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November 23, 2020

Lowe’s Extended Protection Plans Called Deceptive

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World 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.


A Washington consumer who bought a barbecue grill last year from Lowe’s is suing the company for deceptive practices after his grill went on the fritz and Lowe’s refused to fix it.

Like many shoppers who buy more expensive products, this customer was asked at the checkout if he would like to buy a four-year extended warranty “Protection Plan.” He was told it would cover everything and even included on-site repairs. After he agreed to buy the $79.99 plan, the cashier put a brochure about it in his bag.

Fast forward about 10 months, and sure enough his barbecue developed a problem so the consumer asked Lowe’s for someone to come out and pick it up for repair. Lowe’s refused saying the grill was covered by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty and according to the customer’s lawsuit, while the Lowe’s extended warranty plans start on the day of purchase, they only provide benefits after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. [Thanks to Truth in Advertising for the case.]

The extended warranty contract used by Lowe’s is not clearly worded to explicitly warn purchasers about this:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Parts and services covered during the manufacturer’s warranty period are the responsibility of the manufacturer. Your Product(s) may have a labor and/or parts warranty from the manufacturer that may provide additional or overlapping coverage with this Plan. Review Your manufacturer’s warranty. Nothing in the Plan will limit or discharge any manufacturer’s obligations.

To add insult to injury in this case, since the barbecue had a five-year warranty and the Lowe’s plan was only four years, it completely overlapped what the manufacturer was providing. That made the Lowe’s plan a complete waste of money for the customer.

Lowe’s has not publicly commented on the allegations made in this lawsuit.

Whenever buying a warrantied product, try to purchase it with a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year for free. Many card issuers have dropped this benefit, so double-check which of your cards still offer it.

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• • •

November 16, 2020

Use This Kohl’s Cash Trick for Extra Savings

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:54 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World 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.


Over the past few weeks we’ve focused on the fine print of store policies, both good and bad, at major retailers. This week, we turn to Kohl’s, which has a genuinely pro-consumer policy when it comes to Kohl’s Cash. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the company for continually making exaggerated savings claims on items that are almost always on sale.

Kohl’s Cash is a bonus that shoppers get when they reach certain spending thresholds. Think of it like a merchandise credit. For their big upcoming Black Friday sale, for instance, for every $50 you spend (after all discounts), you will earn $15 in Kohl’s Cash that is good toward future purchases.

Kohl's Cash

Maybe you are like MrConsumer and sometimes just fall short of making the $50 threshold because the item you are buying is unfortunately priced at $49.99. You are in luck, however, because of a little-known policy at Kohl’s.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kohl's Cash Policy

So, don’t think you have to add a filler item to your cart when the basket total is just shy of $50. Kudos to Kohl’s.

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November 9, 2020

CVS’s Seemingly Generous Coupon Acceptance Policy

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World 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.


Last month, we pointed out a nasty coupon acceptance policy at Walgreens whereby if you e-clipped both a $1 and an $8 coupon for the same product, their system would only accept the LOWER valued one. (They promised a fix.)

It isn’t often you find a retailer (no less CVS) that interprets its coupon acceptance policy in a pro-consumer manner, but it looked like CVS was doing just that.

For example, in many stores if an item is on sale “buy one, get one free” and you have two $1 off coupons, the store will only let you use only one arguing that you can’t get a dollar off on the second item because it is free. Such is the case at Rite Aid in their official policy.

CVS’s written policy currently is different, however.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
Yes, for certain coupons and certain sale items.

Examples:
• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and the customer purchases two shampoos; the customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.

This CVS policy is very generous, at least on paper. In practice, however, the CVS checkout system two weeks ago denied MrConsumer’s second $2 off manufacturer’s coupon on a buy one, get one free vitamin sale.

We contacted the PR folks at CVS to raise this issue, and their spokesperson responded:

Our coupons policy states: “Only one manufacturer’s coupon may be used per qualifying item unless otherwise stated by coupon. We honor manufacturer limitations.” Qualifying items for manufacturers coupons are those with a purchase price greater than zero. So while you’d still be able to use multiple coupons in this example, only one may be a manufacturers coupon. We intend to amend the FAQ for clarity. -CVS spokesperson

What this really seems to be saying is that henceforth, CVS will only accept ONE manufacturer’s coupon on buy one, get one free items — a complete retreat from their very generous policy as currently worded.

Incidentally, Stop & Shop’s previous policy also explicitly allowed two manufacturer’s coupons on buy one, get one free sale items.

All is not lost, however. Here’s a different example of CVS’s pro-consumer coupon policy which we did not test, and hope is implemented as represented:

Let’s say you have two store coupons each good for $3 off a $15 or higher purchase, but you want to buy $30+ worth of stuff. Some savvy shoppers would split the order in two $15 orders, so you can use one coupon on each transaction. CVS’s policy says don’t bother splitting the order because their computer will recognize and accept both coupons in a single order.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
Yes, as long as all of the coupons meet their qualifications.

Examples:
• Two $3 off $15 coupons for purchases that are $30.00 or higher.

So, at least sometimes, CVS seems to be on the consumer’s side when it comes to coupon acceptance.

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• • •

November 2, 2020

When You Stop Saving With Savings Bonds

Filed under: Finance — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:21 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World 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.


Remember when U.S. savings bonds were a popular gift? You could give someone a $50 savings bond, but only pay $25 for it. It would grow over time to eventually reach the face value. Savings bonds have fallen out of favor by most investors because of very low interest rates and their long maturity periods.

Recently, MrConsumer finally decided it was time to cash in some old savings bonds from 1966, 1969, and 1995. He had long since forgotten which savings bonds continued to earn interest and which did not. As it turns out, that was an expensive lesson to learn.

US savings

*MOUSE PRINT:

The series “E” bonds from the mid-60s stopped earning interest after 30 years. This means that while the $25 bond pictured above actually was worth just over $123, it hasn’t earned a penny of interest since the mid-90s — some 24 years ago. Duh.

And a $100 series “EE” saving bond from 1995, which still had five more years until it matures, was only worth $111.56 due to a variable interest rate of only 1.02-percent currently.

So take a tip from this experience — check the value of your savings bonds with this handy tool and quickly cash in those that mature and stop earning interest.

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• • •

October 26, 2020

Microban 24: Kills Viruses and Bacteria for 24 Hours?

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:40 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World 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.


Everyone is very conscious these days of keeping surfaces that we touch as sanitary as possible. So what a perfect time to promote this product, Microban 24, that kills viruses and bacteria.

What is the impression you come away with after watching that commercial? They claim that Microban 24 kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, and you may believe they said it works for 24 hours. Watch the commercial again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Microban fine print

They actually claim, combining their oral statements and fine print disclaimer that Microban 24 kills bacteria for 24 hours, but only kills viruses initially (upon spraying) and NOT for 24 hours. The company cleverly omits the word “viruses” when making its 24-hour claim.

So despite the product’s name, and a very carefully worded commercial where every word is literally true, a consumer could very easily come away with an incorrect impression of the efficacy of the product. And under FTC theory of the law, this could make the ad deceptive.

It is the net impression conveyed by a solicitation, “not its literal truth or falsity,” that determines whether it is deceptive. FTC v. Cyberspace.com, LLC, 453 F.3d 1196, 1200, 1201 (9 Cir. 2000).

We asked Procter & Gamble, the maker of the product, why they don’t clearly state orally that virus protection does not last 24 hours, and whether they would consider modifying their advertisements to more clearly disclose the limited nature of the virus protection. P&G did not respond to our inquiry.

UPDATE October 28: The EPA just granted approval to add Microban 24 to its list of products that can kill the coronavirus within 60 seconds. But, that does not change the fact that P&G’s product does not continue to kill viruses for 24 hours contrary to the impression created by their advertising.

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