• Germany's news in English

Watchdog: 500 products cost more for less

The Local · 30 Apr 2013, 15:48

Published: 30 Apr 2013 15:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Drawn up by the Hamburg Consumer Association and seen by the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily newspaper, the list features well-known brands such as Pampers and Pringles.

Leading diaper company Pampers has reduced the number of disposable nappies in its standard packet four times since 2006. The latest reduction brought the number down to 34 from 37 but the price stayed the same.

"If Procter & Gamble [the US-based company that manufacturers the product] continues in this manner, the packet will be empty in 20 years' time," said Armin Valet from the association.

Major brands are particularly guilty of employing such tactics, which critics describe as "hidden price hikes." Other offending items include washing-up liquid, dishwasher tablets, crisps, sweets and dog food.

The principle is simple: manufacturers reduce contents while keeping the packaging the same or very similar. Consumers often don't notice the change and go on buying the products in the belief that they're getting the same as before.

In some cases, prices in real terms have risen by up to 60 percent as a result of the tactics. To put that in context: inflation has only risen by 12 percent in the past seven years.

But there are limits to what consumers will accept. "Manufacturers can't take this to endless heights," said Cologne-based management consultant Ulrich Eggert, adding that consumers would not buy products unless they met a certain standard.

Other manufacturers have in fact increased their contents while upping their prices disproportionately. A tube of Pringles now contains 190 grams of crisps, up from 165 grams. However the price per 100 grams has risen by almost a third (from €0.96 to €1.26).

Similarly, dog food brand Frolic are charging almost €0.10 more per 100 grams than before it increased its standard quantity.

Manufactures often justify price hikes by pointing to other improvements, say experts. "Bigger quantities, better quality and a nicer appearance are intended to distract from the price rises," Eggert told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Pampers boasted "product improvements" including the "urine indicator" in the New Baby range, which the company says required "significant investment." Dishwasher tablet manufacturer Henkel also justified its price rises by saying that over the years their product has developed to "offer consumers better performance."

Story continues below…

But consumer watchdogs are warning consumers to wise up on hidden tactics which are getting them to pay more - for less.

The Local/kkf

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd