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October 19, 2020

Walgreens Shortchanges Customers on Some Coupons

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

MrConsumer became a victim of a sneaky practice by Walgreens a few weeks ago. He spotted a great deal on Crest 3D White toothpaste, and even promoted it to readers as a “Bargain of the Week” in Consumer World.

Walgreens Crest offer

In this offer, if you bought four tubes of Crest, one of them would be free, plus there was an additional $1 electronic coupon and also an $8 one. Conceivably you could snare all four tubes for only $1.77. It was unclear if one of these coupons was a store coupon and one a manufacturers coupon, so I e-clipped both. I thought if the $1 coupon could not be used in combination with the $8 coupon, obviously I would just use the $8 one.

At the store, the cashier scanned my loyalty card and the four tubes. The total on the screen said $9.77 (before tax) rather than the $1.77 or $2.77 that I expected. This happened because it only took off the $1 coupon. I told her something was wrong because I had also e-clipped an $8 coupon. What she said next floored me.

*MOUSE PRINT:

“The system only takes off the LOWEST value coupon.”

Say what? She said that she could not manually remove the $1 coupon, that I would have to do it in my e-wallet, and then the system would accept the $8 one. I showed the cashier that I didn’t see any apparent way to remove a coupon at the Walgreens website on my cellphone. She said that can only be done in the Walgreens app, which I did not have.

So I left the four tubes at the checkout and headed home to install the Walgreens app and try to remove the $1 coupon. That part of this saga was successful, so I drove back to the store. A different cashier found my four tubes of Crest behind the counter and rang up the order. This time the system took off the $8 coupon properly, which I pointed out to the cashier. She too reiterated that Walgreens’ checkouts only deduct the lowest value coupon applicable to the order.

I couldn’t believe that any company would deliberately create a system to deny customers the use of a legitimate high-value coupon that was properly clipped particularly since the company was getting reimbursed in full for it by the manufacturer.

So we asked Walgreens why they had such an anti-consumer policy. A PR spokesperson for the company replied:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Our current POS [point-of-sale] system is not able to logically determine the best offer at the customer transaction level. Our system applies digital coupons based on the order that the customer activated them along with corresponding expiration dates. We are working with our CPG partners as well as our digital coupon provider to develop remedies outside of our POS. In addition, we are developing a capability for our team members at POS to be able to add and remove coupons at the time of checkout on behalf of the customer. We will follow-up with you as we have more information to share.”

A number of shoppers have posted complaints online including saying that the Walgreens policy noted just above was changed toward the end of 2019 to a lowest value first one.

While we are pleased to have prompted Walgreens to work on a variety of solutions, this never should have happened. A simple highest value first policy would benefit shoppers the most, just like the one used by supermarket chain Hy-Vee:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“If more than one digital coupon is loaded for the same product, the best value will be redeemed at checkout.”




• • •

September 21, 2020

Black Forest Products: Real Juicy?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:38 am

MrConsumer saw this commercial for a new product under the brand name Black Forest last week:

It certainly conveys a warm, woodsy, natural feeling to viewers. And the products seem like they are healthy because the announcer says they are “made from real fruit juice and colors from natural sources… Black Forest — real juicy, real good.”

What caught MrConsumer’s eye, however, was the faint footnote:

*MOUSE PRINT:

footnote

Say what? Only 7.9 percent juice? What’s the rest of it? You guessed it — primarily sugar.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nutrition facts

While apple juice concentrate is the third ingredient, the other fruits pictured on the “Juicy Burst” box are the last three ingredients. In fact, there is more wax in the product than those juices. And a number of other fruits and vegetables are only used as coloring. The nutritional value of this juicy fruit snack is pretty much limited to the vitamin C that the company adds.

So while this product is portrayed as a seemingly healthy snack, we’d call it candy. And no wonder, the Black Forest brand is owned by the Ferrara Candy Company which makes Brach’s, Nerds, SweeTarts, Chuckles, RedHots, and classic candy corn.




• • •

July 13, 2020

Don’t Let a Product’s Name Fool You!

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:15 am

MrConsumer has a toenail problem. Like many people, his toenails have turned brittle, irregular and off-color. He has toenail fungus. Years ago, his doctor said there was a pill for that, but it seemed strange to treat this condition from the inside out (and various articles suggest it is not always effective and takes a long time to work, if at all).

Recently, the most popular over-the-counter ointment brand, Fungi-Nail, ran this TV commercial touting the product.

Seems pretty unambiguous — “Maximum strength Fungi-Nail is so powerful, it cures and prevents fungal infections… Say goodbye to toe fungus with Fungi-Nail.”

But, on the back of the carton, there is a most unexpected disclosure.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Fungi-Nail back

Say what? This product is not for nail fungus? Then why is the product called “Fungi-Nail?” You have to check the FAQ section of the website for that answer.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Fungi-Nail FAQ

So, the name has nothing to do with the function of the product. Nice. And that point is also made at the end of the section on toe fungus on their website:

If you think you have nail fungus, contact your doctor.

So what’s Fungi-Nail good for? Athlete’s foot!




• • •

June 22, 2020

Gov’t Video on Mask Decontamination Disclaims Its Own Advice

Filed under: Health — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

With the shortage of PPE continuing in some areas, the Department of Homeland Security just released an instructional video on how to decontaminate N95 masks at home so they can be reused.

They want you to cook them in a paper bag over simmering water in an Instant Pot (a Crock-Pot-like slow cooker). MrConsumer is not making this up.

Before the instructional part of the video begins, however, Uncle Sam tries to socially distance himself from you if their method backfires.

*MOUSE PRINT:

N95 decontamination disclaimer

It basically says that the federal government doesn’t guarantee this system will work, and if it fails or you screw up, don’t blame us because you have assumed all the risk.

I wonder where they got the idea to have people waive their rights if they get sick?




• • •

June 8, 2020

Where’s the Honey in Honey Bunches of Oats?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Honey Bunches of OatsFor years, we’ve all seen the commercials for Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats cereal where the female assembly line worker waxes poetic about her crispy crunchy bunches.

Last year, a health-conscious California consumer bought a box of this cereal thinking that honey would be a more healthy sweetener to have rather than sugar or corn syrup. Soon thereafter he learned (probably from a class action lawyer rather than a nutritionist) that the product in fact had almost no honey.

A check of the ingredients statement on the side of the package revealed the not-so-sweet truth.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Honey Bunches of Oats Ingredients

There are three other sweeteners in the product — sugar, corn syrup and molasses — all of which are in greater amounts than any honey. In fact, there was more salt in the cereal than honey. (Barley malt extract is also a sweetener, incidentally.)

So our consumer sued Post claiming false advertising and misrepresentation. He believed the packaging conveyed the impression that honey was either the only sweetener or certainly a significant one in the product.

Post argued among other things that no reasonable consumer would understand that the cereal’s packaging was making a claim about the amount of honey in the product. MrConsumer always loves when a company tries to assert that only stupid consumers would believe the baloney the manufacturer shows and tells them right on the package.

The company asked the judge to dismiss the case, but she sided with the consumer in her procedural decision.

In applying the reasonable consumer standard, however, the packaging must be considered in context. That is, the image of a radiating sun, the words “HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS,” and the honey dipper dripping honey occupy about two-thirds of the front of the packaging. Although the package does not make any objective representations about the amount of honey in the cereal, a reasonable consumer could see the prominent honey-related words and imagery and be deceived into thinking the cereal contained relatively less refined sugar and more honey. If so misled, the reasonable consumer is not expected to pick up the product and examine the fine print of the ingredient list. –Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Court

And so the case moves forward. We’ll keep you “Posted,” so to speak.




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