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April 13, 2015

Cape Cod Potato Chips: 40% Reduced Fat?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:55 am

  When you are choosing which potato chips to eat, do you have an angel on one shoulder nagging you to take the low fat bag, and a devil on the other urging you to grab the regular chips?

MrConsumer experienced such a tug, and decided to be virtuous and try the ones with 40% less fat.

cape cod chips

They were not quite as greasy as the regular Cape Cod chips, which, of course, is why the regular ones taste so heavenly.

Upon reading and comparing the nutrition label of the 40% reduced fat chips versus the regular Cape Cod chips, MrConsumer got a shock.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cape Cod nutrition

He sacrificed that once-in-a-blue-moon treat of full-fat Cape Cod chips for a lousy 20 calories less? Yes, the 40% reduced fat chips were 200 calories and the regular ones were 220 — only 10% more calories. How could that be? Where’s the 40% savings?

First, a closer look at the fat reduction banner reveals that the comparison is not between regular Cape Cod and fat-reduced Cape Cod… but against the “leading brand” — presumably Lay’s. The actual fat difference between the two Cape Cod products is only a 25% reduction.

And then there is the incorrect assumption that a 40% reduction in fat translates into a 40% reduction in calories. It doesn’t. The potato itself counts for half the calories in the regular chips.

Next time MrConsumer has a chip choice, for the 20 extra calories, he may just splurge.

P.S. The Cape Cod reduced fat chips do indeed contain 40% less fat on a per ounce basis compared to Lay’s regular chips.

• • •

March 23, 2015

Products Get Downsized in Canada Too

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:37 am

  MrConsumer was invited to Canada a couple of weeks ago to talk about product downsizing on CBC’s national consumer TV show called Marketplace. Surprisingly, or maybe not, many of the categories of products that have been downsized in the United States have also shrunk in Canada.



On to the products!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dawn

Ultra Dawn is undergoing a size reduction right now in both Canada and the U.S., from 709 ml (24 oz.) to 638 ml (21.6 oz). Curiously, the old bottle claimed to clean 50% more greasy dishes than the non-concentrated Dawn, but the new bottle claims it can clean twice the number.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dawn 2X

There are no claims of “new improved formula” so one has to wonder how the cleaning efficiency magically improved so much. We asked P&G what their basis was for the new claim… and surprise, they didn’t respond.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Head and Shoulders

Head and Shoulders shampoo was also in the process of being downsized, with both these products on the shelf at the same time. The old and new bottles are identical, but with 20 ml less shampoo in the new one. This change is also going on right now in the U.S.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Frosted Flakes

Just as happened in the U.S. with various cereal brands, Kellogg’s applied the shrink ray to Frosted Flakes in Canada reducing packages from 445 grams to 425 grams.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ivory

The Ivory body wash used the old “new and improved” trick to draw your attention away from the net weight statement, showing a drop from 24 ounces to 21 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Huggies

And Huggies Pull-ups are now short two poops.

• • •

February 9, 2015

McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ Promotion

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail,Sweepstakes — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:40 am

  McDonald’s unveiled a new promotion at the Super Bowl whereby random customers entering each of their restaurants will be selected to have their meal on the house if they demonstrate a bit of “lovin'” such as by hugging their kids, calling their mother to say I love you, doing a dance, etc.

McDonald's

The official rules state exactly how the promotion works. Each day at the predetermined time, the first customer to enter through a designated door, will be an unofficial winner. After they place their order, they will be approached by a manager who will tell them their order is free if they perform a particular lovin’ act.

As with any sweepstakes where money might change hands, the first rule is always “no purchase necessary.” This is because most sweepstakes are played in the context of a purchase (such getting a Monopoly game piece affixed to drink cups at McDonald’s). So game promoters are required to tell customers how to play the game free such as just by asking for a game piece, or by submitting a request for one by mail.

Paying a price for the chance of a prize is the definition of a lottery, which only the state and charitable organizations are allowed to operate. So how does McDonald’s present the “no purchase necessary” entry rules for this promotion?

*MOUSE PRINT:

The unofficial winner will be notified by the Lovin’ Lead that they are an unofficial winner after placing an order at the counter [emphasis added] or if the unofficial winner begins to leave the restaurant without placing an order at the counter. Participants do not need to make a McDonald’s purchase of any kind to be deemed an unofficial or official winner.

That is certainly a little bit awkward for the person not intending to make a purchase. So to play without paying, you have to go up to the counter, and loiter a little, or place a really big order (since it will be free if you win) but then tell the cashier you were just kidding, and begin to walk out?

From a practical standpoint what non-purchaser is going to go through this ridiculous charade for a chance at a prize? No, not even MrConsumer.

This is a fun and imaginative promotion. And it certainly is understandable why they don’t want to tell a customer when they first walk in that they have won for fear the customer will place an order for dozens of free meals. But McDonald’s really should be offering a more practical no purchase necessary method for playing the game.

Oh, incidentally, just by walking into the store, you have pre-agreed to resolve any disputes by arbitration. What, you didn’t go online before ordering your Big Mac to learn this? And some would (rightfully) say that this part of the rules is more troublesome and surprising than the no purchase necessary part.

• • •

January 19, 2015

CVS Sued Over Eye Vitamin Claims

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:25 am

  In June 2014, we told you about some misleading claims (see story) made for CVS Advanced Eye Health vitamins, a product which purchasers might mistake for being just like Bausch + Lomb’s PreserVision — a vitamin proven to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Last week, CVS was sued in a California court by two men with AMD alleging the very things that we did.

In short, Bausch + Lomb’s PreserVision’s formula of six vitamins and minerals was tested (the AREDS2 tests) by the federal government and was shown to be effective in treating AMD which can lead to blindness. The CVS’ Eye Health product, typically located right next to PreserVision in its stores, and seemingly half the price, proclaims that it is comparable to the formula in AREDS2 studies. In fact, it only has two of the six proven ingredients. (Again, please see original story for a more detailed explanation.)

PreserVision vs. CVS

Unlike other false advertising issues, this one has serious health ramifications for anyone who didn’t compare the ingredients lists of the two products side by side. They could well be taking the CVS product thinking that it will slow their progression to blindness, when it probably has little or no effect.

At the time we reported the story originally in June 2014, CVS said they were in the process of removing the comparability claim from their packaging. But last week, they told the Consumerist that “CVS/pharmacy removed this statement from the product once the results of the AREDS2 study were released.”

Really? The results of the AREDS2 test were made public in early May 2013. So, it is inexplicable that a friend saw the CVS product with the same comparability claim still at a CVS store just last week. However, a check for the product at another nearby CVS revealed that a new version of the packaging without the AREDS2 claim was in that store:

CVS Eye Health

Interestingly, the company has reduced the dosage from four pills a day to just one, without changing the amount of ingredients per pill.

• • •

December 22, 2014

Here We Downsize Again – Part 2

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

  [Note: Our trusty mouse will return on January 6th or 7th.]

Continuing our series of products that have been downsized recently…

*MOUSE PRINT:

Bounty

Bounty eliminated six paper towels from each roll here. And despite the shrinkage, they are still called “giant” rolls.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Pampers

P&G continued downsizing some of its paper products by removing eight diapers from its Pampers Swaddlers boxes, but the price stayed the same.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Snickers Ice Cream Bars

If you had been looking for a cold, refreshing treat this past summer, you would have discovered that Snickers ice cream bars are now 10% smaller than they used to be. Thanks to John M. for the photograph taken at Walgreens.

• • •
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