Infomercial Inconveniences

  
     
December 01, 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 Western Michigan offers the following advice:

  • 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.