You may recall my Uncle Al (a.k.a. Red Green) was a carnival barker in Los Angeles until he was eighty-five years old, (see my March 7, 2011 blog, "TALKIN' BASEBALL WITH MY DAD, UNCLE REDGREEN AND THE DUKE." That's why I have always had a place in my heart for spielers, TV pitchmen and supermarket demonstrators.
|THIS SOFT SPOT MUST BE AN INHERITED TRAIT BECAUSE MY SON HAS A DEEP-SEEDED APPRECIATION FOR CONTEMPORARY INFOMERCIAL GIANT, BILLY MAYS.|
|"THE SALESMAN OF THE CENTURY," RON POPIEL (NOW 77) USED SUCH CATCHPHRASES AS, "BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE!" AND "SET IT AND FORGET IT!" TO SELL OVER TWO MILLION VEG-O-MATICS.|
Under the company name RONCO, some of his other popular products were; Chop-O-Matic, Popiel Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, the Inside the Egg Scrambler, the Showtime Rotisserie and Smokeless Ashtray.
Ron Popiel's zany innovations paved the way for competitor products, round the clock infomercials and entire sales oriented cable networks, like QVC.
|WHO WOULDN'T STAND IN LINE TO BUY FAUX, GILDED BUFFALO NICKELS FOR $39.95, FROM A SPOKESPERSON LIKE THIS. I CAN REALLY HEAR MYSELF SAY, "BUT YOU MUST ACT NOW! IF YOU'RE ONE OF THE NEXT TWENTY CALLERS, WE'LL DOUBLE YOUR ORDER."|
I admit that many telemarketing products are exactly what they say but a great many others make exaggerated claims. This fear of getting taken has overwhelmingly kept me away from paid celebrities like Erik Estrada and Alex Trebek hawking schlock, like dishes from the Franklin Mint, the Thigh Master and Liberian currency commemorating September 11th. But just because my cynicism is directed at infomercials it doesn't mean I can't be taken in by
I have plastic bathtubs. They seem to be a magnet for soap scum, mold and the residue from (other people's) hair care products. They're difficult to clean and no cleanser I tried really works. The alternative is being on all fours with a coarse scrub brush. Even worse, in the end, you never feel satisfied with the job and you kill your back, shoulders and knees.
I tried several "As Seen On TV," miracle products that promise effortless cleanliness. In retrospect, there's a reason why these babies are sold in dollar stores. So I was more ticked-off when I was lured in by a respected company's thirty-dollar item, advertised on regular TV.
The cute Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner ad caught me at a weak moment. I literally ran to the supermarket.
When it comes to cleaning, it’s easy to feel like it’s all up to you. But with the Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner, you’ve got a cleaning partner that takes care of the tough stuff for you. Simply touch the button and walk away—the dual sprayer spins 360 degrees to spray a penetrating cleaner on all four walls and tub. The formula prevents tough stains like mold and mildew and helps remove soap scum, allowing you to wait to clean your shower for up to 30 days! A booster button provides even more shower cleaning power when you need it. And now your Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner starter kit comes with a Fresh Clean formula that keeps your bathroom smelling great for up to 24 hours.
I told my usually supportive wife, "Look what I bought." Before I took my Scrubbing Bubbles kit out of the box or said how much I spent she laughed in my face, "Automatic? You believe in magic? How about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?" I could only grin. Then she added, "No? Then you must be on drugs, living in a fantasy world or just plain nuts." I told her, "It's new." She shook her head, "Just mail it back to the Home Shopping Netwok." I said, "No really, its not a gimmick from TV. They said it's going to revolutionize the way tubs are cleaned." She smirked, "They, they said? Duh, okay show me."
After a few days, I saw no improvement. I knew she was going to say, "I told you so," so I readied my comeback, "Let's wait the whole thirty days...in case it needs to build-up momentum."
What an embarrassment. My wife said, "You can wait a year, nothing is going to clean the bathtub other than hard work and elbow grease." I felt so gullible. When the thirty days were up, not only did the filth and mildew remain exactly where it started but the product itself, left a soapy grit that made the tub worse! Then as impossible as it might seem, when the system shut-off after each use, high concentrations of residual cleanser dripped onto our wall fixtures and permanently stained the spigots. Oy vey, now I need another miracle product to remove the splatter from this miracle product.
I brought the whole kit-n-caboodle back to the store with the receipt. The customer service person called the manager. Her unsympathetic boss shrugged and showed me the 800-number to call the company.
The effervescent phone representative tried to insult my intelligence when she said, "It really, really works!" How annoying, that was something Ron Popiel would say. Plus, she sounded like the bubbly, scrubbing bubbles voice-over from the TV commercial. Then she said, "I'll send you a ten-dollar coupon to try it (the craziness) again." When I threatened to send them a bill to eliminate the film their product caused and to shine up my stained, stainless steel bathtub spout, the rep assured me a check for the full purchase price would be over-nighted to me...and was.
Somehow in the back of my mind, I was expected those weasels to send three easy refund payments of $9.99...I'm glad I wasn't right about that. I could only imagine the headache a poor bastard would have trying to run-down his Ginsu, fifty-year guarantee on knives bought in 1977.
When you reflect on how much advertisers pay for a minute of Super-Bowl commercial time, you'll realize that Professor Ericson knew what television was all about.