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October 15, 2018

Before Eating at KFC in the UK, You Must Sign a Disclaimer!

Filed under: Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:34 am

Well, that is a bit of exaggeration, just the way KFC’s tongue-in-cheek advertising is promoting the re-introduction of its notoriously messy sandwich called the Dirty Louisiana burger.

It has three sauces that tend to ooze out when eating, so KFC in the UK is warning customers who order the “dirty” burger that they will be responsible for any splatter on their face or clothing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

KFC Dirty Disclaimer

The notice is designed to poke fun at all the privacy disclaimers that folks are receiving throughout Europe.

In addition to the “Dirty Disclaimer,” diners are also a given a bib that looks like Colonel Sanders’ white suit and black tie.

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October 8, 2018

Is Sprint Misleading Customers or the FCC?

Filed under: Internet,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking to merge. As part of that process, they have to convince the FCC that the merger will not harm competition and would be good for customers.

To this end, Sprint submitted a filing to the FCC on September 25 claiming that its LTE data network was inferior to the other major carriers and they needed a partner to compete better.

Sprint Network Click Chart to Enlarge

Sprint’s coverage is depicted in yellow. You can see, for example, on the map of the U.S. on the right, that Sprint has a much more limited network than Verizon (in red). In fact, the company tells the FCC that its network covers “a much smaller geography” than the other carriers and therefore it needs to merge.

However, if you compare the coverage map from the Sprint website below directed toward customers with the ones above, Sprint makes it appear that its network coverage is very robust and broad.

Sprint network

*MOUSE PRINT:

Only in the tiniest fine print footnote does Sprint disclose that the above map includes roaming coverage, meaning areas where other companies have coverage and share it with Sprint customers. The map also includes non-LTE data coverage that they cleverly omitted from the FCC map.

footnote

In addition, the company tells the FCC it has problems with its network:

“Poor network experience is a leading cause of Sprint’s subscriber churn.”

“…consistency challenges impact both network performance and customer perception”

“Sprint has not been able to invest sufficient capital to achieve network performance necessary to attract and retain enough subscribers to improve its scale.”

Funny thing, Sprint has advertised for years on television that there is only a 1% difference in its network reliability compared to the competition.



2016 Commercial


2018 Commercial

Noting these contradictions, we asked the PR folks at Sprint some very pointed questions:

(1) Which is more accurate — what Sprint presented to the FCC or what they advertise to customers?

(2) If the FCC coverage map is more accurate, how does Sprint respond to customers who feel the company exaggerated its coverage area?

(3) Which is correct — Sprint’s network performance is lacking or it’s 99% that of competitors?

A Sprint spokesperson tersely responded:

“Thanks for reaching out. I don’t have anything to add to the filings. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”

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October 1, 2018

Staples.com Quietly Drops Price Matching

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

A little over a year ago, Staples was sold to a private equity firm. And since then, shoppers have been treated to some unpleasant new policies.

For years and years, consumers could buy reams of paper for a dollar or a full case for $9.99 after rebate. No more. Rebates have been discontinued and paper is no longer a giveaway item there.

Consumers have also complained that they can no longer earn rewards for online purchases at Staples.com.

And in mid-September, Staples.com implemented another anti-consumer change — it will no longer match prices. There was no big announcement of the change, but rather just a subtle change to the fine print on its website, noticed by reader David B.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Staples NO match policy

Ten days earlier, however, Staples.com did match prices, as it has done for years.

Staples matches prices

We asked the PR folks at the company why Staples.com no longer matches prices, why they don’t publish the store price matching policy on their website so shoppers can see it before going to the store, and what are the full details of their in-store price matching policy.

This was their entire barebones answer:

Thanks for reaching out. We are still price matching, 110% in- store at Staples retail locations.

Come on, Staples, you owe customers a better explanation than that.

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September 24, 2018

Senator Sent “Official Summons” to Potential Donors

Filed under: Finance,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

Residents in some Texas counties recently received a mailing in an official looking brown envelope that said “Summons Enclosed…Open Immediately.”

Cruz envelope

Who wouldn’t open that right away if it was in their mailbox? The first line of the return address had the name of the local county and indicated it was an official summons:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Official Summons

Inside was a standard solicitation to make a campaign contribution to Senator Ted Cruz for his re-election campaign. And his name was also in small type on the outside of the envelope.

Cruz inside mailer

A spokesperson for the Federal Election Commission told the New York Times that the mailers were not illegal, as “the F.E.C.’s regulations don’t speak to how candidates may choose to word particular solicitations to potential contributors.”

However, Texas state criminal law may have been violated:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 32.48 – Simulating Legal Process

(a) A person commits an offense if the person recklessly causes to be delivered to another any document that simulates a summons, [emphasis added] complaint, judgment, or other court process with the intent to:

(2) cause another to:

(B) take any action or refrain from taking any action in response to the document, in compliance with the document, or on the basis of the document.

(c) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the simulating document:

(2) purports to have been issued or authorized by a person or entity who did not have lawful authority to issue or authorize the document.

So, simulating a summons, even if the real sender is disclosed, is a misdemeanor in Texas.

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act also prohibits the sending of a solicitation that misrepresents or implies it was sent on behalf of a governmental entity. This law is probably not applicable because it relates to commercial enterprises.

And under United States Postal Service rules, government lookalike mailings, such as using brown envelopes requesting donations for political causes, are not allowed unless the envelope has an explicit disclosure that there is no governmental connection. Misuse of a federal agency’s name or official seal is usually necessary, however.

So what does the Cruz campaign say?

“…there were a few complaints that came not to us but through the local media or twitter,” a campaign spokesperson said. “Our mail efforts have been both effective and critical to identifying and engaging our supporters, and getting them involved in our campaign efforts to keep Texas strong.”

The aide also said that the campaign “believe(s) we are in full compliance legally.”

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September 17, 2018

Aldi Waters Down Its Margarine… Literally

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:56 am

Aldi is an international chain of limited assortment supermarkets known for very low prices on most items. They carry very few national brands. Rather, store brands dominate their shelves.

In recent months, MrConsumer noticed price increases on various items there like cookies, peanut butter, pretzels, and more. One particular item, their 45-ounce tub of margarine, has had two price increases in recent months. It had been $1.79 for years, but jumped to $1.99 several months ago, and shortly thereafter went up again to $2.29.

Aldi margarine old

Last week, there was another change to this product. The margarine now comes in a rectangular tub:

Aldi margarine new

A closer examination of the package, however, revealed an additional change that was very unwelcome.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Aldi 51%

VS.

Aldi 40%

They cut the amount of oil in the product by over 20 percent. So what replaced the oil? Water! In fact, the primary ingredient in this margarine is now water, whereas previously it was oil.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Aldi margarine ingredients

We asked Aldi’s PR agency to explain why they literally watered down this product rather than raise the price, why they didn’t label the product as a new formulation, and whether they conducted any consumer taste tests to demonstrate that consumers preferred the new version. They declined to answer the questions.

Sadly, name brand tub “spreads” like Country Crock and Blue Bonnet are also only 39-40% oil these days. I don’t know about you, but MrConsumer just loves to spread emulsified water on his crisp English muffins.

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