HIGHTOWER: The Devil's in the Fine Print

Let's travel again into the Far, Far, far-out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into a teensie-weensie world -- the world of fine print on product packages. Consumer Reports magazine is our guide, teaching us that the devil is indeed in the details.

Take the old reliable Procter & Gamble product, Ivory Soap, which claims to be "99 and 44/100ths percent pure." Problem is, that bar of Ivory is not what it used to be. Presumably it's still as "pure" as ever, but there's quite a bit less of it now. Veerrry quietly, P&G trimmed the size of its bar. The only way a customer would know is to read the fine print. A company spokeswoman said the change was made to comply with Ivory's foreign packaging . . . but the bottom line is that the American consumer is socked with a stealth price increase.

Now let's turn to a cereal box that offers a terrific prize: "You could WIN an actual race car" it says in big letters on the box, which pictures one of NASCAR's souped-up racers. "Look inside the box to see if you are an instant winner" the cereal teases. But before you race off, check the fine print about this car. It says: "Engine not included."

Then there's Band-Aid Blister Relief, a special strip that, one would assume, provides relief if you have a blister that needs protecting. Indeed, on the front of the package is a drawing of a foot, with the Band-Aid strategically placed where the blister supposedly is. But, if you actually put this strip over a blister, you're in for some pain when you remove it, for it'll riiip your blister open! Ouch. This might cause you to read the fine print, which says: "For the prevention of blisters." Right, you're supposed to put these on spots where you think you might get a blister.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Beware! The package is not the consumer's friend.

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