Have you just seen an INCEDIBLE NEW product on television that you simply cannot WAIT to own? Before you pick up the phone or click ORDER on the website, read this handy guide we call “How To Buy an As Seen On TV” Product!

Rule #1 – Wait at least 10 minutes before buying.

Why is this: “As Seen On TV” commercials are designed to take you on a roller coaster ride and elevate your dopamine levels. According to advertising expert Martin Lindstrom, “dopamine levels drop in 5 or 6 minutes. That's why infomercials ask you to buy in the next 3 minutes.” They also try and trick you into thinking this is a “special limited offer” taking advantage of a psychological condition called FOMO – fear of missing out. (Hint: the “special limited offer” will appear again the next time the commercial runs.)

Rule #2 – Ask yourself “Do I really need this?”

Why is this: These infomercials often prey on “fear, need, greed and sex,” according to Ben Popkin of Consumer Reports. They tend to offer quick solutions for problems, real or imagined.  For example, the Mighty Meatball claims to be a device to let you make stuffed meatballs easier than doing it by hand; but is rolling a meatball around a piece of cheese the “old fashioned” way really a problem?

Rule #3 – Do your research! 

Google the product name and add the word “review”. This should bring up legitimate sites that have evaluated the product or actual consumer experiences; however, some of these could be fake affiliates designed to fool you (and take up search engine space). To learn more, read our article on how to spot a fake affiliate

Good places to start include articles or reviews in major newspapers like the New York Times, Amazon.com, Highya.com (our sister publication) and of course BrightReviews.com! Look for reviews voted “the most helpful” first.

Rule #4 – Shop and compare!

Often, these very same ASTOV products that claim to be giving you a “special offer” are actually sold at a cheaper price on other Big Box retail sites like Target.com, Walgreens, or Amazon. If it is and it’s listed at a cheaper price, order through their website. Often, your product will be shipped quicker, there will be no hidden processing and handling fees, and there’s less of a chance of rude customer service reps if you need to return it. 

Rule #5 – Set up a special email account!

Why is this: Ok, let’s say this product is just SO great and only available on one website. Then we suggest setting up a free email account with Gmail, Yahoo, or whichever you like. This is because almost all of these websites are allowed (thanks to their evil privacy policy) to solicit you with other products or services – they often sell this info to third parties as well. They usually give you a way to “opt-out” of some of these on their privacy policy page, but it may not be enough to stop the flood of spam. Of course, you may want to periodically check this email until what you ordered arrives in the mail, in case of any problem.

Rule #6 – Pay with a pre-paid credit card!

Why this is: There’s two reasons. First, using a credit card that already has a finite amount of money on it will (hopefully) limit the number of these products you buy. Infomercial addiction is a very real problem. ABC News did a story on “infomercial junkie” Marisa Woolsey who bought more than 50 ASOTV products in one year – that’s nearly one a week.

Second, some of these websites sneakily sign you up for automatic re-shipment of their products. Ashlee Thackray recently warned us that a website called TLS Hair even took her credit card info to buy other products. If something does go wrong, it’s easier to cancel this type of card rather then get a whole new checking account. Hint: you could also use Paypal, which keeps your info private and won’t allow unauthorized recurring charges. 

Rule #7 – Buy from the “As Seen On TV” aisle at your local Rite Aid or other chain.

Why this is: This should perhaps be rule number ONE. Here’s a “dirty little secret” you may not know: 90% of sales are done at retail stores, not online or taken by an operator! The really popular ones are always there, often at a lower price than on TV. 

Timothy R. Hawthorne, author of The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing explains why: “Millions of infomercial viewers will see a product on television for $59.95 and won’t buy it. But if they see it at their local Kmart for $49.95, they snap it up.”

So there you have it! 7 simple rules for purchasing anything you see in an infomercial, or for that matter, anywhere!

To sum up:

  • Don’t impulse buy
  • Research their claims
  • Shop and compare
  • Protect your privacy
  • Buy ASOTV products at retail store

Let us know what you think of these tips below.

You may also like: The Science of Infomercials Why You Buy.