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December 19, 2016

Here We Downsize Again – 2016 (Part 3)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:46 am

Our next issue will be January 2

We wrap up the year with more items that have shrunk in size — many of them spotted by eagle-eyed Mouse Print* readers.

Happening right now in a dairy case near you is the downsizing of flavored varieties of Philadelphia whipped cream cheese. The 16 ounce containers are going down to 15.5 ounces, and the 8 ounce ones are slimming down by half an ounce as well and that’s a greater percentage loss. Thanks to Richard G. for spotting this one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Philadelphia cream cheese


There are many categories of grocery items that are serial shrinkers like toilet paper, potato chips, and ice cream. Well, we have a new candidate today – frankfurters. And in particular, Mr. Consumer’s favorite dog (until now), Nathan’s.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nathan's frankfurters

These no longer “bigger than a bun” frankfurters went from a full pound down to 14 ounces in 2012. And just recently, they knocked another two ounces off, bringing Nathan’s down to just 12 ounces. This is some way to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The regular short ones, incidentally, are still 14 ounces.


A favorite of moviegoers is a box of Junior Mints. In the past few months, however, the packages have been downsized by 12-1/2 percent to three and half ounces from four.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Junior Mints


Following a downsizing by Colgate a few months earlier, could other brands be far behind? Sure enough, Crest Pro Health shrunk from 6 ounces to 5.1 ounces. (Thanks for the tip, Wayne L.)

*MOUSE PRINT:

Crest Pro Health

 
Even dollar store, old time favorite Pepsodent was downsized. (Thanks for the tip, Richard G.)
 

Pepsodent




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December 12, 2016

BBB’s National Advertising Division Sides with Mouse Print* and Against Lowe’s on Misleading Ads

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:42 am

Several months ago, we told you the story of a Lowe’s TV commercial that promised “20% off major appliances $396 and up,” but the hard-to-read fine print excluded virtually all the major brands: “Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, GE, LG, Samsung, Frigidaire, Electrolux and Bosch brands limited to a maximum 10% discount, unless otherwise shown.”

Outrageous, right? After Mouse Print* pointed out the deceptive nature of this advertisement, the company pulled the ad and said it was an error. Lowe’s tried to correct the ad merely by adding the words “up to” — saying “Up to 20% off major appliances $396 and up.” But, they kept the same disclaimer indicating that almost nothing was 20% off.

Lowe's revised ad

Our trusty mouse was infuriated. He filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which reviews problematic advertising usually at the behest of an aggrieved competitor.

Last week, the NAD rendered a decision in the case calling upon Lowe’s to discontinue their “up to 20% off” savings claims in future advertising unless a substantial amount of their inventory is at least 20% off, and any exceptions are clearly and conspicuously disclosed (unlike the inconspicuous disclosure used in the commercial).

Here is their press release announcing the decision and this is the full decision.




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December 5, 2016

Citi’s Credit Card Agreement Contains Another Nasty Ploy

Filed under: Finance — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

In October, we told you about an unexpected move by Citi to let credit card customers opt-out of the mandatory arbitration clause in their credit card agreements. The catch: they required you to write an old-fashioned letter to them to do so. (See story.)

We heard from a reader, Daniel D., who says that is not the only dirty trick that Citi employs with respect to its arbitration clause. He said his bank account contract had a very similarly worded provision to this one in the new Citi credit card agreements:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Citi arbitration clause

What does this sound like to you? It sounds pretty positive as an additional way to avoid arbitration. It certainly gives the impression that the customer was free to go to small claims court system instead of being forced into arbitration.

And that is exactly what our reader did. He had a dispute with Citi over some late fees imposed despite his having overdraft protection. There was about $350 in dispute.

To his amazement, once he filed in small claims court, Citi requested the case be moved to a higher court. That action caused the case to no longer “stay in small claims court” and thus Citi could force him into arbitration.

What?

Anyone reading the small claims court provision would come away with the understanding that it was the plaintiff’s decision to keep a case in small claims court and definitely not Citi’s. Implied in every contract is a covenant of good faith, and it certainly seems to be a breach of that good faith for Citi to force this consumer into arbitration by a bit of legal trickery.

Daniel’s problem with Citi began in 2010 and appeared to end when he won the arbitration this past August. There were just two problems: (1) Daniel was not awarded anywhere near the $100,000 he said this whole fiasco cost him, and (2) Citi is appealing.

For more details of Daniel’s misadventures in Citiland, see this CBS MoneyWatch story, and his own account.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts below.




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November 28, 2016

Chipotle Sued Over Misleading Calorie Count

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

The embattled Mexican grill chain, Chipotle, is in trouble again.

In the course of promoting its new chorizo burrito which is made from chicken and pork sausage, the company touted on menu boards that it only had 300 calories.

Chipotle chorizo

Three diet-conscious California consumers took the bait and ordered this low-cal treat, but felt surprisingly full after eating one. They soon discovered they had been hoodwinked because this Mexican dish was nowhere near only 300 calories.

Mouse Print* reviewed the nutrition tables on Chipotle’s website and calculated the actual calorie count of a chorizo burrito.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Chipotle calories

As you can see, the chorizo burrito as described on the menu board has 1055 calories — more than three times the claimed amount. Just the tortilla wrapper alone is 300 calories, as is the chorizo alone.

This is likely to be an expensive mistake for Chipotle as the company is now being sued in a class action in California.

Informally, the company replied to some complaining customers on Twitter saying that the “300 calories is for the chorizo.”

Company spokesperson Chris Arnold, however, provided Fortune with this statement:

ďAs a matter of policy, we donít discuss details surrounding pending legal action. I will note, however, that a lawsuit is nothing more than allegations and is proof of nothing. Generally speaking, we always work hard to maintain transparency around what is in our food, including the nutritional content, which is provided on an ingredient-by-ingredient basis.Ē




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November 21, 2016

Thanks for Nothing: United Airlines Intros “Last Class” Service

Filed under: Thanks for Nothing,Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

United AirlinesWe all know what first class air travel means — priority boarding, bigger seats, fancy food, quick exiting, etc. Now United Airlines is introducing what we have nicknamed “last class” service. As our moniker implies, this is at the opposite end of the spectrum of fares.

According to United’s website, “basic economy” as they call it will be their least expensive fare (with unspecified extra savings, if any), but will come with some new and severe limitations:

*MOUSE PRINT:

  • You will not be able to reserve a particular seat.
  • Seats will be assigned automatically at check-in, and presumably you will have no choices offered.

  • If you buy multiple seats for your family, sitting together is not guaranteed.

  • You can make no voluntary changes to your ticket.

  • You will earn miles, but not earn “segments.”

  • You will not be allowed to upgrade.

  • You will be automatically placed in the last group to board the plane.

    And the biggest (and nastiest) new restriction:

  • You cannot carry on any luggage except a small personal item like a laptop that fits under the seat in front of you.

  • So… during this Thanksgiving week, we say to United Airlines, thanks for nothing.




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