The informercial business continues to be a multi-billion dollar industry with no signs of slowing; it is estimated to gross $250 billion in 2015. Most of this pie is sliced up and shared with a handful of players. Let’s take a look at who they are, what they sell, and any other juicy tidbits we can uncover, shall we?
First, the Big Four:
No list of “As Seen On TV” companies would be complete without the company that invented its ubiquitous logo. Telebrands was founded by Ajit “A.J.” Khubani in 1983 (read more about the History of Telebrands here).
Biggest Selling Product:
Ped Egg (over 45 million sold) – this oval foot scraper sat on Khubani’s desk for a year until he came up with the name.
Other Hot Products:
Royal Posture, a combination pain reliever and posture aligning back brace gets less than regal reviews from our readers. “Not at all what is pictured on TV. What a surprise!” says one. “I have more pain wearing it, this product is no good,” adds another.
Amish Secret is a wood polish that receives a “dull” reception from consumers. “Texture like water. Smells like formaldehyde. Does nothing for wood,” reports Aly from Georgia. Others note you can get the same type of cleaner at Lowe’s for much cheaper.
In July 2015, Telebrands settled the lawsuit brought against them by the state of New Jersey. They must pay $550,000, revamp their telephone ordering process, as well as pay for an independent Consumer Affairs Liaison to monitor them.
Arnand “Andy” Khubani, brother of A.J., who after serving as Vice President of Telebrands, branched off and founded his own infomercial company. Idea Village claims to have pioneered the TV-to-retail model that many ASOTV companies follow – 90% of its sales are in stores such as CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aide, Walmart, and Toys R Us.
Yes! By Finishing Touch receives a resounding “NO!” from people who said they bought the hair removal tool and reviewed it on our website. “It tries to make you think that ‘Sensa-Light Technology’ does something to remove hair. It does not! It's just a light. There is no mystery here. It's a cordless electric shaver,” says Rushie from Boston, MA.
Copper Fit elbow and knee sleeves have a 3-star average on our website. Many say it’s “great” and makes an “instant difference”; however, just as many people say “it does not take the pain away”.
Commenter Spencer Denning questions the amount of copper actually in Copper Fit. “I… had them tested at the lab where I work for their copper content and there was only something like 1.7% copper and 70% aluminum in these knee sleeves,” he said. (We hate to break it to you, Spencer, but the copper doesn’t do anything special for you anyways.)
Idea Village lost a lawsuit in 2011 about its Kinoki Detox Foot Pad, a product they claimed cleaned the body of toxins when taped to the underside of the foot and were required to reimburse consumers $10 per foot pad bought.
Ashok “Chuck” Khubani, brother of A.J. and Andy who has been running Ontel Products since 1994. He claims to have the largest network of 80,000 stores worldwide that carry Ontel.
Best Selling Product:
Iron Gym (one million per year since 2008)
Foot Angel According to our reviewers, they’re not so heavenly. Apparently, these compression socks are sold singly, not in pairs and the second “free” sock is an extra fee. They “charged me $19.99 for one sock,” complains Carla from Missouri.
Miracle Bamboo Pillow has some consumers tossing and turning at night, including Lauren Mills of Los Angeles, CA who writes:
“After taking it out of the package I noticed the strong chemical smell… the pillow itself was not washable, contrary to what is shown on TV. The pillow is made from polyurethane foam, which Dr.Oz says is toxic and an cause all kinds of medical problems…” she warned. Jennifer From Frisco, TX counters by noting “ it says memory foam on it” and claims it’s “the best sleep I've had in years.”
Notable News: In 2014, a Naples, Florida couple were awarded $226,777 in royalties after it was found Ontel infringed on their patent with Cami Secret, an instant cleavage cover for women.
Ontel also faced a recall of the ISO7X Isometric Exercise Device because its handle grips can break and cause parts to be “forcibly ejected from the shaft” which could put someone’s eye out.
Who they are:
Keith Merchandani, who says he became fascinated with the Direct Response industry first as a consumer, and later worked at Telebrands for a few years (see a pattern here?) before launching Tristar Products.
Best Selling Product:
50 States Quarter Map
Other Notable Products:
Slim Jeggings, a pair of stretch pants made to look like denim gets low marks from many who have tried them. “Extremely ugly, not worth even a 10th of the purchase price. Totally false advertising!” reads a review left by Anya from Melbourne, Australia.
Power Pressure Cooker XL is a counter top digital pressure cooker that seems to have problems with its lid. “I spent three hours trying to get the lid back on (with an hours help from the neighbor) and finally gave up,” says Wayne Gibson from North Carolina on our site.
Genie Zip Bra, this sports bra receives complaints for a zipper that won’t close and/or quickly breaks. “Broken zipper, literally fell off in my hand when opening package,” stated Cindy Thibodeaux
In August 2015, Merchandani sued his former boss, accusing Telebrands of stealing Tristar’s idea for their Flexable Hose [sic]. However, in the twisting battle of “Hose Wars”, Tristar admitted to infringing the patent of the XHose, made by another rival Direct Response company, Emson.