Cagey Consumer

Smaller Toilet Paper Rolls Equal Higher Prices

Beginning about April 2000, Fort James Paper Company (800-243-5384) reduced the number of sheets in the regular size rolls of its Quilted Northern brand of toilet paper, from 280 sheets to 200 sheets. Not only that, but they decreased the length of each sheet from 4.4 inches to 4.0 inches. Concurrent with this change, they began adding "triple" rolls to their existing "double" rolls and regular size rolls.

The old double rolls had 560 of the 4.4 inch sheets, the new triple rolls have 600 of the 4.0 inch sheets. If you multiply these numbers out, you'll find out that the triple rolls are actually 2% shorter than the old double rolls. The combined effect of these changes is a price increase greater than 50%, assuming that the price per roll remains the same.

It would be unreasonable to expect that the price of toilet paper or any other product stays the same, but the problem with this increase is the deceptive way they've done it. Not only have they confused the issue by changing the size of the invididual toilet sheet, they have added to the confusion by measuring the size of toilet paper rolls in terms of a non-existent "regular roll".

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April 9, 2000