Rules of Infomercials...

I don’t start threads very often, but here goes…

I often stay up late, so I have a chance to watch many cheap commercials and infomercials. Most recently I saw a (rather hilarious) infomercial for the Q-Ray (“the world’s only ionized health bracelet” (plus the other 40 brands)) I’ve noticed a few trends, and have even sort of made a list of “rules” for infomercials (and a lot of these aren’t even specific to infomercials, but also just quack health products). See if you can add anything:

  • If something says it works because it’s “ionized,” or by “ionic power,” it doesn’t work. (i.e. Q-Ray)

  • If something “makes a great gift,” it makes a horrible gift. (i.e. Chia Pets)

  • If they need “real” people’s testimonies to convince you to buy the product, particularly if they claim to be “skeptical at first,” it doesn’t work. (i.e. phone psychics, Q-Ray)

  • If something works by having anything to do with your “natural body energy” or “energy flow,” it doesn’t work.

  • If something is “herbal,” it either a) doesn’t work, b) is a placebo, or c) is essentially the same as a synthetic chemical, but more dangerous because of the many other unidentified chemicals in unknown quantities.

  • “If you call within the next n minutes, we’ll add this extra useless piece of crap, free.” Yeah, but that’s a half-truth designed to make you buy on impulse, and they give you the extra useless piece of crap no matter when you call.

  • “Tired of doing things the old fashioned way?” (usually accompanied by black & white footage of a clumsy person struggling to do something, like a moron) In most cases, they’re trying to fix a nonexistant problem. (i.e. Rotato, Turbie Twist, or The EggWave (am I the only one who’s seen that commercial?))

  • If you’re supposed to “not be fooled by cheap imitations,” you might want to save your money by getting a cheap imitation (i.e. Rotato) or they’re all cheap imitations (i.e. phone psychics)

  • If someone had a secret that could make anybody a millionaire, that genuinely worked, they wouldn’t share it. Why? Because if they did, everybody would become a millionaire, and the result would just be very high inflation. Think about it.

  • If the infomercial is disguised as a talk show, the “very special guest” that they are “very lucky to have” is, obviously, paying for the whole commercial.

I can’t think of any more right now. Does anyone else notice any similar trends in infomercials?

Anything you can cook with can be wiped clean with nothing more than a paper towel. snort.

“You would expect to pay up to $500 for this quality product, but with this special offer you won’t even be paying $400, nor $350, not even $300!! This would be a great deal at $300, but we are selling it for even less! Not $200, not even $199, or $198. The price is now ONLY 254 EASY payments of $19.95. Thats right, only $19.95!!! And don’t forget the accessories, thats over $500 worth FREE!”

I was sort of interested in the Infusion Cookwear. I watched the whole infomercial, and was moderately impressed by the things you could do with it, and decided I might buy it, until the very end of the commercial where they finally revealed the price. IIRC, it was around five hundred dollars for the set. I was appalled. Five hundred bucks for a set of five pans?

The infomercial also mentioned the “fact” that this cookwear was very popular and widely sold in France. Okay, I thought, I’ll look for it next time I go. I thought that it would probably be considerably less expensive if I went right to the “source.” Hubby and I searched while on our vacation endlessly, getting puzzled looks whenever we would ask shopkeepers if they carried Infusion Cookwear.

Lying bastards. They must have thought that if they mentioned France in their infomercial that people would automatically think of culinary delights and gormet French cooking. Didn’t think anyone would CHECK to see if it was “widely sold” in France, now did you? Hmph!

Having the show hosted by a dude with a British accent speaking really fast…some how is supposed to add some panache to the whole deal.

BTW…I was channel surfing last night…caught a commercial on during the end of the Howard Stern show for some outfit selling what they call “backyard wrestling videos”. Watch as your hormonally inbalanced teenage next door neighbor beats the crap out of his inbred cousin with a folding chair over the head!!..See the blood fly as 2 wwf wannabees jump off car garages into folding tables…!!
Has anybody else seen this dreck? They have a web site…equally tasteless…What kind of mouth breathing, pasty faced, sweaty palmed, knuckle draggin’, rustmobile drivin’, sister marryin’ doofus buys that kind of crap?

Some of the products occassionally look neat-a headband that you attach to your phone so you can do other things, or onion cutters and stuff.

But you know what? It all will end up in the store, eventually. I see all of that crap at Kmart-with a little thing saying, “As Seen on TV”.

  • if you’re one of the first 100 callers you’ll get a “free gift” (usually more tacky crap)–but this same fabulous limited offer is run night after night after night…

  • ah, the Egg Wave! Soon to be seen in gargage sales across the nation. You can do the exact same thing w/ a little microwave-proof bowl. And the extra “scrambling attachment”? Mix the egg w/ a fork.

  • the more clever and miraculous the gizmo, the less likely it is to work, i.e. the “closet organizer” that hangs multiple garments on snap-up arms then squishes them together–without wrinkling!

  • the get-rich-no-money-down-guide-to-slumlord-real-estate: send them just 5 easy payments of $49.95 for lessons and yep, oddly enough the people offering the fabulous deal make money.

  • the inventor’s kit; by gum, a great savings and a postive service to home inventors! Get your invention patented! Of course the forms and instructions are already provided through the government. Hey, why not pay an unneccessary middle man?!


What I want is the Aerobed-it looks pretty comfy and a neat thing to have. The only difference between that and any other air mattress is that it inflates electrically, I think.

Guin: It has the inflator permanently attached, instead of having to get a seperate pump (we always used a converted vacuum cleaner motor/blower…)

I saw a new one last night…MonetMagic. It’s a little stylus that you use on Polaroid photographs to “turn your picture into a beautiful painting!” Scratch it up, make it blurry and freakishly pastel, and bang! You’ve got a 3x3 Impressionist knockoff! Only two easy payments of $19.95.

I don’t think I did much of a job of describing this…I think it has to be seen to be believed. There were people on the show swearing up and down that they’d be opening a gallery full of this crap :rolleyes:

Good lord-you can do that with a decent paint program!

I’ve only ever bought a few items advertized “as seen on TV!” One, a can-opener that cuts the rim instead of just the metal disk in the end, actually works as advertized. I subsequently purchased a better, sturdier, less expensive version for less money at Wal-Mart since TW made off with the one I originally bought. I like it mainly because it’s easier to get the lid off the can without lacerating your fingertips. Besides, the new one has a cool-looking art-deco design. :smiley:

The other item was a “Lionel Train Watch” I purchased for TW before she became the Ex. I have no interest in trains (or at least train-themed wristwear) and already have a watch, so I’m not heartbroken over that. I secretly hope it turned out to be a piece of crap, but it’s no skin off my nose if it didn’t. :wink:

I’d really like to get one of those rotary potato peelers, but I suppose I’ll wait until I get some advice on where to get a quality product of that sort. Suggestions, anyone?


*“Space age”

*tiny text in the corner revealing that returning the item incurs a 15% “restocking fee,” meaning they expect everyone to return their crap

*Catchy phrases repeated throughout. Ron Popeil is the master of this (who can forget “Set it, then forget it!”)

*Sumo wrestlers. Okay, this was only on the AeroBed commercial but I thought it was hilarious.

*Weasels trying to get everyone into real estate. Only Tommy Ho(?) ever did this with any panache.

*British accents were mentioned, but I think all accents are used. Check out everyone’s favorite Caribbean mystic, Cleo!

Here is something I’ve noticed–on the planet where infomercials live, the mere product feature of being able to contain all its own parts for storage WILL ACTUALLY KEEP YOUR ENTIRE KITCHEN CLEAN! That’s what they say!

Where do those find those audience members? And what can I do to ensure I never get stuck in an elevator with one of them?

They always have to come up with some strained explanation as to how their product will save you money:

Knives that are so sharp that you can buy extra cheap and tough cuts of meat. Just hope you don’t mind chewing.

The rotisserie that uses less energy than a hair dryer. (so what?)

The beauty system that will save you thousands on cosmetic surgery. Sure.

The one appliance that replaces all others in your kitchen.
If they’re so concerned about saving you money, they should probably mention that you can buy a similar product at Wal-Mart for a fraction of the price.

It’s only $2.99, shipping & handling is $25.00…

I’ve noticed that every golf-related item is going to take ten strokes off of my golf score - even the specialty club that you’d expect to use three or four times per round.

(Hmm, now if they had an infomercial for a golf pencil that had came with an eraser, that might take ten strokes off of my score…)

My aunt and uncle bought my grandfather that Lionel Train Clock…he loves it.

  • Sort of along the same lines as the make-money-fast infomercials: Despite what it sounds like, they are not telling you any “secrets” in the infomercials (i.e. “The secret is the patented ratchet action” / “the secret is this patented grease collector”) If it’s a secret, why would they be telling you all about it?

  • I haven’t done any experiments or calculated the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure it takes a rather small amount of vaccuum pressure to lift a bowling ball. (i.e. vaccuum cleaners, FoodSaver)

  • Anybody ever see that AbSlide commercial? “In just a few short weeks I went from this” (a low-quality Polaroid picture of a very strong man with a hairy chest flashes by in about ¼ of a second) “to this…” (a high-quality professionally done studio picture of the same person with a waxed chest in a flexing pose pans by the camera for 10 seconds). Wow. I didn’t know you could use the AbSlide to take hair off your chest.

  • Just because something has a wide variety of uses doesn’t mean they’re all useful (i.e. FoodSaver - I can’t think of anyone paranoid enough to VacuSave their sweater)

My mother bought one of those. She also bought a Turbie Twist and…I forget what else.

I would like to point out my mother has a PhD. She’s a member of Mensa. Amoung the people who know her she is widely considered not to be a blithering idiot. Yet for some reason she enjoys paying $19.95 plus shipping for $1.50’s worth of almost useless plastic.

I dunno. She likes getting stuff in the mail.