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July 25, 2016

As Seen on TV: Philips Airfryer — Only $49.95?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:29 am

In infomercials and on a website, Philips is advertising a kitchen appliance called the Airfryer, which uses hot air to “fry” food. They call it an “oil-less fryer” but you really have to add some oil to food like freshly cut french fries for it to work.

The ads for the Airfryer offer it at a price of $49.95 with a 30-day “risk-free” trial… and if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.

Airfryer

Airfryer TV ad

But is $49.95 the real price of the item?

*MOUSE PRINT:

fine print

In type only slightly larger than this, at the bottom of their website, the truth is revealed. The price of the fryer is not $49.95 — it is four times that — $199.80 because you are required to make three more payments of $49.95 if you want to keep it. Yet, to many, the price of the appliance looked like it might have been $49.95 total.

Adding insult to injury, it costs 25 bucks to ship this unit to you, and that is not refundable if you return it.

It’s no accident that Philips hides the real price of the Airfryer, but do they have to get cagey about what your $49.95 really buys you?




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July 18, 2016

Red Robin’s Birthday Burger Blunder

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:40 am

Red RobinJohn G. is member of Red Robin’s loyalty program. He went to their Evans, Georgia restaurant earlier this month to collect on his free birthday burger that the plan promises.

When the bill came, he and his wife were surprised that only $4 had been deducted for his burger, rather than the full price. Of course, he questioned the discrepancy. The manager explained that the restaurant’s computer system applies only one promotion banked in his account to each meal purchased, and the promotion that gets applied is the one that will expire the soonest.

In other words, in John’s case, his account had a free birthday burger coupon that expires the end of July, but it also had a $4 off coupon that expires in early July, so it would get applied first. John was also told that as a program member he could have gone into his account to rank/prioritize the coupons in a different order, so the free burger coupon would have been the first one used.

John says, “unless one knows what ‘reward ranking’ is, the average customer doesn’t understand that he has to keep track of offers presented to him.”

We checked the fine print on the company’s website for the loyalty program, and it is completely contrary to what he was told in the restaurant as to the order the discounts are applied to a member’s bill.

*MOUSE PRINT:

How does Red Robin prioritize their rewards?

We do rank them in the order of highest value, but now you have the ability to choose which one you crave!

And in their terms and conditions, it says this:

If you have earned more than one Reward, just present your Program Card or your telephone number associated with your Account to your server with your form of payment, and our Program system will apply the highest ranked Reward that you have earned to your bill.

Reward Redemption Order (Rank)
•5 Visits in 5 Weeks, $20 Reward on 6th visit
•Birthday Burger — The Birthday Burger Reward includes any of our more than 24 fire-grilled gourmet burgers but does not include extra patties, extra cheese, styles or Red Robin’s Finest Burgers.
•Every 10th Item Free

In both places it clearly says that the coupon with the highest value gets applied first, which makes total sense. Yet that is not what happened to John in practice. So we wrote to the PR folks at Red Robin to get a straight answer of which policy is the real policy, and what happened.

“There are a number of factors that go into Red Robin Royalty’s reward rankings and we are unable to comment on this specific situation without a deeper investigation and additional information. While rewards are almost always ranked based on value, there are certain caveats; for example, a free birthday burger reward excludes Red Robin’s Finest burgers and non-burger items. If a guest orders an item that does not qualify for the birthday burger reward, despite it being ranked higher on their account, the system would look to redeem the next eligible reward.” —Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews spokesperson

John says he didn’t order a “forbidden on your birthday burger” so we are no more clear on what actually happened in this case than John is. The manager, incidentally, did finally figure out how to give John his free burger, but the whole incident left a bad taste in his mouth.

We agree with John that consumers should not be placed in a position to remember every offer that is sent them and be required to juggle them in one’s account before trying to use a particular offer. Restaurant diners should be allowed to merely say “please use my birthday burger coupon” or be able to print it and that should be the end of it.




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June 13, 2016

Thanks for Nothing #3

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

We continue our series of offers, which upon closer scrutiny, offer less than expected.

Example 1:

Right in the heart of downtown Boston at Faneuil Hall, McCormick and Schmick’s has a great Friday deal:

Tacos

At a place where fish and chips is about $18, getting a plate of fish tacos for just $5 on Fridays is a sensational offer. But wait… there’s more… or really less.

*MOUSE PRINT:

each taco

Tucked away at the bottom right corner of the sandwich board was the tiny disclosure “each taco.” Thanks for nothing, McCormick & Schmick’s… olé.


Example 2:

Larry S. from Texas sent us this “deal” he found at Staples.

Staples tape bonus pack
Click to Enlarge

*MOUSE PRINT:

The box with six rolls of tape is $10, while the package with the “free” bonus dispenser is $13.99. (And yes, they both contain the same size six rolls of tape.) Thanks for nothing, Staples.


If you find a great example of a “thanks for nothing” offer, take a picture or screenshot and send it along to edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org .




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June 6, 2016

Breyers’ Ad Omits a Key Ingredient

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:22 am

A recent TV commercial from Breyers has some adorable kids discussing the company’s “Natural Vanilla” ice cream and its simple ingredients.

After emphasizing the vanilla beans in their Natural Vanilla ice cream, one little girl, as if reading from the label, declares “Breyers has fresh cream, sugar, and milk.”

We’ll have to give this girl an “F” in reading. Look at the product’s actual ingredients statement.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tara gum

The first ingredient is milk and not cream, but they make it sound like cream is first and the predominant ingredient. Doing so could help sell more ice cream. And mysteriously, our little pitchwoman omitted “tara gum” in her recital.

Now turn back the clock about 20 years, when Breyers made fun of competing brands by asking kids to read their ingredients with unpronounceable additives:



This kid can read all the ingredients on the Breyers package and did so in the order of predominance.

So should have today’s kids.




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May 30, 2016

Kind Nutrition Bars — A “Healthy” Choice?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 am

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Kind, LLC, a maker of supposedly “healthy” nutrition snack bars and similar foods.

The agency singled out four of their nutrition bars as making problematic claims not in compliance with FDA regulations: Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants.

KIND box

Take the above dark chocolate peanut butter bar, for example. They say this bar is “misbranded” because the product labels bear nutrient content claims, but the products do not meet the requirements to make such claims. Specifically, the label makes the claim “Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome” in connection with statements such as: “good source of fiber,” “no trans fats,” and “7g protein.”

And their website says:

KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein is a healthy & satisfying blend of peanuts and dark chocolate. Each bar contains 7 grams of protein, which promotes satiety and strengthens bones, muscles and skin.

*MOUSE PRINT:

The problem according to the FDA is that you can only use the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label or in the labeling of a food provided that the food, among other things, is “low saturated fat” [i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 g or less per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and no more than 15 percent of the calories are from saturated fat]. But according to their nutrition label, the product fails this test, with three and half times the saturated fat and four times the calories allowed from saturated fat.

KIND

The product also cannot be called “anti-oxidant rich” because it does not contain at least 20% of the daily requirement of nutrients recognized for their anti-oxidant qualities. It only contains 15% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin E and 0% of vitamin C and vitamin A.

In addition, there are technical problems with their “no trans fat” and “good source of fiber claims.”

Virtually all of these violations are not obvious to purchasers who probably see this product as some sort of health or nutrition bar. And one has to wonder whether if this is all about the marketing of candy bars cloaked with seeming health benefits.

Fast forward to May 2016: The FDA seems to have had a change of heart and has told Kind that it can return the word “healthy” to its bars. In the meantime, the agency says it is going to re-evaluate its two-decade-old regulations governing the word “healthy” and may come out with new rules. That is sure kind of the FDA.




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