Ask Andy: Infomercial secrets revealed - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andy Wise

Ask Andy: Infomercial secrets revealed

Alright, raise your hand if you're sick of Billy Mays shouting at you from your TV.

"But wait!  If you act now...", you'll learn some of the real secrets behind some of those wacky infomercials.

I tested product claims once a week for 10 years on a show I created for another Memphis television station.  I've uncovered a lot of secrets about infomercials - a lot of false claims.

I also made a friend in the process:  Justin Leonard.

Leonard is the creator of, a web site based in Phoenix.  He culls through thousands of complaints about infomercial purchases, and he says there are some basic schemes common to virtually every infomercial offer.

SHIPPING AND HANDLING ALMOST ALWAYS EQUALS THE PRICE OF THE PRODUCT. I once profiled a woman in Olive Branch, MS, who bought a Simonix Car Wash Kit for $19.95, plus shipping and handling. The shipping and handling was, you guessed it...$19.95. She basically paid twice the advertised price for the product.

* THE LONGER THE INFOMERCIAL, THE HIGHER THE PRICE.  Leonard tells me the longer it takes to demonstrate a product, the more they'll tack on to the price, no matter how much it costs to manufacture the product. 

"From start to finish, an infomercial must have sufficient profit margins, wide appeal, and must be easy to demonstrate on television," Leonard says.  "Products that sell for $19.95 or less will do better with a shorter infomercial. A product that sells for more than $19.95 will do better with a longer infomercial."

As for why so many infomercial products are offered for $19.95, Leonard says 1.  it sounds better than $20, and 2. the actual production cost can be "pennies on the dollar," maybe three or four dollars to make the $19.95 item.

"FREE" ISN'T FREE. They'll recoup the cost either with the shipping and handling or trick you into some sort of a membership or offer that gets billed to your credit card.

MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE GIMMICK. Justin says the typical 30-day money back clock starts ticking from the MOMENT YOU PLACE THE ORDER, NOT WHEN YOUR ORDER ARRIVES. That means you can knock off two to four weeks right off the top. By that time, your 30 days are up.

For Leonard's complete breakdown of infomercial gimmicks, click here:

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