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March 9, 2015

McAfee’s Rebate with Built-in Costly Time Bomb

Filed under: Computers,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:30 am

  Tiger Direct recently advertised an amazing giveaway: a PNY 128 gig USB 3.0 thumb drive and McAfee Multi Access free after rebate. A supposed $149 value for free!?

McAfee

How can they do this? The secret is in the rebate offer.

*MOUSE PRINT:

McAfee-2

You actually have to install the software and sign up with your credit card initially to automatically renew the service after the first year. You are not allowed to cancel the renewal until 10 months of service have elapsed.

Who is going to remember ten months from now to cancel this service?

Incidentally, the annual service sells for between $69.99 to $99.99.

• • •

February 23, 2015

Hey Costco, Where’s the Fine Print?

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

  It may sound odd for a consumer advocate to ask a company to provide more fine print, but that is exactly what MrConsumer had hoped Costco would do.

Costco has had Tempur-pedic memory foam mattresses on sale for the past several weeks, and seemingly only making them available on its website. It is hard enough making the right decision about a mattress when you can actually try out several in the store. Imagine trying to buy one online almost blindly. That’s why having detailed specifications can help the prospective buyer make a more informed decision.

On Costco’s website, there are four different models of Tempur-pedic mattresses ranging in price from $1399 to $1899. MrConsumer wondered what the difference was between them. So might any purchaser, right? So he clicked the “compare” button on each to create a handy chart to find out.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Costco Tempur-pedic

That was helpful, wasn’t it? Every column has the identical description. The product page for each does have more information, but is mostly marketing mumbo jumbo like “TEMPUR® support layer: A thick TEMPUR® support layer provides body aligning support,” and “millions of individually adjusting TEMPUR® cells that adapt and conform to your unique shape and body weight.” And descriptions similar if not identical to this appear for all the mattresses.

Memory foam mattress shoppers should be given easy access to details like the firmness, overall thickness, composition of each layer, and how thick and dense each one is. A memory foam mattress is not all memory foam. The bottom six or seven inches is often a high density foam that does not have the conforming qualities of memory foam. It is simply a base. That’s why knowing how thick the actual memory foam layers are is so important.

Costco has buried some of this information or just not provided it.

And wouldn’t it be nice if the product names could be referenced at the manufacturer’s website and at competitors’ stores. Just to try find the Tempur-Contour-Select at Tempurpedic.com, for example.

Incidentally, if you think that clicking the specifications tab will reveal everything you need to know, think again. All four beds just say this:

Tempur specs

So, Costco, if you are actually interested in selling mattresses, give us some real data to work with and not useless comparison charts.

• • •

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

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