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May 7, 2017

Staples.com Keeps Warranties Secret and That Could be Costly to You

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:32 am

Two years ago, Consumer World conducted a spot-check of 20 major Internet retailers to see if they were properly disclosing the manufacturer’s warranty on their websites for the products they sell.

Two-thirds of the sellers surveyed posted no warranties whatsoever for any of the items checked. Federal Trade Commission rules require online sellers, on or near the product description of items over $15, to either post the actual warranty or tell customers how to obtain a free copy from the seller.

At the time, for the five items checked at Staples.com, none had the actual warranty language disclosed nor a statement of how to obtain it, and the length of the warranty was only sometimes disclosed.

From a practical standpoint, how might this affect a shopper? Case in point: Last year, MrConsumer assisted two friends who were in need of a new desktop computer. He wound up recommending a Dell that was on sale at the time at Staples for between $400 and $500. Current version of product listing:

Dell 3650 Dell specs

Fast forward 10 months later, and one of the computers needed to be repaired. Upon calling Dell, my friend was informed there would be a charge equivalent to approximately half the cost of the computer because in-home service was not covered in the warranty. What? A desktop computer weighing nearly 20 pounds has to be disconnected and mailed to Dell to be repaired? You bet.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dell Mail-in

Sure enough, on the Dell website, the warranty that came with this desktop computer was mail-in only. Who would ever expect anything but in-home service for a desktop computer under warranty?

So we asked several Staples’ PR folks to explain why they were not complying with federal law and disclosing product warranties right on their website, and why they were not at a minimum even clearly disclosing that in the case of this computer that the warranty was mail-in. We also asked now that Staples was sensitized to this issue, what steps they would take to comply with federal law and be more explicit about the type of warranty that comes with their products.

Their response: [this space intentionally blank since Staples did not reply to three requests for this information.]

The lesson, of course, is to never assume anything about a product’s warranty and to demand to see it before you make a significant purchase.




  ADV


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February 6, 2017

Samsung Tries to Kill Lawsuits Over Exploding Phones

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

Everyone has heard about the exploding Samsung Note 7 smartphones by now. Cars have caught fire when the battery in the phone ignited. People have been burned. Airlines banned the phone. And finally Samsung recalled them at a cost of over $5-billion.

But what about people who bought the phone and suffered personal injury or property damage? It seems like Samsung is trying to burn them twice.

*MOUSE PRINT:



20-second CBS Video

What? Deep in the product box they tucked a mandatory arbitration clause on page 16 of the instructions preventing people from suing them. What foresight (and sleaze).

*MOUSE PRINT:

mandatory arbitration

Watch the full CBS News story here.




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January 9, 2017

T-Mobile Intros Honest Pricing

Filed under: Electronics,Humor,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

Last week, T-Mobile announced something novel in the postpaid cellphone industry — the price you see advertised is the price you will actually pay on your bill — all taxes and fees included! And they did this by absorbing those charges not raising their prices.

For years, it has been an obnoxious game played by cell providers, cable companies, and rental car companies to grab your attention with a seeming low price, but then jack up the bill with all sorts of junk fees and taxes. And the real costs were never fully disclosed even in the mouse print of the advertising.

To dramatize the deceptive nature of these pricing ploys, T-Mobile released this short video:



To demonstrate how fees and taxes inflate customers’ bills, TMO offers a comparison.

TMO comparison


But lest you think that T-Mobile has completely found consumer religion, plans other than T-Mobile One still play the old game.

*MOUSE PRINT:

taxes and fees extra

Nonetheless, hats off to T-Mobile for taking the first step to bringing transparent pricing to cell service.




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January 2, 2017

Can You Drench Your iPhone in Water?

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

A new TV commercial by Apple depicts a senior citizen leaving his iPhone on loud in a puddle of water next to the swimming pool so he can hear dramatic music as he dives off a high tower.

iPhone sitting in water

Here is the commercial:



At the end of the commercial, the man finally dives into the pool causing a splash of water to hit the iPhone. And miraculously, it still keeps playing music.

water splash

What you probably missed in the commercial is the very faint disclaimer at the very end.

*MOUSE PRINT:

iPhone disclaimer

In case you still can’t read that, it says “Liquid damage not covered under warranty.”

So why does the ad seemingly tout the waterproof or water-resistant properties of the device if they are not willing to stand behind it? We asked Apple, but all a spokesperson would say is:

“iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are splash, water and dust resistance. The entire enclosure was reengineered to make the very first water resistant iPhone, enabling it to handle mishaps such as spills and splashes.”




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October 17, 2016

When is “Sold by Amazon” Not the Same as “Bought from Amazon”?

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:45 am

Mouse Print* reader Chris L. recently purchased a $1,900 piano from Amazon and was offered three months of online piano lessons for free as part of the deal.

Amazon piano

When he didn’t receive an email with his promotional code from Amazon for the free piano lessons, he contacted customer service via chat. An hour and 20 minutes later, nine representatives later, and a bazillion bogus excuses later, he finally extracted a promise that he would be sent the appropriate promotional code for the piano lessons. But, he never received it.

Finally he received an email explaining the real reason he never got the free piano lessons — he got tripped up by the fine print.

The original offer and the terms and conditions used magic words that most people wouldn’t understand had a very specific meaning.

MOUSE PRINT*:

amazon piano

********
Piano terms

Although our consumer purchased the piano at Amazon.com, he did not buy it from Amazon.com. He bought it from a third party marketplace seller found on the Amazon website and the order was “fulfilled by Amazon” meaning that Amazon shipped it out for the seller. The promotion, however, required that the piano be “sold and shipped” by Amazon alone.

Would anyone ever catch that nuance? And why was it promoted on a page where the offer didn’t apply?

Fortunately for Chris, the actual company providing the free lessons, Skoove.com, provided him with three months of free lessons after he sent them proof of purchase.




  ADV


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