2009 Dumb Disclaimer of the Year

Every so often one comes upon an offer that has such a ridiculous disclaimer that it might make you laugh out loud. So we end the year, hopefully with a chuckle.

The top-of-the-line credit card from Visa is the Visa Signature card. Among its benefits are discounts for various purchases, including a generous buy one, get one free movie ticket offer from Fandango.com . All you do is enter the first six digits of your Visa card on their website to see if you are eligible for the free ticket. (Bargain hint: some non-Signature Visas work too.)

Of course, one has to be a good consumer and understand the terms and conditions of the offer before plunging ahead with such a major purchase.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Duh? So the chauffeured limo I just rented to get to the theater won’t be free? What about the clothing I wear to the movies? Or the dinner we have afterwards?

Darn. I surely would have thought all that stuff was free too.

Happy 2010.

Beware Costly Restocking Fees

About half of stores that sell electronics and furniture have restocking fees on some items. That’s a deduction made from the refund you would otherwise be entitled to when returning an item to a store. Restocking fees can range from 10% to 100%. These fees are usually triggered by returning an electronics item that has been opened, used, damaged, or doesn’t have all the original packaging.

While many retailers and etailers are good about returns and about disclosing their policies by means of store signs and in the customer service section of their websites, some other sellers are vague about how much breaking the rules will cost you.

Overstock.com, for instance says:

If you return an item that has been opened or shows signs of wear, we will issue a partial refund minus both original shipping charge and return shipping fees. Products decrease in value over time. Therefore, we reduce refunds for returns you initiate more than 30 days after delivery or received at our returns processing facility within 45 days.

Well, how much is the partial refund? For most items, the company does not say. But if you dig deeply enough into their website, Overstock has very specific, hard-as-nails rules for figuring out how much they will deduct from your refund for returned jewelry and watches:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Jewelry and Watch Returns Condition Policy:

A Master Certified Watchmaker or Graduate Gemologist rigorously inspects jewelry and watch returns, which are subject to the following guidelines:

1. Excellent: 100% Refund (minus $10 inspection fee and shipping)

  • Falls within Overstock.com’s Jewelry & Watch 30-day Return Policy.
  • Pristine showcase condition. Looks new, unworn and needs no refurbishing.
  • Arrives in new, undamaged original box or case.
  • Complete with all original parts, links and accessories.
  • Complete with all original certificates, manuals, appraisals and tags.
  • No evidence of sizing, service, alteration, wear or blemish of any kind.
  • Items with Mylar tags must have the tag attached and unbroken.

2. Good: 40% to 80% Refund

  • Falls within Overstock.com’s Jewelry & Watch 30-day Return Policy.
  • Can be restored to “like-new” condition.
  • Arrives in new, undamaged original box or case.
  • Complete with all original parts, links and accessories.
  • Complete with all original certificates, manuals, appraisals and tags.
  • Sizing, service, alteration, wear or blemish of any kind that we cannot refurbish.
  • Items with Mylar tags must have the tag attached and unbroken.

3. Fair: 0% to 40% Refund

  • Falls within or outside Overstock.com’s Jewelry & Watch 30-day Return Policy.
  • Cosmetic defects that cannot be refurbished (e.g. gold plating or special finishes that are scratched or rubbed off and scratched/ripped bands of leather or rubber).
  • Missing or damaged original box.
  • Missing any parts, links or accessories (subject to evaluation for each).
  • Missing original certificates, manuals, appraisals and tags.
  • Significant wear or damaged but repairable watch movement.

4. Poor: NO Refund

  • Falls outside Overstock.com’s Jewelry & Watch 30-day Return Policy.
  • Items that do not match the serial number or SKU number of the item originally ordered.
  • Mechanical damage that is unrepairable or significant cosmetic damage.
  • Wear, blemish or cosmetic damage or damaged watch movement due to inappropriate wear or use.
  • Missing original box or case.
  • Missing parts, links or accessories.
  • Missing original certificates, manuals, appraisals and tags.

One can only assume that similar criteria might apply when they judge how much to give you back on an opened electronic item.

Other stores, including Brookstone and BJ’s, have some restocking fees, but do not state how much they are. And Sears equivocates on whether a 15% restocking fee will be applied to open box electronics.

The best advice: if you think you might return a particular gift, DON’T OPEN THE BOX.

Downsized Products 2009 — Part 2

The parade of downsized items continues with the category that reputedly created the concept of shrinking products — candy bars. An alert Mouse Print* reader  noticed that his favorite “king size” Snickers bar was now nearly half an ounce lighter. Scouring the shelves of candy sellers, we were able to find both the old and the new products.

*MOUSE PRINT:

snickersm

Unless you read the net weight statement, you would never know the product had shrunk, because it is the same length.

Here are some other examples of products that were discovered to have been downsized in 2009:

*MOUSE PRINT:

freshexpressm

crackerb

lays1416mp

ruffies

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Mouse Print* readers who spotted some of these net weight changes.