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Act Mouthwash: Now With Less Fluoride?

A sharp reader found what he thought was a new example of skimpflation — when a product is reformulated with cheaper ingredients, or perhaps simply watered down.

He wrote about Act Total Care mouthwash which is an anticavity product with fluoride that you swish around in your mouth once a day to provide added protection for your teeth.

A closer look at the front label reveals an inconspicuous difference between the smaller bottle he had at home and the larger one he had just bought.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Act small and big

Could the print be any smaller? The strength of the fluoride is less than half in the large bottle going from 0.05% to just 0.02%! So users have to wonder whether it is going to be less effective since in essence they are giving you diluted fluoride.

But there was a second difference on the back label. Instead of gargling once a day, you have to use the product on the right, the larger bottle, twice a day.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Act smallAct large

The effect of both these differences seems like a double-whammy for users. You’re getting half the strength so you have to use twice as much a day, and the larger bottle costs more.

We asked Sanofi, the maker of Act, to explain these changes, as well as calling their consumer line. We were provided with a most unexpected answer. Although the products look the same but for the size of the bottle, and have the same name, they are actually two separate products. The smaller bottle is meant to be a once-a-day product and the larger one is meant to be a twice-a-day product, and this is nothing new. The customer service rep said the larger bottle has to have a less concentrated amount of fluoride since you are taking twice as much of it.

There is no indication on the front label that you need two doses a day from the larger bottle of Act Total Care unlike some other of their mouthwashes that at least have a tiny designation on the front.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Act 1x Act 2x

We can only wonder how many people are taking the wrong dose of Act Total Care if they change bottle sizes? Some may wind up taking double the dose, while others could wind up with only getting half the protection they expect. When we asked Sanofi why they don’t try to prevent misdosing by clearly labeling the products “1x Daily” or “2x Daily,” their spokesperson (non)responded:

“All of our products are labeled in accordance with FDA regulation.”

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Please Help Support Consumer World

MrConsumer For 27 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising alone nor corporate support) that keeps this site and Mouse Print* available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.
Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Citi Drops Extended Warranty Benefit on Costco Credit Cards

One of the best perks of using certain credit cards is the extended warranty benefit that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to an extra year or two for free.

That was the case with the popular Costco Citi Visa card, but cardholders who read the fine print notice on their recent credit card statement or checked the Citi website were stunned to learn that that benefit is about to be discontinued.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Citi Costco Visa notice

That’s right, after January 22, 2023, the two-year extended warranty that the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi card provided will be gone. This benefit has been worth its weight in gold for many a consumer who learned that their major appliance, computer, or big screen TV needed repairs after the manufacturer’s one-year warranty expired.

Costco, however, still appears to be offering its Costco Concierge Service whereby it provides a free second year warranty on major appliances, computers and television sets.

Citi continues the trend of removing most of the valuable consumer benefits that used to be standard on its credit cards, as we reported back in 2019 and also in 2018. The extended warranty benefit has also been dropped on many American Express cards and those of other banks.

You can still find the extended warranty benefit on some Chase credit cards, from some other banks, and on a very few Citi and AMEX cards. Particularly as we start the holiday shopping season, before you make that major appliance, TV, computer, or electronics purchase, check with your credit card issuers to see which of your cards still doubles the manufacturer’s warranty for free.

And while you’re at it, ask for or review your card’s current benefit brochure because you can no longer assume that other traditional benefits are still included like free collision damage waiver on rental cars.

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MrConsumer For 27 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising alone nor corporate support) that keeps this site and Mouse Print* available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.
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Advocates to Grocers: Stop Digital Discrimination of Unplugged Seniors

A coalition of national consumer organizations is urging leading supermarket chains to stop discriminating against senior citizens and low income shoppers who cannot take advantage of a new wave of advertised in-store digital-only discounts because millions of them do not have internet access or smartphones.

Read about the issue in our original story.

In a letter to the presidents of a dozen large supermarket chains, the consumer groups (Consumer Action, Consumer Reports, Consumer World, National Consumers League, and PIRG) are urging them to help bridge the digital divide by adopting a workaround so unplugged shoppers are charged the same lower sale prices as connected customers are.

“It’s digital discrimination, and the most vulnerable people are being shut-out of these online discounts at the worst possible time given record high inflation,” explained Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World. “Big supermarkets need to provide an offline alternative to the digitally-disconnected so they can reap the same savings that connected shoppers enjoy.”

In the past couple of years, more and more weekly specials advertised by some supermarkets for meat, fish, poultry, produce, and store brand items are so-called “digital-only deals” (see sample ads). They require shoppers to first go online to electronically “clip” the offers to add them to their loyalty card account to be charged the sale price in the store.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sample supermarket FAQ about digital-only offers:

Q. Can I still take advantage of these coupons if I don’t have a smart phone or a computer?

A. These coupons are only available electronically. Manufacturers continue to offer paper coupons through local newspapers.

But, since 25-percent of seniors don’t use the internet and 39-percent don’t have smartphones according to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, they are effectively shut-out of these deals. Similarly, 43-percent of low income households lack broadband internet access.

Digital-only discounts can provide significant savings for connected shoppers. But an unplugged shopper, for example, could pay $9 more for this package of steak, or $15 more for a 15-pound Thanksgiving turkey because he or she cannot clip the required digital coupon.

Digital only items

Even on smaller purchases, the amount a digitally-disconnected shopper overpays can be significant. In the following examples, he or she is paying twice the price for this tub of store brand ice cream and 75-percent more for this carton of eggs.

ice cream and eggs

This week, stores across the country are offering digital-only sale items like these.

Not only are people without internet access shut-out of digital discounts, so are the one-in-four shoppers who despite having online access say they may lack the technical ability to use a supermarket’s website or app, according to a recent survey by Consumer World.

The consumer groups have suggested five ways that supermarkets can offer an in-store offline alternative to digital-only deals to accommodate both the digitally-disconnected and the digitally-challenged shopper:

1. Utilize barcoded clip or click store coupons in circulars so the customer can choose their preferred redemption method (e.g., Vons and The Giant Company).

2. Empower cashiers to charge the digital price upon request.

3. Empower customer service personnel to provide refunds for unredeemed digital discounts.

4. Offer physical store coupons next to digital-only deals for those who did not/could not electronically “clip” the offer (e.g., H-E-B).

5. Install coupon kiosks where digital coupons can be added to one’s account in-store (e.g., ShopRite and Food Lion).

The letter to supermarket executives was sent on November 15 to the following chains: Kroger, Albertsons, Stop & Shop, Star Market/Shaw’s, Ralphs, QFC, Jewel Osco, Randalls, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Smart & Final, and Safeway.

Feel free to offer your opinion of whether supermarkets should make accommodations for seniors and others who don’t have internet access or smartphones to be able to pay the digital price for advertised sale items in stores.

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