In Part One, we looked at the Big Four of the multibillion-dollar “As Seen On TV” Industry. Now here are some profiles of other companies that use the power of the infomercial to sell consumers everything from apple slicers to waist trainers. Let’s meet them, shall we?
E. Mishan and Sons (Emson)
Who they are:
The Mishan family, father Edward I. “Eddie” Mishan along with his sons Jeffery, Steven, and Al are in charge of the company, which has been in business for 65 years and selling “As Seen On TV” products since the 1980s. They have a variety of other brands under their wing, including the Big Boss and Bell & Howell.
Big Boss Insta Mop: Reviewers on our website give this spinning mop an average 2.5 stars, with some saying it’s cheaply made and noting that it costs $30 to ship it back to them for a refund.
Clever Grip: This device that attaches a smartphone to your car air vent doesn’t get very high marks from our readers. Some say it’s “not worth the money” as your phone easily slips out of the holder. Others complain about aggressive upselling and sneaky pricing.
As mentioned in part one, Emson won a lawsuit against Telebrands for infringing a patent on its popular XHOSE, a collapsible outdoor garden hose; however the XHOSE also gets very poor ratings from consumers, who complain it leaks, pops, and explodes.
Allstar Products Group (Merchandise Direct)
Who they are:
Founded in 1999 and run by CEO Scott Boilen, Allstar claims the company “vibes” off of genius inventors, and successfully brings their products to market.
The Snuggie wasn’t the first blanket-with-sleeves, but according to Allstar, was the first one to sell at the “magic” price point of $19.95, resulting in $20 million in sales.
Other Hot Products:
Secret Extensions: Consumers aren’t so “secret” about how they feel about these hair extensions that hang from a clear plastic thread. Many say there isn’t much hair and the headband is very noticeable.
“This is what I call false advertisement. They show you these girls with luscious hair, when they send you like 5 strands of hair on a piece of plastic string. They moved around your head, you can't put it up in a high anything, and they look overall fake. Plus, their 30 day back guarantee policy only applies if they are unopened or unused,” said Kiara from Sydney, Australia on our website.
Catch Caddy: This device that claims to stop items in your car from sliding under the front seat appears to have a different kind of “catch”:
“I am no fool, but readily admit I was misled by the TV commercial that touts sending four if you purchase two, as long as you pay the exorbitant shipping and handling fee. A quick calculation and I came up with about twenty-five bucks for the deal. Turns out that is not the case. Having four Catch Caddies sent to you will cost you almost forty-six bucks. It is a cheap and sleazy mislead,” noted George Vien of Pleasanton, CA.
In March 2015, Allstar Products was fined $8 million by the FTC for deceiving customers with mandatory “buy one get one” promotions and illegally billing customers without their consent.
Hampton Direct (aka Product Trend)
Who they are:
CEO Steve Heroux founded the company in 1995 in East Hampton, Connecticut after being inspired working for Sheffield Pharmaceuticals, inventors of the first toothpaste.
Other Hot Products:
3-Way Poncho: Pitched by Suzanne Somers, this reversible poncho has consumers divided. Some say “it's long enough, very comfortable, soft, cool, breathable and doesn't wrinkle” while others say just the opposite.
“Suzanne should really be ashamed of herself and when a celebrity endorses or creates a product, states that they actually wear or use it, then the product really should be of higher quality than this flimsy, wrinkled, damaged cheap ‘poncho’. It's not even a poncho and you can't wear it three ways,” remarked Melanie from Maine.
Swifty Sharp: This battery powered knife sharpener gets rather sharp criticism from our readers. “Swifty Sharp is an unadulterated piece of elephant dung. It fails to sharpen even the cheapest knife, let alone the more expensive ones,” said Billy Pundit of Milwaukee, WI.
“Dulled & nicked my knives. Didn't want scissors, they came anyway & they won't even cut paper without tearing. Received high-pressure phone call for ‘free’ coupons before ‘sharpener’ arrived,” said Rhea from Pocatello, Idaho.
The BBB states that Hampton Direct “has a pattern concerning advertising, sales, and customer service issues”.
Well, there you have it – a peek behind the curtain at some of the biggest names in “As Seen On TV”. Did we miss anyone? Let us know what you think below!