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October 10, 2016

Thanks for Nothing #4

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Internet,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:10 am

We continue our series of offers, which upon closer scrutiny, offer less than expected.

Example 1:

Supermarkets have become fond of advertising 10 for $10 deals. But this deal from a New York supermarket chain falls a little short.

10 for $10

*MOUSE PRINT:

The bulbs are indeed 10 for $10, but you can only buy four it seems. Thanks for nothing, Shop Rite.


Example 2:

Speaking of buying larger quantities, we’ve always been taught that when you buy in bulk, you can often save money.

Kidde

*MOUSE PRINT:

At Amazon, you can buy a two pack of detectors for the price of three single ones. That’s right, one is $15 and two are $47. Whatta deal. Thanks for nothing, Amazon.


Example 3:

Speaking of deals, Best Buy is seemingly offering an LG stainless steel dishwasher for an unheard of $199 in this ad:

Best Buy

*MOUSE PRINT:

The dishwasher is not $199 as it first appears. That’s the price for the microwave. So, how much is the dishwasher? Who knows. Thanks for nothing, Best Buy.


Example 4:

A few weeks ago, we got Lowe’s to pull a TV commercial which promised 20% off major appliances, but according to the fine print, virtually every major brand was only a maximum of 10% off (except where noted). Now fast forward to this past Labor Day when Lowe’s upped the phantom discount to as high as 35% off.

Lowe's

*MOUSE PRINT:

The fine print disclaimer in this commercial, just like the other ads, says:

Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, GE, LG, Samsung, Frigidaire, Electrolux, and Bosch brands limited to a maximum 10% discount unless otherwise shown.

So again, virtually all the major brands are not 35% off. In fact, a review of their website reveals that of the 200 dishwashers offered for sale, only one was 35% or more off the regular price. Thanks for nothing, Lowe’s.

If you find a good example of a “Thanks for Nothing”-type offer, please pass on a screenshot of the ad to edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org .




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August 8, 2016

Comcast’s Inside Wiring Plan Excludes Most Inside Wiring!

Filed under: Electronics,Telephone,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

One of the ways that telephone and cable companies try to make extra money is to pitch inside wiring plans to their customers. For about $5 a month, these plans typically promise to fix the cable or telephone wire in your home or apartment should it cause a problem with your service. Normally this would be the owner’s responsibility. Most consumer advocates say not to fall for the scare tactics and save your money because inside wiring rarely goes bad on its own.

Last week, the Washington state attorney general went one step further. He sued Comcast, a large purveyor of these inside wiring plans because of alleged deceptive tactics they used to sell these policies. The lawsuit accuses Comcast of misleading 500,000 Washington consumers and deceiving them into paying at least $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for a near-worthless “protection plan” without clearly disclosing its significant limitations.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Here is how Comcast promoted its plan before the Washington AG began investigating. (Here is how the plan it is currently presented.)

It says in part:

“Comcast offers a comprehensive Service Protection Plan (SPP), eliminating any concerns about being charged additional fees for service calls related to inside wiring. … Hassle-free replacement and repair of defective customer inside wiring.”

When one checked the fine print terms and conditions of the Service Protection Plan as originally promoted, the introductory paragraph even reiterates the promise:

“Inside wiring covered under this plan is owned by the customer or a third party and is defined as wiring that begins at the “Demarcation Point,” which begins 12 inches outside the customer’s residence and extends to the individual phone jacks, cable and Internet outlets and extensions in the home.”

Digging deeper into the terms however, reveals the truth (emphasis added below).

*MOUSE PRINT:

Comcast fine print

Maybe 90% of the wiring inside a home is behind walls, and it is excluded! Thanks for nothing, Comcast.

Things get worse, according to the WA-AG’s complaint.

[While] Comcast claimed the SPP covers all service calls related to customer-owned equipment, it does not cover any actual repairs relating to customer equipment. It simply covers the technician visiting the customer’s house and declaring that the customer’s equipment is broken.

Comcast also marketed the SPP as covering service calls relating to Comcast equipment and wiring outside a customer’s house. However, these issues are already covered for free by Comcast’s Customer Guarantee promises.

The Washington AG is seeking $100+ million in his lawsuit.

For its part, Comcast issued the following statement:

“The Service Protection Plan has given those Washington consumers who chose to purchase it great value by completely covering over 99 percent of their repair calls. We worked with the Attorney General’s office to address every issue they raised, and we made several improvements based on their input.”

Incidentally, it is believed that Comcast marketed its service protection plan the very same way nationally… so you probably have not heard the end of this yet.




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June 13, 2016

Thanks for Nothing #3

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Humor,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

We continue our series of offers, which upon closer scrutiny, offer less than expected.

Example 1:

Right in the heart of downtown Boston at Faneuil Hall, McCormick and Schmick’s has a great Friday deal:

Tacos

At a place where fish and chips is about $18, getting a plate of fish tacos for just $5 on Fridays is a sensational offer. But wait… there’s more… or really less.

*MOUSE PRINT:

each taco

Tucked away at the bottom right corner of the sandwich board was the tiny disclosure “each taco.” Thanks for nothing, McCormick & Schmick’s… olé.


Example 2:

Larry S. from Texas sent us this “deal” he found at Staples.

Staples tape bonus pack
Click to Enlarge

*MOUSE PRINT:

The box with six rolls of tape is $10, while the package with the “free” bonus dispenser is $13.99. (And yes, they both contain the same size six rolls of tape.) Thanks for nothing, Staples.


If you find a great example of a “thanks for nothing” offer, take a picture or screenshot and send it along to edgar (at symbol) mouseprint.org .




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February 8, 2016

Thanks for Nothing #2:
Dollar General Found Selling Obsolete Motor Oil

Filed under: Autos,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:26 am

Many of us shop at dollar stores because of bargains you can often find there. Sometimes, however, the bargain is no deal.

For example, Dollar General sells quarts of its own brand of motor oil, DG, for $2.50 to $2.75. That is cheaper than the big name brands.

Dollar General oil

What could be bad?

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dollar General Oil back of label

The back of the label provides an unexpected shock. This oil is not for use in cars built after 1988?! Who would ever expect a common oil like 10W-30 sold by a major general merchandise chain to be inappropriate for the expected use for most customers?

While the label says it meets a particular automotive specification, that spec is outdated, and has been updated six times since then according to the Petroleum Quality Institute of America.

Another product the company sells, an oil called SAE 30, has an even more astonishing disclaimer on the back of the bottle:

SAE 30

This one is not for cars built after 1930! So for everyone with a Model T, go grab some.

But for everyone else, thanks for nothing, Dollar General.

Now, consumers in 14 states have filed lawsuits against Dollar General for selling obsolete motor oil: CA (see lawsuit), CO, FL, MD (see lawsuit), KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NY (see lawsuit), VT, OK, and TX.

And our friends at ABC’s Good Morning America, with a little help from Mouse Print*, just completed an undercover investigation of these motor oils:

Good Morning America story
Click to view

We asked the company to explain why they even sell these products that are inappropriate for most of their customers, whether they would put up more prominent warnings for shoppers, and what their reaction was to the lawsuit. They responded as follows in relevant part:

We are confident that our DG-branded motor oil products meet not only our standards for quality and value, but also all applicable federal and state labeling requirements where they are sold. In addition, the labeling on these products contains obvious and unambiguous language regarding the products’ intended and appropriate use.

Dollar General intends to vigorously defend against the claims raised in the recently-filed lawsuits regarding these products, including the filing of motions seeking their dismissal. — Dollar General Corporate Communications

Few shoppers know that there is more to buying motor oil than looking for the proper viscosity, such as 10W-30 or 10W-40. You need to make sure that you are choosing the one specified in your owner’s manual, including the appropriate service category. This is an industry specification, noted on the label, relating to the additives put in the oil to help prevent corrosion, sludge build up, and engine damage.

The most current service category is API “SN”. The oils shown above have obsolete service category designations such as “SA” or “SF,” meaning they are missing more modern additives.

Here is a chart from the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (an organization that tests motor oils for compliance with the labeled standard) showing which car model years are covered by each service category designation. Each category is backwards compatible.

oil chart

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We welcome your submissions of other great “thanks for nothing” examples. Just email them to edgar(at symbol)mouseprint.org .




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• • •

November 30, 2015

Thanks for Nothing #1

Filed under: Electronics,Humor,Retail,Thanks for Nothing — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:32 am

We are starting a new recurring feature today called “Thanks for Nothing.” It is designed to highlight offers that seem great on their face, but when you get down to the details, you’ll probably say forget it.

Example 1:

For Black Friday, Lowe’s advertised 60-watt LED bulbs for an amazing 99 cents each — the lowest price ever.

99 cent LEDs

*MOUSE PRINT:

2000 hours

These bulbs only have an expected life of 2000 hours. That is about one-tenth the time the average LED bulb is expected to last. (See our prior story about LED bulb longevity.)

Thanks for nothing, Lowe’s.


Example 2:

Also during Black Friday weekend, online stores had some amazing deals. One that crossed our screen was this leather chukka boot for only $30 — quite a bargain at that price:

Vegan Leather

*MOUSE PRINT:

Upon closer examination, it says “vegan leather.” Huh? Is that like gluten-free leather? Who knows… so we asked the company whether this was man-made, and if so why they didn’t say so. They responded:

“It is man-made however, that is vegan friendly which is why they put vegan leather/suede.” — Street Moda, customer service

So if your dog is on a vegan diet and decides to chew on your chukka boots, he won’t be going off his diet, I guess.

And to the extent that this company is trying to mislead consumers into thinking that this is a form of real leather, thanks for nothing, Street Moda.


Example 3:

Also just ahead of Black Friday, Big Lots sent out an email with a seemingly very valuable coupon — “$10 off everything” it proclaimed in the subject. Since both Kohl’s and J.C. Penney offered similar $10 off coupons on anything, this seemed very plausible.

10 off everything

*MOUSE PRINT:

$10 off $50 purchase

Oh, did you forget to list the minimum purchase requirement in the subject, Big Lots?

Thanks for (almost) nothing.


We welcome your submissions of other great “thanks for nothing” examples. Just email them to edgar(at symbol)mouseprint.org .




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