Is It a Rebate or a Lottery?

Since January is a big month for beginning healthy new year’s resolutions, it should not be surprising that vitamin companies are running big promotions to get you to buy their brand.

Nature's Bounty 1

Among the offers being promoted heavily at various chain stores are ones that entice shoppers to buy $30 worth of vitamins to qualify for a $10 rebate. The rebate for Nature’s Bounty is running simultaneously with buy one, get one free (BOGO) sales at Walgreens, CVS, and other stores, and in fact are often promoted adjacent to one another.

So the question for bargain hunters is do they determine that you have met the $30 purchase requirement before or after cents-off coupons and free items are deducted? In other words, let’s say that vitamin X is $7.50 a bottle, and I buy four of them on a buy one, get one free sale, have I met the $30 threshold?

The initial answer from Nature’s Bounty may surprise you.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nature's Bounty disclaimer

Great. What a surprise. They are looking at the gross price of the vitamins before deductions for coupons or free items… or are they? Read on.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nature's Bounty disclosure 2

Oops. Now they say forget what we just said, you can’t use this offer if you buy the vitamins on a BOGO basis. Why not say that upfront? And why do stores like CVS and Walgreens advertise the BOGO sale and the $10 back offer virtually side-by-side and make no similar disclosure?

Believe it or not, it gets worse. Let’s say you were unlike most shoppers and you did read the fine print of the offer on the Nature’s Bounty promotional website. You would have found a most unusual restriction:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nature's Bounty 3

Say what? This promotion is being advertised this week nationally in millions of newspaper RetailMeNot coupon inserts as well as the weekly circulars of major pharmacy chains, and the company is only going to honor 7,500 submissions?

Since when has buying vitamins and submitting a rebate become a game of chance? Paying a price for the chance of receiving money back is the definition of a lottery.

(We’ve written to the company and if and when we get a response, we will update this story.)

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Here We Downsize Again – Year-End 2020

Final Week
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.


NOTE: The next new Mouse Print* story will appear on January 4.

Once again, it is time to spotlight another crop of products that are shrinking inconspicuously right in front of your eyes (and thus sneakily raising the price).

Downy Unstoppables

The bottles look the same size, but Downy Unstoppables went from 10 ounces down to 8.6. This is the second time the product has been made to weigh less. The first time in May 2019 the bottle went from 13.2 ounces to 10. That was a reformulation of the product to remove weight from each pellet. We are guessing the same thing was just done a second time.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Downy Unstoppables



Nathan’s Pretzel Dogs

Nathan’s made a dramatic change to their pretzel dogs. Instead of five in a package, they reduced the number to just four. Thanks to Dan K. for spotting the switch.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Nathan's pretzel dogs old
Nathan's pretzel dogs new


Charmin Ultra Strong

It took a while for P&G to get around to reducing the size of their “ultra strong” Charmin from 286 sheets to 264. Back in March, we reported that the “soft” version had already made the change. Thanks to eagle-eyed Richard G. for spotting this.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin Strong


Publix Baby Shampoo

It is not just big brand names that downsize. Usually store brands will will shrink after their brand name counterparts have done so too. Two years ago, Tom G. reported that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo went from 15 ounces to 13.6. Now he discovered that his supermarket has done the same thing with their store brand.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Publix baby shampoo



 
If you spot a product that has been downsized, please take a sharp picture of the old and new one, including the net weight, and submit it to edgar (at) mouseprint.org . Thanks.

Thanks for Nothing – Year-End 2020

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.


In this series, we look at ads or products that just make you shake your head and maybe even chuckle.

Natrol 3 a.m. Melatonin

MrConsumer has a sleep disorder of sorts where he often wakes up in the middle of the night and has a hard time falling back to sleep. So when he saw this product called Natrol 3 a.m. Melatonin he got all excited. “For middle of the night wakeups” the package said.

Yeah, finally someone was making a product to keep me from waking up at 3 a.m. Presumably the product had some type of heavy-duty delay-release coating on it so it could deliver a big punch of melatonin in the middle of the night. I grabbed a coupon and was about to head out to Walmart, but then I read the instructions on the package.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Natrol 3 a.m.

Oh, so I have to get out of bed at 3 a.m. to take this pill and then it will help me get back to sleep. Thanks for nothing, Natrol.


 

Amazon – Frequently Bought Together

Amazon and other sellers always like to encourage people to buy more things during their shopping trip. One way is to group things together, such as showing a particular toy along with the batteries that it requires. That can be very helpful. But this recent example from Amazon is a head-scratcher.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Bought together

Yes, I am sure that many people buy a bidet, washing machine cleaning tablets, and a cast iron skillet so they can be used together. Thanks for nothing, Amazon.


 

From the Installment Sales Department…

Has it really gotten to the point where people have to buy everyday products like underwear on the installment plan?

*MOUSE PRINT:

2xist installment payments

If anything had to be offered on installments it would be this Dyson hair dryer.

Dyson hair dryer

Good news… the price has now dropped to a mere $400.

Thanks for nothing, 2(x)ist and Dyson.