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Home Depot Sued Over Fake Regular Prices

In the past, we have talked about class action lawsuits where it is alleged that a clothing retailer used inflated regular prices to give customers the impression that their products were currently being offered at a great, low sale price. Now come two straight-shooting Texas consumers claiming that The Home Depot has been making exaggerated savings claims too by jacking up the so-called “regular” price of major appliances to levels at which they never or rarely ever sold. (See lawsuit.)

One of the consumers bought a Samsung gas dryer for $798 — that he thought was at a 33-percent discount from the $1199 “strikethrough” price. The other consumer bought a top loading Samsung washer for $578 that he was led to believe was usually $899. In the seven months since he purchased the washer, for example, his lawyers say it never sold for the $899 “regular” price.

In fact, they checked a variety of major appliances at Home Depot tracking their prices for months.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Washer sale price history

In this example, they tracked a washer like this one for four months. At no time in their checks was it ever off-sale or close to the $999 so-called regular price shown.

The lawyers say that The Home Depot engaged in unfair business practices, misrepresentations, and broke a specific regulation that specifically prohibits sellers from “making false or misleading statements concerning the reasons for, existence of, [and] amounts of price reductions.”

Time will tell if this case has legs, although MrConsumer has little doubt that the company uses strikethrough higher prices to make shoppers think they are getting a bargain.

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Here We Shrink Again – Spring 2024 – Part 2

We continue our spring fling this week with six more products that have been subject to shrinkflation recently.

Crest 3D White

P&G has been downsizing toothpaste repeatedly. The tubes are getting smaller, but somehow the packaging seems to stay about the same. The latest change was found by Richard G who sent these pictures. The 3.8 oz. tubes of Crest 3D White recently went down half an ounce to 3.3 oz. Tom B. also reported that Crest Enamel Repair was downsized to 3.7 oz. from 4.1 oz.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Crest 3D White


Dove Dark Chocolate

Once upon a time, these bags were over 10 ounces, now Dove dark chocolate bags are only 7.61 ounces. Thanks again to Richard G. for spotting this item.

*MOUSE PRINT:
Dove Dark Chocolate


Tide

P&G appears to have removed some of the water from Tide Free & Gentle because bottles went from 92 oz. to 84 oz. but each one still claims to be able to do 64 loads of laundry. Thanks to Shannon R. for this picture.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide Free & Gentle

And to add insult to injury, P&G downsized the big jugs of Tide Oxi Odor AGAIN. This time it lost another 14 ounces, but magically you still get 94 loads theoretically from the new version. Thanks to Brendan B. for spotting this.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Tide Oxi Odor


Trader Joe’s Sparkling Water

Zhora V. spotted a big change in Trader Joe’s Sparkling water because the bottles didn’t feel as hefty as they used to. No wonder… the new ones are 8.5 ounces less. And it was now plain water instead of mineral water. What isn’t clear is how the price changed and when the new size was introduced.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Trader Joe's sparkling water


Walmart Equate Shampoo

Many brands of shampoo shrink over time, and store brands are no exception. If you see Head & Shoulders downsize, the retailer’s own brand can’t be far behind. Here, Walmart has removed an ounce from its Equate dandruff shampoo and conditioner.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Equate shampoo


If you find a product recently hit by shrinkflation, please take side-by-side pictures of the old and new, including the net weight or net count and email them to Edgar(at)ConsumerWorld.org . Thanks!

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France to Require Warnings on Downsized Products

In a major move, France is requiring stores to flag products on store shelves that have been subject to shrinkflation where the quantity decreases without a commensurate price drop. Until now, Brazil was believed to be the only country with a disclosure requirement.

In particular, according to a press release from the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, the requirement covers:

*MOUSE PRINT:

… from July 1, 2024 , for consumer products which have undergone a downward change in weight or volume leading to an increase in price per unit of measurement. specific obligation to inform consumers, relating to these developments. This information must be provided by distributors in large and medium-sized stores, in the immediate vicinity of the products concerned. It must appear in these physical stores during the two months following the marketing date of the industrial food and non-food products concerned (bottles of soda, packets of rice, laundry detergent or cans, for example), and this, whether national brand or private label products. Not affected by these provisions are prepackaged foodstuffs, the quantity of which may vary during preparation (deli section for example) and foodstuffs sold in bulk.

In other words, shoppers can expect to see signs on product displays whenever a product has been downsized but the price has stayed the same unit price or has been increaesed. The signs will have to be posted for two months. And some exemptions apply. (See NY Times story for additional background.)

What a great step forward for shoppers in France. Would something like this ever become law here on a national scale? Not a chance.

(Next week, we’ll resume our two-part series spotlighting products recently subject to shrinkflation.)