I got to verbally joust with the wielders of the Grocery Shrink Ray yesterday on NPR on the Diane Rehm show. Scott Faber vice president, the Grocery Manufacturers Association talked about how food makers have to pass on their rising costs somehow and I agreed, but took issue with deceptively designed packages and the misleading marketing practices. Just be upfront about it!
The redesign of a familiar package is apparently a frightening and confusing time for consumers. That’s why Barilla was kind enough to redesign its whole-grain pasta package in order to let us know that the package is about to be redesigned.
One way around the Grocery Shrink Ray is to leave packages the same physical size, but put less product in them. Two readers recently noticed that they weren’t getting as much value for their money as they thought when shopping at Walmart.
Here’s an interesting cross-promo. Reader Ally spotted a pack of Duracells at her lokcal Hannaford that came with a FREE glue stick. It wasn’t something that the store had shrinkwrapped together, but the glue stick was actually in the package itself. What’s the marketing strategy here? Maybe because they’re both supplies you put in your desk drawer. Maybe the glue makes the electrons stick together better. Inquiring minds want to know.
Reader Cyndi ordered a calendar from Amazon.com, but what she actually got was more like she’d ordered a bunch of packing material and got a free calendar. Like when you order Chinese food, ya know? Except less tasty.
Don’t you love it when products at the grocery store do the math for you? Take for instance this spray bottle of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
Here’s a perfect example of why you should ignore what’s on the front of a product package and go straight to the nutritional info instead. Kraft’s Wheat Thins now come in a “100% Whole Grain” variety, which you might think translates into more fiber for your digestive tract. It even says on the front that one serving packs 22g of whole grain versus 11g for regular Wheat Thins. It turns out, however, that both crackers provide the same amount of dietary fiber and fat–and the whole grain version also has more sodium and is made with high fructose corn syrup.
Reader E works for a division of RadioShack and would like to let us know that stupid shipping isn’t exclusive to consumers — retailers are inundated with it. He sent us the following series of images. He says these photos represent one day’s worth of stupid shipments. This apparently happens several times a week.
Dana is annoyed that the Fisher Price toy she bought for her baby promised her that batteries were included. They were in the box all right, but they were dead. In fact the manual Fisher Price enclosed with the toy suggests you immediately replace the included batteries with new ones.
It’s a common, legal practice to protect seafood with a layer of ice before packaging it up for retail sale. It’s also apparently a common practice to add that ice into the total weight of the seafood, and in some cases to add more ice than necessary just to bump up the total weight, which isn’t legal and which defrauds the consumer. The National Conference on Weights and Measures recently investigated seafood packaging in 17 states and pulled more than 21,000 packages of seafood from store shelves, noting that in one particularly bad case ice made up 40% of the total listed weight.
Reader Eric wants to comment about the new design for the 2 liter Coke bottle. It’s a little thinner and taller and doesn’t fit in his fridge.
Do you squeeze every last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, and remove the spout to get every last drop of detergent out of the bottle? You’re reading Consumerist, so you very well might. But sometimes extreme measures are needed to get everything out. Our sister publication Consumer Reports noticed this, and applied some mad science to see exactly how much product people are paying for, but leaving behind.
Roger is annoyed that the package of Andes mints he bought is much larger than it needs to be. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the company is trying to convince the casual observer that there are more mints inside than there really are. I’m not sure how making a consumer feel disappointed about a candy purchase is good for repeat business, but maybe parent company Tootsie hopes you’ll eat a mint and forget the sadness.
Tom wishes Amazon would use better packaging when it comes to shipping things like hard drives. Their “frustration-free packaging” is meant to save shoppers from dealing with blister packs and unnecessary boxes. For the Western Digital hard drive Tom was trying to buy, it meant bouncing around a half-empty box from the fulfillment facility to his doorstep, where it arrived broken. Twice.
Jennifer writes that she purchased a Christmas gift from a third-party seller through Amazon, but was disappointed with the condition in which the item arrived–the exterior packaging was crushed. She wasn’t happy with the seller’s proposed $2 refund on the more than $20 she had paid for expedited shopping, but
Your suffering may finally be over, fast food fiends. No more awkwardly torn ketchup packets and tomato-soaked fingers. No more dipping your fries into a dollop of ketchup on a napkin or burger wrapper. NO. Heinz has introduced the ketchup packet 2.0, and the future looks…well, remarkably like the containers of McNugget dipping sauces McDonald’s has been using since the ’80s. But it’s still an improvement.
Reader Ken would like to let us know that his deck of Uno cards arrived safely from Amazon.com.