sale to see if your purchased item is on sale to obtain a price adjustment.

  • If you buy something you love not on sale try not to wear the item for a week or two to see if it goes on sale so you can return and re-purchase.

  • For items you know you will be needing, such as a dress for a special occasion, buy it within the month in advance of the event even if it’s not on sale and most likely before the month passes it will go on sale where you can return and re-buy it.


Happy shopping!!