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October 22, 2012

Best Buy to Match Online Prices, Sort of

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:39 am

A couple of weeks ago, Best Buy announced that its brick and mortar stores were going to match online prices. Hurray! What could be better than being able to shop locally *and* pay lower Internet prices?

Not so fast. Have we forgotten who we are dealing with?

At the very end of the page describing its price matching policy, Best Buy added these catches:


Best Buy will match the new, identical, immediately available current pre-tax appliance and electronics hardware products price for these designated major retailers: Amazon.com, Apple.com, Bhphotovideo.com, Buy.com, Circuitcity.com, CompUSA.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, hhgregg.com, hp.com, homedepot.com, lowes.com, newegg.com, officedepot.com, officemax.com, Sears.com, Staples.com, Target.com, Tigerdirect.com, and walmart.com. Appliance and electronics hardware products include audio hardware, video hardware, cameras, camcorders, desktop computers, notebook computers, e-Readers, tablets, TVs, MP3 players, small appliances, major appliances, gaming handheld devices and consoles. Best Buy will not price match accessories, during the return and exchange period or the online prices of third party vendors (Marketplace Vendors) on major retailer websites. Valid for purchases made between October 7, 2012 – November 17, 2012 and November 27, 2012 – December 24, 2012. Best Buy may amend these terms at any time. All other terms and conditions of the Best Buy Price Match Guarantee apply. See Store for details.

*MOUSE PRINT Summarized:

1. Best Buy will not match all Internet prices, just at those specific sites listed above.

2. Best Buy will not match Internet prices of all products it carries, just electronics and appliances.

3. Best Buy will not match Internet prices during Thanksgiving week, Black Friday or Cyber Monday — the days when prices are likely to be the lowest.

4. Best Buy will apply all its other restrictions to online price matching, including that limited quantity, out of stock, and “Deal of the Day” items are excluded.

Best Buy garnered huge headlines for being one of the first brick and mortar retailers to match Internet prices, but the fine print of the actual policy reveals that it will not apply on the best days to shop nor to the lowest prices you are likely to find.




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October 15, 2012

Become a Personal Shopper, Earn $1000 a Month?

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

The email offer seemed enticing:

… you’ve been selected to become a Personal Shopper in the new SHOP YOUR WAY Personal Shopper program. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s profitable! (You’d be surprised at how easy it can be to earn $1,000 per month!)*

Well, since MrConsumer likes to shop, the opportunity to make an extra $1000 a month without a lot work seemed too good to be true.

The email went on to give a simple example:

When a client makes a qualifying purchase—for example, a new TV at $2000—you earn 1%, or $20 in this case.

Huh? If I am going to earn only 1% on purchases, how in the world is making an “easy” $1000 a month possible? I’d have to find 50 people who each want to buy a $2000 TV a month, every month for a year. Sure, that is real easy.

Actually, the mailer says once you get 20 clients, you earn 2% on purchases. Now I would only need 25 people a month to each buy a TV every month of the year. Whewww.

Put another away, I would have find people who collectively spend a total of $600,000 to $1,200,000 a year in order to make that “easy” $1000 monthly. Easy. Real easy.

Oh, did I mention the purchases must be made at Kmart and Sears?

An accompanying brochure gives another example of how easy it is to make money:

Personal Shopper

Lucky Susie, she only has to get her other eight clients to spend $94,400 a month every month to earn that easy $1000 monthly.

So what is Sears’ example of how to make $1000 a month? The answer is in a fine print footnote in the email:


*Make $1,000 a month when you get at least 250 of your friends and family to spend $200 a month in Qualifying Purchases with Sears, Kmart, Lands’ End, Sears Outlet, Sears Auto, mygofer and Sears Home Services.

Of course, now I only have to make 245 more friends and get each of them to spend thousands of dollars a year at Kmart and Sears.





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October 8, 2012

Refusing to Make Repairs Under a Service Contract

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:30 am

Marie W. bought a front loading GE washer and dryer back in 2008 for over $2100. Just before her first year of ownership was up, she got a letter from GE offering her a four-year service contract for $298. She decided to buy it.

One of the inserts she received for GE Service Protection Plus (from Federal Warranty Service Corporation) promised “unlimited service calls” and “you pay nothing for repairs to operating components that fail during normal residential use throughout the life of your contract.”

Good thing she bought it because she needed two repairs in the past few years. Then recently she heard a loud banging sound and called for service. The repair guy came, diagnosed the problem, and called in the repair telling them what was needed. The service company responded that it would cost too much to make the repair, as the washer was now only worth $589. They said all they would do is pay her that amount instead of fixing the machine. The repair would supposedly cost $1300.

Marie was in shock because she thought she had purchased peace of mind and would not have to worry about repair bills until 2013. She was told to look at section 9 of her contract and see that the service company was within its rights to refuse repairs. Could that really be?

MrConsumer got a copy of the contract, which said in relevant part:


“Administrator, in its sole discretion, will determine if Your Product is “non-repairable.” If it is, your remedy is to select a GE PRODUCT or a MONETARY credit from one of the schedules below.” [GE product credit is 84% of original purchase price for a four year old appliance, and a monetary credit toward a non-GE appliance is 74%.]

” ‘Non-repairable’ Product is a Product that Administrator determines cannot feasibly be repaired based on commercial and technical considerations including, but not limited to: age of Product, repair cost, number of times the Product has been repaired or attempted to be repaired, physical access, or parts not available in GE’s parts warehouse….”

“… liability of the … Administrator… shall not exceed the purchase price of a comparable replacement Product…”

While the fine print in the contract tends to uphold the servicing company’s actions, the current value of a consumer’s washer is not explicitly part of the computation to judge non-repairability and may not be calculated correctly. The company’s actions also are at odds with their advertising claims of the consumer not having to worry about repair costs during the term of the contract.

After some back and forth with the servicing company, they upped their offer to $679, still refusing to make the repair. MrConsumer advised Marie to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office to see if they could negotiate an even better deal for her.

But the lesson here is to read any service contract you plan to buy before you buy it, and see if it includes the right of the servicer to refuse repairs or to cap its liability.




• • •

October 1, 2012

Excedrin Headache #411: MrConsumer

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

Excedrin box

Novartis, the maker of Excedrin, has suffered from a bad headache for the past nine months because it had to recall all Excedrin products from store shelves. Apparently, they had a little problem with mixing pills from other Novartis products in Excedrin bottles, and according to the FDA they also had a little issue with contamination and ignoring consumer complaints.

The company announced last week, however, that it was resuming production, and that Excedrin will be back on store shelves soon.

Now seems the appropriate time therefore to shed a little light on the smoke and mirrors marketing tactics of the company.

People who suffer from migraine headaches may well turn to specialized products for their particular condition. One such product is Excedrin Migraine.

On their website, Novartis says that Excedrin Migraine is the “first non-prescription medicine approved by the FDA to treat all the symptoms of a migraine.”

Sounds great. But how is Excedrin Migraine different from regular Extra Strength Excedrin?

*MOUSE PRINT:  It isn’t. When you look at their ingredients statements, you learn that they both contain exactly the same active ingredients in the same proportions.

Here is the ingredients listing for Excedrin Migraine:

Excedrin Migraine

And here is the ingredients listing for regular Extra Strength Excedrin:

Excedrin Extra Strength

It is interesting to note that regular Excedrin has many clinical uses, but the migraine version only lists one. Of course, both of them should be capable of doing the exact same things.

So the question is why does Novartis have a specialized migraine product when their regular one is really identical?  Here is their answer:

As you may be aware, Excedrin Migraine received approval from the Food and Drug Administration on January 14, 1998 as the first over the counter product indicated to relieve the pain of mild to moderate migraine headache.

Excedrin Migraine contains 250 mg of Acetaminophen, 250 mg of aspirin and 65 mg of caffeine per tablet. It is the same Extra Strength Excedrin formulation, which has been on the market for over twenty years. When our clinical studies showed that this formulation was also effective for the relief of migraine headache pain, it had been our intention to simply add this information to our existing Extra Strength Excedrin labeling. The Food and Drug Administration, however, required that we market Excedrin Migraine as a separate product because Excedrin Migraine has important patient information, instructions and warnings for use in treating the pain of migraine. This information does not appear on Extra Strength Excedrin. This was the only reason that we came out with a separate product.

I am sure the company did’t protest too much because this gave them a great new marketing angle.

And maybe that gave the company a new idea that they could market the same exact pills under different names and increase their sales. Enter Excedrin Menstrual Complete:

Excedrin Menstrual Complete

Bet you can’t guess what their magical mix of three ingredients is in this product.


Excedrine Mensrual

Yep. It has the exact same three ingredients in the exact same proportions as Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Migraine.




• • •

September 24, 2012

Avis: $30 Off Your Next Rental?

Filed under: Autos,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:19 am

Mouse Print* reader Marc D. recently got a mail offer promising $30 off his next Avis rental if he would give them his email address.

Avis $30 offer

What he didn’t realize until after he received his $30 coupon was the offer was really $30 off a weekly rental.


Avis coupon

Since Marc’s “next rental” was not going to be a weekly one, he felt hoodwinked.

Mouse Print* wrote to Avis, asking what happened, and whether they would honor the no-strings-attached $30 offer for those who received the original offer.

“As a result of a printing error, the promotional insert did not specify that the offer was for a “weekly” rental. However, “weekly” is mentioned in several other places, including the outer envelope (see attached), the website/page where the customer provides his/her information to redeem the offer (www.avis.com/email) and the subsequent email offer. The erroneous promotional inserts have been discarded. New inserts have been printed and are currently being used.” — Avis spokesperson.

Fair enough, the disclosure WAS on the webpage where consumers had to sign-up, but was not on the offer sheet they received by mail. Some consumer protection advertising rules, however, state that the subsequent disclosure of the actual terms of an offer does not diminish the deceptive nature of the original offer that did not disclose those terms.

And what will Avis do for consumers who felt mislead about this offer?

“The $30 offer is being accepted on weekly rentals.” — Avis spokesperson.

In other words, nothing.




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