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Thanks for Nothing #1

We are starting a new recurring feature today called “Thanks for Nothing.” It is designed to highlight offers that seem great on their face, but when you get down to the details, you’ll probably say forget it.

Example 1:

For Black Friday, Lowe’s advertised 60-watt LED bulbs for an amazing 99 cents each — the lowest price ever.

99 cent LEDs


2000 hours

These bulbs only have an expected life of 2000 hours. That is about one-tenth the time the average LED bulb is expected to last. (See our prior story about LED bulb longevity.)

Thanks for nothing, Lowe’s.

Example 2:

Also during Black Friday weekend, online stores had some amazing deals. One that crossed our screen was this leather chukka boot for only $30 — quite a bargain at that price:

Vegan Leather


Upon closer examination, it says “vegan leather.” Huh? Is that like gluten-free leather? Who knows… so we asked the company whether this was man-made, and if so why they didn’t say so. They responded:

“It is man-made however, that is vegan friendly which is why they put vegan leather/suede.” — Street Moda, customer service

So if your dog is on a vegan diet and decides to chew on your chukka boots, he won’t be going off his diet, I guess.

And to the extent that this company is trying to mislead consumers into thinking that this is a form of real leather, thanks for nothing, Street Moda.

Example 3:

Also just ahead of Black Friday, Big Lots sent out an email with a seemingly very valuable coupon — “$10 off everything” it proclaimed in the subject. Since both Kohl’s and J.C. Penney offered similar $10 off coupons on anything, this seemed very plausible.

10 off everything


$10 off $50 purchase

Oh, did you forget to list the minimum purchase requirement in the subject, Big Lots?

Thanks for (almost) nothing.

We welcome your submissions of other great “thanks for nothing” examples. Just email them to edgar(at symbol)mouseprint.org .

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9 thoughts on “Thanks for Nothing #1”

  1. Happened to me and I thought I was a savvy consumer. $30 off Thomas Pink. Good until 12/06/15 on the front. Did not read fine print on the back. Went all the way to the Natick mall yesterday. The salesman flips the card at store “$30 off minimum purchase of $80.” Felt really stupid. Would have to buy 3 pairs of socks for $33 a piece so that equals $99-$30=$69 or $23 a pair instead of $33 retail. I think Not. I bought similar ones for $4 a pair but without the Thomas Pink label.

  2. Heads-up on the Utilitech light bulb! Lowe’s site has same bulb (well, same, except for saying “5,000 hrs of trouble-free operation”) in a 6-pack for $11.88. That’s $1.98 for 5,000 hrs. vs. $.99 for 2,000 hrs. Gee, I think even Common Core mathematicians might figure out the better deal here.

    I like this new feature. Thanks, Edgar!

  3. This Thanksgiving I thank mouseprint and consumer reports in their ongoing mission to educate and empower shoppers.

    Thanks Edgar.

  4. Your rant and misplaced/ill-conceived humor against “vegan leather” is inappropriate and unfitting. If you put “vegan leather” in a search engine, you come up with 800,000+ hits, so your lack of knowledge about this category of consumer item is inexcusable. If there was anything surreptitious about how Street Moda presented the shoes, that would be one thing. But it clearly says “vegan” in the image you provided. Where did “One that crossed our screen was this leather chukka boot for only $30 — quite a bargain at that price” come from: did Street Moda misrepresent? If so, let’s see it. As you might have surmised, I am a vegan, and I not only take umbrage with your ill-informed, sarcastic tone, but with the placement of this real and essential item FOR VEGANS (including, yes, my vegan dog) in this feature.

    Edgar replies: Mark, I admire your passion on this subject, but the term “vegan leather” is only a clever marketing technique to appeal to two audiences. It is designed to either mislead the average consumer into believing the product is a form of “real leather” when it is not, or to play to the sensibilities of a younger generation who eschew real fur and real leather. There is no vegan legal standard that has to be met in order to use that term. And even if there were, how likely is it that these shoes, probably made in China, were inspected to certify that no animal products were used in their manufacture? As noted in the LA Times, “Vegan is a new phrase that has now become a catchword for entrepreneurs to start new businesses,” said Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Assn. “It’s so acceptable even in fashion magazines.”

  5. I had a couple of those so called 99 cent light bulbs in my hand. I walked back to the light bulb selling area to check the lifespan of other LED light bulbs. I just had to put those 99 cent light bulbs back and leave the store.

    What cheaper materials did they use for those bulbs!?!?!? And also to get down to 99 cents they also had to use the least amount of packaging possible!?!?!? They could not even afford plastic to cover the package which is just sad.

    That so called deal was EVEN A FRONT Page Black Friday item.

    NOW this consumer does like the GE LED light bulbs I was able to pick up at Wal-mart.

  6. Great, well documented reply, Edgar. “Vegan” in product descriptions and marketing campaigns may only be outdone by “organic,” and “natural,” two other catchall and fake descriptions.

  7. Isn’t vegan leather just ‘fake leather’? I thought synthetic leather was already a thing. Unless animal products are used to manufacture synthetic leather.

    I think this new feature will be enjoyable.

  8. Those LED bulbs are out to get us! Menards had Zilotek LED 60 watt equivalent daylight bulbs in a 2 pack for $2.99. The box says expected life is 9 years (3 hours per day use) but the tiny print that has the warranty information says 5 years (also 3 hours per day). Still, if I can get anywhere near 5k hours (that would roughly be in the 5 year warranty period) of out of these bulbs, I’ll be happy for the money spent. Feit and other brands sold by Menards are close to $10 per bulb and the Daylight temperature seems to run more expensive.

  9. A 2 pack of light bulbs for 2.99 is a solid value if you can get one to last for 5 years without blowing up.

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