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October 22, 2018

Thanks for Nothing, Sears and Kmart

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Internet,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

It is with a tinge of sadness that we lament the passing of hundreds more Sears and Kmart stores following their filing for bankruptcy last week. However, some of the dumb things that they have done can turn off consumers. For example, when retailers advertise a sale or reduced prices, shoppers expect to save money and be offered a good price. Sometimes, however, that wasn’t always the case at Sears and Kmart.

Example 1:

Just when Sears announced they were filing for bankruptcy last week, the local Sears in Cambridge, MA which had just started its own store closing sale, was adding an extra incentive — an extra 10% off your total purchase.

Sears 10% off

Great, except for one thing — the fine print on the coupon.

*MOUSE PRINT:

not at the register

What, you can’t use the coupon in the store and this is a store only coupon?

As it turns out, who knows what that really means because the Sears in Cambridge was automatically giving folks the extra 10% at the register, even without the coupon.


Example 2:

A couple of months ago, Sears MasterCard offered an unbelievable “month long” deal — get 20% back in points if you use the card at gas stations.

*MOUSE PRINT:

month long promotion

Apparently February has been displaced by August as the shortest month of the year.


Example 3:

People think that shopping online will generally save you money. These items at Kmart.com from marketplace sellers, however, challenge that assumption big time.

bread

.

matzo

.

Tide

Thanks for nothing, Sears and Kmart, for all these “deals.”


If you spot an outrageous or funny offer, please submit it to edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org .




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October 8, 2018

Is Sprint Misleading Customers or the FCC?

Filed under: Internet,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:43 am

Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking to merge. As part of that process, they have to convince the FCC that the merger will not harm competition and would be good for customers.

To this end, Sprint submitted a filing to the FCC on September 25 claiming that its LTE data network was inferior to the other major carriers and they needed a partner to compete better.

Sprint Network Click Chart to Enlarge

Sprint’s coverage is depicted in yellow. You can see, for example, on the map of the U.S. on the right, that Sprint has a much more limited network than Verizon (in red). In fact, the company tells the FCC that its network covers “a much smaller geography” than the other carriers and therefore it needs to merge.

However, if you compare the coverage map from the Sprint website below directed toward customers with the ones above, Sprint makes it appear that its network coverage is very robust and broad.

Sprint network

*MOUSE PRINT:

Only in the tiniest fine print footnote does Sprint disclose that the above map includes roaming coverage, meaning areas where other companies have coverage and share it with Sprint customers. The map also includes non-LTE data coverage that they cleverly omitted from the FCC map.

footnote

In addition, the company tells the FCC it has problems with its network:

“Poor network experience is a leading cause of Sprint’s subscriber churn.”

“…consistency challenges impact both network performance and customer perception”

“Sprint has not been able to invest sufficient capital to achieve network performance necessary to attract and retain enough subscribers to improve its scale.”

Funny thing, Sprint has advertised for years on television that there is only a 1% difference in its network reliability compared to the competition.



2016 Commercial


2018 Commercial

Noting these contradictions, we asked the PR folks at Sprint some very pointed questions:

(1) Which is more accurate — what Sprint presented to the FCC or what they advertise to customers?

(2) If the FCC coverage map is more accurate, how does Sprint respond to customers who feel the company exaggerated its coverage area?

(3) Which is correct — Sprint’s network performance is lacking or it’s 99% that of competitors?

A Sprint spokesperson tersely responded:

“Thanks for reaching out. I don’t have anything to add to the filings. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”




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October 1, 2018

Staples.com Quietly Drops Price Matching

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

A little over a year ago, Staples was sold to a private equity firm. And since then, shoppers have been treated to some unpleasant new policies.

For years and years, consumers could buy reams of paper for a dollar or a full case for $9.99 after rebate. No more. Rebates have been discontinued and paper is no longer a giveaway item there.

Consumers have also complained that they can no longer earn rewards for online purchases at Staples.com.

And in mid-September, Staples.com implemented another anti-consumer change — it will no longer match prices. There was no big announcement of the change, but rather just a subtle change to the fine print on its website, noticed by reader David B.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Staples NO match policy

Ten days earlier, however, Staples.com did match prices, as it has done for years.

Staples matches prices

We asked the PR folks at the company why Staples.com no longer matches prices, why they don’t publish the store price matching policy on their website so shoppers can see it before going to the store, and what are the full details of their in-store price matching policy.

This was their entire barebones answer:

Thanks for reaching out. We are still price matching, 110% in- store at Staples retail locations.

Come on, Staples, you owe customers a better explanation than that.




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September 10, 2018

Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” Made Unsubstantiated Health Claims

Filed under: Health,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:41 am

Last week, the Orange County California district attorney’s office and other DAs settled a consumer lawsuit against Goop – a lifestyle brand and website created by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The suit contended that Goop made health claims for various products but did not have substantiation to back up those claims.

For example, Goop touted “Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend” this way:

Inner Judge

You can either mix this stuff in water and drink it, or apply it externally to your body “over the liver.” It supposedly would help you get rid of guilt and shame, replacing those feelings with compassion and forgiveness, so as to prevent a spiral into depression. Oh please. What is this, a psychologist in a bottle?

For this crock of **** and unsubstantiated claims about two other products, Paltrow’s company agreed to pay $145,000 in settlement, without admitting any wrongdoing. So much for the company’s statement of values:

We test the waters so that you don’t have to. We will never recommend something that we don’t love, and think worthy of your time and your wallet. We value your trust above all things.

The case against Goop arose because our friends at TruthinAdvertising.com cited more than 50 unsubstantiated health claims made by Paltrow’s company, and sent them to some of the California DAs.

Here are some of the claims made for other flower essence products previously available on the Goop website. They include products to help “cure”: a broken heart such as from death of a loved one; emotional trauma from divorce, OCD, or bad dreams; infertility; auto-immune conditions; writer’s block; perfectionism, talking too much, etc.

Hertz

Scroll down the list.

For more about the case against Goop, here is an ABC Nightline story.




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September 3, 2018

Lowe’s Corrects Goof in Labor Day Promotion

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

Ever on the hunt for a good deal to promote as Consumer World’s “bargain of the week,” MrConsumer electronically thumbed through the Lowe’s Labor Day sale circular late last week. He found a sale on Bosch dishwashers, which usually have very good product reviews from shoppers, and tend to be rated very highly by Consumer Reports. Making the deal even better — almost unbelievable — was the fact that Lowe’s was advertising free installation via a rebate.

Here is part of their Labor Day print circular featuring five Bosch dishwashers as low as $449. And the free installation rebate is smack in the middle of all these models. All the asterisks and other symbols just below the green arrow concerning the rebate shed no light on the actual restrictions.

 

Lowe's circular

 

Taking a closer look at one of the cheapest Bosch models at $449, the Bosch SHE3AR72UC, which grabbed Consumer Reports’ highest rating of any dishwasher (though only lukewarm reviews by Consumer Reports readers), the Lowe’s website provided the following product listing, and noted the availability of two rebates on this model.

 

Bosch dishwasher listing

 

When clicking to get the details of the installation rebate, the shopper is presented with a surprising catch:

*MOUSE PRINT:

$799 restriction

It said that the rebate only applies to Bosch dishwashers $799 or higher! But the rebate form doesn’t say that. The newspaper circular doesn’t say that. And the big print description of the rebate on the website doesn’t say that.

So we wrote to the PR folks at Lowe’s to ask which was correct: that the rebate offer only applied to dishwasher models $799 or higher, or that it applied to all models listed in the circular, shown on the website, and listed on the rebate form.

Less than 24 hours later, an inconspicuous change was made to the website — they removed the $799 minimum purchase language!

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lowe's correction

A Lowe’s spokesperson confirmed to Mouse Print* that the promotion in question did not have a minimum purchase threshold and all references to it were removed from their website. The company said that the $799 minimum purchase requirement was never intended to apply to this sale.

Incidentally, in the Boston area, Lowe’s charges $239 for installation. So getting that free is seemingly quite a savings. But, before you run to Lowe’s to buy a Bosch dishwasher because of this great deal, understand that Lowe’s plays by the book in terms of obtaining a local plumbing permit if required by your city or town. In my town, for example, Lowe’s will add a charge of $170 for the permit!!! Since this seemed rather high, MrConsumer contacted the city’s inspectional services department and found out that the actual cost is only $60. Lowe’s is charging an additional $110 for the time it takes a third party contractor to wait in line at city hall, it appears. And Lowe’s says that homeowners CANNOT get the permit on their own to save money. The Lowe’s spokesperson could not get a formal response by publication time as to why the company has such an anti-consumer policy.

In addition, Lowe’s, like other appliance sellers, does not include in the advertised price of the dishwasher the drain pipe, necessary adapters, and the electrical cord. That’s another $50. And haul away is yet $20 more.

So, what started as a great bargain is turning out to be a very expensive proposition unless you do the installation yourself.




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