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October 16, 2017

Thanks for Nothing, Bass Pro Shops

Filed under: Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:34 am

Ron H., a regular Mouse Print* reader, recently told us about a pricing problem he experienced in Las Vegas at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store there.

His wife spied a bargain on a nice sweater as a gift for their son.

sweater

clearance sweater

*MOUSE PRINT:

The price tag indicated that the sweater was on clearance for $59.95, marked down from… $59.95! Wow, what a savings.

Back in their hotel room, Ron’s wife was curious to know how much they really saved on the sweater, so she peeled back the clearance tag to the see the real regular price.

*MOUSE PRINT:

peeled back price

To her shock, the regular price was $39.49 — over $20 LESS than the so called clearance price. The couple marched back to the store to speak to the manager. They were denied that request, but were given back the difference in price.

The customer service person said that this was a pricing mistake at the warehouse. Being the suspicious Mouse Print* reader that he is, Ron checked some other clearance items before leaving the store. Sure enough, he found other examples of inflated “clearance” price stickers put over lower regular prices.

For that, Bass Pro Shops, we say thanks for nothing.

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October 9, 2017

FDA to Manufacturer: If You Make a Product with Love, Don’t Advertise It

Filed under: Business,Food/Groceries,Health,Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

Some federal agencies have been subjected to criticism lately that they are not policing the marketplace as much as they did in the past to protect consumers. For example, Bloomberg reported two weeks ago that the Food and Drug Administration was sending 30 percent fewer warning letters to companies about serious health and safety violations than they did every year since 2008.

Now comes news that in September, the FDA sent a warning letter to Nashoba Brook Bakery in Massachusetts alleging serious violations discovered when it spent three days inspecting their manufacturing facility.

FDA warning letter

Besides citing instances of unsanitary conditions that inspectors discovered, it noted a serious labeling violation on packages of Nashoba Granola.

Nashoba granola

*MOUSE PRINT:

Love ingredient

Love ingredient

Yes, dear friends, Nashoba Brook Bakery was charged with selling misbranded products because they creatively made their granola with “love” and included that on the label.

John Gates, the CEO of the bakery, explained to Mouse Print* that while they will remedy the sanitary deficiencies cited by the FDA, “we will continue to put care, attention, passion and LOVE at the center of what we do. That’s who we are and who we want to be.”

We say the FDA should concentrate on real health and safety violations like the other findings in their letter. But, have a little heart (and common sense) when it comes to unofficial ingredients like love.

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October 2, 2017

T-Mobile Advertises: Ditch Verizon, Keep Your Phone ???

Filed under: Retail,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Over the past few months, T-Mobile has been advertising that you can bring your Verizon cellphone to T-Mobile if you switch to them. Here’s one commercial with the offer:

If you know anything about how cellphones transmit your calls and data, their offer might sound impossible because the two companies use two different and incompatible technologies to accomplish those tasks. Verizon uses CDMA and T-Mobile relies on GSM radio waves to work.

So how can T-Mobile make this claim?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ditch Verizon, Keep Your Phone

Certain phones are dual-network capable. They have both technologies built-in so they can work on either network. But the number of Verizon-branded phones that can be brought from that CDMA provider to a GSM provider is very limited — Google Pixel and iPhone 6S or newer only — as noted in the fine print of the T-Mobile ad.

Apple iPhones account for only about one-third of the market and newer models can be used on both Verizon and T-Mobile. But market-leading Android phones generally cannot. AT&T phones, incidentally, are generally interchangeable with T-Mobile phones because they are both on the GSM system.

So, if you think you can take your old Verizon phone to T-Mobile, chances are you cannot.

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September 25, 2017

LifeLock Capitalizing on Equifax Breach, But Has a Secret!

Filed under: Finance,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

LifeLock, which for years has touted its identity theft services, is doing big business in the wake of the Equifax data breach. And they are not shy about capitalizing on Equifax’s woes.

Lifelock

But as first reported by the L.A. Times, LifeLock has a little secret buried in its terms and conditions:

“You consent and authorize LifeLock and its Service Providers, including but not limited to Equifax, to access your personal credit information in order to (i) confirm your identity, (ii) display your credit data to you related to your use and enjoyment of the product and (iii) provide your Equifax credit data to LifeLock so that LifeLock may create and deliver to you, certain fraud alert products.” [color added for emphasis]

That’s right, LifeLock buys some of its services from Equifax, the very company that had a breach that LifeLock’s protection services are trying to alert you about.

The L.A. Times story also notes that LifeLock may share personal information with Equifax including information not normally found in Equifax’s files such as your driver’s license number, passport number, and your email address.

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September 18, 2017

Is It a Feature Story or a Commercial?

Filed under: Business,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:50 am

On September 6, Inside Edition ran a story during their daily program where a dermatologist was being interviewed giving tips to viewers on how to maintain a youthful, healthy appearance. Toward the end of the segment she recommends a particular product for the face and neck.

Here is the web version of the story (which may vary slightly from the TV version which our story is about):



Click arrow to play video

It only began to sound fishy when the dermatologist started ticking off all the benefits of the cream and then said it was a bargain at Target.

To the best of MrConsumer’s memory, there was no conspicuous disclosure at the beginning of the TV version of the piece nor at the end to indicate that the doctor was a paid endorser, as it appears at the end of web version.

In fact, it was at the end of the TV show in the credits that the following disclosure appeared, captured live as it aired:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Inside Edition disclaimer

So what’s the problem here? There are actually two issues. First, this story had the look and feel of any other segment on Inside Edition when in fact it was a mini-infomercial for a product. In Federal Trade Commission-speak, this is “native advertising” where an ad is made to look just like the surrounding content in form and style. And the FTC has guidelines saying there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure that this is actually advertising.

There were some half-hearted attempts within the piece to make disclosures. The voiceover states in passing toward the beginning “we teamed up with No7.” The trouble is the viewer has no idea what “No7” is because it is not a familiar product name and has not yet been introduced on the screen. That disclosure doesn’t clearly convey that this is really an ad. It is several minutes after the piece ends in the TV version that the bold on-screen disclosure is made, as shown just above.

Secondly, under the FTC’s guides governing endorsements and testimonials, since it appeared that the doctor was merely a guest being interviewed on a television program and was not acting in a commercial, the viewer would have no idea she was being paid by the manufacturer. Thus, a clear disclosure of that fact was necessary. In our view, the identifier thrown up on the screen for a mere three seconds — “Dr. Doris Day — Dermatologist/No7 Spokesperson” — would not be noticed or understood by most viewers to clearly convey the fact that this doctor had been paid for these comments. And the disclosure at the end of the program was too late.

Dr. Doris Day

We wrote to the executive producer of Inside Edition raising these issues, asking why better disclosure was not made, and whether it would be in future pieces. To date, no response has been received.

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