Don’t Fall Prey to These Infomercial Sales Tactics

We’ve all seen them on TV. Once relegated to late, late night programming, infomercials are now everywhere and playing at all hours. Some infomercials may initially be disguised as educational or news programs, but the end result is the same.

The companies behind these programs are in the sales business pure and simple. Hawking everything from clothing and jewelry to cookware and knives, this industry has grown exponentially, with projected income of well over $252 billion.

Along with the popularity of this form of advertising, comes a variety of pitfalls related to sales tactics, merchandise quality and delivery. To avoid these issues, consider the following before you buy:

  • Truth in Advertising Should Apply. Don’t believe a marketers that claim to sell “miracle” products with “life-changing” results. Be skeptical of embellished testimonials, “expert” endorsements and unrealistic before-and-after photos.
    • Search for products online to find sellers’ sites and see comparative pricing.
  • Watch out for Aggressive Sales Tactics. It’s typical for “buy now” offers to come with bonus merchandise, but don’t be talked into purchasing excess products or switching to more expensive packages.
  • Buy Now or Lose Out. Think before picking up the phone; some ads claim that “supplies are almost sold out” to sway shoppers into quick purchasing decisions.
  • Don’t Buy This Claim: Don’t believe TV claims or on-hold phone recordings that sellers are “dealing with high call volumes.” This is a common tactic—especially in small call centers.
  • Bait & Switch: Be certain that call center employees process the exact order that you saw on TV and not for an alternate or add-on product.
  • Credit Card Protection. Always pay by credit card and retain receipts to dispute charges in fraud cases. Check financial statements regularly.
  • Know Expected Delivery Time: Be wary if packages don’t show up within 30 days—or by specified shipping dates. Don’t settle if items appear damaged or defective upon arrival.
    • Get a delivery timeline; request purchase confirmations and tracking numbers.
    • Notify sellers immediately if items are disappointing, damaged or do not arrive as anticipated
  • Avoid Subscription Purchases: Watch out for repeat charges associated with affiliate marketing programs or membership subscriptions. Red Flag: Unordered products or unexpected solicitations start arriving in the mail. Sources: BBB North Alabama, bbb.org.

For more information on the infomercial market as well as future trends, go to The US Market for Infomercials Is Projected to Reach US$252.3 Billion by 2015, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. and 5 Biggest Trends in the DRTV Industry.

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.

BBB New Release: Don’t Fall Prey to These Infomercial Sales Tactics