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March 25, 2019

Cheez-it Cheats-it on Whole Grains

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:32 am

Snack foods don’t have a good reputation when it comes to healthfulness. So, it is no wonder that their manufacturers often try to come up with ways to make them seem healthier.

A few years back, Kellogg came up with a way to make Cheez-its appear to be a more healthy snack. They introduced “Whole Grain Cheez-its.”

Whole Grain Cheez-it

Some packages said “whole grain” others said “made with whole grains.” But the problem was in the fine print.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Listed first in the ingredients statement on the side of the box was plain old “enriched white flour.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Kellogg back in 2016 for deceptive practices and false advertising.

The lower court said the box was not misleading. So, the plaintiffs decided to let the chips fall where they may and appealed the case. And the appeals court this year reversed the lower court and ruled:

“Whole Grain” and “Made with Whole Grain” statements are “misleading because they falsely imply that the grain content is entirely or at least predominantly whole grain, whereas in fact, the grain component consisting of enriched white flour substantially exceeds the whole grain portion.”

“…a reasonable consumer should not be expected to consult the Nutrition Facts panel on the side of the box to correct misleading information set forth in large bold type on the front of the box.” … “Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients list on whole grain Cheez-Its—which reveals that enriched white flour is the predominant ingredient—contradict, rather than confirm, Defendant’s ‘whole grain’ representations on the front of the box.”

So the case is being sent back for a full trial.




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March 18, 2019

Thanks for Nothing, 2019 – Part 1

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Internet,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

“Thanks for Nothing” spotlights advertising that seemingly promises a great deal, and then lets you down big-time, or makes a product claim that proves untrue, or just makes you scratch your head and laugh.

Example 1:

Buy Dig is an online seller of electronics and other goods. Recently they advertised a pretty high-value coupon online, $50 off.

$50 off

However, if you click-through to see the actual deal, you would no doubt be disappointed.

*MOUSE PRINT:

$2000 purchase required

To save that $50, you have to make a $2000 purchase, saving a mere 2.5% off. Thanks for nothing, Buy Dig.


Example 2:

The problem with this Aunt Jemima syrup doesn’t even require you to read the fine print ingredients statement.

Butter syrup

What? Contains no butter? Thanks for nothing, Auntie.


Example 3:

Nothing turns shoppers off like high shipping costs, but this example takes the cake.

high shipping costs

A cheap, small plastic bottle costs over $18 to ship and the tax is three times the item’s price? Thanks for nothing.


Example 4:

Finally, if you want a quick meal, ramen noodles are about as fast as you can get, and dirt cheap in this offer. The trouble is you could starve before your order arrives.

ramen noodles

Thanks for nothing, Amazon


If you find an offer suitable for a “Thanks for Nothing” mention, please submit it to edgar(at symbol)MousePrint.org .




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March 4, 2019

A $2-Million Coupon Surprise

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Have you read any good coupons lately? If not, you are in for a surprise courtesy of the folks at Kimberly Clark, makers of paper products like Kleenex, ScotTissue, and Viva paper towels.

Most people don’t read the fine print of anything, let alone cents-off coupons. But maybe they should, particularly if they are trying to pull off some coupon monkey business.

*MOUSE PRINT:

$2-mil penalty

That’s right. Kimberly Clark is threatening those who commit coupon fraud with up to $2-million in criminal or civil penalties or jail if you try to rip them off. This addition to coupons was instituted four years ago but has gone largely unnoticed.

According to the Coupon Information Corporation, the industry group that fights coupon fraud, losses from counterfeit coupons and coupon misuse cost manufacturers (and in turn consumers) millions of dollars a year. In the largest case to date, the head of a coupon clearinghouse was sentenced to 10 years in jail and ordered to pay $65 million in restitution to companies, including Kimberly Clark, after being convicted in a massive coupon fraud case.

The warning on coupons is meant as a deterrent. But for those who ignore it and get busted by the feds by surprise, they may have wished they had actually used this Kimberly Clark coupon:

Depends




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February 25, 2019

Magellan’s GPS Takes a Shortcut on Lifetime Benefits

Filed under: Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:29 am

When Donald K. went to update his Magellan GPS with the latest map, he got a nasty surprise. Despite being advertised as coming with “FREE lifetime map updates,” he was informed that his unit did not qualify.

Magellan GPS

Seems pretty unambiguous, right? “Free lifetime map updates.” “Never worry about out-of-date maps again.”

However, farther down the page on Magellan’s website is an inconspicuous disclosure.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lifetime = 3 years

Magellan astonishingly defines “lifetime” as just “three years” from the date of manufacture. That is certainly not how the average consumer would define lifetime. Nor how the Federal Trade Commission wants its definition disclosed:

§ 239.4 “Lifetime” and similar representations.
If an advertisement uses “lifetime,” “life,” or similar representations to describe the duration of a warranty or guarantee, then the advertisement should disclose, with such clarity and prominence as will be noticed and understood by prospective purchasers, the life to which the representation refers.

And the FTC also bans the deceptive advertising of guarantees.

Clearly, the disclosure that Magellan makes is not conspicuous, nor in close proximity to their “lifetime” claims. Further, their warranty is really a specified term of years — three — and not an unlimited warranty time-wise as the term “lifetime” implies.

Making the lifetime to which the warranty applies to the device’s own lifetime is circular reasoning. In essence that says the device will last only as long as it will last and then you’re out of luck. And in Magellan’s case, they are even cutting that short.

We asked a spokesperson for the company why they continue to use the misleading term “lifetime” to describe their three-year warranty, and whether they will grant access to map updates to purchasers who feel they were deceived. Here is their response:

We sincerely apologize for any confusion we may have caused to consumers about “lifetime maps” on our Magellan GPS devices. Typically with electronics, “lifetime” refers to the useful lifetime of the device, and for most GPS devices the useful life is about 3 years. Magellan honors customer requests for lifetime map updates as long as the device is still capable of being updated. For support, please visit https://service.magellangps.com/ [and fill out the “contact us” form].

One can only wonder what she meant by saying the device has to be “still capable of being updated” rather than simply saying that as long as the device was still functional they will provide map updates.

Thanks to John Matarese of WCPO-TV for the original story idea.




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February 18, 2019

When It Comes to Yogurt, Size and Ingredients Matter

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

Have you read any good yogurt labels lately? You may be in for a surprise.

Here is the 6-oz. container of Yoplait Original strawberry banana yogurt:

Yoplait 6-oz

It is made with real strawberries and bananas, just as the front label depicts.

Thrifty shoppers, however, may find it more economical to buy the quart size container of Yoplait Original strawberry banana. But, they will get less than they bargained for.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Yoplait 32 oz

Checking the ingredients, all the real strawberries and bananas disappeared! While it does say “smooth style” on the front of the label, one might have reasonably assumed that they merely blenderized the fruit into the yogurt to create a uniform, smooth texture.

Nope. And the fine print of the front of the label doesn’t help much either. It says, “flavored with other natural flavor,” which might to the average shopper merely convey that other flavors are also mixed in.

Not to be outdone by this bit of yogurt trickery, once upon a time, Yoplait made a line of Yoplait Whips for the Girl Scouts evoking the flavors of some of their bestselling cookies.

Here is Yoplait’s Girl Scouts “peanut butter chocolate” Whips… but something is missing.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Yoplait peanut butter

According to the ingredients, there is no peanut butter in Yoplait’s peanut butter chocolate yogurt.

We asked General Mills, the maker of Yoplait, about the labeling of these two products. In particular, why different sizes of seemingly the same product did not have the same contents, and why they don’t more accurately describe the product on the front of the container. The company did not respond.

FDA regulations unfortunately allow manufacturers to play games with how product flavors are labeled, even to the point of permitting none of the depicted ingredient to actually be present in the product.

(i) If the food is one that is commonly expected to contain a characterizing food ingredient, e.g., strawberries in “strawberry shortcake”, and the food contains natural flavor derived from such ingredient and an amount of characterizing ingredient insufficient to independently characterize the food, or the food contains no such ingredient, the name of the characterizing flavor may be immediately preceded by the word “natural” and shall be immediately followed by the word “flavored” in letters not less than one-half the height of the letters in the name of the characterizing flavor, e.g., “natural strawberry flavored shortcake,” or “strawberry flavored shortcake”.

This is called consumer protection?




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