Infomercial products are a $100-billion-a-year business. There are infomercials for exercise equipment, kitchen gadgets, and of course, products you never thought you needed.
Infomercials are designed to pump up the dopamine levels in your brain, according to marketing experts. And that can stimulate your impulse to buy. That's why infomercials have claims and testimonials flying at you, and they say "order in the next three minutes" because your dopamine levels drop in about five to six minutes.
Consumer Reports routinely tests infomercial products like the Ab Circle Pro. Its infomercial says, "The fastest, easiest way to have the flat washboards abs and the sexy ‘V' shape you've always wanted." 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 won't do much. It turns out that the workout is about the same as going on a brisk three-minute walk.
To test the Slap Chop, Consumer Reports chopped nuts, onions, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and even chocolate. But it turns out that the Slap Chop doesn't chop evenly. And the harder vegetables took 20 slaps or more! Ouch!
The infomercial for the Snuggie says, "The Snuggie keeps you totally warm and gives you the freedom to use your hands." Consumer Reports washed the Snuggie 10 times, looking for shrinkage, pilling, and also lint. In 10 washes quite a bit of lint came off the Snuggies! Plus its one-size-fits-all claim hardly stands up.
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.
Consumer Reports did find a couple of infomercial products that did pretty well in tests. For one, the Magic Jack that lets you make and receive calls via the Internet. It plugs into your computer through a USB cable. Not only does it work well, the Magic Jack costs a fraction of what similar services like Skype and Vonage VOIP charge.
Another product that did well in tests is the $10 Ped Egg. It's designed to remove calluses and dead skin from your feet, and overall it worked better than a pumice stone.
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