Amazon Agrees to Savings Claims Disclosures to Settle DAs’ Lawsuit

In March, a group of pro-consumer California district attorneys sued Amazon about misleading savings claims, and settled the case just one week later. Amazon agreed to pay a $2-million penalty.

For decades, Amazon has advertised fictitious savings from bogus reference prices like “list prices” or “was” prices, making shoppers believe they were saving a bundle by buying from them. In 2017, we reported on a study that demonstrated Amazon was still up to its old tricks despite seemingly having found consumer religion the year before as a result of several lawsuits about their misleading savings claims.

As a current example, in late March 2021, Amazon advertised a Cuisinart hand mixer (HM-90S) for $79.95 — a claimed savings of 45% off the so-called “list price” $145.

Amazon- Cuisinart mixer

But a quick check over at the manufacturer’s own website reveals that Cuisinart itself is selling this very model for the same $79.95, as are a host other big name retailers.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cuisinart retailers

Worse, Amazon itself has never charged more than $88.94 in the past 10 years for this mixer according to CamelCamelCamel, and a review of the prices being charged for this very mixer at nearly 100 other retailers reveals that no one is charging Amazon’s claimed $145 list price.

As of April 2, surprise, surprise, Amazon actually changed its advertising for this mixer and eliminated the misleading list price:

Changed Cuisinart mixer

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed reader Kim W. visited Amazon on April 5, and discovered the company once again began advertising a savings of 45% for this mixer and it restored the same high list price albeit this time with a “details link” explaining how it was derived.

Under the terms of the just-announced settlement, Amazon is barred from using false or misleading reference prices, and it must include a hyperlink to a “clear and exact definition of the [reference] term” they used and a “statement that the List Price may not be the prevailing market price or regular retail price.”

Our view: Having Amazon tell customers that the reference price they display is not the real prevailing price in the marketplace does nothing to change the misleading nature of their list price savings claims. And it seems to violate the very California law that formed the basis of the DAs’ lawsuit against the company.

Bottom line: If the list price is not the price charged by a reasonable number of sellers, it should not be allowed to be used.

Walgreens’ Screwy Vaccine Signup Process

In many states, signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine shot has been nothing short of a nightmare. The systems set up by some states like Massachusetts have been rightly criticized for creating a frustrating frenzy when new appointments are loaded into the system. It is like vying with thousands of others to get that hot concert ticket the minute Ticketmaster goes online with them.

Not to be outdone, Walgreens here has set up a vaccination appointment system that defies explanation. When you first log in with your account information and pass the screening questions, you may be lucky enough to get to the vaccinations available page after you enter your zip code.

Dose 1

So you pick a date for your first dose. Then, unlike any other non-pharmacy system we have seen, Walgreens wants you to pick a date for your second shot. And for days, at least in the Boston area, this is the next screen you saw.

*Mouse Print:

dose 2

What? They canceled your first-dose appointment because they cannot schedule a time for the second one? Because future deliveries of vaccines are so unpredictable, elsewhere it has become common practice to not schedule the second dose until the day you show up for the first dose.

We asked Walgreens if perhaps this was a glitch in their system not even letting people get the first dose on the date they reserved, and whether they are considering changing the system to fill requests for first dose only patients. A company spokesperson replied in part:

As of now, the vaccine scheduler is stable and working as intended… Eligible individuals can make appointments for both first and second doses at the same time…

We wrote back to Walgreens questioning the logic of their system.

The corporate spokesperson responded a couple of days later:

Earlier this week there were several first-dose appointments available in the scheduling system across Massachusetts locations, however, second dose appointments were not available. We resolved the issue by adding second dose appointments for future dates in order for eligible individuals to proceed in making appointments in the most effective manner. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you, Walgreens.

Now it’s your turn. Feel free this week to use the comment section to tell everyone about your experience in making a vaccine appointment, good or bad, at Walgreens or at any other site.

Money.com Offers to Check Your Data for Breaches, But…

With so many data breaches happening these days, it is hard to keep track if and where you have become a victim. To help check to see if your personal data has been compromised, right at the top of the homepage of Money magazine, the publication is offering to do a free search.

Money- check data

What an easy and valuable service they are providing… except for one thing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Money check data 2

What? In order to find out about any breaches you may have suffered, you are also signing up for advertising emails not just from Money but from others too.

That’s nasty.

The service that Money is using for the data searches is HaveIBeenPwned? which you can access directly for free. They say they do not retain your email address except if you subscribe to be alerted to future breaches.