Last month, Hotels.com decided it has high time that TV viewers stopped fast forwarding their DVRs through their commercials. So it created a sweepstakes that required people to pause the recorded program so they could read the rules of the contest including how to enter.
The commercial only ran for a week. During that time, how many people do you think paused the commercial and actually enter the sweepstakes for a free trip?
The company (P&G) eliminated 11 sheets per roll. And that is after lopping of 12 sheets in 2013. To remind everyone, the original Charmin had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets per roll. Mouse Print* asked P&G why they downsized Charmin again. We did not get a response. Special thanks to Richard G., once again, for finding this example.
Coffee is another one of those products that is subject to periodic downsizing, but this change was a big one.
Folgers 100% Colombian coffee went from 27.8 ounces down to 24.2 ounces. That is a loss of 30 cups according to the package label. Regular users might have noticed this change because the container is substantially smaller. We asked Smucker why they downsized Folgers. Their PR person responded:
We have observed a shift in the way consumers purchase coffee. Coffee drinkers are coming back to grocery store shelves quicker and are purchasing a larger variety of products across the aisle, all while seeking a lower, more attractive price. A reduced canister size allows us to meet the needs of this evolving coffee consumer.
We responded to that spin asking if the company lowered the wholesale price of the coffee proportionately. The company responded that they lowered the suggested retail price. We asked for both the old and new suggested retail price so we could do the math ourselves, but we did not get the data.
We also checked at a neighborhood Stop & Shop supermarket, and found that both sizes were selling for the same $8.99 on sale.
So here’s a new wrinkle to downsizing: are stores pocketing price drops when a product shrinks instead of passing on the savings (if any) to their customers?
Thanks to Alanna K for spotting this change.
We don’t see a lot of frozen food downsizing, except for ice cream usually, so this was a great catch by Jim S.
No more one pound Boston Market Salisbury Steak, it is now slimmer and trimmer at 14.5 ounces.
Lastly, we have some more downsizing in the chip department, and this is a huge change.
Almost 25% of Synder’s tortilla chips was removed and the $3.49 price stayed the same. The company said they did this to align their products with those of the competition. Thanks again to Richard G. for this find.]]>
On the bright side, elimination of subsidies also means the elimination of two-year contracts. So you are no longer bound to remain a customer for 24 months. You will, however, need to fully pay off the remaining monthly payments on your phone if you choose to leave Verizon.
Now the big question: Since you are now paying full price for the phone, are Verizon’s monthly rates for service lower than they were? Remember, depending on the plan, they did have embedded in them a roughly $20 charge to cover the cost of that $650 phone that you got for only $199.
Old plan pricing choices:
In the old system, you had three choices: pay for the phone in full ($650), pay in 24 equal installments ($27.08), or pay $199 (with a two-year contract.)
In the new system, you only have two choices: pay $650 in full or pay it off in 24 installments of $27.08:
Besides the cost of the phone, there has always been a line charge, or a charge for the cost of the service per smartphone. The old charge was $40 per line, but if you were on “Edge,” you got a $15 monthly discount making it $25.
Data charges were separate charges also. In the old system, there were many choices with varying prices. Some examples, old/new: 3 gigs – $50/$45; 6 gigs – $70/$60.
Putting it all together, here is the old pricing for an iPhone 6 with monthly installments, on Edge, and with 3 gigs of data:
Here under the new system is pricing for an iPhone 6 with monthly installments and 3 gigs of data:
In this scenario, you are paying $10 a month less than in the former system.
So how does this compare to the old system if you had gotten an iPhone 6 for $199 upfront with 3 gigs of data? You would have been paying $90 a month ($40 for line, $50 for data) plus the equivalent of $8.33 for the phone itself, or $98.33 per month. It is now $6.25 a month cheaper.
At least in these scenarios, the new plan is a little less money, but the rate shock of paying $650 for a phone may still be too bitter a pill to swallow for some. The problem is that you don’t have a ton of alternatives since increasingly the other carriers are also moving away with subsidized telephones.]]>
It says “and at $29.88, it is the lowest price unlimited plan that includes 4G LTE.” That is an unambiguous, unqualified lowest price claim.
But wait, there’s some hard-to-read fine print.
The fine print qualifies the blanket lowest price claim saying that it is the lowest priced among the offerings that one can buy at Walmart. That is a far different, and narrower claim, and certainly not what any reasonable consumer would understand listening to the commercial.
So we wrote to Walmart’s PR folks and asked two questions:
1. Do you recognize how a viewer could misconstrue the oral claim in your current commercial to mean that your $29.88 plan is the lowest priced 4G LTE plan IN THE MARKETPLACE because you do not qualify the claim?
2. Will you change the commercial, such as by saying “OUR lowest priced plan” instead of “THE lowest price plan”?
Walmart did not respond.
And just in case some of you are saying that maybe their claim is true that they are the lowest price in the market. Nah. Boost Mobile just announced a switching promotion to offer a $20 plan with unlimited talk, text, and data, with 2.5 gigs of high speed LTE data.
Now it is not as if we were asking Walmart to do something difficult — change one word in the commercial so it wouldn’t be deceptive. And it is not as if they had never done it properly before. Here’s a similar commercial from last year where they clearly say orally that this plan is “our lowest priced family unlimited plan.”
You have decide what it says about a company that won’t fix a misleading advertisement when it is brought to their attention.]]>
The summary of the release reads as follows:
ScamOrNotReviews, a consumer advocacy group, has announced the release of their 2014 Muscle Xlerator review. The company examines claims made by product manufacturers to ensure their validity, and in the case of Muscle Xlerator, they have found that the manufacturer’s claims are accurate.
ScamOrNotReviews? A consumer advocacy group? Gee, MrConsumer never heard of them. Who are they?
The answer, according to a press release about a different product published the same day, is this:
ScamOrNotReviews is a consumer advocacy group with the goal of testing products for consumers, preventing companies from successfully misleading them with regard to products or services that may be offered. For several years, the review company has helped consumers sift through the many accurate and inaccurate claims made by companies in order to sell a product or service.
Wow, Consumer Reports has competition.
Googling ScamOrNotReviews did not turn up a functioning website for this consumer group, nor any of their reviews. Links in the press releases purportedly to the reviews themselves went to what looked like advertisements for the products. In the case of Muscle Xlerator, it showed a young woman speaking in a heavy Russian (?) accent saying that the product will help build muscle mass. And beneath the videos were links to the websites that sell these products.
The press releases came from a company called AfterHim Media, LLC, a web design and search engine optimization company. Who do they really represent here? The illusive consumer group or the sellers of these products?
As to the product itself, Muscle Xlerator, the website claims that these capsules will “build muscle mass and get ripped quickly.” They offer a $5.95 trial, but in virtually unreadable type in a footnote it says:
If you are satisfied, do nothing and you agree to be charged $89.95. Plus you agree to be enrolled in our Auto-Ship Membership Program and 45 days from your initial order date and every 30 days thereafter, you will be shipped a fresh supply of MuscleXLerator for $89.95, plus $5.95 shipping and handling.