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August 21, 2017

Pret a Manger Accused of Deceptive Sandwich Packaging

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

MrConsumer had occasion to eat at what he considers an expensive regional European sandwich shop last March called Pret a Manger. He discovered something sneaky about how they packaged their sandwich wraps.

Pret Bang Bang Chicken

Upon opening the package, one gets an unexpected surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Pret revealed

What looked like a long wrap sandwich, potentially worth the $7.49 price, turns out to be two small halves that come nowhere close to filling the package. The “Lovingly Made” cardboard surrounding the middle of the sandwich hides the dirty little secret of the empty space between the two halves. I thought to myself — great — I have a good Mouse Print* story.

As we have discussed in the past, deceptive packaging can be illegal, particularly when there is nonfunctional empty space in the package. That’s called slack fill, and it tends to give consumers a misimpression about the actual contents of the package. It makes the consumer think there is more product inside than there really is.

Fast forward to this summer when a New York consumer purchased a different wrap at Pret and got snookered too. He thought to himself — great — and he filed a class action lawsuit a few weeks ago against the company claiming millions of dollars of losses suffered by purchasers of these kinds of wraps. His lawsuit claims that depending on the sandwich there can be up to two-and-a-half inches of empty space between the two halves. (See story in Gothamist.)

So we asked Pret about their reaction to the lawsuit and why they package their wraps in this deceptive manner. They did not respond.




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August 13, 2017

Samsung’s TV Warranty Suggests Limiting Your Viewing of Certain Stations/Programs or Else!

Filed under: Business,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 1:28 pm

While reading the warranty for a recently purchased Samsung HDTV, MrConsumer did a double-take reviewing one particular section.

But first, you have to understand a little about the screen dimensions of high definition televisions vs. the old-fashioned cathode ray tube ones. Old TV screens were more boxy — almost close to a square. They were 4:3 perspective. That is, left to right, the screen was only slightly wider than it was high. High definition television screens are usually 16:9 — much wider than high — more like a movie screen.

If you watch a standard definition TV channel, or an old television show that was not shot in high definition, you usually see black bars left and right of the picture:

black bars

Those programs are in 4:3 format and when viewed on a 16:9 screen, there is space left over on the left and right — thus the black bars. In some cases, if a program was only produced in HD, but you are viewing it on a standard definition channel, you will see black bars on all four sides of the picture.

Now back to the Samsung warranty. In its own separate section of the warranty, Samsung warns purchasers not to spend more than 5% of their TV-watching time viewing standard definition programs or channels! What? A TV manufacturer is telling users what they can and cannot watch on their own TV?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Samsung 5% warranty warning

The warranty actually says that you shouldn’t watch standard definition programs and channels (unless you stretch and distort them to fill the screen) for more than 5% of the time each week. That means if you watch 20 hours of TV a week, you can’t watch more than one or two episodes of your favorite old shows a week without potentially voiding part of your warranty.

The problem, they say, is “burn-in” — where something that is constantly on the screen and not moving causes the image to be seared into the display permanently. Think of the old pong video game where you had a white box on the screen for hours at a time. That could get burned in to the old cathode ray screens. The same problem exists for LCD and LED TVs apparently, but to a much lesser extent.

We asked Samsung why it manufacturers televisions that cannot support SD programs and SD channels in their original 4:3 format without potentially damaging the TV and voiding a part of the warranty? Here is their (non-) answer:

“Samsung is committed to the highest quality and most immersive TV viewing experience for all consumers. We provide customers with guidance to ensure the best performance of their devices. We encourage consumers to enjoy their preferred content on their TV while understanding the suggested ways to get the most out of their product.” –Samsung spokesperson

The spokesperson did note that the company offers a lifetime warranty against burn-in, but only on last year’s high-end SUHD line, and this year’s premium QLED line.

We also wondered if other manufacturers were cautioning viewers to limit watching standard definition TV. Sure enough, on LG’s website, they have a similar warning:

LG burn in

So kiss goodbye your old episodes of “I Love Lucy” and “All in the Family” as well as watching the entire array of standard definition channels, like 2, 4, 5 and 7 for any significant length of time.




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August 7, 2017

Here We Downsize Again – 2017 (Part 2)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Like death and taxes, you can count on manufacturers to continue to shrink their products.

Mouse Print* reader Jack B. recently caught a change in Trident chewing gum.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Trident

Each package lost four sticks of gum, but each of the new sticks is slightly larger. The old sticks are 1.7 grams and the new ones are 1.9 grams:

stick size

However, with a product like chewing gum, it is the number of servings that matters, and each package now has four fewer servings.


 
Wishbone salad dressing recently came out with a new bottle, nearly identical to the old one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Wishbone dressing

As reader Jim H. wrote, apparently people were weary of hauling around the old, heavier bottles that had a full 16 ounces in them.


 
Remember when the standard size for a container of yogurt was eight ounces? That is long gone, with those dairy cups going down to six ounces years and years ago. But it has not stopped there. More recently, major brands have downsized again — this time to 5.3 ounces.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dannon

Three or four spoonfuls and you’re done. No wonder you’re still hungry.


 
Faithful reader and contributor Richard G. tipped us off about Febreze air and fabric freshener recently being downsized.

Febreze

Their spray bottles lost almost a full ounce. But I guess even if we make a big stink about, Febreze will just cover it up.


 
And in the never ending saga of the incredible shrinking toilet paper roll, Charmin is once again lopping off more sheets from each roll.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin

This time the double rolls went from 154 sheets down to only 142 sheets — or the equivalent of just 71 sheets on a regular roll. Just as a reminder, the original Charmin 40+ years ago had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets on a regular roll. Mr. Whipple is turning over in his grave.

Thanks to Richard G. for the tip, and we welcome you to submit your finds as well to Edgar(at symbol)ConsumerWorld.org .




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July 31, 2017

Hotels Tighten Cancellation Policies

Filed under: Travel — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:05 am

Many people are used to canceling hotel reservations sometimes at the last minute without penalty or cancellation fees. Not anymore.

Several major hotel chains quietly imposed stricter cancellation rules recently, including Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Buried on the Marriott website is their announcement:

Marriott International is implementing a cancellation policy at hotels in the Americas including the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, across all brands with the exception of MVW and Design Hotels.

In an effort to better serve guests seeking last-minute accommodations, guests will now be required to cancel their room reservation 48-hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a fee. The revised cancellation policy will take effect on June 15, 2017 for reservations made on or after June 15, 2017.

So the old 24-hours policy is giving way to 48-hours advance notice (and at some locations, 72-hours) or the traveler will be charged for the first night’s stay.

Hilton followed suit announcing that reservations made on or after July 31, 2017 would incur a cancellation penalty of the first night’s stay if not cancelled at least 48 hours in advance. Some of their hotels will also have a 72-hour cancellation requirement as well.

And last, IHG, which runs Holiday Inns, Crowne Plaza, and Kimpton Hotels is imposing a 24-hour cancellation rule as of August 4 in the United States.

Once upon a time it was common for a hotel to allow cancellation as late as 6 PM on the expected date of arrival. No more. So be sure to check the reservations page so you know what policy applies at your particular hotel.




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July 24, 2017

Free Wi-Fi Users Ignore Terms and Conditions and Get Pranked

Filed under: Business,Computers,Humor,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:36 am

An Internet company in Manchester, England called Purple decided recently to prove that consumers access free wi-fi services carelessly by not spending the time to click and read the terms and conditions of its use.

Purple terms

The company pranked users for a period of two weeks by tucking a “Community Service Clause” into their public wi-fi terms.

*MOUSE PRINT:

The user may be be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following:

• Cleansing local parks of animal waste
• Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs
• Manually relieving sewer blockages
• Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events
• Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence
• Scraping chewing gum off the streets

So how many consumers using their free wi-fi services clicked the “accept” button despite being potentially being required shovel poop out of blocked pipes? A staggering 22,000 people! And how many people caught the catch? Exactly one!




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