I’m 30 years old, I’ve been around long enough to know that people lie on television, and yet, my family knows to take away my credit cards when the infomercials come on.
My First Infomercial
I remember watching the Ronco food dehydrator commercials as a child. Yes, we had cable. No, the channel changer wasn’t broken. I just was mesmerized by that man’s orange skin, and the way his thing could dehydrate fruit!
My mom bought me some apple chips and banana chips — then she asked if I wanted to make my own. “No thanks,” I told her. Her point was made — we were not going to buy a food dehydrator.
But that didn’t stop me. I realize it sounds like there must have been something wrong with me – who watches a 30-minute commercial? But everything I saw, I wanted. From the chopper things to a mandoline, from mineral makeup to the perfect brownie pan — I have purchased SO MANY different things off the television. Remember the mall? There used to be an “As Seen on TV” store in our mall. I loved that store! Now, it’s just an aisle at Walgreens, but (you guessed it) it’s my favorite aisle.
Why are Infomercials so Appealing?
This is something I’ve pondered. I mean, I am a frugal person – so frugal that I won’t really go out to coffee without a gift card. So why would I willingly part with somewhere between $19.95 and $29.95 plus an exorbitant shipping and handling fee on this stuff with staged pictures and all kinds of smoke and mirrors?
Over the weekend, I turned on the television. I didn’t want to watch football (I only pay attention to Nebraska games and NFL when I feel like I need to talk to boys who like football) and I don’t have cable, so my options were limited. Oh hey, Alyssa Milano is on. I like her. Oh, she’s talking about hair. Neat. Let me get comfortable.
Well everyone knows this woman is gorgeous. So, why wouldn’t I want to look like her? And, before the infomercial ended, I had already typed in my credit card info.
Am I going to look more like her when the product arrives? That seems unlikely. But here’s the thing about infomercials. The price point is set at the industry-standard of “affordable” and the benefits to whatever product is being offered are outrageous. So it’s a little like the lottery. Let’s say this product works for one in four people who try it. Is it worth $29.95 to find out if I’m the one?
The appeal of infomercials is the ability to live better if you just bought one thing. There’s also the no-longer-believable “but wait, there’s more!” add-on that adds urgency, although let’s be real, there was never any way to measure how to “call in the next ten minutes” without a very complicated tracking system.
What I’ve Purchased Because of Infomercials:
- The ab rocker: It’s like doing assisted sit-ups.
- The ab belt: It makes you feel like your stomach is asleep, and refuses to wake up.
- Mineral makeup: Actually great. They carry it at Sephora now so it’s clearly legit.
- The slap-chopper: Not recommended. It isn’t faster than just chopping something with a good knife.
- The perfect brownie pan: Loved it — does exactly what it says it does. Also leaks butter. So put it on a cookie sheet.
- And now, Wen. Clearly I should not have high hopes for this based on my own track record, but I do!
After watching television for 30 minutes and spending $30, I decided it was time to turn the darn thing off. Good thing I did, too, because the next infomercial was about religion, and this post would have a completely different tone if I’d stuck around for that!
I can’t be the only one who buys this stuff, right?
Have you bought anything from an infomercial? Have you ever called the number on the TV? Act fast, operators may or may not be standing by!