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May 9, 2016

Is it a TV Show or is it Advertising?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

Most people can tell the difference between a television show and an infomercial made to look like a TV show. More subtle is advertising within television shows or movies, such as when a product is shown casually on screen (“product placement”).

A TV program that aired last week pushed the concept of product placement to a new level. Here is a 30-second clip from Modern Family, where one of its main characters, a real estate agent, laments being outclassed at career day at his daughter’s school by a periodontist.

Click play button

What 99 and 44/100ths percent of viewers don’t realize is that spiel by actor Ty Burrell was actually an advertisement.


Realtor credit

That’s right, at the end of the program, about three seconds before the screen goes black, viewers learn that the National Association of Realtors paid ABC for that little explanation that not all real estate brokers are “realtors.” (See story.)

We don’t know much ABC got paid for including that in their program, but it frankly seems a bit manipulative of the audience to have subtle advertising masquerading as program content. What do you think?




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April 11, 2016

This University Educates Crooks

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:22 am

It seemed like a fine school. The University of Northern New Jersey had both undergraduate and graduate programs. It specialized in business administration, computer science, and health sciences. It was accredited by two organizations and maintained an elaborate website for students and prospective students.



The school had its own Facebook page:

Facebook unnj


The university was recognized by the state of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education:

Dept. of Higher Ed


There was just one problem.


The university was fake. It was set up as a sting operation in 2012 by Homeland Security to catch scamsters who forged documents and paid bribes to get foreign students admitted. That would then qualify the foreign student to gain entry into the U.S. via a fraudulently obtained student visa.

Here is the story from the New York Times (click top link on redirect page).




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April 30, 2012

The Catch in Consumer Reports’ $12 Subscription Offer

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:53 am

Consumer Reports is advertising one of the most amazing offers they have ever made for a one-year subscription — only $12.

Here’s the webpage promoting the offer:

What you can’t see clearly in this miniaturized version of the webpage above is a potentially expensive catch on the left side:


The above fine print is shown actual size, and indicates that your subscription will renew every year unless you stop it, and you will be charged the then current regular subscription price, probably in the $26-$29 range.

Although another disclosure is made on the final checkout page in similarly small type, it would have been nice of this pro-consumer organization to more clearly and boldly disclose the continuing nature of the subscription at a much higher price.




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April 23, 2012

Fine Print Trips Up Storage Warrior

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

Riding the wave of two popular TV programs about auctioning off the contents of unclaimed storage lockers (“Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters”), Mouse Print* reader Tony P. recently found himself in a storage war of his own.

Back in 2004, Tony stored nearly 40 years of household goods in a five-foot by 10-foot storage room in New York. He paid about $125 a month to the storage company, now known as Storage Deluxe, LLC. To make sure he didn’t forget a payment, and risk having his goods auctioned off as they do on these TV shows, he had his credit card automatically charged every month.

In August 2009, Tony went to the storage facility and tried to get into his locker. To his horror, he discovered that all his stuff had been removed, and either sold or discarded. When he confronted the company, they said “someone” had come in during December 2008, and had signed a form closing down the unit. The signature was not Tony’s. And it appears that this mystery person never unloaded the locker, but rather the company did, without any notification to Tony. All his stuff was gone.

Tony went to court, suing the storage company for some $80,000 in losses, $21,000 of which he could document with receipts, claiming breach of contract, gross negligence, and violation of New York’s storage law. The judge issued his decision just a couple of weeks ago, ruling mostly against Tony, and relying on fine print in the original contract:


The judge took this clause to mean that the storage facility was only liable for up to $5000 since the renter was not allowed to store anything of greater value in the locker without permission. And since the minimum amount his court had jurisdiction over was $15,000, the judge kicked the case back to a lower district court.

With all due respect to this judge, this clause said nothing about the storage company being liable or not liable for losses of only a certain amount. (And another New York court apparently previously had struck down this clause as an impermissible limitation on liability.)

So Tony is left without his stuff, but has lawyer bills that will eat up most of the $5000 if he decides to settle with the storage company. He has just decided not to appeal the decision, upon the advice of several lawyers.




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February 27, 2012

Free Hugs*

Filed under: Humor,Retail,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

Special thanks to Bruce from Tennessee and his son for finding this fine print chuckle.

[Reprinted with permission from J.L. Westover and www.mrlovenstein.com]




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