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July 3, 2017

Toilet Paper Roll Claims Roil

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:10 am

Have you made a trip down the toilet paper aisle recently? MrConsumer did last week at Target. There were 11 different size packages of just one variety of Charmin (Ultra Soft) on display.

Charmin Ultra Soft

The big bold numbers on them made little sense. One said “12 = 27” but another said “12 = 54.” One said “18 = 72” but another nearby package proclaimed that “18 = 82.” One package declared that “8 = 36” but at Stop & Shop “9 = 36.” It must be the new math.

Toilet paper numbers

*MOUSE PRINT:

Of course, when you check the fine print on the label you discover a little more about the basis of comparison. All dozen packages compare the number of rolls in that particular package to how many “regular” rolls it is the equivalent of. Regular rolls? Do regular rolls even exist any more? They’re hard to find, and the package looks like a toy. But here it is — a package of four regular rolls of Charmin (before two additional downsizings brought the number of sheets per roll down to a meager 71). The package is only slightly taller than a dollar bill.

Charmin regular rolls

Why does P&G compare each package to a virtually non-existent product that people are no longer familiar with? It makes no sense, except to make you think you are getting more than you really are.

While that second number in the comparison always relates to “regular” rolls, the first number does not relate to the same size roll. Sometimes it means double rolls, double rolls “plus,” mega rolls, or mega rolls “plus.” Does anyone have the sizes of these memorized so that the comparison is meaningful? These are all made up names with an ever-changing number of sheets on each roll. And during a period of downsizing of Charmin, which we are in the midst of, it is even more confusing. There are two “12 = 54” packages noted above. One has 352 sheets per roll, and the other only 326, yet they are both called “double plus” rolls.

How confusing can you get? These comparisons are meaningless to most shoppers, yet the major makers of paper products like toilet paper and paper towels continue to play this game and emphasize these confusing numbers in ever bigger and bigger print.

Here’s a novel idea: just tell us how many rolls are in the package and how many sheets are on each roll. And put that in big print.




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April 10, 2017

Here We Downsize Again – 2017 (Part 1)

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

In the ever-shrinking world of groceries and toiletries, some big manufacturers continue to think that smaller is better (at least for their bottom line). Herewith, then, are some of the latest products to have been downsized.

Example 1:

Wayne L. was shocked recently when he checked out the display of Crest Pro-Health at his local store and found that P&G had again shrunk the size of their tubes.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Crest Pro-Health

Unbelievably, over the past couple of years, the tubes have gone from a full six ounces to 5.1 ounces last year, and now a measly 4.6 ounces. At this rate, they will be travel-size before you know it.

We asked P&G why the product was being downsized again.

Our first priority is to provide our trusted, quality products for you at good value. In these times where everyday costs are rising, the cost of the raw materials that go into our toothpaste has also risen. Although we have tried wherever possible to absorb and manage these, in some instances, we have had to reflect this in our cost-pricing to retailers. — P&G spokesperson


Example 2:

A Massachusetts consumer, Rosemarie L., was incensed that Coke 8-packs had become Coke 6-packs at her local supermarket and were selling for the same price as before. We contacted Coca-Cola to find out what was going on, and whether these Coke mini-cans had really been downsized but the price kept the same.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Coke

“We are in the process of phasing out mini cans in eight packs. We are shifting to six packs and 10 packs. … The suggested retail price of six packs is less than the suggested retail price of eight packs.” — Coca-Cola spokesperson

So, this may be a little more about Coke changing its product mix than downsizing in the conventional sense. While this consumer’s store chose to keep the price the same for both sizes, a check at Target revealed the 8-pack selling for $3.69 but the new 6-pack was only $2.99.


Example 3:

When the chips are down, that means the ever-changing cans of Pringles are probably down too (after being upsized a while back).

*MOUSE PRINT:

Pringles

Mike K., who kindly submitted this picture to Mouse Print*, says he “noticed that the Pringles shelf looked like a topographical map with all of the different new and old cans.” Each can lost about half an ounce of chips, going from 5.96 to 5.5 ounces.


Example 4:

Finally this round, one of the original products to ever be downsized — coffee — is at it again. This time, it is Maxwell House’s turn, following a similar move by Folgers a couple of years ago.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Maxwell House

The old 28-ounce size is now 24.5 ounces. This amounts to a loss of 30 cups of coffee per can with the total going from 240 cups down to just 210 cups. It is noteworthy to mention that five years ago when Maxwell House last downsized, each can of a similar variety produced 270 cups of coffee from a can weighing over two pounds. (See picture.)




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March 6, 2017

Movie Candy — More Box Than Candy

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:15 am

Have you seen the price of movie candy lately? In Boston, AMC Theatres charges $3.99 to $4.49 for a box with just 3.5 to 5.5 ounces of candy inside. Yikes.

These boxes have come under scrutiny lately because of several class action lawsuits against major manufacturers. Shoppers allege they were misled by the packaging which makes it look like there is a lot of candy in the box, but in reality, most are only about half full.

Here is a story about it by Jeff Rossen, NBC’s investigative reporter on the Today Show (with MrConsumer at the end).

Rossen Reports Movie Candy
Click to watch video

When manufacturers over-package a product creating empty space inside that has no function other than to make consumers think they are getting more for their money than they really are, that is called slack fill, and it’s illegal under federal law (and the law of some states). It is not illegal if the empty space is needed because of settling of the product, or because the machinery to fill the package requires it, or the space is needed to protect the product (such as the cushioning pillow created by large potato chips bags).

Here’s another example not part of a lawsuit. This is a huge box of Bazooka bubble gum — maybe six or seven inches long and over an inch thick. Sure looks like it has a lot of gum inside.

Bazooka

But when you stack up the contents, you get much less than meets the eye given the size of the box.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Bazooka contents

Although the net weight is on the package, and fine print on the back says there are “about 19” pieces inside (there were 18 in this box), the FDA and courts have ruled that having the net weight on the package is an independent requirement separate from the requirement not to use deceptive packaging.




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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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May 16, 2016

Here We Downsize Again — 2016 (part 2)

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

Thanks to the eagle eyes of regular Mouse Print* reader Richard G., we have another round of products that manufacturers have taken the shrink ray to.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cottonelle

Toilet paper is one of the categories of items that has been downsized for decades. Cottonelle continues to shrink in size, this time going from 418 sheets on a mega roll to 380 sheets. Double rolls have also downsized from 209 sheets per roll to 190.

Deceptively, in the upper right corner of the new smaller package, the company claims that you are getting 20% more sheets.

Cottonelle 20%

Huh? Only in marketing can getting less per roll mean you’re getting more. The *MOUSE PRINT finishes the claim: “compared to Charmin Ultra Strong mega rolls.”

Incidentally, it was just about a year ago that this same brand sliced off fractions of a inch from both the length of width of each sheet, as we reported.


*MOUSE PRINT:

Colgate

Colgate is just in the process now of reducing the size of its largest tube of regular toothpaste from 8.2 ounces to 8.0 ounces. And just like the makers of Cottonelle, they are trying to create a false impression that the new box is giving you more. How in the world are you getting 33% more?

*MOUSE PRINT:

vs. 6 oz size

Thanks for the mathematics lesson tucked on the back of the box, Colgate.


Lastly, Scott K.’s co-workers in Canada couldn’t understand why their instant coffee was running out much faster than usual.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nescafe

The reason: there is 15% less coffee in each jar of Nescafe now.




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