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Fine Print Is Not Just in Print Anymore

We’re celebrating April Fool’s Day a week early with a little bit of consumer humor.

Remember those old Federal Express commercials with actor John Moschitta rapid-talking his spiel?

Well, almost two decades later, he is not alone any longer. This time, however, even faster speed-talking is used to make important disclosures and disclaimers in a radio commercial for a Boston-based financial advisory service.

*MOUSE PRINT:

That was perfectly understandable, right?

We asked the company, Hackmann Wealth Partners, if those disclosures were required by certain regulations and whether they would make future ads more understandable. They did not respond.

Presumably the disclosures said something like what is stated in a footnote on their website:

Investment advisory services offered through Brookstone Wealth Advisors, LLC (BWA), a registered investment advisor. BWA and HWP Inc, DBA Hackmann Wealth Partners, are independent of each other. Insurance products and services are not offered through BWA but are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed agents.

Radio listeners deserve to be able to hear and understand what these folks glossed over in their commercial.

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Boo: Chipotle Doesn’t Make Good After Halloween Promo Backfires

Many people look forward to Chipotle’s annual Halloween “Boorito” promotion where the company offers any burrito at a low, low price. Once only $3, now the discounted meal will set you back $6. It was even named Bargain of the Week in Consumer World last week.

This year, they made the promo online only and only for rewards members. Historically, it was a walk-in promotion where anyone could get the promotion if you dressed in a costume. Many a year MrConsumer donned his turkey outfit to take advantage of the offer.

Edgar at Chipotle

About 4 p.m. on Halloween, I went online to order my $6 burrito bowl (you can get twice as much food in a bowl compared to in a burrito) but could not log in. They instituted a two-factor authentication process and their system was not sending the secret six-digit code before it expired in five minutes. And then the entire site went down.
Chipotle down

I checked the Facebook and Twitter accounts, and could not find a word about the problem that continued for hours. (Business Insider found a couple of posts directing customers to just go to the restaurant to get the deal, but some reported that stores refused to honor it.) Calling the local store was no help either. They were not taking phone orders, and the recorded phone message mentioned nothing about the problem.

Eventually, I was able to log in and put the burrito bowl I wanted in my cart. At the checkout, the system refused to accept the correct promo code “boorito” and was charging full price.

After spending over two hours trying to get the advertised promotion, I used their automated chat to complain. Two days later the company responded.

*MOUSE PRINT:

I’m sorry to hear that there were some difficulties redeeming this year’s Boorito promotion. Due to extraordinary demand, we experienced intermittent technical issues on our app and website for guests placing digital orders. As a customer service gesture, I have added a free chips-and-guac offer into the rewards section of your Chipotle account.

Give me a break. The company disappointed probably tens of thousands of customers, and they have made no broad public apology nor provided a make-good offer of equivalent value to all their rewards members.

We contacted their media representatives to ask if they were going to offer something to all of them. They responded:

Due to extraordinary demand, we temporarily experienced intermittent technical issues on the app and website for guests placing digital orders on Halloween. We resolved the issue and honored the promotional offer inside our restaurants and on digital.

Of course, they never sent an email to rewards members alerting them to the problem and suggesting the in-store alternative.

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Thanks for Nothing – Fall 2023

A few times a year we spotlight offers from companies that are real head-scratchers, are actually less generous than they appear, are just plain outrageous, or may simply elicit a chuckle. Here’s the new crop.

Shake ‘N Bake

It seems like skimpflation has hit the grocery shelf again. This time it’s Shake ‘N Bake. The product is well known for helping to make fried chicken by simply having you put the breading in a bag, adding chicken pieces, and then shaking and baking. Now they have made a significant change to the product.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Shake 'n Bake

They removed the always included bag saying it was an environmental move. The consumer who spotted this, Michael P., said in response to their claim, “All it means is they save money and the consumer has to use one of their own Ziploc or other plastic bags.”

Maybe they need to rename the product now to simply ‘N Bake. Thanks for nothing, Kraft Heinz.


Panera Contest

Mark D., a regular Consumer World reader, got some good news recently. He won a prize in a Panera promotion.

Panera prize

That’s pretty generous winning a $99 membership in their unlimited sip club. But then Mark figured out he had not actually won a prize worth $99 but rather he received a sale solicitation to buy a membership in the club for that price – a $20.99 discount from the usual $119.99 price.

Thanks for nothing, Panera. And please do consider dropping deceptive offers like this.


AfterPay Installment Plan

I know that grocery prices are high because of inflation and greedflation, but when you are even offered the option to put a package of beef stew on the installment plan, something is really wrong.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Buy now, pay later stew

Thanks for nothing, AfterPay.


Prices Gone Wild

Speaking of high prices and beef stew, things are really getting out of hand when you have to pay up to $750 for a single stew pot (and could really use an installment plan to finance it).

Le Creuset pot

And when it costs $39.99 for one package of toilet paper (and that is a Target sale price), something has really gone askew.

Price of Charmin

Thanks for nothing Williams Sonoma, Le Creuset and P&G.


If you find an ad suitable for inclusion in our “Thanks for Nothing” series, please send it to: edgar (at symbol) MousePrint.org . Thanks.