mouseprint: fine print of advertising
Go to Homepage


Subscribe to free weekly newsletter

Mouse Print*
is a service of
Consumer World
Follow us both on Twitter:
@consumerworld



Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

April 6, 2020

Is This the Way to Give Workers a Bonus?

Filed under: Business,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

No doubt, many people are facing personal financial hardships because they have lost their job or are working reduced hours. But many companies are stepping up continuing to pay workers or even offering extra pay.

One such company is the closeout retail chain Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL) with 139 stores throughout the Northeast. In an email to customers last week, their CEO told of hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions of food and protective medical equipment their company has made.

He also noted a $2 an hour pay increase for workers, an additional bonus, and a more generous employee discount program.

There was one unusual disclosure in the letter, however.

*MOUSE PRINT:

OSJL- letter

The company is financing the bonus to employees by automatically tacking on a two-percent surcharge to every shopper’s bill at the checkout. While you can opt-out, how many people even realize that they are being surcharged in the first place? Many won’t see the signs nor have carefully read the email. And how awkward and embarrassing to have to say to the very person this money is intended to help that you don’t want to contribute.

While we applaud OSJL for its very generous contributions to hospitals and veterans organizations, in our view, the customer contribution for an employee bonus should be voluntary — opt-in — just like this chain does for the other causes it asks customers to support during the year.

Contrast their surcharge approach with the voluntary method being taken by the Daily Table in Boston. Their nonprofit mini-supermarkets, created by the former CEO of Trader Joe’s, buy soon-to-expire food from manufacturers and stores. They cook some of it and prepare single-portion meals for the lower-income shoppers that frequent their stores. Last week, the Daily Table sent out an urgent email plea to customers asking them to help pay their employees an emergency aid bonus of $2 an hour which was not in their budget. MrConsumer was happy to contribute.

So what do you think? Should stores be able to automatically tack on a surcharge to their customers’ bills to help finance an employee bonus, or should they simply just ask shoppers to support their employees through voluntary contributions?




• • •

March 23, 2020

Sometimes No Disclosure Is Better

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

Who would think that Mouse Print* would ever say that less disclosure can sometimes be better than more disclosure? There aren’t too many cases where this is true, but here is one of them.

In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day two weeks ago, MrConsumer checked out the bargains on corned beef at various local supermarkets. Point cut corned beef was on sale for between $1.47 and $1.69 a pound at the low end. As we have shown before, the name of the game when buying cheap corned beef is to check how much water (“solution”) is injected into the beef.

Here are a couple of brands that have 35% water. In other words, you are paying $1.49 a pound for packages that are one-third water and only two-thirds beef.

corned beef

corned beef

MrConsumer did not want to be burned again by those brands, so he hightailed it over to another store offering corned beef for $1.69 a pound. When he looked to see how much water was injected into the brands they carried, the information was conspicuously missing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

corned beef packages

Where was the percentage disclosure like the other brands had? It was nowhere on these packages. I asked the meat man if he knew (he didn’t) and whether he could check the carton. There was no disclosure there either. So, what would you do? Buy one of the unmarked packages and take a chance or take a pass? I left the store corned beef-less.

Since one of the brands was made in Massachusetts, I called headquarters to ask the million dollar question. After about 10 minutes of the receptionist presumably trying to find someone who knew the answer, she finally came back on the line and said “20-percent.”

Why didn’t the company put this on the label? It is a big selling point compared to the competition.

The answer is they don’t have to when the product complies with the federal standard of identity for corned beef which allows, by definition, for there to be up to 20% water in raw corned beef.

*MOUSE PRINT:

§ 319.101 Corned beef brisket.
In preparing “Corned Beef Brisket,” the application of curing solution to the beef brisket shall not result in an increase in the weight of the finished cured product of more than 20 percent over the weight of the fresh uncured brisket.

Only if a product like corned beef does not meet the standard of identity (20% or less of water) does there have to be a clear disclosure on the principal display panel as part of the name stating the percentage of water/solution in the product, as the top group of products shows. [See 9 CFR § 317.2 (e)(2)(i)]

So there you have it. Because the two unlabeled brands above did not exceed the amount of water allowed, they didn’t have to tell consumers how much was actually in it (although it really would have been smart to do so). In this case then, buying raw corned beef with no disclosure is a smarter move than purchasing the ones that tell you how much water has been injected.




• • •

March 9, 2020

Here We Downsize Again – Winter 2020

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

We start the new decade with an old trick — inconspicuously reducing the package size of products as a sneaky way to raise prices. You pay the same price but get less for your money. Here are our latest discoveries. (If you find a product that has been downsized, please take a clear picture of both the old and new size packages and submit it here. )

 

Charmin

The folks at P&G are doing it again on supermarket shelves right now. Newly designed packages of Charmin toilet tissue are sitting next to the current version.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin

The difference is that each “mega” roll now has 20 fewer sheets. And just a reminder… the Charmin of 50 years ago in the Mr. Whipple days had 600-650 single-ply sheets per roll. Thanks to our ace downsizing detective Richard Ginn for spotting this change.

 

Powerade

Another item right in the midst of being downsized now is Powerade. The Coca-Cola Company is reducing the size of its 32-ounce bottles of this sports drink to just 28 ounces. Thanks to consumer reporter John Matarese of WCPO-TV for this tip.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Powerade

 

Puffs

Paper products continue to be downsized regularly. The makers of Puffs tissues reduced the size of its cube-shaped boxes from 56 tissues to 48.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Puffs

Thanks to Liz B. for pointing out how this product changed.

 

Hershey’s Kisses

One of the nasty tricks that some product makers do sometimes when downsizing an item is to make the package size bigger than the old one, but now contain less. In this case, a number of Hershey’s chocolate products sold in large bags lost two ounces last fall. Here, even though it is still called “family size,” these bags of Hershey’s kisses went down from 18 ounces to 16. 1. And their 12-ounce “classic size” bags went from 12 ounces to just 10. But that size got renamed “share size.”

*MOUSE PRINT:

Hershey's Kisses

 

Angel Soft Toilet Tissue

Finally, the downsizing angels pulled a double-whammy on your fanny.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Angel Soft

Not only did they trim 30 sheets off of each roll of their toilet paper, Angel Soft made each sheet more narrow. The four-inch square tissues are now only 3.8-inches wide. Thanks to Richard Ginn for finding this change last fall.




• • •

March 2, 2020

Do These Products Really Give You 40-50% More?

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

Grocery product manufacturers love to hide when they are giving you less for your money, but proclaim loudly when they are giving you more even if they really are providing nothing extra.

Example 1:

Clorox Clean-up spray bottles are adorned with a new claim that the product “cleans 40% more per spray*.”

Clorox 40% more

It took a while to find where that asterisked claim was explained, but there it was in tiny print on the back of the bottle.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Clorox fine print

Well that explains everything… NOT. What in the world does that claim mean? Has the product been reformulated so it is 40% stronger than before and thus cleans 40% better?

We asked the company’s PR folks multiple times for an explanation, but they did not respond. Our guess is that the spray nozzle and feeder tube have been redesigned and now 40% more cleaner comes out with every spritz. That’s sort of like making the hole bigger on the toothpaste tube so you’ll use more.

Examples 2 and 3:

The most common type of “percent more” claim is designed to catch your eye and make you think you are getting a bonus — some extra amount free — because you picked up this particular promotional package.

French's Mustard - Mrs. Butterworth's

When you look more closely at these two bottles, they are not giving you anything extra free. They are merely providing a mathematics lesson.

*MOUSE PRINT:

mustard and syrup disclosures

Both products are just larger size bottles than smaller ones. A 20-ounce bottle is (approx.) 40% more than a 14-ounce bottle, and a 36-ounce is 50% more than 24-ounces. Nothing more. Nothing free.




• • •

February 3, 2020

Honest Tea Making Less Than Honest Low Sugar Claims

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that Honest Tea, a bottled beverage manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company, is making an implied “low sugar” claim that is prohibited by federal law.

In particular, adorning the top of each bottle of Honest Tea is the claim “Just a Tad Sweet.” Most people would probably understand this to mean that this was a drink low in sugar, and therefore more healthy than a full-sugar drink.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Honest Tea

A close look at the back label with the nutrition facts disclosure reveals that this 16.9 ounce bottle contains 25 grams of sugar. As we’ve reported previously, most consumers have no idea how to convert metric measurements on product labels to more commonly understood ones. In this case, this “tad sweet” product has six teaspoons of sugar. No reasonable consumer would say that that amounts to just a “tad.” The product is loaded with sugar.

So CSPI has sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration urging them to take immediate enforcement action against the company, and to consider coming out with rules defining when “low sugar” claims can be made. And a proposed class action lawsuit has already been filed in New York.

You can learn more about the issue of low sugar claims and Honest Tea here.




• • •
Next Page »
Powered by: WordPressPrivacy Policy
Mouse Print exposes the strings and catches buried in the fine print of advertising.
Copyright © 2006-2020. All rights reserved. Advertisements are copyrighted by their respective owners.