Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Consumer Beware" Follow-Up

And yet another example of causing the consumer to buy something he didn't want.

Today I purchased a 13.8 can of Planters Mixed Nuts. The lable on the can makes three claims:

1) 20% MORE FREE

2) Less Than 50% Peanuts

3) 13.8 oz at the 11.5 oz Price

So let's examine the first claim. Upon opening the can I noticed that it wasn't full at all. Taking a measuring ruler, I found that the level of nuts began 7/8 of an inch from the top. The height of the can measured 4-1/4". So, the first claim is true in a way. We are getting around 20% more, but it's 20% more can! Then let's examine the word "Free". How can it be "free" when the price had been raised 50 cents from the previous time I purchased it at this particular store?

Which brings us to Claim #3 (don't worry; we'll get back to #2 here in a minute). If it costs more, then Claim #3 is false, because when it was at 11.5 oz, the store sold it for 50 cents less a can.

And back to Claim #2: Removing and carefully seperating the contents of the can from peanuts to other nuts, I then weighed each by putting them on an accurate set of balance scales I had. First I put the mixed nuts on on side, then the peanuts to the other. The weight of the peanuts when added was so much it jerked the mixed nuts up and scattered several off the balance. So this "claim" (at least in this particular can) was False.

So, if all three claims were False on the lable, how does the company get away with making them?

Well, I'm pretty sure it's like this. For Claim #1 they'll say that there's always a certain amount of settling in a can of nuts from the time it was originally filled and sealed.

For Claim #2, I'd think they'd say that's just an average and that occasionally a bit more peanuts get into their cans that "should". They always cover their hind-quarters by putting the "Satisfaction Gauranteed" slogan on the lable. After all, how's probably a item that costs The Planter's Company maybe 30 cents to produce going to harm a multi-million dollar industry if they have to give away one can free to a dis-satisfied customer?

Claim #3: They'll say the have no control over the prices the stores which purchase their products for re-sell put upon their items. Retailers buying from wholesalers is just like if you personally purchase something cheap from a yard sale or flea market and then decide to sell in on an auction, a store, etc. Just because it might have cost you a quarter, that doesn't mean that you have to to sell it for the same price. Your markup is your own business.

So, once again, I have to go with the tried and true slogan of "Buyer Beware!" When you are comparing products and see all these "claims", and because of such claims, you purchase the product, that company may be causing you to buy an item you didn't want or wouldn't have gotten, had you known all the facts beforehand.

Solution? One of those would be more accurate information on the lables, plus do comparative shopping. That item may indeed be cheaper, just across the street.


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