If you’re an insomniac or habitual channel surfer, chances are you’ve come across a late-night infomercial that had you wondering if the product really works.
Could it really miraculously clean the uncleanable? Fix the unfixable? Stop hair from growing in the wrong places?
If so, you are generally right to be skeptical. But sometimes lost among the over-the-top, superlative-laced pitches are products that actually do what the ads claim. Sure, there have been some clunkers — BarkOff (which supposedly stops dogs from barking) and Robo Stir (it stirs your pot so you don’t have to) come to mind. But some 30 years after it first went on the air, you can still buy Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman from Ronco. Why? Because it is what it claims to be: An easy-to-transport, compact fishing rod and reel (and more!).
In recent years, As Seen on TV products have emerged from their previous spots on late-night and weekend TV and have gone decidedly mainstream. You’ll find sections of some of the more popular infomercial products at stores likes CVS, Walgreens, Target and Walmart.
That’s really an opportunity for consumers, since buying them using the numbers attached to the TV pitches often comes with a catch or two. The most notable one is the offer of “free” products as in “Buy it now and we’ll send you another for free!” The “free” typically requires a rather hefty shipping and handling fee. Buying in-store also enables a far more efficient return process if a product is defective.
So, what is it about As Seen on TV products that captures consumers’ interests? “They solve problems, real or imagined,” says Lisa Kaplan Gordon, who has reviewed dozens of As Seen on TV products and now consults for one of the bigger players in the industry, Allstar Products Group. “It does something a little faster or a little easier.”
At least they’re supposed to. Here are seven As Seen on TV products that actually do more or less what the ads claim.
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