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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Northern Indiana
Infomercial Inconveniences
November 30, 2012

While most shoppers enjoy hunting for holiday gifts in stores or online, others prefer spontaneous product pitches on television. Infomercials lure buyers with hard-to-find-elsewhere gifts and “call now” offers on appliances, cosmetics, jewelry, novelty items and weight-loss products. But wait, there’s more! Better Business Bureau warns TV shoppers to watch for possible infomercial inconveniences:

Exaggerated Advertising: Don’t believe marketers that claim to sell “miracle” products with “life-changing” results. Be skeptical of embellished testimonials, “expert” endorsements and unrealistic before-and-after photos.
Aggressive Upsells: It’s typical for “buy now” offers to come with bonus merchandise, but don’t be talked into purchasing excess products or switching to more expensive packages.
False Urgency: Pause before picking up the phone; some ads fib that “supplies are almost sold out” to sway shoppers into quick purchasing decisions.
High Demand: Be doubtful of TV claims or on-hold phone recordings that sellers are “dealing with high call volumes.” This is a common tactic—especially in small call centers.
Unscrupulous Salespeople: Upon redeeming infomercial offers by phone, be aware that call center employees may be mishandling information—unintentionally or intentionally.
Mishandled Merchandise: Be wary if packages don’t show up within 30 days—or by specified shipping dates. Don’t settle if items appear damaged or defective upon arrival.
Underperforming Products: Be mindful that goods may be less impressive in-person than in demos, samples and photos.
Sneaky Billing: Watch out for repeat charges associated with affiliate marketing programs or membership subscriptions. It’s a warning sign if unordered products or unexpected solicitations start arriving in the mail.

Want products as seen on TV? BBB Serving Northern Indiana suggests you check these infomercial companies out FIRST before
ordering.  You can do this by:

  • Research companies and products on bbb.org and consumerreports.org.
  • Be wary if negative results appear on ftc.gov.
  • Search for products online to find sellers’ sites and see comparative pricing.
  • Collect purchase policies, including return or exchange options.
  • Ask if they can provide privacy policies before offering payment information.
  • Get a delivery timeline; request purchase confirmations and tracking numbers.
  • Always pay by credit card and retain receipts to dispute charges in fraud cases. Check financial statements regularly.
  • Notify sellers immediately if items are disappointing, damaged or do not arrive as anticipated. File complaints at bbb.org.