New milestone: 10,000 comments at my blog

March 3 2013 by Ellen Roseman

When I started this blog, I hoped to write new posts at least once a week. This is post #382 in 310 weeks (about six years), showing I surpassed my admittedly modest goal.

I also have 9,950 comments posted here. The 10,000 milestone approaches this month.

Of course, that’s a fraction of the feedback at other sites, such as the Smitten Kitchen blog, where Deb Perelman answers readers’ cooking questions and has 150,000 comments.

Your comments add great value to my website. You share your experiences and tips. You guide each other on how to resolve problems and reach key executives. It’s self-help to the 10,000th degree.

Employees of the companies I write about leave comments too, apologizing for poor service and decrying the constraints within which they operate. See what Gary says, for example, at the end of this Home Depot post (comment #106, Feb. 26, 2013).

Thanks to everyone for sending me your questions, opinions and stories. Your input helps me stay on top of the trends.

I’m doing lots of publicity for my book, Fight Back. Here are some recent highlights.

On Feb. 22, I was interviewed by Amanda Lang and Rudyard Griffiths on the Lang and O’Leary Exchange on CBC TV. Co-host Kevin O’Leary was off that day.

On Feb. 23, I appeared on Fresh Air, a CBC radio weekend show, hosted by Mary Ito.

On Feb. 28, I answered readers’ questions on Ontario Today, a CBC Radio noontime show. One caller talked about how I’d helped get Enbridge Gas to compensate him after ruining his front porch stairs.

On March 2, I spoke at the Revue Cinema, which is operated by a non-profit community group. My PowerPoint presentation looked great on a movie screen.

On March 5, Globe and Mail columnist Rob Carrick and I will talk to the Credit Association of Greater Toronto, an industry group, about the use of credit scores to set rates for credit cards and lines of credit.

And on March 11, I’ll speak to the Toronto Dollar Supper Club about fighting back. The dinner ($30) is open to anyone who wants to attend.

I also want to mention FAIR Canada, the investor advocacy group that wrote a great report on putting clients’ interests first. Check out their Investor Resources section here. I’m on the board and recently became the chair.

Since RRSP sales season just ended on March 1, I’m posting a few comments from readers about their investing experiences below.

11 comments

  1. Philip Koning

    Mar 3 2013

    Congratulations Ellen, Your milestone and record is impressive, but even more impressive is the fact you took the time to read and comment on a post by a brand new blogger. You are a totally class act and rank at the top of a crowded field.

  2. ML

    Mar 3 2013

    I want to move my money out of Investors Group. I find the investment advisers are not well trained and often give me misinformation when I ask questions.

    Some of their mistakes:

    1) Wrong information on in-kind transfers from non-registered funds to RRSP (they made this mistake twice).

    2) Wrong information on my ability to make fee-free withdrawals from mutual funds.

    The know your client form or KYC form should be done together with the investor. On one occasion, they sent me a KYC form and covering letter with all the answers filled in.

    Their position is that I refused to meet with the consultant and I was supposed to make any necessary changes to the form to update it.

    I would have moved sooner, but all my money is in mutual funds with deferred sales charge fees (DSC). I don’t want to leave until I can get my money out fee-free.

    Investors Group has three ways to discourage people from taking their business elsewhere or withdrawing funds, regardless of the service or results.

    1) They justify pushing funds with DSC fees for anyone saving for retirement who has a 10-year horizon.

    2) They prohibit the in-kind transfer of IG funds to a non-IG dealer, while they push IG funds.

    3) They have very tight restrictions on fee-free withdrawals. Meanwhile, other investment firms provide much more flexibility to draw down or transfer 10 per cent of your investment per year fee-free.

  3. CM

    Mar 3 2013

    I’m 64 years old and on long term disability. My husband is 67 and retired.

    We arrived in Canada in 1988, so we’re not entitled to the full CPP and Old Age Security. When I retire in 2014, I’ll get $700, more or less. My husband is receiving $1,903, including his company pension.

    We have $90,000 in RRSPs. My husband has a $114,000 annuity and I have a $50,000 annuity.

    Six years ago, a financial advisor from Industrial Alliance Pacific turned our finances upside down. He withdrew some of our RRSPs and invested in life insurance – a total of 16 policies, 8 for each of us.

    We had to pay $90,000 yearly, on average, to support the insurance. This was impossible for us with an income of $117,000 a year.

    So we stopped paying for the insurance and lost about $140,000 of our RRSPs. This was a big loss, considering our age.

    When we asked why he did that to us, here’s what he said: If we didn’t have RRSPs in the future, we would receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement from the government.

    We contacted the Ombudsman at IA Pacific, explaining the situation, Here was their solution: They would designate the financial advisor’s wife to serve us.

    A real conflict of interest… we felt powerless!

  4. MP

    Mar 3 2013

    I was deceived by a financial planner. I clearly and repeatedly told him NOT TO INVEST IN ANY TRANSACTIONS THAT HAD deferred sales charges attached to them, since I had already had experienced that type of investment.

    After I contacted the company’s claims department, they agreed to reimburse me for the money charged through deferred sales charges, since I had explicitly told the advisor not to make any more purchases of that nature.

  5. bylo selhi

    Mar 4 2013

    Congratulations Ellen! You are truly a national treasure in educating Canadians about consumer affairs and finance, and for helping them to resolve issues with businesses.

  6. Ellen Roseman

    Mar 4 2013

    Thanks, Bylo. You were one of my first supporters when I started the blog. Glad you stayed with me.

    Thanks, too, Philip. Best of luck with your blog. Hope you keep it going a long time.

    We’re lucky in Canada to have such a vibrant group of personal finance bloggers. It’s a great counterweight to the financial industry’s self-interested articles and market research.

  7. Promod Sharma | @riscario

    Mar 6 2013

    Congratulations on your blogging milestone, Ellen! You were an early adopter.

    Congratulations also on becoming the Chair of FAIR. That’s a valuable group with a great name.

    PS When I started blogging in 2007, I was delighted when you added me to your blog roll. Getting recognized by a “real” writer was a nice confidence booster.

  8. My Own Advisor

    Mar 28 2013

    GREAT work Ellen!

    I’m a fan of your site and helping the every-man and every-woman with their consumer issues. You definitely have Canadians’ financial interests and concerns at heart.

    Continued success for the future!

    I will highlight this milestone in my Weekend Reading update to be published tonight.

    Take good care and Happy Easter,
    Mark

  9. Rhea and Mike

    Apr 7 2013

    Hi Ellen,

    Thanks for your great work. My husband and I are having huge problems with Air Canada. My husband was flying to Ottawa to present to a conference. When he booked the original flight he made an error. Instead of booking the flight from Toronto-Ottawa (then returning the same day), he booked a return flight from Ottawa-Toronto. He didn’t realize the error until the day before. He called Air Canada, expecting and very willing to pay some kind of change fee, but instead was told that he would have to purchase a full fare ticket (as well as pay a change fee!). He did not want to let down the people expecting him, so paid the fees on our personal credit card, as he did not feel it was fair for the conference to fund the charges caused by his error. We fully expected that Air Canada would be reasonable and refund some of the money paid as we are very long-time air Canada customers and my husband flies with them so much he has their Elite flying status for frequent flyers.

    We immediately left messages with Air Canada, both through messaging their facebook page, and through escalating to a manager at their reservations line. Everyone refused to help us in any way, saying the rules were the rules and we had to pay the full fare. Oddly enough, if ends up that if my husband had realized his error and called to re-book the day of the flight, he could have changed flights for just the change fee cost, but because he called the day before, he had to pay both the change fee and hundreds of dollars more!

    We also left a message for Air Canada customer service March 19 (attached to this email) but have heard nothing back.

    The details in terms of costs are below:
    Original Fare= $332 (plus taxes)
    Revised fare=$664
    Fare difference 332.00 (this is what we had to pay) PLUS $40.86 HST
    We then had to pay a change fee for $100 PLUS HST on the change fee of $13.
    Total additional fees were!!!!!!! 486.86

    I would like to stress that we would have expected to pay some kind of change fee for this. However, charging a long time faithful customer almost $500 due to a simple human error seems like very poor customer service. Does anyone have any ideas about how to reach a real human being at Air Canada who might help?

    Mike and Rhea