Television infomercials successfully sell billions of dollars worth of products each year…yet those very same “As Seen On TV” products have a terrible reputation among most of the buying public! Comments from people who have bought leading “As Seen On TV” items often include words like “scam,” “fraud,” and “rip off,” along with stories of “$19.95” products costing over $100!
Infomercials earn this bad reputation mostly from their misleading and confusing sales offers. You can, however, avoid getting unexpectedly overcharged when buying items from TVif you know which traps to avoid…
Trap #1: Not Including All the Shipping and Handling Costs
Items sold through TV are often inexpensive (prices of $19.95 and $10 are common), but the shipping and handling charges are typically pretty steep. Things get even worse with those “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” offers because additional shipping is almost always charged for the “free” item.
So an item advertised as “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” for $10 will normally add $7.95 shipping and handling for the first item and an additional $7.95 for the “free” item. (It doesn’t matter if the two items are shipped in the same box, there will still be two S&H charges.) This would bring your grand total to $25.90more than double the low price advertised.
So be sure to add up all those shipping and handling charges (usually abbreviated as S&H or P&H for “processing and handling”) to get the real total.
Trap #2: Not Adding Up the Total Number of “Easy Payments”
Sometimes an infomercial will present its price as a series of “easy payments.” This is especially true for higher priced items, such as home gyms.
When an infomercial says, “Only 5 payments of $39.95” it is counting on viewers thinking only about how affordable “$39.95” isand not grasping the total expense of the product. So get out your calculator and do the math. If a calculator is not handy, round up the payment figure (they almost always end in “.95” or “.99” to confuse everyone) and multiply by the number of payments. Most of us can easily figure out that 5 x $40 comes to a $200 total price.
Trap #3: Agreeing to the “Upsells”
Whether you place your order over the phone or through an “official” website, you will face a gauntlet of several “upsells.” Upsells are additional items offered at the time of your purchase. Upsells usually consist of a related product, but sometimes they take the form of an upgrade to a “deluxe” version of the item you are ordering. Other times an upsell will be a pitch for a completely unrelated trial membership.
The one things all upsells have in common is that they will cost you more money. (That is why they are offered, after all.) The marketers are relying on an impulse buy…or even a desire not to be rude to the person taking your order. So you need to be disciplined enough to just say “no” to all the upsells…or you will be literally paying the price later.
Trap #4: Keeping No Record of Where You Purchased the Product
You need to get and keep all the information you can about whom to contact for customer service issues. Otherwise you will have nowhere to turn if your product never arrives. Sadly, many of the “official” websites for infomercial products do not follow the standard ecommerce practice of sending a confirmation email.
So when ordering over the phone, ask the order taker for the customer service phone and email, as well as your order ID. When going through a website, keep the web address and write down any contact info or order ID you are shown.
By avoiding these four traps, you will be able to more safely order the latest “As Seen On TV” items without expensive surprises.
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