Recently, a federal judge ruled against McCormick & Co. and has decided to proceed in a lawsuit concerning the size of its ground pepper product, and despite the company’s request to dismiss the motion.
A smaller spice seller Watkins, Inc., sued McCormick last year after discovering that the competitor had removed 25 percent of their product although using the same tins.
The picture here demonstrates what Watkins is aiming to accomplish with this case. Obviously, when compared side by side, McCormick seems to have more pepper than the Watkins container – even though McCormick is fooling its customers with a visual trick. That’s right, McCormick is essentially using an optical illusion to sell more ground pepper than Watkins. Do you think this is fair?
Although the two McCormick ground black pepper tins appear to be the same size – which they are – the one of the left contains 8 ounces of product while the one of the right only contains 6 ounces. The smaller tin on the left, which houses the Watkins ground black pepper, houses 6 ounces of product.
Even though McCormick and Watkins sell the same amount of product in their tins, McCormick uses a larger container to fool the customer into thinking they’re getting more pepper.
Because of this deceit, Watkins has sued McCormick. They argue that McCormick is deceiving their customers by reducing the amount of pepper in their non-see-through containers while not changing the size of the tin. Although the product says 6 ounces on the bottom instead of 8 ounces, it is written in tiny font that only the most astute shopper would notice.
According to the original Watkins PR release, “McCormick has been illegally “slack filling” (under-filling tins) its ground black pepper in tins in a manner that misleads retailers and consumers and is an illegal, deceptive marketing practice.”
Watkins has claimed the McCormick’s deceitful marketing tactic had hurt sale of spices. When put side by side, the customer invariably assumes that the McCormick brand is selling more ground black pepper – but in truth, the containers hold the same amount.
On the other hand, McCormick says they have not falsely advertised their product. Why? Because the correct product weight is listed on the tin.
But now McCormick isn’t just being sued by Watkins. They also face a class-action lawsuit from consumers who feel that they’ve been tricked and swindled out of their ground pepper. Have you bought the new tin of McCormick ground black pepper without knowing?
This case currently makes its way through the federal courts. As consumers, don’t trust any products you buy. Inspect them and make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting because companies are all too eager to rip you off at any opportunity they can get.
“Integrity in the marketplace is fundamental,” said Mark Jacobs, CEO of Watkins, “For nearly 150 years Watkins has built its reputation with consumers as a premium high quality products company with impeccable honesty and business ethics. As America’s first consumer products company to offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee in 1868, we stand behind the quality and value of our products, and believe the consumer always deserves full transparency to determine value.”