There’s no denying infomercial marketers are geniuses when it comes to selling you items you don’t want or need. Like slick carnival barkers, TVs fast talking super salespeople convince you that you can’t live a minute more without their product. Then they warn you that only the first one thousand callers will get the bonus gift and you believe them, right?
Caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware, is something your parents should have ‘beat into you’ from the very first time you ordered something from the back of a comic book, but a lot of you didn’t learn and now you willingly give your credit card information to these hucksters. That’s okay, though, as long as you’re getting something for your money, but telemarketers want more than just the spoils of free enterprise, they want to scam you.
One way they take advantage of you is with the poor quality of their product. Just go to any website that reviews these gadgets and see for yourself. Two out of five stars is the norm but if you want to judge for yourself, stop by the local drug or department store and check out the items on the “As Seen On TV” shelf. Almost everything sold on TV can eventually be purchased locally despite the infomercials claim that their item will not be sold in stores.
The biggest scam of course is shipping and handling. For example, one infomercial sells a four-foot auger that attaches to your power drill for only $19.99, plus shipping and handling at an additional charge of $8.95. They also include a free drill. Just pay another $8.95 for its shipping and handling. Finally, they throw in a bull auger accessory, also free for a separate shipping and handling charge of $7.95.
Okay, so now your $19.99 has turned into $45.84 but not to worry, you have a 30-day money back guarantee, so no big deal, right? Not exactly. The fine print says they’ll refund the full amount, less the shipping and handling you already paid them.
So now you have to box up all that junk and pay UPS ten bucks to ship it back and then wait forever for a refund check for $19.99. Essentially you’re out $35.85.
The marketers hope you realize what a hassle this is and you won’t go to all that trouble to ship it back. Like most consumers, you’ll probably take your losses and try to sell the piece of junk at your next garage sale for two bucks.
Another popular item filling the airwaves is an all in one personal hair trimmer with a built-in light. According to the commercial, there is no hair on your body that can’t be trimmed with this gem: nose, ear, eyebrow, neck, sideburns and probably a few places even they have the good sense not to mention. It costs $14.99 for this gadget. Maybe a little expensive but perhaps they ship it in a brown paper bag for anonymity.
What’s amazing is the thing can’t weigh more than a few ounces and yet they charge $6.99 for shipping and handling. A free grooming kit is included for an extra $6.99 shipping and handling. Something tells me these things aren’t worth $28.97. Hopefully you feel the same way.
So, what to do? Simple. Buy what you need locally. Everything you see in these infomercials is available somewhere in town. Locally you pay only for what you buy, plus sales tax, and they use that tax to fix your roads and put your kids through school.
If you really just have to have the TV item, then wait until they sell it at the department store. Then you won’t have to give up all that shipping and handling money when the thing breaks. You can just dispose of it in your own trashcan.