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December 9, 2013

Holy Sheets: Paper Towel Size Madness

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

Have you shopped for paper towels lately? It seems that these paper manufacturers have conspired to confuse customers by putting crazy size comparisons on each package.

Four rolls of this is equal to eight rolls of that. Eight “giant” rolls are equal to 12 “regular” rolls. Six “mega” rolls are equal to eight regular rolls, but six “big” rolls are also equal to eight regular rolls, and six “huge” rolls are equal to 15 regular ones. Twelve “giant” rolls are equal 18 regular rolls, but 12 “big” rolls are equal to only 16 regular ones.

Doesn’t this drive you crazy? Why don’t they simply say in big letters (as opposed to the tiny print they use now ) exactly how many sheets are on each roll so you know what you are really buying.



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  1. One of the really big deceptions is in the actual unit pricing on those towels that have each sheet perforated in half. I think Bounty calls them “select a size” or something. If you are not careful you will think you are getting a deal, as the unit pricing will look like the sheets with the extra perf are much much cheaper. That’s because the unit price “per sheet” is actually for only half of the normal size sheet. Perfectly legal, but easy to get the wrong impression.

    Comment by Bob — December 9, 2013 @ 5:54 am
  2. Personally, I prefer the regular size and don’t care for those mega or giant rolls. They don’t fit well in our paper holder.

    Comment by Peter — December 9, 2013 @ 7:28 am
  3. When price comparison shopping, I find it beneficial to go directly to the label listing of square feet per roll . . . there’s no ambiguity there (yet.)

    Comment by Kim Proemmel — December 9, 2013 @ 9:16 am
  4. Stuff like this really does crack me up. Exactly what is “regular”.

    And something like this, you have it in your hand, I could care less what it is trying to tell me it is “more” than. You can see right there what it is, are people actually tricked in to thinking they are getting more?

    Comment by Tom — December 9, 2013 @ 10:17 am
  5. @Peter

    Don’t worry, those mega rolls will soon be the size of regular rolls. Those regular rolls will probably be ten sheets.

    Comment by rick — December 9, 2013 @ 10:18 am
  6. Kim Proemmel, actually, there is ambiguity there, the toilet paper people do it all the time. They make the paper thinner. Sure, you get your square footage, but it is a very thin paper. Different paper towels have different thicknesses as well.

    Comment by Tom — December 9, 2013 @ 10:18 am
  7. Well, you pretty much answered your own question. They don’t make it obvious how many sheets are on each roll so that they can keep the consumer perpetually confused. That way they hope we won’t notice it when they’re making the sheet size smaller or decreasing the amount of full size sheets per roll. I have even been confused by the store’s “unit pricing” for paper towels. Even that doesn’t help me figure out which one’s a better deal!

    Comment by Renée — December 9, 2013 @ 11:10 am
  8. Tom, these days I can pretty much see through a sheet of Scott toilet paper. How much thinner can they make it? The mind boggles, but I’m sure they’ll find a way. And seriously, how could “regular” mean anything if they’re constantly reducing the size (and thickness) of “regular”?

    Comment by Renée — December 9, 2013 @ 11:16 am
  9. I do not like select a size rolls at all.

    Square feet per roll is always in small print.

    A regular roll is a standard single roll of paper towels. That is the base and then double, mega, or family sized roll from that base. I can see 10 sheet regular rolls.

    It is all a racket.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — December 9, 2013 @ 12:22 pm
  10. As much as I hate government involvement, I think it’s time to step in for the sake of consumer protection and regulate on how labels should be written. They’re already done it with cigarette warnings and nutrition information on all consumed food items. I don’t see a stopping point for all this downsizing and the deceptive juggling of size descriptions – e.g. Today’s regular was yesterday’s large! With the free reign power of large corps, I wouldn’t be surprise if they change the meaning of “dozen” to mean 11!

    Comment by Frankie — December 9, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
  11. I noticed something with toilet paper recently. They actually made the roll *narrower*! Still just as many sheets, just less paper per sheet. I wonder if paper towels have gone the same way. I imagine if you go from 11″ to 10.5″ you’d save millions.

    Comment by Matt T — December 9, 2013 @ 1:15 pm
  12. I bought an 8-pak of off-brand towels because Food Maxx had a $1.00 coupon and I calculated, yes, calculated that among the dozen or so other packages on the shelves, this one was the best THAT day.
    For $2.98, this FIORA brand(I never heard of it) has 3-ply, 110 sheet, 10.9x5in. The others were 1 or 2-ply, 65,50, or 45 sheets and 11×10.9in or less. I remember when Sparkle had 11×14(!) sheets and 60/70 per roll.

    Comment by Gerry Pong — December 9, 2013 @ 3:20 pm
  13. All I need is the what the roll is made of, the thickness of the sheets, and the square footage. Any other information is superfluous.

    Comment by Wayne R — December 9, 2013 @ 3:36 pm
  14. I would prefer that paper towel (and toilet paper and tissue) pricing be done by dry weight. There are too many ways companies can manipulate the unit pricing by changing dimensions, making sheets puffier, and perforating them in different places. But it’s hard to legally manipulate the weight of the product.

    Comment by Alan — December 9, 2013 @ 6:43 pm
  15. Well Matt T this place earlier this year posted on shrinking toilet paper.

    Charmin rolls got smaller in both size and amount per roll.

    It is just nuts.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — December 10, 2013 @ 2:42 pm
  16. Andy Rooney was doing his own size comparisons between Bounty paper towels and Charmin from then and now back in 1995 here in this clip from “60 Minutes”. He even had viewers send him old rolls of both to do the comparison.

    While putting up Christmas ornaments I found a long forgotten sealed box of them in my attic wrapped in sheets of Bounty from back in 1997 (judging from the date of the newspaper other ornaments in the same box were wrapped in). I decided to compare the size of the ’97 sheet with one from a new roll and found that they were not too different in size. The new Bounty sheets are a little smaller in width (by maybe a quarter of an inch) but that’s about it. Also, they seem about equally as strong. I was actually half expecting the new Bounty sheets to be at least a half an inch smaller!

    Comment by Renée — December 15, 2013 @ 2:39 am
  17. Given that I shop for paper towels at most twice a year, I couldn’t care at all about the excess wording on the packages. We buy the big packages at BJ’s, Costco, or elsewhere and they last for six months or more. The whole notion of comparing “mega”/”super duper”/”big”/whatever rolls to “regular rolls is ridiculous. I’d rather not spend much time at all on unit price comparisons at the store. I just grab whatever package has the select-a-size rolls with the highest number of rolls and throw it in the cart.

    Comment by morlamweb — December 16, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

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