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Filter As Seen on TV product ads

Posted by Mitch Lipka  July 30, 2013 03:47 PM

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A reader’s ongoing saga of trying to find someplace, anyplace, to fix a broken “As Seen on TV” product is a reminder of issues with that category of goods.

In the early days of promoting what were then non-mainstream products, over-the-top pitches made them known nationwide. Today, you can buy some “As Seen on TV” products in stores, but much of how these gizmos are sold has stayed the same as when Ron Popeil (Ronco) was hawking his Veg-O-Matic and Pocket Fisherman.

As Seen on TV products tend to be marketed with a certain kitschy flair that sets them apart from traditional products. Pitches to buy them by phone or online can also be filled with traps. That includes add-ons, upgrades, and offers for a second item “free.” That comes with an asterisk about added shipping and handling charges, which an equal the price of the “free” item.

That leads to a key rule of purchasing As Seen on TV products: Be sure to sort out how much the product is really going to cost before buying. So really do your homework.

From WaxVac (ear wax cleaner) to ShamWow (a cloth that holds a lot of liquid), you reed to check out what people who bought the products have said about them. Forget the people in the commercials who are wowed by all these products – or your children begging for one of the kid products they saw on TV – until you’re convinced they’re worth buying.

One issue that has long dogged As Seen on TV products is durability. Many tend to be made inexpensively. They might actually do what they claim for a time, but then they break and can prove next to impossible to repair.

If you decide to go for it, avoid the TV offers and buy at a major retailer – Target, CVS and Walgreens carry quite a few – to avoid shipping charges and other issues.

Even if some of these products started with a sideshow like quality, consider the now ubiquitous Oxi-Clean. You don’t have to dismiss the genre altogether, just shop smart and you might end up finding the solution you’re searching for.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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