Infomercial Products That Disappoint

February 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Infomercial products are a $100-billion-a-year business. If you've bought an "as-seen-on-TV" wonder only to be disappointed, check out this next report.There are infomercials for exercise equipment and kitchen gadgets. "One slap and you've got chunks for stews. Two slaps you've got home fries in a second"

And, of course, there are products you never thought you needed. "Now there's the Snuggie, the blanket with sleeves."

Consumer Reports says infomercials are designed to pump up the dopamine levels in your brain, according to marketing experts. And that can stimulate your impulse to buy.

"Why infomercials have claims and testimonials flying at you, and they say 'order in three minutes' because your dopamine levels drop in about five to six minutes," said Kim Kleman, Consumer Reports.

Consumer reports routinely tests infomercial products like the Ab Circle Pro, "the fastest, easiest way to have the flat washboards abs."

Panelists gave the $200 device a whirl.

"Following the Ab Circle Pro's strict diet plan will definitely help you lose weight. But the three-minute exercise routine, not so much," said Alex Willen, Consumer Reports.

Turns out the workout is about the same as going on a brisk three-minute walk.

"Hi, it's Vince with Slap Chop." To test the slap chop, Consumer Reports chopped nuts, onions, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and even chocolate.

But it turns out the slap chop doesn't chop evenly. And the harder vegetables took 20 slaps or more! Ouch!

"The Snuggie keeps you totally warm."

"We tested the Snuggie by washing it 10 times looking for shrinkage, pilling, and also lint. Pills are these fuzzy little balls, and between them is bare fabric," said Pat Slaven, Consumer Reports.

And in 10 washes this much lint came off two snuggies! Plus its one-size-fits-all claim hardly stands up.

So the next time you see an infomercial product you really want to buy, resist the urge for at least 10 minutes. That'll give your dopamine levels a chance to return to normal.