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December 2, 2019

Hey Clif Bar, Where’s the White Chocolate?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:42 am

A California consumer sued the maker of Clif Bars for misleading practices alleging that their “White Chocolate Macadamia Nut” Clif Bars had no white chocolate.

Clif Bar

A quick scan of the ingredients label confirms that omission.

*MOUSE PRINT:

INGREDIENTS
Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Rice Flour, Macadamia Nuts, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Soy Flour, Cocoa Butter‡, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Organic Cocoa Butter‡, Sea Salt, Soy Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant).

The consumer argued that the FDA has specific regulations of what constitutes white chocolate, and this product didn’t meet that standard.

The company asserted that the term “natural flavor” in tiny print on the front of the package, along with the ingredients statement should have put the reasonable consumer in a position to understand there was no white chocolate in this product.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Clif Bar natural flavor

The judge dismissed the lawsuit saying that although the consumer properly alleged there was a misrepresentation, it may not have been reasonable to have relied just on the big print.

Give me a break.




Please Help Support Mouse Print*

give support For 24 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, original stories, and independent investigations. But we no longer receive financial support from a corporate sponsor. So reluctantly, MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your help to keep Mouse Print* and Consumer World available free. Your gift will be most appreciated.


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October 28, 2019

CVS’ Surprisingly Generous Coupon Policy

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:56 am

The last place one might expect a retailer to be overly generous to customers is CVS Pharmacy. But their coupon acceptance policy has some unexpected benefits for shoppers.

Let’s say CVS has certain vitamins on sale “buy one, get one free” and you have two $1 manufacturer’s coupons. Most stores would say you can only use one of those coupons for the item you are paying for because the other one is free. Not CVS!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Can I use multiple coupons on sale items? Yes, for certain coupons and certain sale items.

Examples:
• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and the customer purchases two shampoos; the
customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each.

CVS actually allows you to apply one of these two coupons to the free item.

Another unexpected bit of generosity occurs in this example:

Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a mfr. coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both
items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.

In this case, you don’t even have to buy the first bottle of shampoo. Amazing.

While we’re on the subject of CVS coupons, recently MrConsumer used a bit of his own brand of coupon magic at CVS where he bought over $25 worth of merchandise and only paid… drumroll… $1.68.

CVS products - receipt

Each of the three items was over $8 regular price, but they were all on sale. The pills were buy one, get one free and I had both a single $5 off manufacturer’s coupon and a $2 off CVS coupon. The trail mix was on sale for $4.99 but I had a $3 CVS snack coupon, and $2 toward anything store coupon. The net result was a 93-percent savings (excluding sales tax).




Please Help Support Mouse Print*

give support For 24 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, original stories, and independent investigations. But we no longer receive financial support from a corporate sponsor. So reluctantly, MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your help to keep Mouse Print* and Consumer World available free. Your gift will be most appreciated.


• • •

October 21, 2019

Holy Sheets: Sparkle Paper Towels Get Upsized

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

In a world where grocery manufacturers are constantly downsizing their products, Georgia Pacific has been advertising that their Sparkle paper towel rolls are now larger:

Sparkle ad

They say they added 200 sheets per six-roll pack.

*MOUSE PRINT:


Sparkle old 90 sheets

 

Sparkle 126 sheets

In this case, they went from 90 sheets on a roll to 126. That is 36 sheets more per roll, and 216 sheets more per package. But that is not the whole story. You will notice that Georgia Pacific lopped of one-half an inch from the length of each sheet. A spokesperson for the company explained why they did this:

“We reduced our sheet size to a level consistent with the sheet size of the other national brands in the category. In fact, Sparkle® was the last brand on the shelf with the traditionally larger sheet size. Our research indicated that the half inch was not valued as much as getting more sheets per roll, despite the slightly smaller size. We put that half inch per sheet back into the product in the form of more sheets per roll.”

Despite the shortening of each sheet by one-half inch, the total number of square feet per package went from 268.1 to 346.5 square feet.

But, you need to look carefully in your favorite store when the new packages come in because they are not all as pictured above with 126 sheets per roll. Some only have 116.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sparkle new 116

The company said that some stores choose to carry the slightly smaller rolls. We’re guessing grocers make more money on this six pack than the one with slightly larger rolls.

When companies continually downsize their products, eventually some of them reintroduce the original larger versions, but at a much steeper price than they were originally. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Sparkle, however, because their spokesperson said the suggested retail price of the new larger packages is still the same as the old ones. Hard to believe, but that proved to be the case in MrConsumer’s local supermarket, where both the old and the new ones were $7.79 when not on sale. Most paper companies announced price increases this past winter and perhaps that increase went into effect prior to the current upsizing.




Please Help Support Mouse Print*

give support For 24 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, original stories, and independent investigations. But we no longer receive financial support from a corporate sponsor. So reluctantly, MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your help to keep Mouse Print* and Consumer World available free. Your gift will be most appreciated.


• • •

October 14, 2019

Both Cascade and Finish Claim They Are the #1 Recommended Dishwashing Detergent Brand

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:53 am

In the dishwasher detergent marketing wars, two major brands — Cascade and Finish — are each claiming they are the most recommended brand.

Cascade says it’s the #1 brand:

Cascade

*MOUSE PRINT:

The fine print qualifies the claim to say that Cascade is the #1 recommended brand in North America by more dishwasher brands. According to a current TV commercial, those brands are KitchenAid, Maytag, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Samsung, Electrolux, and Frigidaire.

Finish says it is the world’s #1 recommended brand:

Finish front panel

*MOUSE PRINT:

The detailed fine print, which only appears on the back of the package, says that “more dishwasher brands recommend Finish products worldwide than any other brand.” Presumably, Finish has more than seven international brands that recommend it.

Both brands qualify their claim even further with the following phrase:

*MOUSE PRINT:

co-marketing disclaimer

What exactly is this co-marketing agreement that both brands mention. It sure sounds like they each made a deal with dishwasher manufacturers to promote each others’ brands. We asked both P&G (Cascade’s maker) and Reckitt Benckiser (RB), Finish’s maker, to explain, and indicate if any money changed hands in return for the recommendations. RB did not respond, but a spokesperson for P&G declined to say if they pay for recommendations saying in part:

“Co-marketing agreements” are common throughout the industry, and acknowledge the relationship that is in place that allows us to collaborate, test and innovate in partnership with dishwasher manufacturers. … The typical basis for manufacturer recommendations is their testing of our products in their machines. The relationships we have with industry partners vary, and are largely based on mutual value creation, capability and technology – aimed at giving the consumer the best possible experience. Given the partnership and confidentiality agreements we have in place, we’re unable to share any specific terms of agreements.

Well, that clarifies it. Despite this, both Cascade ActionPacs (with Clorox or Oxi) and Finish Quantum and Powerballs all rank in the top six dishwasher detergents tested by Consumer Reports, with only a point or two difference in score. Kirkland Signature (pacs) from Costco ranks number one, at one-third the price of Cascade.




Please Help Support Mouse Print*

give support For 24 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, original stories, and independent investigations. But we no longer receive financial support from a corporate sponsor. So reluctantly, MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your help to keep Mouse Print* and Consumer World available free. Your gift will be most appreciated.


• • •

September 2, 2019

Some Coupons Have Secret “Start” Dates

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:41 am

Hellmann's $1 couponOn Saturday, August 24, MrConsumer went to Price Rite supermarket because they had Hellmann’s mayonnaise on sale for $2.49 with a store-issued coupon.

But MrConsumer also had a $1 off manufacturer’s coupon that had just come that week in the coupon inserts. So that 30-ounce jar of mayonnaise would only cost $1.49.

When checking out, the $1 store coupon was deducted without a problem. But the manufacturer’s coupon would not deduct. A store clerk (erroneously) argued that one cannot use two coupons on the same item. As most veteran shoppers know, virtually all supermarkets will accept both a store-issued coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item.

When I pressed the issue a bit more, the coupon was rescanned and an odd error message came up on the screen… words to the effect that the start date was not met. No one knew what that meant, and store personnel went back to the line “you can only use one coupon per item.”

Dissatisfied and disappointed, I wrote to the supermarket’s customer relations department and asked (in all caps) that someone from upper management contact me about this issue. To my surprise and delight a district manager called me and was puzzled by what had happened, suggesting that it was only reasonable for them to accept the manufacturer’s coupon since the supermarket would be reimbursed for it. I photographed the coupon and emailed it to him so he could experiment with it if necessary.

A couple of days later, he emailed back the surprising results of his inquiry.

Secret *MOUSE PRINT:

Previously unbeknownst to him and the rest of the shopping world including me is that some manufacturers code a hidden “start date” of sorts into the barcode. Presumably, this is to limit the effective period of the coupon and also to try to prevent fraudulent redemptions.

This coupon was slated to be in the RetailMeNot coupon insert in Sunday’s paper, August 25th — the day after I tried to redeem it. It appears that Unilever put a start date of August 25th on the coupon to coincide with the newspaper’s publication date. What this multi-billion dollar corporation didn’t realize is that Sunday newspapers and the inserts in them are often available the day before on Saturday. And what they further were oblivious to was the practice of coupon inserts being delivered to homes in bags along with the upcoming week’s supermarket circulars days in advance. For example, I normally receive my bag of ads on Tuesday or Wednesday for supermarket sales that begin on the coming Friday or Sunday.

The Price Rite manager shared these findings with me, and instructed store personnel in his district to always accept a valid store coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item, and to accept manufacturer’s coupons that are redeemed prior to their hidden start date. Kudos to him.

Consumer World then wrote to Unilever, the maker of Hellmann’s, to ask why they use hidden start dates. We explained to them that coupon inserts are often received by shoppers a day or days in advance, and asked what were they going to do to remedy the coupon rejection problem they unwittingly created?

We’ll post their answers as soon as they respond.




Please Help Support Mouse Print*

give support For 24 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, original stories, and independent investigations. But we no longer receive financial support from a corporate sponsor. So reluctantly, MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your help to keep Mouse Print* and Consumer World available free. Your gift will be most appreciated.


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