Hidden cost of 'As Seen on TV' products

Late night TV is filled with infomercials for all sorts of dazzling products for the home, but what about the hidden costs?

These "revolutionary products" promise to make life easier all for the low low price of $19.99 or something similar, but many buyers soon end up regretting they ever made the call.

H2O Mop is Hot

One of the hottest infomercial products for 2012 is the H20 Steam Mop.

"The H20 is the world's most amazing floor cleaner. Just add water and the H2O steams away caked on grime," says the TV ad.

Patricia Strobel was captivated, so she tells me she paid $99 for the mop plus the $17 shipping fee.

But after a few uses, it stopped steaming. "I went to use it in April and it wouldn't work," she said.

It was under warranty, so she shipped it back and received another one, for just the $17 shipping fee.

But she says the second one started leaking.

Thane, the manufacturer, says minerals in plain tap water can clog the mop's steaming nozzles, leading to leaks in the water storage tank. It suggests Patricia and others having problem try using distilled water.

But Strobel says returning this one will trigger more shipping fees. She says it's probably not worth it at this point.

Other Products, Other Shipping Fees

It's similar to the complaint Betty Crozier contacted me with a year or so ago.
   
Crozier says she missed the fine print on the shipping charges for the popular Swivel Sweeper.

"I was shocked that they charged me $29.98 for shipping," she said, for a $19 sweeper and a second "free" sweeper.

There's nothing wrong with any of these products, and they do get good reviews from customers.
   
Strobel says next time she wants a gadget shown on TV, she's going to look for it at a local store, where she can easily return it with no shipping fees.  They will often take it back within a year if you have your receipt.

A lot of products sold online and through infomercials are now available in stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart.

That gives you a chance to feel the product for yourself, and return it quickly, with no shipping fees, if you're not satisfied.

As always, don't waste your money.
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