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October 16, 2006

Enviga from Coke: Burns More Calories Than it Contains*

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

enviga With that flame logo and energy-sounding name, one might think that Enviga was the new moniker for an old gas company. In fact, Enviga is a new green tea and caffeine beverage from the Coca Cola Company that claims to “help burn calories by gently increasing your metabolism.”

Their website says that since “each can of Enviga contains only 5 calories, you end up burning more calories than you consume – so for the first time you can actually ‘drink negative.'”

That claim is reminiscent of the old joke about a man boasting that his car was so fuel efficient that he actually had to stop every few miles to dump out excess gasoline.

The website also says that according to their own study, [Coke has just removed the abstract of their unpublished study from the Enviga website]  the average person burned 106 extra calories drinking three cans of Enviga a day.

*MOUSE PRINT:  The study was very small, consisting of only 32 healthy people, of normal weight, aged 18 – 35. (Wouldn’t this product appeal more to overweight people, and where is the study for that?) The results actually showed that there was no difference in fat oxidation (fat burning) between those drinking Enviga versus a placebo. But it did show that “energy expenditure” was significantly higher for the Enviga drinkers.

Coke is very careful in the way they word their claims, never saying anything about weight loss. Instead they say this drink “is a simple way and positive step you can take toward a healthy balanced lifestyle.”  The back of the can even cautions that drinking more than three cans a day of Enviga will not have any additional effect.

A company representative who was interviewed on the Today Show (watch video) danced around the answer to Matt’s question — if this is not a weight loss product, how does invigorating one’s metabolism lead to better health?

The real problem with a product subtitled “the calorie burner” is the reasonable inference that consumers will draw from such a claim — that you can drink this product and lose weight, and the more you drink, the more weight you will lose.

There is no doubt that Enviga will be subject of many articles and debates, [see Wall Street Journal piece], as it is rolled out in select cities next month, and nationwide in January (at $1.29 a can).




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October 9, 2006

House Paint: Introducing the 116 oz. Gallon*

Filed under: Downsizing,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:42 am

paint cansWhat could be a more common home improvement purchase than buying a gallon of paint?  You may fuss over the brand, the color, and the luster but you certainly don’t pay attention to the net contents statement on the can. Why should you, after all? A a gallon is a gallon.

An eagle-eyed Mouse Print* reader, however, recently bought a gallon can of Glidden paint and noticed that it was only 124 ounces — four ounces shy of a full gallon.

What’s going on?  Has paint been downsized just the way half gallons of ice cream have?

*MOUSE PRINT: For the past half dozen years or so, according to Glidden, paint cans labeled “base” or “tint base” contain less than one gallon. Why? These are the products to which the colorant of your choice is added when you pick a custom color at the store. If the cans were full to the gallon mark, there would not be enough room to add the color.

Do you actually get a full gallon when the color is added?  According to Glidden, maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on the color you pick. Most bases are white or very light colored, so the darker the custom color you want, the more color they have to add.

paint net weightThere are also “dark bases” that have even less in the can to start with.Sherwin Williams Duration, their most expensive paint, has only 116 ounces in their gallon can. Some Ralph Lauren paints (made by Glidden) have as little as 112 ounces in the gallon can.

Paint that has the color premixed by the manufacturer (rather than paint customized at the store) is still one gallon, and marked as such on the label. Often the packaging of certain whites and base whites is identical except for the word “base” on the label. If you are going to use that white as is, check the label carefully, so you get the full gallon.

The practice of underfilling gallon cans appears to be industry-wide. There is nothing illegal about it (unless you ultimately don’t receive 128 ounces), but as with many products featured in Mouse Print*, the revelation of the facts buried in the fine print can be quite surprising.





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October 8, 2006

Coming Soon: Different Prices for Cash, Credit and Debit

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:45 am

This story appears in Consumer World at http://www.consumerworld.org/pages/pricevaries.htm




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October 2, 2006

Amp’d Mobile: Unlimited Minutes Forever, $99*

Filed under: Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:30 am

Amp'd TV adYoung viewers on VH1 and MTV have been bombarded with entertaining commercials for Amp’d Mobile, a cellphone service with entertainment features. What really catches the bargainhunter’s ear is the promise of “unlimited anytime minutes forever for only $99 a month when you sign up for Amp’d Overload.” [VH1 commercial, April 30, 2006]

It is not clear at all what Amp’d Overload is. For the uninitiated, one might conclude that it is the name of their unlimited calling plan.

*MOUSE PRINT: Amp’d Overload and Amp’d Overdose are actually the names of television streaming services offering 20 to 30 channels of programming, for an extra $15 and $20 per month. Subscription to these services is required to obtain the advertised $99 calling plan. So, the actual price of the service is $114 to $119 a month. This price information is not disclosed in the commercial.

Also unclear is the meaning of “forever” in their claim. Is the $99 rate guaranteed forever? Is their offering an unlimited minutes plan guaranteed forever? Their terms and conditions don’t say, except:


To their credit, Amp’d says if any changes have a materially adverse affect on you, you can cancel your contract without termination penalties applying.




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September 25, 2006

Scott Toilet Paper: Still 1000 Sheets*

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:48 am

scott singleThere are certain things in life you can always count on, literally. One is that Scott toilet paper will have 1000 sheets on the roll and will last a lot longer than its ever-shrinking competitors.

Scott recently released a “Now Improved!” version of the product saying in an ad that it is an “improved long-lasting value.”  “Now with a new soft-textured pattern — and long-lasting convenience.”

What they didn’t boast about was this:

*MOUSE PRINT:  Each of the 1000 sheets is now 3.7 inches instead of the old 4.0 inches long, thus making each roll 300 inches shorter. [Click picture to see old and new packaging and square footage statement.]

In an email, the makers of Scott explained further:

“The new embossed sheet on SCOTT® 1000 bathroom tissue was extensively tested with consumers before it was introduced to the market. Consumer research indicated that the embossed sheet enhanced softness, thickness, and overall product quality. Although consumers preferred this new sheet, we are sorry that you were disappointed. Please be assured that we will share your comments with those involved.

Consumers told us that they preferred our new embossed sheet. To add this feature, we need to choose to either reduce the number of sheets in the roll or decrease the size of each sheet to maintain the overall roll diameter. Consumers favored the smaller sheet to the count reduction. “

Toilet paper, like many products is periodically downsized. You get a little bit less, and typically the package stays the same as does the selling price. It is a clever way to pass on a price increase, since you are paying more per ounce, pound, foot, or whatever.

Thousand sheet toilet paper started out by having sheets that were typically 4.5 inches wide by 4.5 inches long. The length was shortened a bit to 4.4 inches and then to 4.0 inches. With Scott going to 3.7 inches, the other brands are sure to follow. The net result is that 8/10ths of an inch has been shaved from each sheet over the years. That means each roll is 800 inches shorter.

Some improvement.




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