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They think we are stupid!

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

Manufacturers know that if they raise the price of their products, we will notice and often complain when the prices go up. However, studies have shown that if they make smaller packages and charge the same price, many of us will not realize the difference.

The CBC show, Market Place, recently did a show based on this issue. Before that show, I had noticed that my favourite KitKat chocolate bars had been shrinking. The crunchy KitKats were thinner and now had three long sections, instead of the usual four that I was accustomed to. Yet the price was the same. Market Place brought more merchandiser scams out in the open.

Kraft cheeses have cut the weight on their slices from 500 grams to 450 grams, but the price remains the same. The same holds true for the Cheez Whiz spread.

Have you notice bacon packages are smaller as well? They used to be 500 grams, which is close to a pound, and are often now 360 grams. However, the price is either the same or slightly lower, making us think they are on sale. Look again.

Here’s a different kind of deception. Some tea manufacturers have the same number of teabags in their boxes (Red Rose as an example), but the tea bags are actually less full of tea leaves. The old package of 72 bags weighed 227 grams. Now, 72 bags weigh 209 grams.

Same goes for Maxwell House coffee trying to convince us that the higher quality of their coffee beans means we need less in our mugs in the morning. I’m left wondering if these beans are genetically modified (GM) beans. Seems like one of our popular coffee chains now uses only GM coffee beans, but they don’t really want us to know this.

Another trick is to label boxes with the words “new” and “improved,” meaning in some instances, the box is new and improved, but the product is the same, only in a newer smaller version.

Don’t we all still feel that the oil companies are ripping us off constantly? In January, the price of oil was between $45 and 46 a barrel and gas at the pump dropped to between 79 and 82 cents a litre. But now, after some small fluctuation in the price of a barrel, the last half of March saw the price of crude oil once again at around $46 per barrel. But what are we paying at the pumps? Last I saw, I was paying between 99 cents to $1.01. Why the big difference? I have said it here before. The lower the gas price, the lower the government takes in on taxes, as approximately 30 per cent of what you pay at the pump goes to government coffers. So it does not benefit governments to have lower gas prices at the pump because that equates to lower income to both federal and provincial governments.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why our price at the pump is not always tied to the barrel prices. For example if a barrel were $90, a litre would be 90 cents. Our lives would be much less complicated.

You can send me more examples of downsizing and merchandisers tricks to Bdeefox@hotmail.com.