"Watch Out For Ripoffs"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, February 11, 2012

Are we being misguided and misdirected? It’s time to look around and take note of reality versus what advertisers tell us.

A great example is one of the supermarket’s favorite pitches, “Buy one, get one free.” Some of the offers may be real good deals but you need to check them out first. One peanut butter brand recently offered “get one free,” but the one you bought was not only higher in cost; it was in a new, smaller container. The ad should have read, “Buy one smaller amount at a higher price and get an equal smaller amount free.”

We all know food store marketers compete for special positions on the shelves. I’m sure some stores simply place stock on shelves according to the size of the boxes or containers. This is especially true in the cereal aisles, yes plural. I visited a major grocery store a few days ago and the cereal boxes were from the top shelf to the bottom and on two or three end aisle displays. Yes, it’s wonderful to have such a wide variety of cereal but beware; the boxes appear to be the same size but they don’t have the same content.

We had three kinds of cereal on our shelf at home alongside each other. They all looked exactly the same but when I read the small print content note “Net Wt.” I got a surprise. One box was a store brand and it contained 16.4 ounces. The second box I checked was a name brand, with the same sized product — Mini Wheats. It was not completely full and it contained only 15.5 ounces, it did however cost $2 more. The third box on my shelf was a highly advertised health and diet cereal. The content in this box was only 12.5 ounces — and it too was very costly.

Let me be clear, the differences in box contents are certainly not controlled by your grocer. He simply attempts to use his shelf space and make a uniform presentation. My point is; if you just run into the store in a hurry to pick up breakfast, you still have to read the small print if you’re looking for a bargain.

If you want some coffee to go with your cereal and plan to pick up a pound — another surprise awaits. The small one-pound bag content has now shrunk to 12 ounces. That’s 25 percent less, but here is another big surprise — the price did not drop 25 percent.

Food items are not the only items to watch. Printer cartridges don’t seem to last as long as they used to. Beware when you see the message announcing, “Ink low” or “Replace color cartridge.” Don’t change the cartridge! My experience is if you ignore that flashing icon, you can print another 200 pages, equaling 20 percent of what they tell you to expect to print. If you buy the black and color cartridges in a twin-pack to save a buck, don’t be fooled by the messages that say change each. Most of us know printers use about 2-1 black over color. The bargain we think we get buying twin-packs may be a myth; I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut the amount of ink in the color cartridges of twin packs.

I am having a really hard time understanding the reasoning behind the new light bulb rip-off. I read there is a good environmental impact by use of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs but then I read they are dangerous if you break them because of the mercury content. Isn’t that an adverse environmental impact? What I object to when using them is they don’t produce much light; not enough for reading or doing any close work.

I understand the CFL’s use less electricity but aren’t our electric companies using coal or natural gas, or local resources available like wind, turbo and solar? Another plus for the CFL’s is supposed to be that they last longer. On the minus side, I read they have caused house fires. On many cartons of them appears the note: “Made in China” or some other foreign country. It’s just hard for me to trust what might be my life to something “Made in China” and whatever happened to support “Made in the USA?”

Last but not least, I’ll discuss my favorite product to pick on: toilet paper. I recently compared jumbo rolls; one was perhaps the most popular and maybe the first-ever marketed and the other a major brand. The old favorite rolls, advertised as being two-ply, were not always such. The center core was half again as big as the one I compared it to, and the paper was loosely wrapped on the core which gave it the “softer” feel but less paper.

The major brand advertised to be “the thickest” weighed more per roll, was wider, not loosely coiled and remained thick throughout the much smaller cored roll. Both sold for about the same price.

As I SEE IT, we have to be detectives, watchful of each item we purchase to avoid being “ripped off” — even when buying a product designed to “rip off.”




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