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October 14, 2013

The Fine Print that Allows Google to Use Your Name in Ads

Filed under: Computers,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 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.


Google Endorsement adLast week, Google followed Facebook’s lead to announce that it was changing its terms of service so it could use your name and photo potentially in future endorsement ads for products that you have liked or written about. And they are doing so without paying you or getting your explicit permission in each instance.

Here, in part, is that announcement:

How your Profile Name and Photo May Appear
(including in reviews and advertising)

On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.

… your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. And the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad that the bakery runs through Google. We call these recommendations shared endorsements and you can learn more about them here.

When it comes to shared endorsements in ads, you can control the use of your Profile name and photo via the Shared Endorsements setting. If you turn the setting to “off,” your Profile name and photo will not show up on that ad for your favorite bakery or any other ads. This setting only applies to use in ads, and doesn’t change whether your Profile name or photo may be used in other places such as Google Play.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Here is more detail about “shared endorsement” ads and how to set your preferences.

Google ads

Oddly, the circled text says to click the box below if you want to prevent your name and photo from being used, but the text next to the box says the exact opposite. By clicking it, you are allowing Google to use your words and pictures in ads.

This may be a matter of timing, since the new policy does not go into effect until November 11, so in the meantime, it is “opt-in.” News reports, however, indicate that once the change is in effect the only way to prevent your likeness from being used is to opt-out.

And in the actual language of their new terms of service statement, it clearly says “you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in ads.”

The trouble with all this is that most people either won’t know that this new advertising policy exists, or won’t be able to find the spot to turn it off.




• • •

October 7, 2013

More Groceries Downsize – 2013 (Part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:29 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.


There seems to be a sudden wave of products being downsized after a bit of a lull.

Beloved Charmin toilet paper, which believe it or not had 600 or 650 sheets on a roll when it was first introduced, has now been downsized again for the umteenth time, to just 164 sheets per “double” roll.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin
[Click above to see original labels]

Not only does P&G give you fewer sheets now, they also narrowed each sheet by close to half an inch.

We asked P&G why they downsized Charmin and why they made each sheet narrower. They said they downsized “to provide consumer driven improvements without raising our pricing.” As to why they narrowed each sheet, the company said:

“While the roll width was reduced 3/8ths of an inch, this allowed us to invest in some additional features:

  • Comfort Cushions to enhance the softness of Charmin Ultra Soft—a key consumer need for our Ultra Soft users
  • A more flexible Charmin Ultra Strong—our Ultra Strong users want strength without making the sheet too stiff
  • A reduced roll width to improve how easily it flushes for our most demanding users

We also added some fibers taken away from the sides back into the rest of the sheet to put more fibers where you need them most to get the job done.”

Thanks to Richard G. for tipping us off to how Charmin is squeezing the customer.


Good old Ritz Crackers, which used to come in one pound boxes, and which was downsized a few years ago, has just been downsized again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ritz

ritz 2013

Thanks to Jamie M. for spotting the Ritz downsizing.


Lastly, for this downsizing roundup, we have Ocean Spray cranberry juice, which forever has come in 64-ounce bottles, but no longer does. They have been shrunk to 60-ounces. The old bottle on the left says “New Look,” which is usually a tip-off to a change in size, but this time it was a false signal. The new bottle also says “New Look,” and the ounces did drop. Go figure.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ocean Spray cranberry juice

How did they do it? When looked at from the side, the top of half of the new bottle has been narrowed. Sneaky. Very sneaky.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Ocean Spray sides

Ocean Spray told Mouse Print* that it downsized some of its products because of rising costs it faced and “rather than raise the price at the point of sale.” As to the phrase “new look” appearing on both the old bottles and new bottles bottles, the company said it began using “new look” in October 2012 to differentiate its 100% juice products from its other product lines. And finally, here is their response to why the four-ounce drop in net contents was done so inconspicuously:

“The realities of the economy and the rising costs of goods mean we like many manufacturers have to make tough decisions about products and pricing. Our number one priority is making sure consumers have access to the product they want at a price point they can afford. The move to downsize our 100% Juice line from 64 oz. to 60 oz. was done in accordance with industry standards and was not concealed in any manner.” — Ocean Spray Spokesperson

Thanks to Lynnie B. for catching the Ocean Spray downsizing.




• • •

September 30, 2013

EHD – Excessive Hosting Disorder

Filed under: Humor — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:24 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.


We take a break this week from nasty fine print, and focus on a funny disclaimer that virtually no one saw on TV last week.

The most clever moment at the 65th Annual Emmy Awards last Sunday was a video featuring host Neil Patrick Harris. He has become a popular pick to host awards shows like the Tonys and Emmys for good reason.

In this clip, we find the former “Doogie Houser” yearning to host more and more shows. In fact, it has become such an obsession, that his colleagues from “How I Met Your Mother” are seen doing a public service announcement for EHD, a rehabilitation program for those suffering from Excessive Hosting Disorder.



At the end of the PSA, there is the obligatory fine print (and the best headline ever), but not on the screen long enough for any viewer to read and get a chuckle:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Emmys EHD




• • •

September 23, 2013

Advertised Sales Now Limited to the Diligent

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:13 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.


soup saleOnce upon a time, when you looked through the Sunday advertising circulars, and saw Tide on sale for $1.99, you simply went to the store, put Tide in your cart, and paid $1.99 at the checkout. Simple.

Sales were advertised broadly, and open to everyone. And even if you didn’t know the item was on sale before you walked in the store, you nonetheless got the benefit of the sale price when you checked out. Then, maybe a decade or more ago, some supermarkets questioned why they were giving discounts or offering sale items to everyone who just walked in off the street.  So they created loyalty cards or club cards so that only customers who allowed the store to track their purchases could buy the items advertised in their circulars at the sale price.

*MOUSE PRINT:

card only

Clever. Very clever. Saves them a ton of money (at our expense). But now it gets even worse. All three major drugstore chains — Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid — have figured out a way to get customers to pay full price for sale items and only get credit for the discount price toward a future purchase.

CVS started it several years ago with “extra bucks”. That is a system whereby cardholders are shown a sale price for an item in an ad, but pay full price or close to full price for it. On their register receipt will be a coupon good for the difference between the advertised price and full price. That coupon can be used toward a future purchase.

For example:

In this case, you are attracted by the $4.97 sale price (“it’s like getting it for $4.97” they say), but you really have to pay almost $9. You get back $4 in merchandise credit for future purchases on a subsequent visit to the store.

What’s problem with that? You are really getting a discount on something else, and not on the sale item that attracted you to the store to start with. You have to make a second trip to the store (or go back and do a second shopping on the first trip.) You only have a few weeks to use the credit before it expires, so you could lose the money (and in effect really would have purchased the original item at full price). You also could wind up having to buy more merchandise on that subsequent trip that you may or may not want or need.

Walgreens followed suit a couple of years ago offering “register rewards”, and sometime after that, Rite Aid jumped on the bandwagon with “+UP Rewards”.

To make matters worse, Walgreens will only accept one register reward per item. So if you have collected a dollar credit here, and a two dollar credit there, and want to apply them to the purchase of a $3 item, you can’t. (CVS and Rite Aid will accept multiple credits toward a single item.) And Rite Aid won’t let you use credits earned today until 6 am tomorrow, thereby necessitating a second trip.

This whole system of giving discounts only to cardholders, coupled with making you pay full price instead of the advertised sale price is all designed to SAVE THEM MONEY by getting you to spend more and potentially save less. That’s some system.




• • •

September 16, 2013

Walmart Touts Free Layaways But Quietly Adds Cancellation Fee

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:58 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.


Retailers are making a big push to promote early holiday shopping. Kmart began TV advertising last week, and Toys-R-US just announced modified store policies. And Walmart started promoting its holiday layaway plan:

Walmart layaways

“This time it’s free,” the ad boasts. This refers to the fact that last year Walmart charged a $5 fee to initiate a layaway, but they reimbursed that fee to shoppers at the end by giving them a $5 gift card.

What Walmart doesn’t tout is another inconspicuous change.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Walmart cancellation fee

Yep. They have introduced a $10 cancellation fee which is imposed if the consumer cancels the purchase. It is also triggered if all the payments are not made or if the item is not picked up by December 13.

No one is disputing Walmart’s right to add a cancellation fee, particularly if they have taken the shopper’s goods off the selling floor for three months. What is interesting, however, is that their marketing folks have taken a net negative change to the layaway plan (the $10 cancellation fee) and essentially no change to their start fee (since it was rebated), and turned it into a positive advertising campaign.




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