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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.




• • •

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.




• • •

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).




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