Three years after we first started pointing it out, Banzai continues to make kiddie pools that are disproportionately smaller than they appear on the box. The latest to enrage the internet is their “Slip ‘N Splash Whale Pool.” On the box it shows four children frolicking. In real life, those would have to be tiny munchkin children. [More]
Over a year ago, we wrote about Lifestyle Lift and its attempts to astroturf a customer review website (while simultaneously suing that website for trademark infringement, naturally). But then they caught the attention of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, and now they’ve agreed to pay $300,000 and will stop publishing fake reviews online.
Ticketmaster will pay a $50,000 fine and shutter more than 100 deceptive brokerage sites as part of a wide-reaching agreement with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Madigan’s office accused Ticketmaster’s always shady subsidy, TicketsNow, of creating sites that masqueraded as local venues selling tickets at face value. The settlement also requires TicketsNow to wait until after Ticketmaster puts non-sporting events on sale before hawking tickets at outrageously inflated prices.
United and US Airways will soon charge an extra $5 to check bags at the airport, charging $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second. Since it will still cost $15 and $25 respectively to pay for checked bags online, United thinks they can herald the chance to “prepay & save!,” while US Airways boasts that they now have a “lower fee online!”
After buying an anti-snoring mouthpiece from a third-party seller on Amazon, reader Bob received an email from the company offering him a free mouthpiece in exchange for a five-star review. He noted this attempted bribe in his Amazon review, and Amazon deleted it. Twice.
A retail insider tells us why Webloyalty/Reservation Rewards stays in business, and how you can stop them by cutting off their juice at the source:
Belkin Business Development Representative Michael Bayard has been caught offering to pay anyone willing to leave perfect reviews of Belkin products on Amazon, Buy.com, and Newegg. Even worse, the highly unethical strategy seems to have worked—almost fifteen pages worth of Belkin products on Amazon have perfect five-star ratings.
Hey kids, want to spend the summer with five of your friends in your very own backyard pool? Then stay the hell away from Banzai’s Wild Waves Water Park! David Ng juxtaposed Banzai’s box art with a picture of his disappointed kids standing next to the fully assembled “water park.” He wasn’t the only one deceived, according to the reviews on Amazon…
Logan thought this bonus pack of Colgate contained two equally-sized tubes of toothpaste. After all, the boxes are exactly the same size. Yet when he opened the bonus box, he found a smaller box containing a mini tube of toothpaste.
Brawny’s not the only product skimping on size to sneakily increase profits. Here are two more items readers have noticed recently.
Our house uses Skippy Peanut Butter, but i just found out they changed their jars from 18 ounces to 16.2 ounces for the same price. I know 2 ounces is not a huge amount of peanut better, but still.
And Matt writes:
I have noticed this same thing with Quilted Northern. I don’t know what the price used to be but i noticed while shopping at sams club now you get less quilted northern than you used to.
If you know of another company that’s downsized a product without passing along the savings, let us know. Maybe we can put together a single reference post so shoppers will see which products are the worst offenders.
Yet another common product has been hit with the shrinking ray—this time it’s Brawny paper towels, which Jason noticed recently received a new package design, apparently to disguise that there are now fewer sheets and a higher price.
San Diego Union Tribune Tries To Trick Customers Into Renewing By Demanding Payment For "Unpaid Bill"
I received a call yesterday from my newspaper (the San Diego Union Tribune). The nice young man on the phone told me that I had an unpaid bill, and if I liked, he could take care of that over the phone with me right then. I take a certain amount of pride in paying all my bills promptly, so my first impulse was to go ahead and get it taken care of asap. But after the first few seconds of surprise and confusion, I got suspicious.
Best Buy still uses a secret internal website to deceive customers, according to the L.A. Times. The website appearing on in-store kiosks resembles Best Buy’s official site in every way, except for the prices. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was surprised to hear that his investigation failed to end Best Buy’s bait-and-switch, telling the L.A. Times: “We thought Best Buy had addressed this. That’s what they said to us. Apparently that’s not the case.” A tipster in Virginia also reports the continued existence of the secret website.
The latest installment of quietly shrinking packages arrives care of Dial’s Full Force Soap Bar. Once 4.5 ounces per bar, Dial now packs a mere 4 ounces of sudsy splendor.
Downsizing is a sneaky way to pass on a price increase because you are getting less for your money but may not catch the change. As is typical for many downsized products, the manufacturer diverts your attention from the net weight statement to something else “new”. In this case, they are calling it a “new grip bar” because ridges have been carved into it.
Soap bars are supposed to shrink in the shower, not on the shelf.
Prevented From Calling Your Produce USDA Certified Organic By Federal Law? Call It "Artisan Naturals" Instead
Stemilt Growers can’t call its produce USDA Certified Organic until they grow without chemicals for three years, but that isn’t stopping them from branding their produce “Artisan Naturals” in the interim. The three year chemical-free transition period is marked by insect infestations, infertile soil, and poor crop quality, which conspire to ravage a farm’s profitability. Stemilt, one of the nation’s largest apple growers, is hoping that consumers will pay a price premium for “natural” produce, which will likely be confused for USDA certified organic produce.
The orchard is in its second year of transition to organic, but the fruit will be sold under Stemilt’s Artisan Naturals label, promoting its naturally farmed history.
He wrote Unilever, inquiring why they can’t, “stick with the products that don’t suck donkey sack?”
Everyone knows that in armpit odor land, Sure is for boys, Secret is for girls.