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November 2, 2015

Lime-A-Way: Money Back (Not) Guaranteed

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

Lime-A-WayRecently, MrConsumer needed to clean some pavers that had a cloudy white stain on them. At the supermarket, he was attracted to Lime-A-Way bottles because of a sticker promising a full price rebate just to try the product. He could not read the terms of the rebate because the sticker was really a plastic envelope and one would have to tear along the perforation lines to remove the sticker and reveal the details that were inside.

After coming home, MrConsumer broke the seal to discover the rebate had actually expired about two months earlier. Drats.


Lime-A-Way Try Me

MrConsumer then checked the Lime-A-Way website, and right there on the homepage was a money back guarantee if you were not satisfied with the product’s performance.

Since in fact it did nothing to remove the cloudy white stain from the pavers, MrConsumer enclosed the receipt and the guarantee form from their website and sent it off to the company. A few weeks later, a surprise came in the mail:

lime-a-way envelope

It said “Return to Sender. Offer Expired. Box Closed.”

In fact, according to the form that was mailed in, the money back guarantee didn’t expire until December 31, 2015.


Lime-A-Way deadline

Two refund attempts… two failures. So we wrote to the PR folks at Reckitt Benckiser to ask why they didn’t put the expiration date of the “try me” rebate on the outside of the package so shoppers could see it in the store, and how is it that their P.O. box to accept refund requests through the end of the year was closed. Their UK headquarters forwarded our request to their US office, and no further response was received from the company. However, curiously, the Lime-A-Way website has been changed, and no longer has a money back guarantee.


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October 26, 2015

Reese’s Snack Sizes — Trick or Treat?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:45 am

With Halloween just around the corner, what better time to examine some candy labels.

Nancy S. wrote to Mouse Print* about a strange situation she found involving Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. It seems depending on which “snack size” package you pick up, the size of the snack is different.


Reese 21g - 14 servings

Reese 21g - 7 servings

Both bags are 10.5 ounces, but the top one says it has 14 servings in the bag, and the bottom one says only seven servings. Each individual package inside is 21 grams or 0.75 oz. The difference is on the nutritional label that that seems to have upped the serving size to two patties (43 grams) instead of just one.

But it gets more interesting.

As noted, in those 10.5 ounce bags above, each peanut butter cup is 21 grams. However, each individual “snack size” patty varies in weight depending on how big a bag it comes in.


Reese 15-17-21 grams

So, the “snack size” peanut butter cups ranged from 15 grams each to 21 grams.

We asked the PR folks at Hershey to explain why they use the same term, “snack size,” for candy of varying sizes; and why the portion size was doubled to two peanut butter cups. They did not respond.


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August 24, 2015

Here We Downsize Again 2015 – Part 3

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

  In the never ending saga of shrinking products, we sadly bring you a roundup of some of the latest casualties.



The company (P&G) eliminated 11 sheets per roll. And that is after lopping of 12 sheets in 2013. To remind everyone, the original Charmin had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets per roll. Mouse Print* asked P&G why they downsized Charmin again. We did not get a response. Special thanks to Richard G., once again, for finding this example.

Coffee is another one of those products that is subject to periodic downsizing, but this change was a big one.



Folgers 100% Colombian coffee went from 27.8 ounces down to 24.2 ounces. That is a loss of 30 cups according to the package label. Regular users might have noticed this change because the container is substantially smaller. We asked Smucker why they downsized Folgers. Their PR person responded:

We have observed a shift in the way consumers purchase coffee. Coffee drinkers are coming back to grocery store shelves quicker and are purchasing a larger variety of products across the aisle, all while seeking a lower, more attractive price. A reduced canister size allows us to meet the needs of this evolving coffee consumer.

We responded to that spin asking if the company lowered the wholesale price of the coffee proportionately. The company responded that they lowered the suggested retail price. We asked for both the old and new suggested retail price so we could do the math ourselves, but we did not get the data.

We also checked at a neighborhood Stop & Shop supermarket, and found that both sizes were selling for the same $8.99 on sale.

old price, new price

So here’s a new wrinkle to downsizing: are stores pocketing price drops when a product shrinks instead of passing on the savings (if any) to their customers?

Thanks to Alanna K for spotting this change.

We don’t see a lot of frozen food downsizing, except for ice cream usually, so this was a great catch by Jim S.


Boston Market

No more one pound Boston Market Salisbury Steak, it is now slimmer and trimmer at 14.5 ounces.

Lastly, we have some more downsizing in the chip department, and this is a huge change.



Almost 25% of Synder’s tortilla chips was removed and the $3.49 price stayed the same. The company said they did this to align their products with those of the competition. Thanks again to Richard G. for this find.


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July 13, 2015

With New LED Light Bulbs, Be Careful Watt You Buy

Filed under: Electronics,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:13 am

  Light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are poised to become the bulb of choice for many shoppers. With a recent price drop announced by GE, it is predicted that LED light bulbs might in coming years make compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) obsolete.

But not all LED bulbs are created equal.

Here is a conventional incandescent 60-watt bulb and its CFL equivalent:

60-watt incandescent     cfl

The conventional 60-watt bulb has a life of about 1000 hours, and is rated at 870 lumens (the brightness or amount of light it gives off). But the CFL uses only one-quarter of the electricity (15 watts), lasts eight times longer, and produces slightly more light — 900 lumens — at least initially. That CFL cost a dollar or less.

The new GE bulb, called the GE LED Bright Stik, comes in packs of three at Home Depot for $9.97.

GE Bright Stik


While it uses one-sixth of the electricity of an incandescent, and a third less than the CFL, it only provides 760 lumens of light versus 870-900 lumens for the other two. It also provides a paltry 15,000 hours of life — short for an LED.

It appears that GE has sacrificed longevity and light output for a lower price. Compare the specs of some of its competitors:


60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb Comparison
“Conventional” refers to bulb shape

As you can see, prices and specs vary widely. The point of this comparison is to show that you shouldn’t assume that all LED bulbs of a certain wattage equivalent provide the same amount of brightness or have the longest possible life.


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June 22, 2015

Here We Downsize Again – 2015 (part two)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:54 am

  The parade of products being downsized continues. It is rare that a downsized product makes headlines, but this one did.


McCormick pepper

Besides dropping one-quarter of the contents, what is irksome here is the old and new containers are identical. Here is a side view with the old on the left and the new one the right:

McCormick side view

As reported in Consumer World last week, a competitor is suing McCormick for unfair practices, saying in part that the new package has been slack-filled. That means there is nonfunctional empty space inside which is illegal under federal law, and possibly some state laws.

Other competitors have noticed, and instead of fighting McCormick’s move, they are joining it.


Pepper competitor

Toilet paper continues to be subject to the shrink ray. The latest, Cottonelle, has had each sheet downsized in both width and length.



The good news — there are still 208 sheets on a roll — albeit each sheet is just a little closer to resembling a postage stamp than before. Thanks to Richard G. for this tip.

Lastly, we have bar soap. Many brands of “bath size” soap were originally five ounces. Then they became 4.5 ounces, then 4.25 ounces, and finally four ounces. Sometime, probably last year, Olay reduced the size of its soap from 4.25 ounces to four ounces.


Olay 4.25 oz

Olay 4 oz.

But, every so often after a product is downsized, companies will come out with a “bonus pack” giving you back what they took out. They make you think it is your lucky day.

Olay 5 oz.

Of course, this just puts bath size soap bars right back where they started at — five ounces — but not at the old price.


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