Cold-Eeze: Reduces Duration of Common Cold Symptoms by 42%?

A recent commercial and packaging for Cold-Eeze — those cherry-flavored lozenges with zinc gluconate — claims to reduce the duration of common cold symptoms by 42%.

Cold-Eeze 42% claim

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cold-Eeze asterisk

It turns out that the scientific study on Cold-Eeze that supports the 42% claim was done a quarter of a century ago in 1996 and involved only 50 hospital employees who took the product and 50 who did not. [Full study here.] It seems odd that the company would introduce this new claim now after sitting on this data for decades.

Many people like the product despite the fact that no one can really say for sure that their cold ended more quickly than if they had not taken the zinc drops.

Interestingly, Cold-Eeze has extended its product line to include cold remedies that also supposedly promote immune health and help with fatigue. The asterisk after that claim goes to the most candid of disclaimers:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cold-Eeze disclaimer

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.

No Joke: Thomas’ Upsizes Its English Muffins

This story is just in time for April Fools’ Day… but it’s no joke.

It is very rare in the food industry to find a product that has been upsized rather than downsized. But Thomas’ English Muffins recently made their packages a tiny bit larger, going from 12 to 13 ounces for six muffins.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Thomas' English Muffins

We asked the company why they made this unusual move. All a customer service rep would say is that it was a business decision in part because they were getting feedback that the muffins were too small. She could not explain the 25% increase in calories, however.