During the first ten days of January, 2015, I became aware of the following situations, causing me to wonder if 2015 is going to become known as the “Year of Less”. I refer to these as “consumer scams”, though I’m sure some might question this label, saying that it’s just business as usual.
- American food giant, Kraft, announced that they will be using cheaper ingredients instead of the traditional Cadbury chocolate in their Cadbury Creme Eggs, “Kraft Foods — which now owns chocolate maker Cadbury — has stunned consumers by no longer using Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in the recipe for its Creme Eggs. And, there’s more: the company also is reducing a package from six eggs to five, without reducing the price. U.S. giant Kraft Foods bought Cadbury in 2010 and its global snacks business under the name of Mondelez International.” A brief note here: I like Cadbury Crème Eggs as well as the next person, but my entire well-being and happiness do not revolve around them. However, I found this quote by a consumer to be interesting, if a bit overly-dramatic. “My heart is breaking. Easter is ruined.” Okay … um … maybe get a life?
- Direct TV has raised their rates for 2015 by what amounts, on average, to a 5.4% increase. No additional benefits are planned and customer service is guaranteed to continue to range from substandard to non-existent. An interesting aside here … a friend called Direct TV to cancel her service and was told that she could continue to get her current service for half the price. When she questioned this, asking why they didn’t just offer it before she became frustrated enough to cancel, she was told that anyone could take advantage of the significantly lower rate, but that the company doesn’t advertise it, instead the customer needs to call periodically to see what “deals and discounts” may be available. This constitutes yet another scam in my book … it is the company’s way of getting you on the phone in order to attempt to sell you additional services. What makes this even worse than the obvious is that, in my experience, the average phone call with Direct TV customer service is 45 minutes, much of it listening to really bad “on-hold” music interspersed with annoying, repetitive recorded messages. 45 minutes is a good chunk out the day, one that I am unwilling to waste trying to get something that should be automatically provided to me as the “valued customer” they claim I am.
In light of all the above, not to mention what is, no doubt, yet to come this year, I will be making some changes. I won’t buy Cadbury Crème Eggs this Easter, and I will be looking into other options to provide television programming to my family. In addition, I will remain ever-vigilant about noting unit prices and packaging sizes of products I regularly buy. It makes my blood boil that the American consumer is considered to be too stupid to realize that they are being taken advantage of by big business. I remember a few years ago when several similar situations arose, all within a relatively short time-frame:
• A “pound” of coffee shrunk from 16 oz to 13 oz.
• A “pound” of bacon shrunk from 16 oz. to 12 oz.
• A “5-pound bag” of sugar shrunk to 4 pounds.
• A “pound” of puff pastry shrunk to 14 oz.
In the words of one food writer, “14 ounces is the new pound!” We, the consumer, were told how lucky we were that the price didn’t rise on these products. WHAT? Does anybody reading this believe that the price didn’t rise? Of course it did … you’re getting an average of 25% less for your food dollar, so how is that not a price increase? I am offended by companies that think I don’t understand how badly I am being scammed and who underestimate my average intelligence by at least 100 I.Q. points! We all understand about rising transportation costs, product costs, etc., and a retail price increase, while certainly not welcome, is understood and accepted. But raise the price and leave the packaging size alone! Don’t treat us as if we are too stupid to calculate the unit price or to realize that we are getting far less “bang for the buck”.
I think it is interesting to note that, although Kraft bought Cadbury in 2010, they waited 5 years to make this change. I find the timing to be of interest, and I guarantee it is not random, but I am leaving it to you, dear reader, to weave together the puzzle pieces. Hint: think November 2014.