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August 31, 2020

Chrysler’s Lifetime Warranty Leaves Many With High Repair Bills

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:07 am

As Consumer World celebrates is 25th anniversary this week, we look back to 2007 when Mouse Print* published a story about a just-announced “lifetime powertrain warranty” that Chrysler was offering on its vehicles. The gist of the story was that while this warranty sounded great in their advertising, neither the local dealers checked, nor Chrysler’s website, nor their customer service department could provide us with any details about what exactly was covered. We wanted to check the fine print but could not until finally their PR department was able to provide a copy of the warranty. We then reported on a provision that could easily trip-up buyers.

Chrysler see dealer

As it turns out, over the years, scores of purchasers who brought their cars back for free repairs under the lifetime warranty were denied coverage because of that very clause we warned people about.

*MOUSE PRINT:

They failed to follow a tiny provision that was tucked into their warranty and required owners to have their car’s power train inspected by Chrysler within 60 days of each five-year anniversary of their car.

G. Inspections
In order to maintain the Lifetime Powertrain Limited Warranty, the person or entity covered by this Powertrain Limited Warranty must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep dealer once every 5 years. This inspection will be performed at no charge. The inspection must be made within sixty (60) days of each 5 year anniversary of the in-service date of the vehicle. You must have the inspection performed to continue this coverage.

In May 2020, more than two dozen Chrysler owners around the country filed suit against the company after being told that their warranty was void because they didn’t comply with the inspection requirement. Thus, they had to pay out of pocket for all needed repairs. Their lawyers argued that most of these car buyers had no idea that this was even a requirement, saying they never got the full language of the warranty, just as we had trouble obtaining it.

Chrysler petitioned the court to dismiss the case arguing that purchasers did not follow the requirements of the warranty to have their cars inspected every five years in order to keep the lifetime warranty in effect and therefore were not entitled to free repairs. The company also claimed that details of the warranty including the inspection requirement were contained in a press release and various news stories published at the time. (Note to Chrysler: consumers are not required to read press releases and news stories.) They also claimed that purchasers, depending on when and what model year car they purchased, received warranty information in various written documents at various times.

It may take years before there is a final decision in this case. In the meantime, if you bought a 2006-2009 Chrysler vehicle when the lifetime warranty offer was in effect but were subsequently told your warranty was void and you would therefore have to pay for repairs to the power train, save your receipts. The consumer lawyers in this case are trying to have those lifetime warranties reinstated and to collect damages for those who were improperly charged.




• • •

August 10, 2020

More Junk Fees Added to Car Rental Bills

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 4:50 am

Car rental companies are notorious for advertising low rates but then when you add all the taxes and fees, the price can jump up dramatically.

Recently a friend rented a car from Enterprise in the Boston area and he noticed a number odd extra charges added to his bill.

*MOUSE PRINT:

car rental fees

What these fees are for is not obvious. Poking around online reveals that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is directly responsible for two of them, and indirectly for the third.

The parking violation surcharge, which one would think is only imposed if you got a ticket, is actually mandated by state law. It says that the rental company will not be liable for traffic tickets if it collects a sixty cent surcharge from the car renter and pays that to the city. (See G.L. c. 90, ยง 20E(i))

The $2 per rental police training fee is another creature of the Massachusetts legislature. They thought it was a clever way to help pay for police training. (See story.)

And lastly, the “VLC Rec Fee” is a made up fee by rental car companies. It stands for “Vehicle License Cost Recovery Fee.” It is designed to recover the estimated average daily cost per vehicle of the charges imposed by the government for the rental car company to title, register, inspect, and plate all vehicles in its rental fleet. Enterprise charges a whopping $2.80 per day for this.

Interestingly, Illinois has a statute about this particular fee that says if the total fees collected exceed the rental car company’s actual costs of registration, etc., it may keep the excess, but has to adjust the fee charged to renters downward the following year.




• • •

July 6, 2020

Midas Hides a Lot of Stuff in the Fine Print

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:20 am

MrConsumer had his oil changed recently at Midas using a prepaid Groupon making it quite a deal at $13.60 all-inclusive. As part of the check-in process there, the clerk provides a standard printout showing the price of the oil change but that my total would be zero because of the Groupon. I signed the form.

When arriving home, I looked at my copy of the receipt and was astonished to discover that those clever guys opted me into receiving promotional text messages. Or more accurately, I unwittingly opted into their advertising and service messages because of the following statement printed on that work order.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Midas consent

Under federal law, a business cannot send unsolicited text messages even to existing customers. They have to first obtain “express written consent.” Did this qualify? The words were not buried because they were at the top of the list in a type size the same as all the other information. But do most customers realize that Midas tucked this unexpected language on a car repair order rather than on a separate consent form. My guess is not.

But MrConsumer had the last laugh because he provided them with his landline phone number.

For customers who were not lucky enough to get the Groupon price, there was a simultaneous Fourth of July promotion for only $17.76.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Midas fine print

Goodness only knows how much these poor people wound up paying when you add on taxes, disposal fee, and a shop fee “not to exceed $35.”




• • •

June 24, 2019

This Advertised $9.99 Oil Change Actually Costs 70% More

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:44 am

MrConsumer loves a bargain and to find an offer for a $9.99 oil change these days is unheard of. But that’s what Monro, an East coast auto service chain, advertised. They also run nine other auto service chains in the Eastern half of the country and in California. They are Mr. Tire, Tread Quarters, Ken Towery’s, TireChoice, AutoTire, Tire Warehouse, Tire Barn, TiresNow, and CarX.

Monro $9.99 oil changeEnlarged for better readability

*MOUSE PRINT:

That unreadable fine print says there is an additional charge (where permitted) of $2.90 for an oil “filter and/or waste recycling fee and a 9.99% service charge which represent shop supply and equipment costs and profits.”

So already, the $9.99 price is out the window. The $2.90 waste disposal fee is not required by the state, and retailers are required to take back up to two gallons of used oil sold by them per day per person at no charge. A service shop like Monro is not considered a “retailer” according to the state. And then there is that 9.99% shop fee.

But is it really only 9.99% for this oil change?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Here is a condensed version of an estimate from a Monro location using the above $9.99 coupon:

monro estimate

In this case, the 9.99% shop fee charge totals $3.29! Where did that come from? Shouldn’t it be about a dollar on a $9.99 oil change? What Monro does is charge the customer 9.99% on the regular price of the oil change. In this case, that is $25 plus $4.99 for the oil filter plus the $2.90 disposal fee, totaling $32.89. Ten percent of that is $3.29. This is similar to a misguided retailer trying to charge sales tax on the regular price of an item rather than on the discounted price when it is on sale.

We contacted Monro’s chief marketing officer trying to determine if this was a computer programming error or a deliberate and misleading way to calculate the 9.99% shop fee. Her response sidestepped the question:

“We disclose the inclusion of a disposal fee and a service charge fee based on the retail price in all marketing materials.”

We also questioned whether the sales tax was being calculated correctly by basing it on not only the oil change, but also on the environmental/disposal fee and the shop fee. The company expressed confidence in its calculation. However, Massachusetts law only provides for assessment of the 6.25 percent sales tax on tangible goods, and therefore not on services, shop and recycling fees, and service plans, particularly when they are itemized separately on the bill. While Monro did only charge tax on the net price of the oil change excluding the $2 labor charge, they did tax the recycling fee and the inflated shop fee.

It is misleading to customers to advertise what looks like a complete price when in fact the company has additional required fees in order to purchase the advertised service, particularly when clear disclosure of those charges is not made.




• • •

January 21, 2019

Chevy Pulls Misleading “More Reliable” Commercials

Filed under: Autos,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:01 am

In a surprise move late last week, General Motors abruptly pulled its national television advertising campaign in which it claimed that “Chevy is more reliable than Toyota, Honda, and Ford” and 23 other car brands.



Hidden in the fine print was a disclaimer that said their reliability claims were based on data for 2015 vehicles. The problem was that Chevy was advertising their redesigned 2019 cars and trying to convince viewers that current models were equally superior in reliability based on four-year-old data.

We did a national press release on January 10th calling on the company to yank their misleading ad campaign. Of course, up against a big powerful consumer organization like Consumer World, a company like General Motors didn’t have much choice. So it pulled the national ad. Or maybe, just maybe, it might have been the threat from Toyota’s lawyer that tipped the scales.

Not surprisingly, in a bit of all-too-common corporate posturing, Chevrolet denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to Consumer World, their spokesperson said:

“Chevrolet stands by the reliability claim and the ad remains in the brand’s toolbox but we have decided to take it out of the regular rotation at this time to launch new Silverado creative. We have not altered our marketing campaign because of any concerns with the accuracy of our ad content.”

NOTE: The regional version of the ads (they have a financial incentive at the end) will take longer for GM to stop.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for once for a company to take responsibility for trying to mislead customers?




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