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January 10, 2019

Is Chevy More Reliable Than Toyota, Honda, Ford, and 23 Other Brands???

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:58 am

When you think of car brands that are the most reliable, you would probably name Lexus, Toyota, perhaps Honda, and a few others. But a new commercial from Chevrolet says you better think again. It claims that Chevrolet is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, Ford, and 23 other brands.



The commercial shows real owners of other car brands being surprised when the spokesperson reveals that “Based on a recent survey, Chevy is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, and Ford.” At the end of the ad, four 2019 Chevrolet vehicles are unveiled and the claim is repeated and expanded to include 23 other car brands.

In case you missed it, there was a little fine print disclaimer on the screen for about three seconds.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Chevy disclaimer

This informs the viewer of something very important. They are relying on the results of a study of 2015 cars to make a broad claim about Chevy’s reliability today. Really?

The 2018 study indicates that close to 50,000 car owners returned surveys indicating whether their 2015 vehicle needed repairs in the prior 12 months. In essence, this is getting feedback on repairs needed in the third year of ownership.

To check how legitimate Chevy’s reliability claim is, we reviewed the dependability studies of two prominent and well-respected sources — J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports.

J.D. Power questioned about 37,000 owners of 2015 vehicles in late 2017 for their 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Here are their results:

JD Power vehicle dependability study

This study is most like the one done by Chevy because it focuses on 2015 vehicles and asks about problems that needed fixing in the third year of ownership. It supports Chevy’s overall conclusions about the reliability of their 2015 cars compared to the competition.

Consumer Reports, however, does its reliability studies differently, aggregating survey data from about half a million of their readers for 2000 to 2018 vehicles combined. It asks about problems that car owners have experienced in the past 12 months, as well as other issues. This is a much larger universe and provides a broader prospective on predicted reliability using a span of model years, not just one.

Consumer Reports Reliability Rank
(2000-2018 Vehicles)

Consumer Reports Reliability Rank

The magazine paints an entirely different picture of Chevy reliability, ranking it in the bottom quarter of car brands, and below the brands it said it beat in the commercial.

It seems to us that Chevy is inappropriately using its good reliability ratings for the 2015 model year to imply that its current 2019 vehicles are equally dependable.

We asked General Motors to justify that leap, explain the details of its survey, and whether it will modify or pull the advertisement. The company explained the methodology, that it used standard survey techniques by a noted market research company, that the results were reviewed by independent statisticians, and that their definitions of reliability came from professional organizations.

The Chevy spokesperson did not respond to our question asking if it had any survey results for 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019 vehicles that would confirm that it continued to beat Toyota, Honda, Ford and 23 other companies for those model years too. But the company attempted to justify why it was using the reliability of 2015 cars with this explanation:

“You need some time to develop a measure of actual reliability so you have to look back at previous MY [model year] vehicles.” — Chevy spokesperson

While it is certainly true that car companies can’t instantly provide reliability data for vehicles new to the market, they can be careful not to make broad, unqualified claims for new models using historic data. And clearly explaining the nature of that historic data rather than burying it in a fine print disclosure would go a long way toward creating transparency. As such, we call upon General Motors to pull its current series of misleading commercials.

Thanks to David B. for bringing this commercial to our attention.

Note: An update to this story will be posted on Monday morning.

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January 7, 2019

These Fireplace Logs Smell Like Fried Chicken But Come With a Warning

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

What a brilliant idea. KFC found a company to create fireplace logs that smell like fried chicken, including the 11 secret herbs and spices.

KFC fireplace logs

But, as with most potentially hazardous products, these fireplace logs come with a set of fine print warnings.

*MOUSE PRINT:

disclaimer

Happy 2019 from Mouse Print*.

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December 24, 2018

Here We Downsize Again – Dec. 2018

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:14 am

NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will be published on January 7th.

We wrap up the year with another round of products that have been downsized.

 

Florida’s Natural

This has been the year of shrinking orange juice containers. First it was Tropicana and then Simply Orange followed suit. And now it’s Florida’s Natural that has gone from 59 ounces to just 52 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Florida's Natural

 

Cottonelle

Toilet paper is one of the categories subject to frequent downsizing. And a popular brand, Cottonelle has shrunk again. This time, it lost 40 sheets per roll. Thanks to our friend Richard G. for spotting this.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cottonelle

 

Charmin

But let’s not leave out the king of toilet tissue – Charmin. Their “strong” mega rolls went from 308 sheets to just 286 sheets per roll. Mega is not so mega anymore. Thanks to Richard G. again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin downsized

 

Sweet ‘n Low

Now here’s a product you would never expect to be downsized – those little Sweet ‘n Low packets. Eagled-eyed Nancy S. caught this inconspicuous change with each packet going from 0.04 ounces to 0.035 — five-thousands of an ounce less. But the packet says it is still equivalent to about two teaspoons of sugar.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sweet 'n Low

 

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

Next, we have Johnson’s Baby shampoo. Tom G. found that the old 15-ounce bottle is now just 13.6 ounces for the same price. It’s never too early to teach a child about downsizing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Johnson's Baby shampoo

 

CVS Cashews

Finally, we have CVS cashews. A sharp-eyed shopper, Mario C., caught the fact that CVS lopped off three-quarters of an ounce from their own brand of whole cashews (like it is not bad enough that they charge over $15 for slightly more than a pound of nuts). The package redesign gave the drug chain an opportunity to change the net weight too.

*MOUSE PRINT:

CVS whole cashews

If you spot a product that has been recently downsized, please submit it to: edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org

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December 17, 2018

An Unexpected Opt-In Trick

Filed under: Autos — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

Earlier this year we told you about a devious set of terms and conditions used by Kohl’s which declared that by merely walking through the doors of any of their stores you were giving up the right to sue them. See original story.

Now comes an email from AAA (American Automobile Association) entitled “Welcome to Your AAA Network!” It goes on to say how special I am:

“You’ve been chosen out of nearly 6 million AAA members to enjoy access to this improved version of Your AAA.”

I can’t contain my excitement.

“Thank you for joining the Your AAA Network and being a part of our digital future!”

Join? I didn’t join anything.

Then comes the clincher:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“By opening this email, you are automatically enrolled and you will no longer receive the printed version of our member publication.”

Oh, so by my mere action of opening the email, I have agreed to no longer receiving AAA’s monthly print publication?

Of course, it would have been wishful consumer thinking that the subject line should have said: “Warning. Opening this email will end your magazine subscription.”

To give AAA some credit, they do allow you to opt back in to the printed version by sending an email to the editor. I won’t choose that option since their lovely little newspaper went directly into the trash anyway each month. It is just kind of presumptuous to use language suggesting that my actions in reading the email caused my print subscription to be discontinued.

At least they will be saving some trees now.

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December 10, 2018

Even Angels Quietly Make Money Referring Buyers to Sellers

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:09 am

Last week, we told you about network TV morning news and talk shows receiving “secret” payments when they plugged particular products in deal segments on their programs.

The concept of affiliate marketing — where sites get small commissions for referring their readers to sellers — is almost as old as the Internet itself. When a reader clicks a link to a seller on a website, it may be specially coded to identify what site referred the potential buyer.

You might be surprised who is using affiliate links now — Oprah and even Consumer Reports.

Our own Consumer World website uses affiliate links sparingly and has for years, usually in conjunction with a bargain. But, unlike virtually any other site, we flag each such affiliate link’s description with two hot green plus marks (++). And those plus marks lead readers to a clear but small disclosure at the bottom of the page explaining that we may earn a commission if you make a purchase from that link.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Consumer World affiliate disclosure

There is nothing inherently wrong about a publication entering into affiliate relationships with sellers as long as it doesn’t affect the editorial process. The question is, how well disclosed is that financial connection to readers? The FTC’s endorsement and testimonial guidelines require clear disclosure when a product reviewer has a financial connection to the product shown. We all could do better on disclosure.

 

Consumer Reports

While preparing last week’s Consumer Reports section of Consumer World (for which we receive no money), MrConsumer noticed a surprising disclosure in their “Top Gifts Under $50” story. The piece highlighted various products that rated well in Consumer Reports tests and provided direct links to the sites where they could be purchased. What was unexpected was a disclosure in tiny print at the end of the story.

*MOUSE PRINT: [highlighting added]

affiliate disclosure

Yes, even Consumer Reports, famous for not accepting advertising, buying all the products it tests instead of accepting free samples, and having a strict noncommercialization policy, makes money referring readers to sellers of the products it features in some stories.

We asked the organization, particularly given its sterling reputation and image, why they would virtually hide a disclosure like that in the smallest possible type. A spokesperson for them responded in part:

“Consumer Reports recently added new retailers to its shopping program, making it easier for consumers to buy rated products from a variety of online retailers while they’re researching them on ConsumerReports.org. At the time, we elevated our shopping disclaimer to the top of the page. We also have another disclaimer at the bottom of the page that links to the About Us section of our website where people can find additional information about our Commercial Partnerships.”

The November 30th story with the tiny disclosure only at the bottom apparently was an update of a previous story before the format change and therefore only had a disclosure at the end.

And as to why Consumer Reports makes the disclosure in such small type even when it appears on the top, the spokesperson said, “I have no answer for that.”

 

O – The Oprah Magazine

Oprah's Favorite ThingsAnother angel in the public eye is Oprah. We told you last week that historically, products that appear on her “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list of gift ideas have been chosen based solely on their merit. And we can confirm that is still the case after speaking to a product maker who has appeared on the list.

But does this mean that she or her magazine have not figured out a way to capitalize on the list? Not quite.

What O – The Oprah Magazine doesn’t talk about too prominently on its website is the fact that they have an affiliate relationship with the primary seller of the items on the list — Amazon. Click one of the “buy at Amazon” links in the story and if you buy the item, ca-ching for Oprah’s folks.

And as they say in a famous Seinfeld episode, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Except for this. It is only at the very end of the page of this year’s list, just above the Hearst copyright, that this tiny disclosure appears (in one very long line that we had to divide in half to fit here):

*MOUSE PRINT:

O Magazine disclosure

In conjunction with our story last week, we asked the editor of Oprah’s magazine a variety of questions including how its affiliate relationship with Amazon worked. We did not get a reply. Twice.

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