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Your Take: Ever Buy Something Off An Infomercial?

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SnuggieAccording to the Electronic Retailing Association, the infomercial industry brings in $400 billion a year. I knew infomercials did big business but I didn’t know they did four hundred billion dollars a year!

It reminded me of a time I drove a U-Haul with my friend Ian from Pittsburgh to New Jersey. We were moving all of our stuff back to his home after college and I marveled at the sheer number of infomercial products he had. He had basically everything in the Ronco catalog, from the Showtime rotisserie to a food dehydrator. It was hilarious packing these into the truck because I’d never actually seen many of these products in person. What’s even funnier is that they were completely clean – he’d never used them. I don’t know how often I’d use a rotisserie but chances are I’d use it at least once. That’s when he told me that they were all from his mom. Apparently his mom loves buying stuff from infomercials.

I can understand the sales behind some of the novelty items. I’ve been in bars when people go on “Snuggie bar tours,” which basically has them going from bar to bar wearing Snuggies (obviously!). The fun factor alone is enough to power sales in what’s basically a blanket with sleeves.

That said, I’ve never purchased anything off an infomercial. Have you? Do you use it?

(Photo: alyssazumpino)

{ 22 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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22 Responses to “Your Take: Ever Buy Something Off An Infomercial?”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    I have, although not through calling the number, but going online later and ordering. They’re not always bad products, if you plan on using them.

    • Jack Foley says:

      Yea the best ones always grab you and as you have said, you can look them up online at a later stage.

      But i agree, they are always only medioocre products..

  2. Shirley says:

    Ah yes, I did go for that one time about 20 years ago. It was for a Time-Life Library of 50s music and since the 50s were my teen years and those songs brought back many a memory, it really wasn’t hard to sell me. ;-) It was definitely an impulse buy and most likely overpriced, but we certainly have used it quite a lot.

    I am glad that I made that purchase but I wouldn’t give my CC number over the phone again. However I would have no problem buying online with a one-time CC number.

  3. John says:

    I did a few times but figured out that if the product is any good, it’ll be at walgreens soon. I have also read many horror stories of multiple changes and no CC refunds for things not sent. Wish there were one time CC numbers for those of us who HATE CC.

    • Shirley says:

      Discover Card has a desktop or online (your choice) program called Secure One-time Account Number (SOAN). I use it for all online purchases and have never had a problem with it.

    • mannymacho says:

      I agree with you John, all of the infomercial products will probably be on the clearance rack at Bed Bath Beyond within a year. That’s why I never buy them from the program. I had no idea that infomercials still supported such a huge volume of sales though.

    • daenyll says:

      I’ve picked up a couple of the actually useful things on occasion in the “as seen on TV” section of Walgreens back in the day, but I’d never buy over the phone and really still a bit leary about the online. If the product is actually any good it’ll eventually get enough notice to be picked up by and actual store.

  4. Glenn Lasher says:

    I have, a few times. I do have a high threshold, though. It has to be something that I or my wife were thinking of getting something like anyway. Completely coincidentally, all have been kitchen equipment. I should mention that my wife is a professional chef.

    1. Miracle Blade III knife set. These have lived up to the advertising: We’ve never had to sharpen them, and we have used them every day for at least ten years, if not longer. They are still sharp.

    2. Dehydrator. We bought this around 12 years ago. It works as advertised. There’s not much more to say about it than that. We don’t use it as much as we might do, however, my wife has been getting into doing more preserving lately, so this may change.

    3. Ronco Rotisserie. This, too, has lived up to expectations. It is clear that it was designed by an engineer and not a marketer, because the electronics to it are no-frills, but everything in it fits tightly, runs smooth as silk and is made from reasonably high-quality materials.

    That’s it for the past fifteen years, though.

  5. thunderthighs says:

    I often buy Telebrands and similar products at CVS and other discount stores after seeing them on TV. I avoid shipping charges, as well as getting stuck with unneeded duplicate or triplicate items.

  6. fabclimber says:

    In the early years of the infomercials I bought a couple of items. They worked out well for me and I was satisfied. Then they started offering “extras” with just the shipping and handling charges. These turn out to be more than what the product is worth. Mainly I stopped buying when they stopped having a live person to talk to and it became a process of keying in all the choices. I was unable to refuse or limit the extras. I agree with the others who say you can just get it later at a store somewhere – typically at the malls.

  7. Lesley says:

    One of the big reasons I would not purchase something from an infomercial is that I am afraid that once they have your name and info, the emails, snail mails and spam would be horrific.

  8. noWhere says:

    No. Never ! I have to touch it, see it, feel it.

  9. Kathy says:

    My best friend’s husband just had to have that Mighty Putty…or whatever it was called. She finally caved in and bought it for him as a gift. By the time she got off the phone the $19.95 product cost her about $60! Her lesson learned was–wait until you can buy it in person at the store!

  10. thunderthighs says:

    FWIW, I picked up a Turbo Snake set tonight at the drug store for a chronic severely clogged bathroom sink drain. Good as new! I probably wouldn’t have had the trust to buy the product if not for Anthony Sullivan’s face on the package, which tells me that infomercials retain their power long after the TV’s off.

  11. govenar says:

    I’ve never bought anything from an infomercial.

    • govenar says:

      Actually, I did get a George Foreman grill (though, I didn’t buy it; I think it was a prize from a survey site). I used it a couple times but it was a pain to clean.

  12. skylog says:

    i never have, and to be honest, there are a only a few that i have even mildly thought about.

  13. Not one thing! I rarely watch television so I would have limited ability to be introduced to these items.

  14. Once, I bought “Pedi-Paws” an electric nail trimmer for dogs. Looked like it would solve our problem with keeping the dogs nails from destroying the furniture. The unfortunate part was that when I turned it on to start the trim, my dog flipped out – not just a little, but crazy, running around the house yelping flipped out. Needless to say, the purchase was a bust.

    The sad part of it all was that my wife and I were a little out-of-synch and we both bought one! Anyone want to buy 2 never used “Pedi-Paws”? :–)

  15. The only thing I have ever bought from an infomercial was the Magic Bullet blender. This was quite a few years ago, and because they were BOGO free (a friend and I split the cost and each got one), it was cheaper than I have ever found them in stores. I love it, and use it very regularly. So, yeah, I did buy ONE thing from an infomercial, and am still happy with the purchase.

  16. Evan says:

    2 Words: Magic Bullet! Bad ass


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