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December 2, 2019

Hey Clif Bar, Where’s the White Chocolate?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:42 am

A California consumer sued the maker of Clif Bars for misleading practices alleging that their “White Chocolate Macadamia Nut” Clif Bars had no white chocolate.

Clif Bar

A quick scan of the ingredients label confirms that omission.

*MOUSE PRINT:

INGREDIENTS
Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Rice Flour, Macadamia Nuts, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Soy Flour, Cocoa Butter‡, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Organic Cocoa Butter‡, Sea Salt, Soy Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Soy Lecithin, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant).

The consumer argued that the FDA has specific regulations of what constitutes white chocolate, and this product didn’t meet that standard.

The company asserted that the term “natural flavor” in tiny print on the front of the package, along with the ingredients statement should have put the reasonable consumer in a position to understand there was no white chocolate in this product.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Clif Bar natural flavor

The judge dismissed the lawsuit saying that although the consumer properly alleged there was a misrepresentation, it may not have been reasonable to have relied just on the big print.

Give me a break.

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November 25, 2019

Old Navy Sued Over Fake Sales, Inflated “Regular” Prices

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

Everybody loves a bargain, but it has to be a bona fide price reduction from a real regular price. Using inflated regular prices that are rarely if ever charged to make the current sale price look like a deal is not only misleading, but illegal.

And so, one woman from California and one from New Jersey recently filed a class action lawsuit against Old Navy for this exact practice.

In one example in the case, the West Coast shopper bought a pair of jeans like this when they were advertised at $15 — 50-percent off the regular price.

Old Navy skinny jeans

*MOUSE PRINT:

Her lawyers conducted extensive research on Old Navy’s pricing practices, and discovered that the jeans she bought were offered at the full “regular” price of $29.99 for only 12 days over a 486-day period prior to her purchase. So the deal she thought she getting was really no deal at all.

The lawsuit seeks disgorgement of their ill-gotten profits, and an injunction against further misleading sales and discounts. Cases like this have gone both ways in California. Sometimes consumers win, and sometimes stores do. We’ll keep you posted.

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November 18, 2019

American Express to Drop Benefits From Some Cards

Filed under: Finance — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:08 am

American Express just announced that it is dropping a number of pro-consumer benefits from a number of its free credit cards.

Tucked on page five of MrConsumer’s October billing statement for his American Express EveryDay card was the bad news.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Amex benefits cut
List edited for easier viewing

So no more double the manufacturer’s warranty, return protection, etc. They are retaining but shortening “purchase protection” for items that are lost or stolen. And collision damage waiver on car rentals will still be offered. (See more details here.)

AMEX’s announcement continues a disturbing industry trend of reducing traditional card benefits that have provided cardholders who utilized them with very valuable perks. See our previous story about Citi dropping benefits on its cards a couple of months ago.

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• • •

November 11, 2019

Celebrities Fight Back Against Fake Product Endorsements

Filed under: Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:39 am

For the past 10 years, we have warned readers about fake news sites with stories that tout pills and face creams supposedly endorsed by big celebrities or reporters. In reality, those celebrities never actually used or promoted those products. Now the stars are fighting back against the scammers (See New York Times story.) Also, see our 2019 story, 2016 story and one from 2009.

Last week, Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock filed a lawsuit against 100 unspecified defendants who over the years have set up websites selling beauty aids usually on a free trial offer basis using their likenesses and made-up endorsements without authorization.

Here are excerpts from two such websites with fake stories and testimonials about products they never used:

Ellen and Sandra Bullock

Ellen never said this

All these types of sites use celebrities’ testimonials to convince potential buyers of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the products they are pitching. The offers generally end with a free trial period (just pay $5 for shipping). Inconspicuous fine print disclosures ultimately hoodwink unsuspecting buyers into receiving monthly shipments of the products for $70-$90 a bottle or jar.

We asked Ellen’s lawyer why they filed this suit.

“People are being defrauded in this massive scam using Sandra’s and Ellen’s names and images. Like Whack-A-Mole, for each fake site exposed, another one pops up. The complaint exposes the scam and how it works so people can avoid getting trapped in it, and provides a way to identify those responsible and profiting from it so they can be stopped and held to account.” — Michael Weinsten, Attorney for Ellen DeGeneres.

The lawyers are seeking compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits, punitive damages, and an injunction against the use of their clients’ likeness and name in the future.

We say, go get’m.

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• • •

November 4, 2019

Beware This Disingenuous Discount

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:46 am

When a web store offers 20% off upon entering a promo code at checkout, who wouldn’t use it? We all would. But here is an example from the Bath and Body Works website that may make you rethink always using a coupon code.

Bath and Body 5.99

For this purchase of some hand sanitizer, they are charging $5.99 for shipping. There is, however, at the top of every page a 20% off offer if you enter a particular promo code when you check out.

20% off

If you enter that code, something surprising happens.

*MOUSE PRINT:

$9.99 shipping

While you indeed get a $2.20 discount on the hand sanitizer, the price of shipping mysteriously jumps up $4 from $5.99 to $9.99.

What’s going on here? The answer is contained in a fine print disclosure elsewhere on their website:

*MOUSE PRINT:

shipping policy

The 20% off coupon which was applied to this order reduced the merchandise total to under their $10 minimum and thus a $4 surcharge was imposed. Most people would never realize that using a discount coupon could actually cost them money.

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