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April 14, 2014

They Advertise “Free” Shipping But Default to “Pay” Shipping

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:21 am

 A senior citizen friend was in need of a new TV, so MrConsumer found a wonderful deal on a 32″ Sony for only $199.99 with no sales tax and free shipping at Newegg.

Newegg

Yes, it is reconditioned, but MrConsumer owns two reconditioned Sony’s and they’re fine. Using my friend’s AMEX (since it doubles the 90-day warranty that Sony gives on refurbished products while most Visa/MCs exclude such purchases from coverage) I ordered the item for him. To my shock and horror, when I scrutinized the receipt, I noticed that Newegg charged $4.99 for three-day delivery. I swear that the “free delivery” box was checked off or appeared to be checked off on the ordering screen. But, a closer look revealed not.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Newegg

Despite being advertised as coming with free shipping, the Newegg system apparently defaults to pre-selecting a pay shipping option even when a free option is available. It may have been the blue arrow pointing to the free shipping option that erroneously gave me the impression I was all set.

Immediately upon noticing my error, I called Newegg. It was closed on Sundays. Drats. I tried “chat” and discovered it was down. Drats. I emailed them and heard nothing back on Sunday. Drats. I tried chat again, and this time got through and after a little persistence, the agent offered me a $4.99 credit toward a future order. She would not process a credit card refund, however.

At 5:30 a.m. Pacific time the next day, MrConsumer called Newegg, and spoke to a wonderful agent who agreed to make a one-time exception, and credit my friend’s credit card for the shipping. Great outcome, Newegg.

It should be pointed out however, (1) the item had not yet been shipped when these multiple requests to change the shipping method were made, and (2) that Newegg would better serve customers, particularly on items advertised as coming with free shipping, to have that option preselected by default.

Newegg is not alone in this gambit. Amazon also defaults to a pay shipping option even when the order qualifies for free shipping.

• • •

March 31, 2014

No Joke, Sears Advertises Customers’ Complaints

Filed under: Humor,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:39 am

 For inexplicable reasons, until recently, Sears maintained a page on its “Shop Your Way” website that was automatically populated with customers’ reviews and comments. The result of this automation was that unflattering comments about Sears’ products and practices got published and promoted as if they were ads, along with the positive ones.

*MOUSE PRINT: Happy April Fools Day week, but these ads are no joke. These negative ads were recently culled from the Sears page containing all product ads.

 


sears-1 sears-2 sears-3

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• • •

March 24, 2014

Muscling In On Your Wallet

Filed under: Health,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

muscles

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March 10, 2014

Sleepy’s Unbeatable, err… Unreadable Price Guarantee

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

sleepy's price guarantee From the lost archive of unpublished Mouse Print* stories, circa 2007:

Mattress buying has always been a tricky proposition. You can’t easily compare prices and models of mattresses because bedding manufacturers assign unique style names to each store that sells its products.

That fact alone makes taking advantage of a store’s advertised price guarantee almost impossible.

Assuming you could find the exact same mattress elsewhere (or a comparable one if they allowed it), the Sleepy’s chain seems to make a pretty generous offer — they beat any competitor’s price by 20% or the bed is free.

*MOUSE PRINT: The guarantee, pictured above, exactly as it appeared [in 2007] on Sleepy’s homepage, has virtually unreadable fine print that substantially diminishes the guarantee’s coverage.

We will meet any price on any Stearns & Foster®, Internet, TrueForm®, Tempur-Pedic® or BodyDiagnostics® models. * Applies to same or comparable mattresses prior to delivery. Excludes closeouts, special purchases, exchanges, floor samples, warranties, discontinued & one-of-a-kind items. Must present competitor’s current ad or invoice.

They partially exclude two popular brands, Stearns & Foster and Tempur-Pedic, as well as any price you find online. Even in its TV ads, Sleepy’s promoted its price guarantee but failed to orally disclose its limitations.

Further, our trusty mouse is always irritated by any guarantee that promises to beat a competitor’s price by X amount, or you get the product free. What store in their right mind would rather give away a product completely free rather than merely reduce its price marginally below a competitor?  That’s a guarantee that only sounds good until you think about for a minute.

Fast forward to 2014. Today, Sleepy’s price guarantee is nowhere to be found on its website. But, it is still appearing in some newspaper ads, under the same basic terms, but we’re happy to say in larger type:

Sleepy's

• • •

March 3, 2014

Tide Detergent Double Downsizes AND Raises Prices

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

  Procter & Gamble recently decided to make certain varieties of Tide detergent more costly for shoppers. Based on a Wall Street Journal story, the company appears to be raising prices an unheard of three ways simultaneously.

It seems to be passing on a straight list price increase of about 13% to retailers on Tide+ products. But it is also downsizing the product AND apparently diluting it (or making you use more).

Note to readers: We use the words “seems to,” “apparently” and “appears to” because P&G has used “pr-speak” (a.k.a. “spin”) in response to very pointed questions about these changes, as noted at the end of this story.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

Tide+ varieties with special scents, fabric softener, etc. are being downsized from 100 ounce jugs to 92 ounces — an 8% drop in contents.

But, not content to raise the price AND put less product in each bottle, you are now going to get fewer loads per bottle than even an 8% drop in contents would work out to.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

The traditional 100-ounce bottle was enough for 60 loads according to the package, while the new 92-ounce product only provides 48 loads. So an 8% drop in contents somehow translates into a 20% drop in the number washes you get. Huh?

That sounds like P&G is somehow diluting the product and/or making you use more per load. A look at the back of the bottle reveals the secret.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide

According to the old bottle, you could get 60 medium-size loads of wash done by filling the cap to line 1. With the new bottle, you are instructed to fill the cap to line 2 for the same medium load and advised you will only get 48 such loads when used this way. Being told we have to use more to get the same job done suggests that the product has been diluted. Alternatively, we are simply being told to use more so we finish up the bottle faster. Medium load users in fact will be using more detergent per load if they follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, but large load users will be using the same amount. (Line 3 in the new cap is where line 2 was in the old.)

We asked P&G to explain these changes with very explicit, pointed questions. Here is how the company responded:

*MOUSE PRINT:

1. Why is Tide downsizing from 100 ounce to 92 ounce jugs?

With the introduction of the new Tide Plus Collection, we have standardized the load sizes across variants (previously there were 5 differing load designations per same size bottle based on the variant) to make shopping the line easier.

2. Are you in fact also raising the price to retailers of Tide+ products? If so, by an average of about how much?

I cannot share our pricing strategies. The significant performance innovation behind this new introduction will carry an average 13% list price increase (on a cost per load basis) but it is important to note that it will be retailers that set the price that consumers pay.

3. How is it that an 8% drop in contents (from 100 ounces to 92 ounces) results in a 20% drop in loads in each bottle (60 loads down to 48)?

This is not a direct correlation; we have upgraded the formulas which has impacted dosing.

4. Is the product the same formula, for Tide+ Febreze, for example, in both the 100 ounce and new 92 ounce size?

We are bringing significant innovation behind the launch of The Tide Plus Collection, providing a one wash wow with even more of the performance and fabric care benefits consumers expect from Tide

5. Have you diluted the product necessitating having to use more, or are you just telling consumers to use more than before for the same size load? (Old instructions: fill to line 1 for medium loads; new instructions: fill to line 2 for medium loads.)

We have updated the usage to align with the formulation and the increasing size of wash loads. — P&G Fabric Care Communications/Corporate Media Relations

The bottom line is this: Getting less detergent in the bottle, having to use more product per load, and paying a higher price at the store means consumers are really being taken to the cleaners.

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