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February 17, 2014

Can You Believe Sears’ Presidents Day Sale Prices?

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:50 am

 For Presidents Day, Sears advertised a big appliance sale, and really was one of their best sales of the year. They were promoting 35% off Kenmore appliances, which is their most generous across-the-board discount on this brand.

Sears 35% off

Poking around the Sears website, MrConsumer was curious to see if Sears was really giving this generous of a discount on all Kenmore major appliances. Checking some refrigerators, some times they were $20 or $25 or so less than a full 35%, and sometimes they over-discounted by that much.

Moving onto slide-in gas stoves, similar to what MrConsumer owns, he found this.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sears 35% off Kenmore

The actual discounts for these ranges were not even close to the claimed 35% off. Thinking that possibly the extra discount would be added when the item was placed in one’s cart, MrConsumer added that $1259.99 range on the left.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sears $100 higher

Shockingly, the price became $100 higher –$1359.99 — making its discount the same as the other three shown — only 15% off.

Nothing in the original advertisement indicated the discount on Kenmore appliances was “up to” 35% off as they disclosed for other brands. And there was no asterisk indicating that some Kenmore appliances were excluded from the sale. Given the nature of this advertisement, it is perfectly reasonable for a consumer to believe that any and all Kenmore major appliances were being offered at 35% off.

After running the “35% off Kenmore” appliances claim for several days, Sears finally heard the whispers of Honest Abe Lincoln and George “I cannot tell a lie” Washington, and changed their advertising to “up to 35% off”:

up to 35% off

And they even fixed the price on that slide-in range back to the promised $1259.99.

UPDATE: On Presidents Day itself, one day after correcting their advertisement, Sears sent an email to customers once again promising a full 35% off Kenmore appliances:

Sears 35 repeated

So much for Honest Abe.

The bottom line is, unfortunately, that you have to double check every price and every savings claim to ensure that you are really getting what was advertised.

• • •

February 3, 2014

Full Refunds Not Always Guaranteed at JetBlue if Canceling a Flight Within 24 Hours

Filed under: Internet,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:50 am

  The airlines don’t like to publicize it, but starting in 2012 the Department of Transportation required US airlines to make refunds to passengers who cancelled their non-refundable tickets/reservations within 24 hours of making them.

That is a great consumer right.

One New Yorker, however, needed to take an emergency flight in the next day or two, so he bought a ticket on JetBlue. His plans shortly changed, and within 24 hours he contacted JetBlue to cancel the reservation. They said he did not qualify for a full refund. What?

JetBlue’s contract of carriage states this:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“Following receipt of payment from a Passenger, JetBlue will allow a reservation to be held at the quoted fare for 24 hours, if the reservation is made at least one week prior to the flight’s departure. [Emphasis added.] If such reservation is canceled within 24 hours of booking, Passenger will receive a full refund without assessment of a cancellation fee.”

Sure enough, the fine print of the DOT’s regulation provides:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Allows “passengers to hold a reservation without payment, or to cancel it without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.”

Who knew?

A check of some other airlines’ policies and a call to U.S. Airways suggest that their cancellation policies don’t impose that seven-day in advance purchase requirement to get a full refund.

As always, don’t assume. Ask your airline if you indeed have the unrestricted right to cancel your ticket within 24 hours of purchase.

• • •

January 27, 2014

Office Depot Offers $800 of “Free” (?) Software

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Finance,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:58 am

  Every year, the office supply superstores offer either cash rebates or free software as an inducement to buy tax preparation software (like TurboTax and H&R Block) from their store.

This year, as in previous years, Office Depot is making a generous offer of $800 of free software.

Office Depot

But, according to Mouse Print* reader WAE, the promised rebates did not cover the full purchase price of some of the software titles.

Checking the Office Depot website for the purchase price and the promised rebate revealed he was right!

*MOUSE PRINT:


Office Depot
[Click reconstructed image above to enlarge, then click again]

Mouse Print* wrote to Office Depot’s media relations department asking them why they were charging money for supposedly free software and how they were going to correct the problem for customers they overcharged.

Office Depot did not respond.

• • •

January 6, 2014

On Time Delivery Guaranty Gotchas

Filed under: Business,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:31 am

  UPS, and to a lesser extent Federal Express, got black eyes this past holiday season when thousands of packages were left undelivered in time for Christmas.

Some retailers like Amazon, Kohl’s, and Walmart promised to make peace with their customers by variously offering shipping refunds, gift cards, or complete refunds. But what about UPS and FEDEX themselves?

Both companies have on-time guarantees.

For UPS, air shipments are guaranteed throughout the holiday season. But, if you used UPS Ground service, they have conveniently excluded the two weeks before Christmas:

*MOUSE PRINT:

UPS guarantee

Federal Express on the other hand, appears to have left their full money back guarantee intact.

FEDEX guarantee

For overnight deliveries, their policy is generous:

“FedEx offers a money-back guarantee for every U.S. shipment. You may request a refund or credit of your shipping charges if we miss our published (or quoted, as in the case of FedEx SameDay®) delivery time by even 60 seconds.”

Wow, even if they are only a minute late you get back your money. Wow, again.

In small type, however, the customer is referred to Fedex’s “terms and conditions” and ground tariff. For both overnight express and ground services, their money back policy begins this way:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“We offer a money-back guarantee for our services. This guarantee can be suspended, modified or revoked at our sole discretion without prior notice to you.” [emphasis added]

So they have this great policy, but tuck into the fine print that they can suspend it at will. Nice, huh?

Sure enough, FEDEX created a special holiday money back guarantee . For FEDEX Ground shipments, they invoked that weasel clause just when it might be needed most.

*MOUSE PRINT:

“The money-back guarantee for FedEx Ground® and FedEx Home Delivery® services will be suspended temporarily for packages tendered during the 14 calendar days before Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 (Wednesday, Dec. 11, through Tuesday, Dec. 24).”

And for FEDEX express services, they give themselves an extra 90 minutes to make on-time deliveries, just like UPS.

The company issued a statement after the big media uproar about packages being delivered late (primarily by UPS), saying:

“Every single package is important to us, and we will continue to work directly with customers to address any isolated incidents.”

The bottom line is that these companies have tried to absolve themselves of on-time delivery responsibilities, and have been relatively silent about how they would make good for disappointed shoppers.

• • •

December 16, 2013

When Shipping Costs More than the Product

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:31 am

MrConsumer is always on the lookout for a deal on iPhone accessories for an Apple-loving friend.

This crazy low-priced email deal for a dock good for either the Apple 4S or 5S looked like a steal:

$5 dock

Clicking through, yep, it’s really $5. But, only if you scroll down toward the bottom of the page once you are on the seller’s website, do you see the catch:

*MOUSE PRINT:

$5 dock

If you happened not to scroll down to see that shipping was $7 extra per dock, and just clicked “buy this deal,” you would not have known the real total cost of your purchase until you went to redeem the voucher this company sends out.

*MOUSE PRINT:

$5 dock order form

Nowhere on the order form does it inform the customer of the $7 shipping charge. Is it any wonder that the shipping cost is not well-disclosed? After all, a $7 shipping fee for a $5 item kills the deal.

• • •
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