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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:


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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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May 16, 2016

Here We Downsize Again — 2016 (part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

Thanks to the eagle eyes of regular Mouse Print* reader Richard G., we have another round of products that manufacturers have taken the shrink ray to.



Toilet paper is one of the categories of items that has been downsized for decades. Cottonelle continues to shrink in size, this time going from 418 sheets on a mega roll to 380 sheets. Double rolls have also downsized from 209 sheets per roll to 190.

Deceptively, in the upper right corner of the new smaller package, the company claims that you are getting 20% more sheets.

Cottonelle 20%

Huh? Only in marketing can getting less per roll mean you’re getting more. The *MOUSE PRINT finishes the claim: “compared to Charmin Ultra Strong mega rolls.”

Incidentally, it was just about a year ago that this same brand sliced off fractions of a inch from both the length of width of each sheet, as we reported.



Colgate is just in the process now of reducing the size of its largest tube of regular toothpaste from 8.2 ounces to 8.0 ounces. And just like the makers of Cottonelle, they are trying to create a false impression that the new box is giving you more. How in the world are you getting 33% more?


vs. 6 oz size

Thanks for the mathematics lesson tucked on the back of the box, Colgate.

Lastly, Scott K.’s co-workers in Canada couldn’t understand why their instant coffee was running out much faster than usual.



The reason: there is 15% less coffee in each jar of Nescafe now.


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May 2, 2016

Man Beats Kmart in Court Over Fridge, But Should He Have Won?

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

Kenmore refrigeratorAs reported in the Asbury Park Press, a 79-year old New Jersey man had a problem with a Kenmore refrigerator he had bought a year earlier. Around Christmas, the gentleman noticed that food in his freezer was getting mushy.

When he contacted Kmart, they told him that he was using the refrigerator improperly because he placed it in his unheated garage, contrary to the instructions in the owner’s manual.



Apparently, you are not supposed to put the refrigerator in a garage where the temperature can fall below 55 degrees. Kmart refused to give the man a refund because of his misuse of the product, but offered him a $75 gift card for the lost food in the freezer, and a 20% discount on a new refrigerator.

That was not satisfactory to the consumer, so he sued Kmart in small claims court for $535.59. The judge asked him a few questions like whether he was told of this limitation in the store before he bought the appliance. The consumer said no.

With that, the judge ruled in consumer’s favor. Incidentally, Kmart did not show up for the hearing. It is a general court rule that if the defendant does not appear for the trial, the plaintiff wins by default.

The question becomes, had Kmart shown up in court, would the consumer have still won?

Here’s MrConsumer’s take: If the consumer had asked for a refrigerator that could be used in a cold environment like a garage, and if Kmart directed him to this particular model, then Kmart would be responsible if in fact the refrigerator was not suited for that purpose. (This is the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.) If however the consumer never made known his intentions to use the refrigerator in a manner that most people do not, he was negligent by not following the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings… and should not have won.

A salesperson cannot be expected to read the consumer’s mind and recite all the do’s and don’ts listed in the product manual.

What do you think? Should this consumer have won his case? Add your opinion in the comments section.


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