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December 15, 2014

Click vs. Brick Follow-up

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

 Last week, Consumer World presented the results of its survey of prices on a retailer’s website compared to the prices charged for the same item at its brick-and-mortar store locations. The prices were not always the same, and web prices were not always lower.

To emphasize the point that you always have to check prices in both places, online and in-store, here is an example of the inconsistency week to week of pricing between the two.

In the original story, we showed a huge price difference on a Dell computer at Staples.com versus at Staples stores:

Staples week one prices

Just before Black Friday, the price online was $429.99, but in-store it was $180 higher — $609.99!

Fast forward to last week, December 7. The price differences reversed.

*MOUSE PRINT:

in-store week 2

—–Versus—–

week 2 online

This time, the in-store price was $130 lower than the online price. Go figure.

As we said, there is no rhyme or reason to the price variations. You can’t predict whether the online price will be cheaper or more expensive than the in-store price, so you have to check both each time.

• • •

December 8, 2014

There’s Free Shipping, Then There’s Really Free Shipping

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

 This is a tale of two giant retailers — Walmart and Target.

Target made headlines this holiday season when it announced free shipping for everyone, not just its REDCard holders.

Target

*MOUSE PRINT:

None.

Then comes Walmart claiming its got free shipping for everyone.

Walmart

*MOUSE PRINT:

Of course, the claim has an asterisk indicating that a $50 minimum purchase is necessary.

I’m sorry. The appropriate way to make this type of claim is to be straight about it, saying right in the headline — “Free Shipping with $50 or More Purchase.”

And how nice of them to provide free returns if you bring the item back to the store yourself.

• • •

November 28, 2014

New Scam Emails Fake Order Confirmations to Shoppers

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 10:48 am

 (Boston) — Shoppers’ email inboxes have just started being flooded with a timely and potentially dangerous scam. Cybercrooks are sending out authentic-looking purchase confirmation emails that appear to be from Walmart, Target, and Costco, among others, to lure unsuspecting shoppers to their fake websites.

walmartscam

*MOUSE PRINT:

Upon clicking the link for more information about their supposed order, consumers are taken to a foreign website where a malware-infested .zip file is automatically downloaded to their computer.

“This is the perfect crime at the perfect time,” commented Consumer World founder Edgar Dworsky. “Shoppers are busy placing orders between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so they would naturally expect to find these confirmations in their inbox. And even if they didn’t place an order with the particular retailer, they may believe that a mistake may have taken place and want to see the details.”

The subject line of the suspect emails typically says “Thank you for buying from (retailer name).”

Consumers who click the link in these emails are taken to various foreign websites hosted at these domains: alchem-asia.com (Walmart email), test.vcalink.be (Target email), and bwanatembosafaricamp.com (Costco email).

Consumer World recommends that shoppers hover their mouse over any link in a purchase confirmation email and note the exact website they will be taken to before they actually click it. The website address should be displayed either in a bubble above the link or in the status line of the email program.

Here are sample purchase confirmation emails that are made to appear to be from Target and Costco, claiming that the customer’s order is ready for pickup:

Target

Costco

• • •

November 17, 2014

Holy Ship, Toys-R-Us Changed the Delivery Address of my Order

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:11 am

  As we all begin our holiday shopping online, this word of caution: scrutinize everything on the screen, fine print or not, before finalizing your order. If not, you may be in store for an unexpected surprise.

Last week, MrConsumer decided to send a toy to a friend, Jami, in Colorado for her kids. Toys-R-Us had a crazy low price for an electronic version of Scrabble, so he proceeded to order it at their website. Here’s the shopping cart showing the item:

Cart

Since this order qualified for free two-day shipping through Shoprunner (hint: AMEX cardholders should sign up for a free account good at many retailers), MrConsumer clicked the Shoprunner button and entered the Colorado address that the toy should be shipped to.

shoprunner screen

Not wanting this purchase to go on his American Express card, MrConsumer dismissed that screen and clicked the regular checkout button knowing that free shipping would still apply even entering a different credit card number.

The final checkout screen all seemed to be in order with the gift going to Jami, so he clicked the submit order button.

A few days later, FEDEX sent a notification that the gift had been delivered. Checking with Jami, she said she never received it. Did someone steal it from her doorstep?

Checking back at the FEDEX site, there was a notation that the package was left on a porch in LINCOLN, NEBRASKA! What??? Lincoln is where Jami used to live. Could MrConsumer have been so absent-minded as to erroneously list her old address on the ToysRUs.com order?

Going back to retrace his steps on the Toys-R-Us website, MrConsumer created a test order for the same toy. And just as depicted above, when clicking the Shoprunner button, the Colorado address automatically appeared. However, when clicking the regular checkout button, it appears that Toys-R-Us changed the address to Lincoln, Nebraska because that is the address it had stored from previous orders.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Toys R Us

MrConsumer called Toys-R-Us and walked the agent through all the steps above so she could see the glitch in the system. They generously provided a merchandise credit, and said they would forward this issue to their tech people.

The lesson here is that you have to scrutinize every Internet order, big print and small print alike, before hitting the submit button. Is it the right item? Is the order for only one item and not two by mistake? Did all coupon codes get accepted and deducted? And surprisingly, is it going to the right place?

• • •

November 3, 2014

At Sears, “All” Does Not Always Mean “All”

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

  Last week, Sears advertised “lowest prices of the season” in certain product categories and offered some of the biggest discounts ever offered on Kenmore ovens and ranges.

sears

In addition to offering wall ovens for 50% off and Kenmore ranges for 35% off, the deal was particularly sweet because you could get an “extra 15% off ALL [emphasis added] appliances with Sears card.”

MrConsumer encouraged a friend to go to Sears to get a Kenmore stove he had been admiring since the 35% off sale coupled with the extra 15% off would likely beat the prices that would be offered during the upcoming Friends & Family sale. When he approached a salesperson about getting the extra 15% off, the first thing he was told was that they needed to check the exclusions. Exclusions? What exclusions? Nothing could be simpler than the straight forward promise that ALL appliances were an extra 15% with the Sears card.

*MOUSE PRINT:

sears exclusion

What, no extra 15% on Kenmore ranges or ovens? Mouse Print* wrote to Sears’ PR folks about this last Monday and by the next morning the advertisement had been corrected after admitting it was an “inadvertent error”:

Sears

Great. Hats off to Sears for the quick corrective action.

A day or two later, however, Sears sent an email with a link exclusively for Sears card holders promising an extra 15% off “select” appliances. Were those Kenmore ovens for 50% off and other Kenmore ranges advertised for 35% off excluded. Nope.

Sears extra 15%

*MOUSE PRINT:

Extra percentage off cannot be combined with other Sears card discounts. Excludes Jenn-Air, Dacor, floor care, sewing machines, countertop microwaves, water heaters, water softeners, water filtration, air conditioners, air cleaners, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, accessories, closeouts and everyday great price items. Excludes Sears Commercial One® accounts and Outlet Stores.

Of course, when trying to make a test purchase of one of the 35% off Kenmore ranges, there was zero extra discount when using the Sears card.

We wrote to Sears again asking what steps the company will take going forward to assure shoppers that advertised offers are accurate and will be honored as stated, and how they planned to compensate customers who sought to take advantage of the sale price AND the card discount but were denied.

Sears did not respond by our publishing deadline. Any update will be provided here.

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