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AAA Stops Cramming “Optional” Donation Onto Members’ Bills

In April, we spotlighted the American Automobile Association’s practice in some parts of the country of tacking on a one dollar charge to members’ bills as an “optional” contribution to their safety foundation. The trouble was they automatically included that extra dollar in the total “amount due” without the member’s consent. [See original story.]

AAA billClick to enlarge


AAA dollar disclosure

Now comes word from one of the consumers we spoke to for that story that her latest AAA bill no longer has that extra dollar automatically added into the total due.


AAA 2022 bill

The “optional” one dollar donation has been removed from bills at least for members in Massachusetts. [But, see comments about one reader’s experience in Maryland.] At the same time, however, the cost of their annual membership went up by a dollar. (We don’t believe that AAA has simply embedded the contribution into their regular annual fee.)

We asked AAA headquarters whether all regional offices that used to add the “voluntary” one dollar donation to their members’ bills have stopped the practice and why. AAA did not respond to our request for comment.

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Are King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls Really Made in Hawaii?

That’s the issue raised in a new lawsuit filed by two consumers who said they were misled into believing that King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls were manufactured in Hawaii.


King's Hawaiian

These rolls were first made in Hawaii in the 1950s, and eventually they became so popular that tourists would take them back home, or those on the mainland with friends in Hawaii would ask them to send some.

The consumers who have filed the lawsuit say that it was not only the packaging that gave them the impression that these buns came from Hilo, Hawaii, but language on the website that says the company will send the product to the “mainland” (continental US) for free:

King's mainland claim

There are many local and national brand knockoffs of King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls but these consumers paid a premium price which they would not have done but for the fact that they thought they were getting the real thing from Hawaii.

All is not totally sunny in this case for the plaintiffs, however. There is nothing explicitly on the package or on the website that says these buns are “made in Hawaii.” In fact, when reading the history of the company on their website or looking at the back of the package, one learns that their bakery is in Torrance, California.

So, how do you think a judge will rule? Will he or she side with the consumers or declare their claims to be half-baked?

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Neuriva Brain Supplement Is Not “Proven”

Remember this commercial for Neuriva, a recently introduced brain supplement?

The claims in it that Neuriva has “clinically proven ingredients that fuel five indicators of brain performance” became part of a class action lawsuit against the company. The complaint asserted that Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Neuriva, lacked scientific proof that the product really improves brain functioning.

A review of the relevant scientific literature shows that no valid scientific or clinical evidence exists regarding how much, if any, of Neuriva’s key ingredients reaches the brain. Because of this lack of evidence, Defendants’ claims that Neuriva’s ingredients are scientifically and clinically proven to benefit the brain or enhance brain performance are patently false, as well as are Defendants’ claims that Neuriva has been scientifically proven to be effective. Indeed, no publicly available study of Neuriva exists, and Plaintiffs have found no indication that Neuriva’s efficacy has ever been studied or tested.

The company denied the charges but nonetheless subsequently entered into a proposed settlement agreement which calls for full or partial refunds to consumers and a change in the claims the company makes on the packaging and in advertising. [Purchasers can file a claim here, although the settlement is not finalized yet.]


Neuriva old and new

Put simply, the company agreed to change the word “proven” to “tested” along with other minor wording changes, but only for a period of two years. Frankly, whether it says “clinically proven” or “clinically tested” I think most consumers will still come away with the same net impression that there is reliable scientific evidence backing up the brain performance claims. The proposed settlement has also come under fire from other consumer advocates and court watchers.

The product’s TV advertising has changed already. They now have Miyam Bialik, the actress best known for her roles on Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, and as the future host of Jeopardy!, vouching for the product. What qualifies her for this role? She got her doctorate in neuroscience. Now the company uses that fact to also claim that the product is “neuroscientist approved.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is a disclaimer on the side of the Neuriva package.


Neuriva disclaimer

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