Author Topic: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off  (Read 6384 times)

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Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:10:58 am »
Do you really know how much you are really paying for Colgate toothpaste?

Whilst tube sizes vary from a minuscule 50ml to the 'jumbo' 175ml (350% larger) the actual price you pay can vary by as much as £2.90 per 100ml. From £2.17/100 ml for the 175ml pack of Colgate Total "Advanced Whitening" costing £3.80, to the small 75ml pack of Colgate "Maximum Cavity Protection" which is the same £3.80 price, but costs you 233% more coming in at £5.07 per 100ml.  Perhaps it should be renamed "maximum profit protection"!

Even more concerning is the fact that the pack size, the boxes containing the tubes, are remarkably similar in size, irrespective of the actual tube size of the contents inside. If you don't believe me rattle the boxes next time you visit the supermarket. The smaller contents rattle more.

On a recent Waitrose '3 for 2' offer, packets of Colgate Total Pro Gum Health priced at £3.79 for 75ml work out at £3.36 per 100ml. So even with the offer, the price is excessive.  This is made worse by the deception Colgate Palmolive use in keeping the box size constant, whilst reducing the contents by 40% - a considerable amount.

Whilst Colgate are free to change the size of their products and charge whatever they want, they are not allowed to deliberately deceive by keeping the box sizes constant. It is easily possible to put a full 125ml tube of Colgate Total in the 75ml box.  Furthermore the current size of the tube is little more than what most reasonable people would consider to be a 'sample' size.

Adding to the overall confusion, here are some examples of the various Colgate products, sizes and prices that are currently available at Waitrose:
Cavity Protection; Maximum Cavity Protection (£3.79/75ml); Deep Clean Whitening; Advanced White, Max White; Sensitive Whitening (£1.89/50ml); Advanced Clean (£3.00/125ml); Max Fresh-cooling crystals (£2.50/100ml); Max Fresh -mouthwash beads; Pro Gum Health; Total Pro Interdental (£3.79/75ml); Pro Relief whitening (£3.79/75ml); Pro Gum Whitening (£3.79/75ml); Pro Gum Health (£3.79/75ml); Total Advanced Freshening; Total Advanced Whitening (£3.39/175ml); Total Sensitive Pro Relief (£3.79/75ml); Total Advanced Freshening (£3/125ml).

Put together, you can see the marketing at work. Add words such as "health" and "Pro" and charge 50% more for 40% less toothpaste. A world where everything is "Total" or "Advanced", where toothpaste "cleans and freshens" presumably in much the same way as washing machine detergent! 
Can the consumer really distinguish any difference between the various products and claims?
The listed contents do vary slightly, but there are many common ingredients used in all toothpaste.
Does adding Titanium Dioxide really have to increase costs by 211%?

Many people have used Colgate toothpaste all of their lives, as have their families.  This must end now. 
US-owned Colgate Palmolive's sheer greed in pursuit of ever-increasing profit via the active policy and use of what can only be described as "theft by deception" must result in the permanent loss of UK lifetime customers.
#BoycottColgate on Twitter.

By using large packs for smaller products, Colgate Palmolive are deliberately setting out to deceive the British Consumer an are breaching The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and most certainly, The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs). A business is considered to be carrying out a "misleading action" if information it gives "in anyway deceives or is likely to deceive the average consumer" An official complaint has been made to local Trading Standards office.

A Colgate spokesman responded:
The Colgate Total Pro Gum Health toothpaste you bought for £3.79 at Waitrose is a medicinal product indicated for the treatment of gum disease. This is sold in a 75ml tube only.
Our family Colgate Total toothpaste’s, which are cosmetic products, are currently selling in Waitress for £3.00 for a 125ml tube.

Legally manufacturers have no influence over retail prices. It is the retailers who buy from us that determine the final price that you and other consumers pay.
All our packaging conforms to current regulations.

We can only hope that Trading Standards take action and prosecute Colgate Palmolive for this deception.


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Re: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2015, 06:56:21 am »
Supermarkets acknowledge Colgate packaging deception
Since the original post, all of the CEOs of the six major supermarkets were contacted to ask that they withdraw/stop stocking all Colgate Toothpaste products that have small content in big boxes.
They were asked:
  • Does the consumer really know how much they are paying for Colgate toothpaste?
  • Do Colgate "offers" in your stores represent good value for consumers?
  • Do you think that your customers are being deceived by Colgate toothpaste packaging sizes?
Here are their responses:
Asda was first to reply in under 24 hours.
Emma Darlison  Asda Executive Relations said:
Thank you for taking the time to write to Andy Clarke regarding Colgate toothpaste. My name is Emma and I am part of Andy’s Executive Relations Team. He has asked me to respond to you directly on his behalf.

I’m sorry to read you would like us to discontinue stocking all Colgate toothpastes. I will ensure the details of your contact are passed onto our Buyers so your concerns can be taken into consideration.
Once again thanks for contacting Andy and if there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

Tesco was next replying in 31 hours.
Kevin Lee  Customer Service Executive To The Main Board said:
Thank you for your email and I am sorry you have been upset by the packaging and contents of Colgate products. 

We do not control the packaging of branded products but we can of course feed back the concerns of our customers. So I have shared your comments with our Buyer, for discussion at the next review with Colgate-Palmolive.

We offer over forty Colgate products and, like all other brands including our own, we display clearly the pack size price of the product and the cost per 100ml on the shelf edge label. This allows our customers to compare accurately across the brand and our full range of toothpaste products, so that they may make an informed decision as to which best suits their needs.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Sainsburys took 4 days but was quite a bit more sympathetic to this issue.
Shawnee Russell from their Executive Office said:
Thank you for your email to Mike Coupe. I have been asked to respond to you on his behalf. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

We know how important it is to have our stores fully stocked with a great range of products. All toothpaste brands we sell have the price of the product clearly labelled on the shelf and the volume of the product detailed on the packaging. This enables our customers can make an informed decision about what they buy.

I have shared your feedback with our buying team. Whilst we have no current plans to remove Colgate products from our shelves, we will certainly take your comments on board. You may wish to know we also stock our own branded toothpaste tubes. We have a number of different varieties including Sainsbury's Freshmint Toothpaste 100ml and Sainsbury's Whitening Toothpaste 100ml, which you can purchase from a number of our stores.
We are grateful to you for taking the time to contact us. I know this is not the answer you were looking for and I apologise for the disappointment this may cause.

Whilst lastly Abigail Pearce from Waitrose Executive Office replied after 7 days and said:
Thank you for your patience while we investigated this matter.

We’ve spoken to our dental buyer, who raised your concerns with Colgate-Palmolive directly. Colgate advised that they take great care to ensure all of their products and packaging conform to all regulations. Your comments have been raised with the senior management at Colgate, and they advised that they were grateful for you taking the time to share your valuable feedback.

With regards to the price difference between different types of Colgate toothpaste, our buyer has advised that the toothpastes you mentioned are a specialist part of the range, for example produced specifically for whitening teeth or for gum disease prevention. These toothpastes are therefore priced to reflect the difference in formula and the research that has gone into their creation.

Thanks again for contacting us and giving me the chance to look into this. While we currently have no plans to stop stocking Colgate toothpaste, please be assured that your comments will be taken into consideration in the future when reviewing our dental range.

Morrisons have yet to respond at all. Perhaps given their attitude, consumers should boycott Morrisons as well!

Thus far the complaint to West Sussex Trading Standards has not received any response. It will be chased up today.


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Re: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2015, 12:30:34 pm »
WSCC Trading Standards replied today and said:
Thank you for your enquiry concerning the Colgate tube. Unfortunately, you did not describe the product fully and therefore I would be grateful if you could advise me of the exact product as Colgate supply a range of different products and different types of toothpaste.

Once I have this information, I will pass this matter onto Surrey Trading Standards Service, which is where Colgate are based but for their information only. 

Also to clarify, as the product is aimed at consumers, the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations do not apply. The Consumer Protection Regulations 2008  could apply but the main legislation that tackles this issue is the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended) and it will be these that I pass this on to Surrey Trading Standards Service.

It's reassuring to know the system works.


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Re: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 07:21:56 am »
Fred, you may be interested to know that I saw Waitrose selling Sensodyne Repair and Protect Toothpaste 75ml for £4.49.
At this price it is even ridiculous than the Colgate Pro Gum Health, setting a new a new record high £6 per 100ml! 
Even with the Waitrose 3 for 2 "deal" it is still too expensive.

The "regular" Sensodyne is priced at £3.49 - 23% less!  At least the Sensodyne is in a box sized to match the small tube size unlike Colgate toothpaste.
Whilst it is true people can choose not to buy at Waitrose silly "deal" prices, Waitrose should not be promoting expensive products under the disguise of 3 for 2 "deal" which even then are too expensive, especially in prominent end of isle/gondola displays near checkouts! 
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Re: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2015, 11:46:20 am »
I have finally got a response for Surrey Trading Standards:
Colgate came to us for advice on the matter of essential packaging in July and were advised by my colleague.  They subsequently advised us that they had assessed their packaging and felt it was in line with The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015.

This set of regulations are notoriously difficult to enforce due to several factors including the fact that Europe, in general, has a more lenient approach to excessive packaging than ourselves and many companies use the same packaging for various products for a variety of markets.  If a company is able to show that a  product is acceptable in the rest of the EU, then we would find it difficult to enforce the legislation against them for the same packaging in this country.

As enforcers, we have a duty to consider the economic impact we have on a company when enforcing regulations and if a box is used for a variety of different products across a range of countries, it may be acceptable to use a box which is capable of holding a larger sized product for a smaller one (obviously within reason).

There is a minimum font size for the height of figures used in weight markings for packaged goods.  I believe the toothpaste figures are in excess of these required heights.
Less than 50g - 2mm
50mg to 200g - 3mm

Neither Colgate nor ourselves believe we have received any other complaints about packaging sizes.  We have therefore agreed with Colgate that as part of our Primary Authority agreement work plan, that we will assess their systems for essential packaging.

Colgate are happy to discuss the matter with you if you wish to contact them.

Thank you for passing the information to us.

So there you have it, the regulations are not being enforced because it would cost Colgate, an international company, too much and because the EU has less stringent regulations.

Just because I appear to be the only person yet to complain to Trading Standards about this is not reason for not forcing Colgate to comply with English Law.

It is irrelevant whether it is economical or not to make several different sized boxes.
Colgate find it "economical" to manufacture many different tube sizes: 50ml, 75ml 100ml, 125ml and 175ml, therefore it cannot be unreasonable for the cardboard box they come in to be made to suit the contents size, after all it isn't a 125ml tube filled with 50ml of contents! 
In fact Colgate do indeed make different size boxes for their various and many different size products anyway. (see photo) They DO NOT  make one box "suitable for a variety of different products across a range of sizes." as Surrey Trading Standards state.
So there can only be one reason why the box is too big for the contents  - to deceive the consumer!
It is therefore not unreasonable to expect (and require) that each box is correctly sized to suit its contents.
Colgate are deliberately not doing this, enable to hide behind an ineffective local Trading Standards Office incorrect advice, ruling and ineptitude.

All products sold in England a Wales should comply with English Law or EU law, whichever gives the greater protection or benefit.

The 3mm high font for pack size does not have the impact that a large box does.

At least Trading Standards are "assessing Colgate's systems for essential packaging". But they should be doing much more to protect the British consumer.
We can only hope that Colgate will be required by Surrey Trading Standards not to set out to deliberately deceive the British public. Colgate, a US-owned company should and must be forced to comply with the laws of England and Wales.


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Re: Shrinkflation - Colgate's Great British Toothpaste Rip Off
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2018, 07:55:15 am »
Indeed! Branded products are only to be used. Excess amount of any acid or fluoride can damage the beauty of teeth. Dental tips for teeth whitening given by dentists are worth following. My sister visited a clinic for jaw pain and got rid of the same within just two doses of medicines.