Exploiting the inattentive

The makers of a certain major brand of detergent which I will not name (but which for the purposes of this discussion will be called "Snide") appears to take every step to exploit inattentive customers.

A box of Snide detergent powder comes with instructions indicating that for a normal-sized load, you should use 3/8 cup of detergent; for a large load, 1/2 cup.

The detergent box also comes with a handy measuring cup.

The measuring cup holds 5/8 cup of detergent.

Not to be outdone, Liquid Snide plays a similar trick.

The instructions indicate that for a normal-sized load, you should fill the cup to line 1 (the lowest line). For a large load, fill to line 2. If you look at the cup they provide, there is also a line 3 which is even higher than lines 1 and 2. Not even counting the imaginary "line 4" which is what you get if you fill the cup to the brim.

Just because it comes with a measuring cup doesn't mean you have to use it.

Comments (32)
  1. Sahil Malik says:

    Tide Tide !! THATS IT !!

  2. N/A says:

    It doesn’t even come with instructions as to taking the water dH into account? All major brands of detergents here have a scale of how much to use depending on load and dH.

  3. Tom says:


    The measuring cup holds 5/8 cup of detergent


    I bet if you tried, you get one cup in ;-)

    This actually makes sense if you say you know that 1 cup is a US measurement for 8 fluid ounces. So 5/8 cup is 5 fluid ounces.

  4. asdf says:

    Snide? Is that what happens when you mix Snuggle and Tide?

  5. Gary says:


    Hot dogs: why are there 12 in a tin, and buns

    come usually 8 in a pack?

  6. Adam V. says:

    Hot dogs come in TINS?

  7. Gordon says:

    Not so fast, my friend! Heeb Nats (the best hotdogs ever, btw) come in 7-packs…also the wrong number.

  8. Dave says:

    "Hot dogs: why are there 12 in a tin, and buns come usually 8 in a pack?"

    The hot dog and bun industry do this so that elementary school kids can solve "least common multiple" problems.

  9. Greg says:

    I just end up using 3/8 to 1/2 of the cup they provide. Take that, Snide!

  10. Ian Argent says:

    Or you can do what I do (and apparently Raymond does), I use a timed pour directly into the machine. (OK, guesstimated pour…)

  11. Anonynous says:

    Whereas Microsofts business practices are entirely respectful of the consumer?

  12. Name says:

    Oh yay, nerds doing 80s stand up comedy.

    Airline peanuts…

    C programmers be driving like this, but C++ programmers be driving like this…

  13. Damon says:

    Never mind the fact that the pricing structure is completely out of whack as well.

    Numerous times over the past year or so I’ve found myself in need of laundry detergent, fabric softner, etc. I’ve visited my local big box retailer (the Bullseye) and walked down the aisle.

    You see a regular size container of detergent, then next to it a huge container. They don’t make the bigger container a whole number multiple of the smaller…but if you take the time to do the math all but once the smaller is cheaper than the bigger on a per ounce basis.

  14. Aarrgghh says:

    The contempt of the capitalist-hegemonist GovWarCorp thuglicrats for simple arithmetic is boundless. We have to face the fact that we are in a war. When faced with repression of this nature, on this scale, violence is a legitimate option in defending ourselves. Tide is NOT my detergent. Bushitler is NOT my president. I voted for neither, and it is clear that the intent of democracy was never for citizens to be governed by politicians for whom they did not vote. The Framers intended not for the "majority" to establish a brutal military dictatorship over the rest (as happened on 11/2/2004), but rather for those disenfranchised by the majority’s insane ignorance to set up their own minority government until such time as their candidate (who represents ALL the people, or at least all of those fit to vote) is again elected (FAIRLY elected). This is the fundamental principle underlying all truly democratic societies.

  15. AC Slater's Permed Mullet says:

    ::jaw drops::


    If you could go ahead and shut up now, that’d be great. There are plenty of places where that jackassery is tolerated, but I don’t think this is one of them.

  16. Cooney says:

    You know, if he just stopped after the first two sentences, it’d probably look like humor.

  17. Dave says:

    Aarrgghh, the subject was soap, not soapboxes.

  18. Gene Hamilton says:


    At least for food they sometimes put the price per oz/lbs on the price tag at the store.

  19. Norman Diamond says:


  20. Anonymous Coward says:

    Just because it comes with a measuring cup

    >doesn’t mean you have to use it.

    Hands don’t tend to work so well…

    Hey, at least the Pillsbury Dough Boy has biscuits that come in packs of two now!

  21. Aaargh! says:

    Another nasty trick: Redesign the packaging, add a nice big "New & Improved" sticker on it, keep the price the same and put less $ITEM in the package.

  22. Florian says:

    Okay, I’ll publicly admit to not getting it. Where’s the catch?

  23. Mike Dimmick says:

    Users don’t read manuals or instructions; hence, they’re likely to fill the supplied cups to the brim, using more detergent than is actually required, or even suggested.

  24. Tom says:


    Okay, I’ll publicly admit to not getting it. Where’s the catch?


    It’s an example of evil marketing. The people that market detergents are clearly unconcerned with Truth and are only interested in making money. They say that even a large load requires 1/2 Cup, but the measuring container holds 5/8 Cup, so they are trying to trick you into using 25% extra. And we all know that all marketing people are all religious conservatives who voted for Bush, and Bush’s favourite philospher said "the love of money is the root of all evil". Republicans are fundamentalist heretics, and should be burned at the stake!

    How will our children survive in an polluted wasteland???+? How many Iraqis had to die to produce that extra detergent!!!11!

    Should probably add this-


    Can we go back to geeking out over Windows arcana please, that was much more fun.

  25. Scott says:

    The interesting question is why you believe that their recommended amounts are accurate in the first place. What incentive do they have to make them minimal?

  26. Raymond Chen says:

    The smaller they make the recommended amount, the larger the number they can put on the front of the box in big type. "32 loads!"

    "Wow," you say. "That’s a much better deal than

    Sneer detergent, which washes only 25 loads of laundry at the same price."

    But that’s 32 loads of 3/8 cup per load. If you fail to follow the directions and use 5/8 cup instead, then you get only 21 loads.

  27. Clinton Pierce says:

    JohnC: I read them. Specifically, because I’m standing in the shower in the morning and my brain hasn’t quite kicked on yet. So my eyes drift over whatever there is to read and it gets absorbed.

    Sodium laureth sulfate, methylchloroisothiazolinone, etc.. are all familiar terms… though I have no idea what they do.

  28. John Clyman says:

    Hey, this is nothing compared to "Lather, Rinse, *Repeat*". I bet the marketing genius who came up with that set of instructions doubled sales overnight. (Well, not really. I doubt that many people bother to read the instructions for shampoo, but still…)

  29. Michael J. says:

    "Wow," you say. "That’s a much better deal than

    > Sneer detergent, which washes only 25 loads of

    > laundry at the same price."

    > But that’s 32 loads of 3/8 cup per load.

    That would be true if they were filled up from the same big barrel, but with different labels. I hope this is not the case, and the content and its concentration actually IS different.

    By the way, what is up with bio-additivies, which allow to wash at 40 Celcius? Looks like they are not popular in US that much.

  30. Ben Hutchings says:

    I phoned the "careline" for, er, "Parsley" washing powder, and got a cup with about 9 different marks on it for different levels of soiling and water hardness.

  31. David Walker says:

    Lather, Rinse, Repeat. It doesn’t say "Repeat once", it says "Repeat", which means "go back to the beginning".

    Programmers know not to read shampoo bottles, or they will get into an infinite loop and use the whole bottle before they (the programmer) explode.

  32. More games with detergent scoops.

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