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Are Zesta Saltines Being Short-Weighted?

Zesta saltinesThe internet has been buzzing about Zesta saltine crackers of all things (and so has reader J.C.). Some purchasers discovered when they opened the familiar one-pound boxes that the sleeves of crackers inside were as much as two inches shorter than normal.


Zesta inside boxes

What’s going on here? Both boxes still say 16 ounces. Are they short-weighting customers by putting far less in each box than the one pound that is supposed to be inside? We got out our trusty digital scale to find out.


Zesta box weight

Both boxes, the one with full stacks on the left and the one with short stacks on the right both weigh the same — one pound three ounces. How is this possible because there seemed to be so much less in short stack box?

So, we examined some (but not all) the sleeves of crackers to count how many were in each sleeve. Surely the short sleeves had to have many fewer crackers, right?


Zesta stacks weight

Not really. The box with the full sleeves had between 37 and 39 crackers per sleeve, while the short sleeves in the other box had between 35 and 39 crackers. And the shortest sleeve still weighed the expected four ounces. (Okay, let’s not quibble about the weight the plastic wrap.)

So we ask again — what is going on here? Is each cracker thinner but somehow more dense? A spokesperson for Kellogg’s didn’t shed much light on what actually happened, saying:

Zesta crackers are packaged by weight and not volume. Normal baking processes may lead to crackers with different thickness, so the number of crackers may vary from package to package.

It appears that this mystery will remain unsolved.

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Kroger Makes a Half-Hearted Attempt to Provide Digital Coupon Discounts to Unplugged Shoppers

As regular readers know, Consumer World and a coalition of other consumer organizations including Consumer Reports have been trying to get supermarkets that offer digital coupons to also offer a simple in-store alternative for those shoppers who don’t have internet access or a smartphone.

Digital coupons generally require a shopper to use the store’s app or website to find and load digital-only discounts onto one’s loyalty account/card. Then, when they check out in the store and scan their card, they get the digital discount. But for non-tech-savvy consumers of any age, many low income shoppers, the 25-percent of seniors who don’t use the internet, and the 39-percent who don’t own a smartphone, these money-saving offers are illusory.

Digital deal -watermelon

See some of our prior coverage of the digital coupon issue here.

Last week, Kroger issued a statement [see end of article] seemingly recognizing the financial hardship that many experience because they are not tech-savvy and thus far have been generally shut-out of digital discounts. Here’s their solution:


We understand that not all customers choose to engage digitally when shopping with retailers. Customers who would like to take advantage of digital coupons and do not have a digital account, can receive the discounted pricing at any customer service desk.

Because Kroger’s PR folks would not tell us how exactly the new system works, we called two stores, one in Ohio and one in Kentucky. The customer service person in Ohio said that a non-digital shopper can bring the sale items that require a digital coupon to the courtesy desk, where they can buy them at the discounted price. The rest of their groceries have to be purchased in the regular checkout line.

The Kentucky store customer service person asked if I had a computer or a smartphone. I said no. He then suggested that I go to the public library where I could access the digital coupons on their computer.

Thanks for the helpful suggestion. Even the first response is a bit impractical and time-consuming for both shoppers and store personnel. On top of that, how do shoppers even know that Kroger and its various nameplate divisions have changed their policy about giving digital discounts to non-digital customers? You have to read it on the internet, which many cannot do. And those who can go online, would never realize there is a new policy by reading their coupon FAQ which has not been updated:


Kroger coupon faq

There is no mention whatsoever about how an unplugged shopper can get the same savings. Only tucked away on a separate coupon policy page of their website does it say those folks can go to the courtesy desk to get the discounts. [Thanks to Coupons in the News for that discovery.]

We asked the PR folks at Kroger some additional very pointed questions and about issues raised by their policy change, but we have only received their canned statement noted above so far.

While Kroger should be commended for taking at least an initial step to help stop digital discrimination in retail stores, there are better solutions available. Simply requesting the digital discount at the checkout is the easiest way. Alternatively, some stores are experimenting with an electronic kiosk near store entrances where all a shopper has to do is scan their loyalty card or enter their phone number, and all that week’s digital coupons are then automatically loaded onto their loyal card account.

We hope stores realize that digital discrimination hits many of the most vulnerable consumers in the pocketbook at the worst possible time — when inflation continues to batter shoppers’ wallets.

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Get a Free 55-inch HDTV*

Last week, a company called Free Telly came out with a once-in-a-lifetime offer: They are going to give away half a million 55-inch HDTVs for free in 2023!

Say what?

Free Telly

So what’s the catch? This novel TV has two screens: the main viewing screen, and then a second full-width but smaller screen below that will stream information like news and weather, but more importantly, interactive advertisements from which viewers can order merchandise or meals. And the content may be related to what is being viewed on the main screen. They also have the ability to collect a ton of user data via their privacy policy. And the TVs have a microphone and camera supposedly for voice commands and video calling.

Now a company like this is not going to willy-nilly send out 55-inch televisions with no strings attached. In fact, they have a detailed terms and conditions statement with a couple of interesting qualifications.


Free Telly terms

Many people have bigger or better TVs as their primary television and are not going to want to put this one in its place.

If you don’t play by the rules, you have to return the TV or you will be charged for it via the credit card you are required to provide.


Free Telly charge

Interestingly, the terms and conditions statement changed on its launch day last week. The previous version for beta testers spelled out the penalty for not returning the TV.


Free Telly penalty

Here are some more details about their plans.

Will this be a big financial success or go the way of MoviePass?

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