Most times, they simply announce that your new APR is so and so, or the fee for a late payment is $X. Without going back to your original agreement which you don’t have, you have no idea how much more you are being gouged. (We all know that rates and fees rarely go down.)
In a refreshing change, some Chase Freedom cardholders last week received a huge 10.5″ by 17.5″ notice about “important changes to your acccount terms.” Here is what made it even more remarkable.
Very large *MOUSE PRINT:
They actually show you, side-by-side, what the old terms were and what the new terms will be. It certainly doesn’t convey good news, with finance charges jumping over five percent, and late fees going up as well. But, at least the cardholder wasn’t left in the dark about what exactly they were doing. A big hat-tip to Chase.
On the other hand, why Chase was raising rates wasn’t quite as clear:
The changes to the Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) described below are to standardize these terms for cardmembers who have the same type of account.
Shoppers may have come to view their suits as poor quality, because after all, how could anyone give away three suits for nothing if they were really $700 suits? No store could. The company’s frequent BOGO ads even became fodder for this great Saturday Night Live skit:
The Washington Post reports that just last month, the company ran its last BOGO sale, and explains why the new owners made the change.
So what’s their new way of advertising? Here is how they promoted their Veteran’s Day sale on television and online.
They are reverting to the tried and true “percent off” and 2-fer type sales.
Alan A. wrote to us to share what he observed in a Jos. A. Bank store in Illinois. He was interested in buying “Travelers shirts” which were on sale for 50% off. He found identical shirts some marked with the regular price of $60 and others marked $79. Being of sound mind, he selected the cheaper one, but it rang up at $79 before the discount. After a bit of a tussle, he was able to get half off the $60 marked price.
Sure enough, the regular price used to be $60, and now it is $79.50. Had the regular price remained at $60, a two for $99 sale would not have looked as attractive.
During our consumer’s visit, he encountered a similar problem with a pair of khaki pants. They were marked $75, but rang up at $99 (before the sale discount of 40% was deducted).
What’s the explanation other than the manipulation of regular prices in order to seemingly offer big discounts? No, that really appears to be the explanation. The checkout clerk said the store hadn’t yet finished repricing the goods (presumably only in one direction — up).
Now, a month after Jos. A. Bank discontinued their “Buy 1, Get 3 Free” promotions, sales plummeted even further. This is yet another example demonstrating that shoppers like to be fooled into believing they are saving a bundle when they really are not. (Witness J.C. Penney bringing back deep discounts off inflated regular prices after the use of honest regular prices caused sales to drop.)]]>
Seems pretty simple. You get an extra 5-20% off even sale prices, plus an extra 10% back in points. But note that there is a little “see details” link at the bottom. Clicking it displays the following disclaimer:
For anyone counting, that disclaimer is over 1500 words and almost six feet long! No shopper has the patience to read that, and as a result may well wind up without all the savings or bonuses expected depending on what they buy and how they pay.
To make matters worse, the extra 10% back in points offer is potentially misleading. The big print is perfectly clear that Shop Your Way members get a bonus of an extra 10% back in points. On a large purchase, like a $1500 television, that is $150 in points, good for $150 in other merchandise. Nothing to sneeze at. And most of the small print reiterates the unqualified bonus points back offer. But, near the end, there is a mention that 10% back in points requires the use of a Sears credit card and is limited to only the first $500 of purchases.
A Shop Your Way representative said that the 10% back offer is for credit cardholders only. But, a Sears.com representative said that the 10% back in points promotion is a separate offer from the 10% back credit card offer, but warned that those bonus points do NOT show up when you checkout. Well, which is it? We wrote to a Sears PR person about this whole situation, and he responded just before midnight on Sunday:
“It appears there was an inadvertent error with a Sears friends and family online ad. The ad has been updated. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
And lo and behold, apparently sometime before midnight after the first day of the sale was over, Sears changed its website. All references to an extra 10% back in points in that ad were removed.
And they shortened their disclaimer to just under three feet!
A hat-tip to Sears for making the correction. But now the bigger question… for everyone who made purchases relying on that advertisement, will Sears make good and give them an extra 10% back in points as promised?
After coming home, MrConsumer broke the seal to discover the rebate had actually expired about two months earlier. Drats.
MrConsumer then checked the Lime-A-Way website, and right there on the homepage was a money back guarantee if you were not satisfied with the product’s performance.
Since in fact it did nothing to remove the cloudy white stain from the pavers, MrConsumer enclosed the receipt and the guarantee form from their website and sent it off to the company. A few weeks later, a surprise came in the mail:
It said “Return to Sender. Offer Expired. Box Closed.”
In fact, according to the form that was mailed in, the money back guarantee didn’t expire until December 31, 2015.
Two refund attempts… two failures. So we wrote to the PR folks at Reckitt Benckiser to ask why they didn’t put the expiration date of the “try me” rebate on the outside of the package so shoppers could see it in the store, and how is it that their P.O. box to accept refund requests through the end of the year was closed. Their UK headquarters forwarded our request to their US office, and no further response was received from the company. However, curiously, the Lime-A-Way website has been changed, and no longer has a money back guarantee.]]>
Nancy S. wrote to Mouse Print* about a strange situation she found involving Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. It seems depending on which “snack size” package you pick up, the size of the snack is different.
Both bags are 10.5 ounces, but the top one says it has 14 servings in the bag, and the bottom one says only seven servings. Each individual package inside is 21 grams or 0.75 oz. The difference is on the nutritional label that that seems to have upped the serving size to two patties (43 grams) instead of just one.
But it gets more interesting.
As noted, in those 10.5 ounce bags above, each peanut butter cup is 21 grams. However, each individual “snack size” patty varies in weight depending on how big a bag it comes in.
So, the “snack size” peanut butter cups ranged from 15 grams each to 21 grams.
We asked the PR folks at Hershey to explain why they use the same term, “snack size,” for candy of varying sizes; and why the portion size was doubled to two peanut butter cups. They did not respond.]]>