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May 16, 2010


Don’t Be Fooled by Sneaky Labeling!

by Fin Engr

Blogging about personal finances, I should be on top of my game and living by my mantras. Usually this is the case – but I was duped by clever marketing techniques ending up in a giant facepalm incident. Oh the embarrassment!

Yesterday the fiance and I had a full-day, assembly-line operation preparing the wedding invitations for the upcoming Big Day. If you’ve been through, or are going through, wedding planning then you know costs can add up quickly and unexpectedly.

We opted for doing our own invitations, because frankly, it’s sole purpose is informational. Simply could not justify the cost for something which would most likely be thrown away. Sorry friends, but I practice the 3 R’s of wedding invitations – Read, Retain, Recycle. Read the invite, retain the information until the event, then toss them afterward. I don’t have a memory box preserving all this paper I receive. *Can you tell I’m a practical engineer or what?

Another benefit of private school, I can pass my swooping cursive as handwriting from days of yore. While my dad did the calligraphy for his own wedding invitations and one of the bridesmaids also has the talent, I couldn’t subject either of them to my totalitarian management techniques. ;)

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce costs, Free From Broke had an interview with Anja Winikka from TheKnot on how to have an affordable wedding.

Few guys in tuxes walk into a brewery,
Owner says, “you going to a wedding or a funeral?”
Guy replies, “depends on what side of the aisle you’re on!”
Not a joke, true story from a friend of mine :)

Back to the story, I purchased a nice all in one printer from Staples on Black Friday for 48% of the original cost. As you well-know, I am a huge proponent of never paying full price.

Not needing to replace the ink cartridges up until this point, I headed back to Staples. Looking through the packages, there was a “Value Pack” deal – 3 color cartridges, 1 photo black, and 150 photo sheets. Comparing this to purchasing the color cartridges and black separately, I was saving $4 plus getting the photo paper. What a steal!

Everything’s going swimmingly until we realize the black cartridge doesn’t fit in the printer. After a little sleuthing, we called Staples realizing we had the wrong HP product!

I’ve got to give Staples credit, the representative was unbelievably helpful. He explained they’ve had this problem before, and get this… The “value” package cartridges contain less ink, so while you are “saving” $4 you are getting ½ of the printing capacity – that’s not a good deal at all!

It seems like companies have a way of promoting: “low fat”, “green”, or “value” products while not telling the whole story. Sure, it may be low fat/calories, but the sugar/sodium is through the roof; or it may be green, but maybe only in comparison to their other products.

The moral of the story is don’t get tricked by fancy labeling.

Make sure to read the fine print and, like investing,

fully understand what you are buying.

Read more from Optimization
  1. May 16 2010

    You really do have to be on your game with labels these days!

    • Fin Engr
      May 17 2010

      @ Craig:

      Tell me about it – what did you think of the picture? Crazy huh!

  2. May 16 2010

    I find it amazing that printers like HP will change the ink cartridge for nearly every model printer they make. The Ink section at Staples is a full isle. We complain about $3/gal gas, how about $500/gal ink?

    • Fin Engr
      May 17 2010

      @ JoeTaxpayer:

      Better than being part of the Treasury – I’d like a job at the Mint. If free market ink costs $500/gal, then govt ink must cost $650/gal.

      Side note – saw your back/forth with FS. Do you think housing numbers got propped up by the new buyer credit, and you think all this other pressure will keep rates under 5%?

  3. May 18 2010

    It doesn’t help that many printer cartridges look exactly alike! It’s a conspiracy ;)!
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Livable Living Expenses =-.

    • Fin Engr
      May 19 2010

      @ Little House:

      Who knows….could be!

  4. May 18 2010

    I agree with JoeTaxPayer! That printer business is such a scam… You buy their printer for a reasonable price, then the ink cartridges cost almost as much as the printer after you purchase the 2nd set of cartridges!

    I wonder how much it cost to make the ink that goes in them???

    I’m going to have to get some of that Dehydrated Water!!! Does that mean that the can is empty, since you add water? (lol)
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..How I Got A Deck Table And Chairs For 25 Percent of The Cost =-.

    • Fin Engr
      May 19 2010

      @ MR:

      Not sure if the can is empty or has some dissolving powder in it.

      JoeTaxPayer hit it right on, you added a nice touch… That’s another marketing strategy I forgot about – charge dirt cheap for the product, then exorbitant amounts for the parts/repair! It made me think, and yeah my printer cost about 2 ink sets!

  5. Bytta@151DaysOff
    May 18 2010

    Dehydrated Water! Glorious!
    They should put the label as “Dehydrated Ink: Purchase at Your Own Peril” :D
    I heard that ink injection “thingy” is also a big bs.
    .-= Bytta@151DaysOff´s last blog ..Day 31: What was the Most Amazing Thing You Did When You were 16? =-.

    • Fin Engr
      May 19 2010

      @ Bytta:

      Another way to provide a sub-standard product at sub-market prices with above-average marketing… Haven’t actually tried the injection thingy myself, but know people who have – haven’t said much.

  6. May 19 2010

    Dehydrated water! haha WOW!!! Like others have stated, buying printer cartridges can be a tricky business! It can be pretty tough to figure out WHICH exact cartridge fits your printer…

    Being a health nut, when I shop at the grocery store, the first thing I do when I pick up something is look at the nutrition label. Forget all the advertising on the front, the nutrition facts don’t lie…

    • Fin Engr
      May 19 2010

      @ MFO:

      That was going to be my next mention – how you can get something “low calories” but its loaded with sodium and sugar. Less packaging = more healthy.

  7. May 21 2010

    That picture is hilarious :)…. Ink is such a rip off as it is, I never knew this about value packs….

    I purchased a printer here only to find out months later that even though the printers are for sale….. the ink is not! duh. Anyway I purchased a refill kit and do refills myself for the most part but the cartridges only last a few refills then we need to get someone to bring more from the states.

    It’s always worth comparing price per gram when looking at prices in the supermarket. An example… the other day I worked out the 48 piece value laughing cow cheese was mildly more per pieces than the 32 piece value pack…. what sense is that!
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..A Pledge To Never Take Credit Again! =-.

    • Fin Engr
      May 21 2010

      @ Forest:

      I guess this is why there’s been much an exodus to blogging and a rebirth of consumer vigilance? If you’re not on your toes, it seems like consumer/banking/investment products are willing to pull the wool over your eyes in order to ‘make a quick buck’.

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