There isn’t a single person who hasn’t found herself watching late night television and entranced by a curious new product on an infomercial. New types of cooking equipment, clothing, gadgets, and cleaning products abound. However, not all of these products improve consumers’ lives in the manner portrayed on television.
Consumers complain of a variety of issues when purchasing and using products purchased through infomercials, including:
1. Failure to promptly deliver the product in a timely manner, if at all.
2. Excessive or artificially inflated shipping and handling charges.
3. Failure to provide the quality or characteristics advertised.
4. Failure to deliver the quality construction or workmanship promised.
5. Difficulty returning or receiving a refund.
6. Difficulty communicating with customer service.
Additionally, companies selling products through infomercials commonly participate in “upselling” third party offers, such as discount club memberships, “bonus” products, and free trials. In certain instances, there is no direct “upsell” at all, but rather the seller will pass a consumer’s payment information to third party without permission. This allows third parties to make offers through telemarketing and the junk mail to that consumer, and then charge the credit cards previously used for the original purchase.
Consumer Tips in Purchasing Infomercial Products
1. Pay close attention to the total cost that includes shipping and handling, not just the advertised “special” price. Shipping and handling can sometimes cost as much as the product.
2. Determine whether there will be more than one payment required to fully purchase the product. Phrases like “3 easy payments” can be easily overlooked and may not be clearly noted on the check out page or over the phone.
3. Determine whether there is a free trial or “negative option.” A negative option requires the consumer to opt-out of a recurring subscription by contacting the seller. If a consumer fails to do this, she will be automatically enrolled in a monthly charge.
4. Be careful in choosing or agreeing to “upsells.” Make sure you clearly understand the terms and requirements of any extra product or service being offered.
5. Be wary of follow up contact from third parties after making an infomercial purchase. Follow up phone calls or mailings may contain requests that require you to reject an offer.
You may report a scam on ScamBook.com or report the scam company to the Better Business Bureau.