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Cameras in a plastic surgeon’s office: The Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

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Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Cameras in plastic surgeon’s office

It’s probably safe to say that most people expect total privacy when they walk into the treatment room at their doctor’s office. But our latest investigation reveals a Toronto plastic surgeon may be filming his patients without telling them

We discovered the security cameras during our report on the marketing practices associated with breast augmentation, when we noticed them on the ceiling of a closed-door consultation room at the Toronto Cosmetic Surgery Institute, owned by Dr. Martin Jugenburg.

Watch: Plastic surgeon may be filming without patients’ consent

Dude, where’s my truck?

More thieves are eyeing your vehicle, especially if you drive a Ford F350. The truck is Canada’s most frequently stolen vehicle, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s annual list.

Auto theft in general is up six per cent across the country, with the highest increases in New Brunswick, up 28 per cent, and Ontario, up 15 per cent.

To minimize the chances of becoming a victim, IBC recommends parking in well-lit areas, ideally in a garage, leaving your keys or key fobs unattended or leaving valuables visible on the seats.

The Ford F350 pickup truck is Canada’s most frequently stolen vehicle, according to data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. (Ford)

Paying for worthless extended warranties

Sears Canada went out of business, but former customers are still paying for extended warranties. What happens if they refuse to pay? A call from debt collectors. Sears previously told CBC News that customers would be refunded the cost of the extended warranties at the end of their financing term. But Scotiabank, which now owns the Sears credit card accounts, is threatening to send customers’ accounts to collections.

A spokesperson from Scotiabank said customers will have to resolve the issue of extended warranties directly with Sears. But customers can’t reach anyone at Sears now that the company is liquidating. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Is Air Canada lying to you?

Have you ever lost your luggage on an international flight? You may not know the airline can be held liable for damages up to $2,100. A recent CBC Go Public investigation found Air Canada isn’t relaying that message to passengers. A passenger rights advocate says Air Canada is able to mislead customers about compensation because the Canadian Transportation Agency hasn’t issued punitive fines.

Air Canada says it handles about 115,000 bags per day. A passenger rights advocate says Air Canada is able to mislead customers about compensation for lost luggage because the Canadian Transportation Agency hasn’t issued punitive fines. (John Li/Getty Images)

Making training mandatory for semi drivers

If semi-trailer trucks make you afraid to drive on the highway, you’re not alone. Many Canadians are fed up with the lack of semi driver training, and more than 1,200 people are petitioning the federal government to make it mandatory. Our investigation revealed how Canada’s patchwork training and testing system leaves some new truck drivers ill-prepared to operate big rigs.

The cab of a semi-trailer shows damage after a crash. Experts are calling for the federal government to take over semi-trailer truck driver training and make it mandatory. (Saskatchewan RCMP)

Some Kotex tampons recalled after injuries

If you’re stocked with Kotex tampons, you might want to check the label. U by Kotex Sleek tampons have been recalled in Canada and the U.S. after reports of the tampons coming apart while being removed. The American company says that in some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Kimberly-Clark has recalled regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek tampons that were sold in Canada and the United States. (Kimberly-Clark )

What else is going on?

More Canadians are refusing to use self-checkout machines and say “they kill jobs.” Many major retailers offer a mix of cashiers and self-checkout, but that could shift as some experiment with a cashier-less format.

A new survey suggests “unprecedented” drug shortages affecting many Canadians. The Canadian Pharmacists Association is worried the shortage might result in patients turning to unregulated suppliers on the internet.

Modern laundromats are capitalizing on the app-based service economy.WashOut laundromat wants to be “the SkipTheDishes of laundry,” charging $30 per load for someone to pick up their laundry from their home, wash, dry and fold it, and deliver it 24 hours later.

This week in recalls

This thermostat could pose a fire hazard; this dishwasher powder doesn’t comply with Canadian packaging and labelling regulations; this lockset could fail to open, posing an entrapment hazard; this foam cleaner doesn’t have the proper consumer chemical hazard labelling; this Dell adapter could pose a risk of electric shock; these glass knobs could shatter when pulled, posing a laceration hazard.

Marketplace wants to hear from you

We want to hear about your experience with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb as a guest, host or neighbour. While we know these platforms are international, we are focusing on Canadian stories right now.

It’s shopping season and we need your help. We’re on the hunt for Canada’s Worst Sale! Ever spotted a sale price higher than the original price? Items on sale all out of stock? Does the company use their pricing to make you believe you’re getting a better deal than you actually are? We want to hear about it!

You know those DNA tests? Ever order one online and get unexpected results? We want to hear about it.

To let us know about these or any other stories, send us a message at marketplace@cbc.ca.

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Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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