Buy American!

Now how is that for an inflammatory headline?  I’m sure it will make some people angry – and it should.

Why would a loyal, patriotic Canadian like me say “Buy American!”

Well this article has been kicking around in my mind for years.  I’ve wondered if I should actually write this.  Obviously after a lot of pondering I have.

Here in Canada we get screwed by our retailers and service providers.  Now I’ll admit that some of them offer genuinely good deals.  Lots of them, perhaps even most – I haven’t surveyed them all – do not.

Think about your cable TV package.  You sign up at Shaw or Rogers or Bell and you are given tiers or smaller packages of channels.  Say you want A&E and AMC but to get them you have to purchase a couple of packages at $10 each a month.  Now you’re spending $20 a month for 2 channels.  What the fuck?  The Federal Government mandated some choice for us wee citizens and new skinny packages were announced.  I really wanted a la carte but that never happened.  I checked out these packages and it was mostly just a bunch of CTV channels, CBC, and a couple other pieces of crap for $30 or so.  Basically you got 5 distinct channels or so.

Was it just my cable provider?  No.  I finished my phone contract last fall.   I paid $45 a month for 400 minutes and 400 MB of data.  At the time it seemed like an OK deal by Canadian standards.  Yet in the United States people are offered heavy competition with $37 a month for unlimited data.  Say it with me – what the fuck?!  You, me, and every other Canadian is getting ripped off by our wireless carriers.  They are sucking us dry like leeches.

A few months ago I read an article on using coupons for getting major discounts in stores.  It was an American article but I figured why not see what Canadian retailers have to offer.  I spent 3 weeks tracking down coupons and figuring this out.  Let me tell you this.  Where Americans can actually get money back from stores for using coupons we can, at best, knock just a few dollars off mostly obscure products.  In fact, we are offered very few coupons and most really are garbage.

Oh I’m not done yet.

A couple of years ago I needed to buy underwear.  I went to The Bay and grabbed a box of Calvin Klein’s.  I like them because they are comfortable and well made.  The box’s price was $32 and change.  That was a little much for me.  I mean, its good underwear and what I wanted but $32?!  Again, what the fuck?  I went online and found American companies that sold the same underwear with Canadian pricing for $22 and if you bought over $50 of goods they gave you free shipping.  Something else.  The Bay did not accept returns on underwear – all sales were final.  The US companies did accept returns and provided you with a postage paid envelop to send stuff back.

However, the last example is probably the most outright evil.  Yes, I said evil.  A month ago a popular grocer had a 2 for 1 special on several in-store items.  Now I love bacon on my weekend mornings and they had bacon with a 2 for 1 or buy one, get one free sale.  Hurrah!  I stopped in on my weekly shopping knowing that this bacon, the last time I bought it was $4.79 for a 375g package.  When I got there it was $7.99.  I actually said what the fuck?!  People heard me.  A few heads turned and I noticed that no one was giving me a scowl.  Instead they had likely all come here for the bacon too and had the same reaction.  I just happened vocalized it.

If you have ever shopped in the US for groceries or just food you know that food down there is dirt cheap.  They aren’t fucking you like our retailers fuck us.  Hey, think I’m pulling your leg?  Just compare the price of gasoline.  Even with the dollar difference most things are still better priced in the US.

My advice is that when possible you should buy American and tell your retailers and service providers, wherever possible, the reason.  Hey The Bay I am buying clothes online from the US because even with the dollar difference they are way cheaper.  Sorry Chapters but Amazon.ca has books way cheaper than you – its the same god damn book assholes and yet you make me pay $14 more for it!  Maybe if we all did this our retailers and service providers would start to respect our power as consumers and say – shit, the gravy train just pulled out of the station and it aint coming back.

My dear retailers you run buy local campaigns and you appeal to patriotism and make people feel guilty for buying American and cross border shopping.  Just because I am a Canadian doesn’t mean you have a license to rip me off.  If anything Canadian retailers and service providers should be stepping up to ensure that they are being competitive with American retailers and service providers.

On a side note I work for a small company and we sell mostly to Americans.  I’m proud of where I work and I chose to work where I am because we’re one of the good ones.  We offer a service that is priced to American standards!  We compete.  We’re the example other Canadian firms should be looking at.

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