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August 13, 2017

Samsung’s TV Warranty Suggests Limiting Your Viewing of Certain Stations/Programs or Else!

Filed under: Business,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 1:28 pm

While reading the warranty for a recently purchased Samsung HDTV, MrConsumer did a double-take reviewing one particular section.

But first, you have to understand a little about the screen dimensions of high definition televisions vs. the old-fashioned cathode ray tube ones. Old TV screens were more boxy — almost close to a square. They were 4:3 perspective. That is, left to right, the screen was only slightly wider than it was high. High definition television screens are usually 16:9 — much wider than high — more like a movie screen.

If you watch a standard definition TV channel, or an old television show that was not shot in high definition, you usually see black bars left and right of the picture:

black bars

Those programs are in 4:3 format and when viewed on a 16:9 screen, there is space left over on the left and right — thus the black bars. In some cases, if a program was only produced in HD, but you are viewing it on a standard definition channel, you will see black bars on all four sides of the picture.

Now back to the Samsung warranty. In its own separate section of the warranty, Samsung warns purchasers not to spend more than 5% of their TV-watching time viewing standard definition programs or channels! What? A TV manufacturer is telling users what they can and cannot watch on their own TV?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Samsung 5% warranty warning

The warranty actually says that you shouldn’t watch standard definition programs and channels (unless you stretch and distort them to fill the screen) for more than 5% of the time each week. That means if you watch 20 hours of TV a week, you can’t watch more than one or two episodes of your favorite old shows a week without potentially voiding part of your warranty.

The problem, they say, is “burn-in” — where something that is constantly on the screen and not moving causes the image to be seared into the display permanently. Think of the old pong video game where you had a white box on the screen for hours at a time. That could get burned in to the old cathode ray screens. The same problem exists for LCD and LED TVs apparently, but to a much lesser extent.

We asked Samsung why it manufacturers televisions that cannot support SD programs and SD channels in their original 4:3 format without potentially damaging the TV and voiding a part of the warranty? Here is their (non-) answer:

“Samsung is committed to the highest quality and most immersive TV viewing experience for all consumers. We provide customers with guidance to ensure the best performance of their devices. We encourage consumers to enjoy their preferred content on their TV while understanding the suggested ways to get the most out of their product.” –Samsung spokesperson

The spokesperson did note that the company offers a lifetime warranty against burn-in, but only on last year’s high-end SUHD line, and this year’s premium QLED line.

We also wondered if other manufacturers were cautioning viewers to limit watching standard definition TV. Sure enough, on LG’s website, they have a similar warning:

LG burn in

So kiss goodbye your old episodes of “I Love Lucy” and “All in the Family” as well as watching the entire array of standard definition channels, like 2, 4, 5 and 7 for any significant length of time.

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August 7, 2017

Here We Downsize Again – 2017 (Part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Like death and taxes, you can count on manufacturers to continue to shrink their products.

Mouse Print* reader Jack B. recently caught a change in Trident chewing gum.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Trident

Each package lost four sticks of gum, but each of the new sticks is slightly larger. The old sticks are 1.7 grams and the new ones are 1.9 grams:

stick size

However, with a product like chewing gum, it is the number of servings that matters, and each package now has four fewer servings.


 
Wishbone salad dressing recently came out with a new bottle, nearly identical to the old one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Wishbone dressing

As reader Jim H. wrote, apparently people were weary of hauling around the old, heavier bottles that had a full 16 ounces in them.


 
Remember when the standard size for a container of yogurt was eight ounces? That is long gone, with those dairy cups going down to six ounces years and years ago. But it has not stopped there. More recently, major brands have downsized again — this time to 5.3 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dannon

Three or four spoonfuls and you’re done. No wonder you’re still hungry.


 
Faithful reader and contributor Richard G. tipped us off about Febreze air and fabric freshener recently being downsized.

Febreze

Their spray bottles lost almost a full ounce. But I guess even if we make a big stink about, Febreze will just cover it up.


 
And in the never ending saga of the incredible shrinking toilet paper roll, Charmin is once again lopping off more sheets from each roll.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin

This time the double rolls went from 154 sheets down to only 142 sheets — or the equivalent of just 71 sheets on a regular roll. Just as a reminder, the original Charmin 40+ years ago had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets on a regular roll. Mr. Whipple is turning over in his grave.

Thanks to Richard G. for the tip, and we welcome you to submit your finds as well to Edgar(at symbol)ConsumerWorld.org .

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July 31, 2017

Hotels Tighten Cancellation Policies

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:05 am

Many people are used to canceling hotel reservations sometimes at the last minute without penalty or cancellation fees. Not anymore.

Several major hotel chains quietly imposed stricter cancellation rules recently, including Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Buried on the Marriott website is their announcement:

Marriott International is implementing a cancellation policy at hotels in the Americas including the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, across all brands with the exception of MVW and Design Hotels.

In an effort to better serve guests seeking last-minute accommodations, guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation 48-hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a fee. The revised cancellation policy will take effect on June 15, 2017 for reservations made on or after June 15, 2017.

So the old 24-hours policy is giving way to 48-hours advance notice (and at some locations, 72-hours) or the traveler will be charged for the first night’s stay.

Hilton followed suit announcing that reservations made on or after July 31, 2017 would incur a cancellation penalty of the first night’s stay if not cancelled at least 48 hours in advance. Some of their hotels will also have a 72-hour cancellation requirement as well.

And last, IHG, which runs Holiday Inns, Crowne Plaza, and Kimpton Hotels is imposing a 24-hour cancellation rule as of August 4 in the United States.

Once upon a time it was common for a hotel to allow cancellation as late as 6 PM on the expected date of arrival. No more. So be sure to check the reservations page so you know what policy applies at your particular hotel.

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July 24, 2017

Free Wi-Fi Users Ignore Terms and Conditions and Get Pranked

Filed under: Business,Computers,Humor,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

An Internet company in Manchester, England called Purple decided recently to prove that consumers access free wi-fi services carelessly by not spending the time to click and read the terms and conditions of its use.

Purple terms

The company pranked users for a period of two weeks by tucking a “Community Service Clause” into their public wi-fi terms.

*MOUSE PRINT:

The user may be be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following:

• Cleansing local parks of animal waste
• Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs
• Manually relieving sewer blockages
• Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events
• Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence
• Scraping chewing gum off the streets

So how many consumers using their free wi-fi services clicked the “accept” button despite being potentially being required shovel poop out of blocked pipes? A staggering 22,000 people! And how many people caught the catch? Exactly one!

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July 17, 2017

Now Here’s a Juicy Story…

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

There’s an old joke about how cheap chicken soup is actually made. They merely dunk a whole chicken in a pot of water, then immediately remove it and dunk it into the next pot. That’s the feeling we get with Juicy Juice’s 100% juice called Orange Tangerine.

Daniel T. wrote to Mouse Print* saying that he was looking to buy tangerine juice, but the closest he could find was this product:

Juicy Juice

Like any good consumer (who reads Consumer World or Mouse Print*), he checked the ingredients statement and got quite a surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Juicy Juice ingredients

Rather than find orange juice and tangerine juice at the top of the list, he found three other juices comprised a majority of the juices in the bottle: apple, pear, and grape.

So how much actual orange juice and tangerine juice is in the product? We asked the manufacturer, Harvest Hill Beverage Company, which did not respond.

It turns out that the FDA has specific rules about juices where the product name and/or depiction of the fruit shown is not the primary ingredient.

*MOUSE PRINT:

(d) In a diluted multiple-juice beverage or blend of single-strength juices where one or more, but not all, of the juices are named on the label other than in the ingredient statement, and where the named juice is not the predominant juice, the common or usual name for the product shall:

(1) Indicate that the named juice is present as a flavor or flavoring (e.g., “Raspcranberry”; raspberry and cranberry flavored juice drink); or

(2) Include the amount of the named juice, declared in a 5- percent range

In plain English this says that in this case the maker cannot call this product “Orange Tangerine” because they are not the main ingredients, other juices are. The company would have to call it “Orange Tangerine flavored juice” or specifically declare the percentages of orange juice and tangerine juice in the bottle.

What the manufacturer did instead is include a fine print disclosure at the bottom of the front label:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Juicy Juice disclosure

Does that hard to read disclosure meet the requirements of the law? Not in our view, because it was not incorporated into the product name which simply is “Orange Tangerine.” And because “Orange Tangerine” is in close proximity to the words “100% juice,” consumers are likely to believe the bottle only contains orange and tangerine juice.

As it turns out, we are not the only ones to come to this conclusion. Back in 2009, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Nestle, the company that manufactured Juicy Juice at the time, making that very point and calling the product “misbranded” as a result:

Additionally, we have reviewed the labeling of your Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice Orange Tangerine and Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice Grape products. These products are misbranded under section 403(a)(1) of the Act [21 USC 343(a)(1)] because their labels are misleading. The label of the Orange Tangerine product is designed to imply that the product is 100% orange/tangerine juice, and the label of the Grape product is designed to imply that product is 100% grape juice. The principal display panels identify the products as “Orange Tangerine” and “Grape,” respectively, in large, bold lettering outlined in black; however, neither orange/tangerine juice nor grape juice is the predominant juice in the products.The statements “All Natural-100% Juice” in close proximity to the words “Orange Tangerine”or “Grape” and vignettes of oranges or grapes also may lead consumers to believe that the products are 100% orange/tangerine juice or 100% grape juice when, in fact, they are not. The separate statement at the base of the respective principal display panels, “Flavored juice blend from concentrate with other natural flavors & added ingredients,” appears in a smaller font and white print on a colored background. The manner in which the latter statement is presented makes it less conspicuous and prominent than the other label statements and vignettes and therefore less likely to be read or understood by consumers at the time of purchase.

We don’t know the result of the warning letter, and the current owners of Juicy Juice (Harvest Hill Beverage Company) did not respond to our two inquiries concerning the labeling issue. We do know that the labeling has not changed much since 2009.

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