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November 23, 2020

Lowe’s Extended Protection Plans Called Deceptive

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.


A Washington consumer who bought a barbecue grill last year from Lowe’s is suing the company for deceptive practices after his grill went on the fritz and Lowe’s refused to fix it.

Like many shoppers who buy more expensive products, this customer was asked at the checkout if he would like to buy a four-year extended warranty “Protection Plan.” He was told it would cover everything and even included on-site repairs. After he agreed to buy the $79.99 plan, the cashier put a brochure about it in his bag.

Fast forward about 10 months, and sure enough his barbecue developed a problem so the consumer asked Lowe’s for someone to come out and pick it up for repair. Lowe’s refused saying the grill was covered by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty and according to the customer’s lawsuit, while the Lowe’s extended warranty plans start on the day of purchase, they only provide benefits after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. [Thanks to Truth in Advertising for the case.]

The extended warranty contract used by Lowe’s is not clearly worded to explicitly warn purchasers about this:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Parts and services covered during the manufacturer’s warranty period are the responsibility of the manufacturer. Your Product(s) may have a labor and/or parts warranty from the manufacturer that may provide additional or overlapping coverage with this Plan. Review Your manufacturer’s warranty. Nothing in the Plan will limit or discharge any manufacturer’s obligations.

To add insult to injury in this case, since the barbecue had a five-year warranty and the Lowe’s plan was only four years, it completely overlapped what the manufacturer was providing. That made the Lowe’s plan a complete waste of money for the customer.

Lowe’s has not publicly commented on the allegations made in this lawsuit.

Whenever buying a warrantied product, try to purchase it with a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year for free. Many card issuers have dropped this benefit, so double-check which of your cards still offer it.




• • •

November 16, 2020

Use This Kohl’s Cash Trick for Extra Savings

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:54 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.


Over the past few weeks we’ve focused on the fine print of store policies, both good and bad, at major retailers. This week, we turn to Kohl’s, which has a genuinely pro-consumer policy when it comes to Kohl’s Cash. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the company for continually making exaggerated savings claims on items that are almost always on sale.

Kohl’s Cash is a bonus that shoppers get when they reach certain spending thresholds. Think of it like a merchandise credit. For their big upcoming Black Friday sale, for instance, for every $50 you spend (after all discounts), you will earn $15 in Kohl’s Cash that is good toward future purchases.

Kohl's Cash

Maybe you are like MrConsumer and sometimes just fall short of making the $50 threshold because the item you are buying is unfortunately priced at $49.99. You are in luck, however, because of a little-known policy at Kohl’s.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kohl's Cash Policy

So, don’t think you have to add a filler item to your cart when the basket total is just shy of $50. Kudos to Kohl’s.




• • •

November 9, 2020

CVS’s Seemingly Generous Coupon Acceptance Policy

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.


Last month, we pointed out a nasty coupon acceptance policy at Walgreens whereby if you e-clipped both a $1 and an $8 coupon for the same product, their system would only accept the LOWER valued one. (They promised a fix.)

It isn’t often you find a retailer (no less CVS) that interprets its coupon acceptance policy in a pro-consumer manner, but it looked like CVS was doing just that.

For example, in many stores if an item is on sale “buy one, get one free” and you have two $1 off coupons, the store will only let you use only one arguing that you can’t get a dollar off on the second item because it is free. Such is the case at Rite Aid in their official policy.

CVS’s written policy currently is different, however.

*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 and pay the applicable tax.

This CVS policy is very generous, at least on paper. In practice, however, the CVS checkout system two weeks ago denied MrConsumer’s second $2 off manufacturer’s coupon on a buy one, get one free vitamin sale.

We contacted the PR folks at CVS to raise this issue, and their spokesperson responded:

Our coupons policy states: “Only one manufacturer’s coupon may be used per qualifying item unless otherwise stated by coupon. We honor manufacturer limitations.” Qualifying items for manufacturers coupons are those with a purchase price greater than zero. So while you’d still be able to use multiple coupons in this example, only one may be a manufacturers coupon. We intend to amend the FAQ for clarity. -CVS spokesperson

What this really seems to be saying is that henceforth, CVS will only accept ONE manufacturer’s coupon on buy one, get one free items — a complete retreat from their very generous policy as currently worded.

Incidentally, Stop & Shop’s previous policy also explicitly allowed two manufacturer’s coupons on buy one, get one free sale items.

All is not lost, however. Here’s a different example of CVS’s pro-consumer coupon policy which we did not test, and hope is implemented as represented:

Let’s say you have two store coupons each good for $3 off a $15 or higher purchase, but you want to buy $30+ worth of stuff. Some savvy shoppers would split the order in two $15 orders, so you can use one coupon on each transaction. CVS’s policy says don’t bother splitting the order because their computer will recognize and accept both coupons in a single order.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
Yes, as long as all of the coupons meet their qualifications.

Examples:
• Two $3 off $15 coupons for purchases that are $30.00 or higher.

So, at least sometimes, CVS seems to be on the consumer’s side when it comes to coupon acceptance.




• • •

October 26, 2020

Microban 24: Kills Viruses and Bacteria for 24 Hours?

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:40 am

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.


Everyone is very conscious these days of keeping surfaces that we touch as sanitary as possible. So what a perfect time to promote this product, Microban 24, that kills viruses and bacteria.

What is the impression you come away with after watching that commercial? They claim that Microban 24 kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, and you may believe they said it works for 24 hours. Watch the commercial again.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Microban fine print

They actually claim, combining their oral statements and fine print disclaimer that Microban 24 kills bacteria for 24 hours, but only kills viruses initially (upon spraying) and NOT for 24 hours. The company cleverly omits the word “viruses” when making its 24-hour claim.

So despite the product’s name, and a very carefully worded commercial where every word is literally true, a consumer could very easily come away with an incorrect impression of the efficacy of the product. And under FTC theory of the law, this could make the ad deceptive.

It is the net impression conveyed by a solicitation, “not its literal truth or falsity,” that determines whether it is deceptive. FTC v. Cyberspace.com, LLC, 453 F.3d 1196, 1200, 1201 (9 Cir. 2000).

We asked Procter & Gamble, the maker of the product, why they don’t clearly state orally that virus protection does not last 24 hours, and whether they would consider modifying their advertisements to more clearly disclose the limited nature of the virus protection. P&G did not respond to our inquiry.

UPDATE October 28: The EPA just granted approval to add Microban 24 to its list of products that can kill the coronavirus within 60 seconds. But, that does not change the fact that P&G’s product does not continue to kill viruses for 24 hours contrary to the impression created by their advertising.




• • •

October 19, 2020

Walgreens Shortchanges Customers on Some Coupons

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

Please Help Support Mouse Print*

Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.


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.”




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