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April 23, 2018

Walk Through Kohl’s Doors and Lose Your Right to Sue?!

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Mandatory arbitration clauses that forbid class actions have been in the news lately as Congress and the president last fall struck down a new consumer rule prohibiting such clauses in contracts with banks.

Way before this action, Kohl’s department store cleverly stuck a clause into the terms and conditions on its website banning customers from getting together to sue the company.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kohl's class action waiver

It is not so out of the ordinary to see arbitration clauses forbidding class actions on retailers’ websites. What is unusual is the fact that Kohl’s seems to be saying that this restriction even applies to people who shop in their stores.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kohl's waiver 2

It says if you shop in their brick and mortar stores you are subject to the same restriction, and that “shopping in our stores constitutes your acceptance these terms.” Elsewhere in the terms it says if you don’t like these restrictions “you should not and are not allowed to…make purchases in our stores.”

What? So merely walking through the doors of a Kohl’s store I lose my right to be part of a class action against them? It sure seems so. (There is an argument to be made, however, that the combination of BOTH using their website AND shopping in their stores is what triggers the class action restriction. However, if that were true then only people who did both would lose the right to sue and certainly Kohl’s wants to prevent Internet users who never shopped in their stores to be covered by the class action prohibition.)

We asked Kohl’s how in the world the class action waiver could ever apply to people who only shop at their stores and were never put on notice that entering their stores triggered this restriction. (Last I checked, there was no notice on every door notifying shoppers they were about to lose those some consumer rights upon entering.)

The company did not respond.

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April 16, 2018

Here We Downsize Again (2018) – Part 1

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

In the never ending saga of products shrinking in size as a means to pass on a sneaky price increase to consumers, we offer these three new ones thanks to our eagle-eyed readers.

John R. spotted this gem in the dairy case. As he points out, orange juice makers laid the groundwork for being a commonly downsized item when most brands discontinued half gallon containers in favor of 59 ounce ones. And now at least one big brand is at it again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Simply Orange

Simply Orange has just gone from 59 ounces down to 52 ounces. On its website, the company explains their decision:

The decision to reduce our 59-ounce PET package was made after careful consideration of the current cost pressures within our supply chain as well as clear data on consumer’s price preferences. We are committed to bringing quality juices and drinks to the market and have decided to reduce our 59-ounce PET package in order to keep prices fair for our loyal customers. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep shoppers well informed, we are communicating the new 52-ounce PET package size on the Simply website and we are making the package weight more prominent on our front-of-pack labeling.




The ever-shrinking toilet paper roll is getting smaller again, at least for purchasers of Quilted Northern. Our ace downsizing detective, Richard G., found the latest example.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Quilted Northern

The “mega” roll has gone from 330 sheets to 308 sheets.




Lastly, TRESemme shampoo has downsized at least one of its varieties again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tresemme

TRESemme

Most varieties of TRESemme were 32 ounces originally. Then they were downsized to 25 to 28 ounces depending on the type. Now a “new look” bottle signals yet another change — this time it is down to just 22 ounces for one variety.

Thanks to Richard G. for finding this latest change. If you spot a product that has shrunk in size, try to send a sharp picture of both the old and new package to Mouse Print*.

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April 9, 2018

A Macy’s Rebate Gone Wrong

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:00 am

SensorGel pillowRight after Christmas, Consumer World promoted a deal on a SensorGel pillow at Macy’s as “Bargain of the Week.” It was $20, but there was a $20 full price rebate.

In January, MrConsumer’s own rebate submission was denied by the rebate fulfillment house indicating that no receipt was received. Of course I had included it. Calling them quickly revealed that indeed they had my receipt in their records, and the rebate was approved.

Then in February, some consumers contacted me saying that their rebate was denied because they purchased the pillow online rather than in the store. Here is what one consumer was told when he engaged the rebate folks in a chat session:

Macy's rebate denial

After complaints like this starting coming in, we checked the fine print of the offer on the rebate form.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Macy's rebate fine print

Clearly, right on the rebate form itself, both online and in-store purchases were permitted for this rebate.

Since it appeared that many purchasers may have had their rebates wrongfully denied, we contacted Macy’s PR folks, asking them to investigate, and if they discovered that customers were indeed owed money, that they honor those submissions. After multiple contacts, Macy’s did not reply to our inquiries.

So, MrConsumer had to use some back-channel methods to get Macy’s to do the right thing. He contacted the former CEO of Parago, the rebate fulfillment house that Macy’s uses, to ask her help. This remarkable woman dropped everything eight years ago to address a similar problem with a Norton rebate. She did the same again by contacting the new CEO at Blackhawk Network, the new owner of the fulfillment house.

A week later, a representative of Blackhawk called to say that after discussion with Macy’s and a review of all the denied rebates, they are making good for some 150 customers! And they are also going to more accurately state on the rebate form when an offer is restricted to in-store or online sales only.

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April 2, 2018

This Lifetime Warranty Enhanced with Levity

Filed under: Humor,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:13 am

Just in time for April Fools’ Day, we discovered that The North Face tries to set consumer expectations high for its products but rather ambiguously and with a bit of humor in the terms of its lifetime warranty:

*MOUSE PRINT:

North Face warranty

What’s not so funny is the circular reasoning used for their lifetime warranty. It basically says that the product will last as long as the product lasts — whatever its life normally is. How ambiguous.

If you spot a bit of humor inconspicuously tucked into a company policy or contract, please submit it.

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March 26, 2018

Tropicana Kids: No Nutrition Sacrifice?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Tropicana is known for its pure juices, many not made from concentrate. Now they are coming out with a new product line called Tropicana Kids, which was just announced via a press release.

Tropicana Kids

Looking at the front of the product label reveals that it is organic, which certainly implies to many that this is a healthy choice. And their senior vice president touts the product, saying:

“We’re thrilled to launch Tropicana Kids, offering an organic, premium fruit juice drink for busy parents who don’t want to sacrifice their kids’ nutrition, …”

Indeed, the words “real juice” appear on the front of the label, but it is hard to read the smaller type above it.

*MOUSE PRINT:

It says “Sweetened with real juice.”

Huh? That is an odd expression for what one might assume is a juice product to start with.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tropicana Kids

There’s the answer! The first ingredient in this juice drink is water! And their press release announcing the product offers what might be a surprising explanation to many :

Tropicana Kids is an all-new line of certified USDA Organic premium fruit juice drinks offering delicious taste for kids with nutrition parents expect. Available in three flavors—Fruit Punch, Mixed Berry and Watermelon—Tropicana Kids is made with 45% real fruit juice and mixed with filtered water, with no added sweeteners, no artificial flavors and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Plus, the packaging features a clear panel so moms and dads can see the goodness inside, and feel good about serving Tropicana Kids to their children. [Emphasis added]

While it is a big plus that there is no added sugar or corn syrup, we’re not so sure that grossly diluted juice is a better nutritional choice for parents to make for their kids than 100% juice.

And certainly, the real nature of this product is not obvious from looking at the front of the package, peekaboo window or not, because parents can’t readily “see the goodness inside” just by visual inspection.

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