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Resisting TV Infomercial Scams and Home Shopping Products that You Don't Need

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 2

A home shopping show can seem like it has all of the solutions to your problems. They promise to organize your closet, fix your carpet, build you a small business & sell a house for just $29.99. It doesn't help that these shows are the only thing that are on late at night. Here is how to spot a deal or a scam on late night TV.

Ask yourself if you really have this problem. Infomercials can make it seem like the entire world is coming to an end simply because jars are hard to open or you don't have a self straining spaghetti pot. It can be helpful to know their tricks and tactics. They'll often repeat the same claims and clips over and over to really drill into your mind how much you need something. The studio audience and the testimonials might have been solicited or at least given free products.

Look around your house before you buy. You may already have something made of the exact same material as that fancy cloth that says it will clean anything. Maybe you just haven't used it for the purpose the infomercial is using it for.

Calculate in an exhaustion factor. It may seem like you absolutely need this product, but what you may need is sleep. Sadly infomercials are one of the staples on late night TV. In fact they may be the only thing to watch. If you rack up a lot of late night purchases it might be better to put in a DVD or read a book rather then channel surf.

Find the hidden costs. Infomercials may have exorbitant shipping charges. They try to make the product seem like a great deal by doubling the offer "for free" & then throwing in a lot of things that you never knew you needed. However, you will probably have to pay shipping on each extra item so your $9.99 order may come out to $59.99. They may offer you an in home trial for just a few dollars and then quote you the actual price if you decide to keep the item. It can be difficult to return the item in time if it doesn't fit in the box or they don't mark it as received in time. Don't buy something that isn't in your budget thinking that you'll just send it back if it doesn't change your life.

When all else fails sleep on it. These infomercials try to get you to impulse buy by saying it's not offered in stores or there's a limited quantity. In reality, it will probably be on again the next night. You can probably find a similar product in stores if this should actually turn out to be an actual need that you have. You can even find cheaper versions in places like the dollar store although they may be of a lower quality.

Understand the risk you are taking. It's always helpful to just pull out your laptop before you make a purchase and read reviews. Even if the item is legitimate you need to ensure that the company is on the up and up as well. You'll often find when your credit card statement arrives you've been billed for an unrelated magazine subscription or expensive vitamins with your product simply because you didn't opt out or you skipped the fine print. Often these subscriptions will reoccur every month if you don't take care of it. You will probably see a lot of reviews stating that the item really didn't live up to all of its outrageous, miraculous claims on TV. Believe people who have actually used the product instead of whoever is selling it.

Consider your actual lifestyle before you buy. Is having a new kitchen gadget really going to inspire you to finally cook? The same thing goes for home shopping shows. Do you really have a place to wear that caftan? Just because they rave about something and keep repeating that it is at the height of fashion doesn't make it true. Remember that all of these shows are trying to get your hard earned money so of course they aren't going to tell you the short comings and downfalls of their products. Treat this type of TV program the same way you would a used car sales lot. You can get good deals if you are discriminating and know what you want. It's a good rule of thumb to just stay away from items that weren't already on your shopping list.

When watching home shopping networks it's easy to be tempted by all the beautiful clothes and jewelry. The first thing you need to consider is whether or not it would look as good on you as it does on the model. Whenever you buy an outfit from the TV or online you aren't sure of how it will look on you and if it will even fit. There are lights and cameras, sometimes even magnifying glasses where they want to show you the detail of a piece of jewelry. Really this is designed to make you think that the item is bigger than what it really is. Pull out a ruler so you can see what millimeter of stone is actually being sold to make sure that it meets your expectations when it arrives.

You might be watching these programs because you want to get a gift for the person who has everything. Plus you can always give away that free item you bought right? You need to factor in that these items may take several weeks or months for delivery so make sure that the event or holiday won't already be over if the shipping takes the maximum amount of time that is stated.

Sure watching home shopping networks or infomercials can be a form of entertainment, often they are quite funny. Avoiding infomercial scams or just impulsive home shopping buys allows you to save money and avoid clutter in your home. It can be tempting at times but before you buy that next product think "Do I really need this?" as well as "Can I afford it?"



Jan 21, 2010 5:08pm
Interesting article, osarakastico :) Keep up the good work!

What do you think about that "Snuggie" thing? Never got one...always just looked like a blanket with arm holes...lol
Jan 21, 2010 11:01pm
I would add - never never never buy from the company itself. Ive heard too many complaints about being sent more items than ordered, and not being helped properly with returns. If you really feel you want something, get it at Costco or Amazon.com or something.

I totally agree that many products are just substitutes for things you have around the house that are really just fine. I read somewhere that someone's mother used a backwards bathrobe as a snuggie :)

Also - do be smart - you wouldn't make a big purchase without researching it. Check online for reviews. There's a site infonotmercial.com that does reviews of infomercial products. Consumer Reports has some. Also other sites have what customers say about these products.

And last but not least, try to see teh humor :) Some of these infomercials are really funny :)
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