Infomercial Scams: As seen on TV, baby

The Shipping & Handling Scam, Part I

Posted in Scalp Med, Scam, Shipping & Handling by admin on August 17th, 2007.

The shipping & handling scam is one of the prevalent scams within the infomercial industry.  If you consider how much it actually costs to ship a product, these companies make a bundle by marking up the S&H costs.  And, in a lot of cases, the shipping times are ridiculously slow considering how much is actually being paid to ship it.  Most of the companies that have such horrible S&H fees and services do so in order to lessen the financial loss when a refund is initiated.

Most products that you see on TV infomercials have a “30-day Money Back Guarantee.”  It’s crucial to note that the “money-back guarantee” essentially means that you can get a full-refund of the product cost (less shipping) if you return the product within 30 days (usually of receiving it, but sometimes the “trial” begins when shipped).  That means that whatever you paid for S&H will not be refunded, and furthermore, you’re liable for the expense of shipping your product back.  So in some cases, you’ll be out twice the cost of shipping! 


And not only is the average cost of S&H extraordinary in this industry, but also the average shipping time painfully long.  Take, for example, Scalp Med, a product “regrows your own hair”.  If you order a 2-month supply, the package weighs a pound (2 2-oz bottles of Vitadil, 1 4-oz bottle of Nutrisol, and 1 8-oz bottle of Cortex Enlarger), and costs $18.81 to ship, with an expected delivery time of 3-4 weeks.  They also offer priority shipping for another  $9.95, which cuts the wait to just 10 days or less. 

To put that price tag in perspective, if you went to Amazon and paid $18.81 for S&H on something that weighs about a pound, you would get either overnight delivery, or 2-day delivery.  Scalp Med’s S&H policy is ludicrous, and it indicates to me that they probably get a lot of refund requests, and are trying to minimize how much they have to give back by inflating the cost of S&H. 

Stay tuned for Part II, where I’ll provide a detailed list of the S&H policies of various infomercial companies.  I’ll start with those whose S&H times are slow, and/or fees exorbitant, give examples of balanced S&H policies, and share some of the most exemplary companies out there.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 17th, 2007 at 7:58 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

57 Responses to “The Shipping & Handling Scam, Part I”

  1. Jeff says:

    Last XMas a friend of mine found a GREAT deal. 2 great knife sets for $40! One for her, one for her mom.. perfect gift. She also purchased 1 knife block that was about $40. She put in your order quickly without really reading the screen, with me next to her not really paying attention either. The order goes through and we see her confirmation screen. Her $40 order turned into $120+! They charged her $20 for knife sets, and $40+ for the knife block. We were dumbfounded. Neither one of us even saw it written. So we went back and placed a second order that we did not plan on completing. We noticed one litttttttle spot that mentioned there will be a shipping charge, and gave a link that was the same color as the text surrounding it, and had no underline. So of course we missed it the first time! What sneaky jerks these people are. i am glad you wrote this blog up so others pay more attention.

  2. Bob says:

    Rip offs are all over the place. How many times have you taken an unscheduled lunch break or lied about the price of an item at a store that didn’t have a tag? Come on people. We rip them off and they rip us off. The dumber you are, the more they win.

    • Russ says:

      Bob, your a moron, an idiot, and a jerk. You are part of the problem. “Its okay that they rip me off cause I rip them off” is insane. You should seek medical help. I cant believe how stupid you are, and how willing you are to display your stupidity.

      • yep says:

        Right On Russ

      • Karma says:

        No dude, the moron is you and your whiny liberal buddies Russ and Mike here.

        First off all, usually the infomercials disclose the S/H costs, so if a person hears an exorbitant S/H prices and chooses to buy it anyway, that’s on them. You might think it’s ridiculous, but if a person willingly chooses to do it then more power to them.

        Personally I think it’s ridiculous for a person to spend $100,000 on a Mercedes over a $30,000 car which is pretty much functions the same, and what’s ironic is that no one I know of would say that’s a “scam”, even though it’s basically paying $70 grand more for a Mercedes logo.

        You guys seem to think that whining and acting like effiminate, pissy, idiots is “helping the problem”. Hell no you guys aren’t doing anything about it, the only way to “help” the problem is not to buy from the vendors.

        Bob’s cool, he’s got a positive attitude and has common sense to know that whining is just a way to do nothing and pretend you’re helping, and you guys are just here flinging s-t at him just for not being a whiny b-tch like you. Do everyone a favor and get a life, you libs are so predictable and sad.

        • John Menuis says:

          I don’t know what infomercial you saw but I’ve yet to see one that listed the S&H cost in anything other than letters so damn small that you need a magnifier to read. Wake up. You are dead wrong.

        • Chrus says:

          Karma = Bob. They are so obviously the same dude… If not then Karma wants to blow Bob. These companies never disclose the shipping and handling/processing because it’s more than the actual shipping plus the price the product costs them. That’s why they give you so much “Free” stuff… just pay additional processing and handling… BS

        • JediWoman says:

          In your world, LIBERAL = honest.

          Most of the people posting here would never rip off a clerk. I have NEVER lied to a clerk about a price – bc it is plain WRONG and the fear that the shortfall will come out of her/his paycheck. People who feel entitled to rip people off are why prices are so high.

          Once I got halfway home from Walmart & realized I had been given way too much change. I think the clerk gave me a $10 rather than a $1.00 bill. I turned right back and quietly gave the clerk back that money. If I had kept it, the register would have been short and she would have been blamed. Not OK.

          I am personally sick of the attitude that if you can get away with it, it is all part of the cost of doing business. Like the morons that take advantage of others on ebay. It use to be a decent place to buy hard to find stuff. Now hard to find means priced out of sight – bc of jerks like Bob. We are all in it together. We can either help each other or screw each other. I prefer the first option.

  3. Wideofvision says:

    First to Bob. I don’t lie about prices to clerks and when there is an incorrect price on an item, it’s always been in the stores favor.

    As for shipping and handling: I had a job at a small mail order business while I was in high school many, many years ago. Part of the time I WAS the shipping and handling. At the minimum wage at the time minus the actual cost of the my salary (not even $4 an hour), boxes, packing, and actual shipping costs, the company was making over $50 an hour in pure profit JUST from the shipping charge. This doesn’t even include the mark up for the cheap **** they sold. So even IF every item they sold was returned (minus shipping and handling) they could still make a couple hundred dollars a DAY.

  4. Destiny says:

    I’m amazed at how many scams there are online. I heard on the radio the other day about the Ever Cleanse thing, and was curious, and so I researched it up. So far, there’s no place that it’s selling here in my city, so I don’t want to go ahead and purchase it online.
    Any types of cleanse you recommend that works?

    • Russ says:

      Colon clense is a scam for the weak minded. Ask a REAL doctor and they will tell you the inside of your colon looks like the inside of your mouth, pink fleshy tissue. No **** stuck to the walls. Dont be so easily fooled.

      • Greg says:

        I had a colonoscopy with the invasive camera and Russ is right. It looked a lot like the inside of my mouth, right down to the silver fillings in my anal-teeth.

        “Russ says:
        October 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm
        Bob, your a moron, an idiot, and a jerk. ”

        I think you mean, “you’re a moron”
        Sorry, I had to do it.

  5. VictimfoMidwestCTR says:

    The Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety infomercial claim to send you a free CD and what I got was a whole kit and big bill for $519! I called and ordered thinking I was just getting a free CD and all I had to do was pay for S&H. The person I spoke with was fast talking and mumbling. When I tried to call and cancel they claimed it was past my trial period and told me I couldn’t return it. They are slick and they cover their butt so they never get sued. If this woman in the infomercial, Lucinda Bassett really wanted to help people she would not charge them hundreds of dollars to do so.

    So PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Do not call them for a free CD! This is a big scam they have going on. I don’t want others to get into this mess. I have more stress and anxiety now from them!

    • Dr. Dave says:

      Take it from a real psycho-therapist, never order help products from an ad or infomerical or whatever. Talk to a professional, at least for one session (oh and your insurance will help pay for it), because people are individual, complex creatures and there is no one “end-all-be-all” solution that works for everyone, so you need one that tailored to suit your needs. And, you won’t get ripped off with S&H chages either.

    • erNen says:

      Thank u sooooo much! I wanted to look it up to find the name. Then I saw this scam post and read what you went through. And I am so sorry you had to go through that. That’s disgusting what their doing.

      No wonder after every commercial they pretty much say our public broadcast channel has nothing to do w/ these people and their views.

  6. Andrea says:

    My friend and I bought the same coat, from the same company on the same day. She went with standard shipping, I paid the extra $30 for overnight.

    Well, to make a long story short, I got my coat the same day she got hers! 5 days later!

    They told me that it’s only overnight from when the package ships. Her shipped the same day and mine didn’t ship for 4 days. They refused to refund my money.


  7. gandalf54 says:

    Does anyone know the best paid survey sites to join?

    • JediWoman says:

      Go with the survey sites that are backed by the BBB. It is no guarantee – but at least it is something.

  8. Acai Pills says:

    I’ve so far tried acai berry in juice, pill and sorbet format… yumm!

  9. Bilky Mayes says:

    awsome auger – $28 for the product, $118 for shipping. Scammers. Cancelled the order immediately. They sent a cancellation confirmation email. The order arrived four months later.

    • Rae Autry says:

      I also got scammed by Awesome Auger for their $19.95 auger and drill. I was charged once for the auger, $8.95 for s&h and then another $7.95 s&h for the weed auger although both were packaged together and postage paid on one box. No drill. After three requests for explanation and satisfaction, I was told the drill would have required another $19.95 shipping! I was suckered into paying $41.84 for a tool I could have bought at Home Depot for probably $10.00. And I suppose no recourse.

  10. Reilly says:

    I once ordered a product that claimed it would arrive within less that eght weeks–it took almost THREE AND A HAL months and only because we called the support.

    Alot of the time you are paying for crappy false products that lie to you aswell. Right now theres an add on TV for a gym product thats shows you beforand afters only you can clearly see half of the pictures are tow diffrent people or have been photoshoped.

  11. Tiranga says:

    Nice piece of information. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Robert says:

    Hello Everybody,

    This is Rob, Although I am not a scam victim, I think I have a few things to share with everybody that is looking to buy a TV infomercial product.

    I work at a place where we receive customer order calls for TV infomerical products. A call center. Now during this ordering process the agent is forced to follow whats called “Scripting” that shows up for a product.

    These scriptings are designed to offer you more and more and more products when you call in. Often leaving the customer with to total confusion. These calls are recorded and monitored for quality assurace purposes. And any scripting that appears on the screen and is not read to customers will result in a disciplinary action.

    So keeping ths in mind we do our jobs no matter how confused or frustrated the caller may become.
    Believe me, I come across plenty of callers who just hangup just because we refuse to stop offereing them more stuff when they say all they want is what they called for.

    Is there any way you can get what you call for without having to go thourgh SERIES and SERIES of additional product offerings????

    YES there is!!

    When you call in to place an order, tell this to the agent before he even begins to place your order-


    There you have it! This is magic statement that we wait for from a caller to by pass ALL additional offers that he/she has to go through to complete the order.

    The reason why people feel they get scamed through the infomercial products is because they don’t understand the scripting the agents read. These scripts are very wordy and twisted in most cases it takes a moment to properly understand what it means.

    For those of you who like don’t mind going through these additional offers, my honest suggestion is to “LISTEN” carefully what you are saying “yes” to. Feel free to ask the agent to repeat how many ever times it takes to understand what’s being read to you!

    This is can keep you from getting “Gosh I was scammed” feeling.

    Now as far as the shipping and handling is concerned I do agree that for most infomercial products its overly priced. So I would suggest that go with your GUT feeling. Think about how much a product might weigh( you can call toll free number for infomercial to check this out)

    Check out how this product is coming through.. ups , usps, fed ex etc. Knowing the carrier, go on the carrier website and check out their prices per pound for shipping. And see if the S&H price is justified.

    Well, that was my 2 cents of advice. Hope this helps.


  13. Eddie Foolack says:

    I saw an infomercial last night introducing the Ninja Prep blender. It’s also offered at What an awesome deal, right? WRONG! They offer buy 1 get 1 free but they charge you twice for shipping and handling. I’m sure the product comes in the same box. Even if the product is the best thing since sliced bread, we’re not stupid. $30 for shippnig & handling. No, Thank You. If it’s that good, I’ll wait for the product to hit the retail stores.

  14. Russ says:

    Video professor is another shipping scam. He says its “free” but charges up to 5 times the what the actual shipping cost really is. You can send a disk by media mail for almost nothing, but this scam artist charges #6.95. And blank recordable disks are only a few pennys, do the math.

  15. OldBill says:

    RE: Half-hour infomercials in general…….

    Every time you view an infomercial for anything, no matter how tempting the offer or straightforward the pitch, the FIRST thing you should do is go on the internet, type in the name of their product or website, then put the words “don’t buy” in front of that, or the word “scam” or “rip off” behind that.
    That will usually get you past the first two or three pages of phony websites, constructed to blindside you with glowing comments and testimonials. You will then get to pages like this one, and get a real eyeful of what that $50K production is all about, and eventually learn what virtually all half-hour infomercials are all about.
    Their objective is remarkably simple. They want nothing more nor less than to pry your credit card number away of you, in return for as shoddy little as they can get away with. This gives them license to get into your pocket and steal as much as they can, as fast as they can – before you are put through some very frustrating and time-consuming steps to cut them off.
    And you should also know that, as things stand now, you have almost no hope of recovering what they’ve already taken.

    • JediWoman says:

      Yes, or the other word you can use is HOAX. I also use “Consumer Complaints” which helps to bring up any court action that is helpful. I was able to find some class action suits against one company that had been scamming consumers for ever.

  16. Joe says:

    All products sold on infomercials are a scam. I can’t understand how people can fall so easily for them. The cost of the product is ALWAYS less than 2 x “S&H”. This way they make sure that even if you return the product, they’re still making some money. Don’t call. It’s that simple.

  17. Greg says:

    There’s another scam you have to be careful about. There’s these sexual pleasure devices advertised in the back pages of men’s magazines which you can buy for only $10, S&H is included. Sounds like a great deal… but then you never get the product. They wait a month and send you a return check for your $10 saying that they no longer stock the item… the only problem; the return check is printed on a big pink custom check with the company name (which I can’t even print here because it’s so filthy) printed on it in big bubbly letters and a memo in the ‘memo’ field that says exactly what the check is for. So they know there’s no way you’ll ever go and deposit that $10 check, it’s just too humiliating. You don’t want your banker knowing what kinds of things you put in what kinds of places. It’s a good scam they have going.

    • Matthew McDannald says:

      Haha.that made my day, thank you.I almost dropped my laptop on the floor.Especially funny since you’re serious.I also wonder what kind of pleasure devices a guy would need.Then again maybe its best I didn’t know that-lol

    • JediWoman says:

      MAIL IT TO YOUR BANK. Or deposit it through the ATM. Trust me – no one gives a ****.

  18. Denise says:

    Well most people don’t understand what they are paying cause they don’t listen. They are nasty and just plain miserable people. I take calls for these products and you’d be surprised at the nasty miserable peices of **** that call in and demand and tell you that it’s all free…they’re idiots to begin with. Especially the NY foreign wenches. If you cant listen and comprehend and act civil..we dont’ need yoru happy butt calling.

    • JediWoman says:

      Ha ha ha!! Denise!! Never encountered a “happy butt” – what a visual…

      I know the feeling, though. After working a while as an account rep for a major e-tailer, I know how rude people can be. It is unfortunately part of being in sales. For the most part, customers are really decent people.

      I knew right away what I was in for when people called in upset. Most of the time (not all) they had a point. There were some sales reps whose BS was legendary! Whenever I got a customer complaint, I could bet it was about one of those reps. My way of dealing with irate people was to talk to them like I would want to be talked to if some sales person had pissed me off. 99% of the time, it worked. I tried to remember that to get respect, I had to give it. Most of the time, customers were rude bc someone had set them off. (Not always – some ppl are just plain ignorant).

  19. lynne says:

    This is probably a stupid question, but if I called and asked for the free CD, but didn’t give credit card info, can they still bill me for shipping and handling or anything else??? I unfortunately only found out about the ’scam’ aspect today and had called them 2 days ago.

    • JediWoman says:

      How can they bill you without billing info? If you don’t give them your CC info – who are they going to bill? They need your CC#, your billing/shipping address, etc.

  20. WOOOW says:

    Order Summary:

    Shipping Details : C???? Labs, Inc.
    Order #: 104-7156684-2373???
    Shipping Method: Expedited Shipping
    Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
    Subtotal of Items: $299.99
    Shipping & Handling: $19,998.00
    Total for this Order: $20,297.99

    Delivery estimate: July 14, 2010 – July 20, 2010
    Shipping estimate for these items: July 12, 2010 – July 13, 2010 1 “Cambridge SoundWorks – SoundWorks i765 with SoundBlaster Wireless for iTunes”

    Sold by: C???? Labs, Inc.

  21. portals says:

    If you want to play it safe, simply order nothing from a TV, Radio, or Internet ad. If something isn’t in stores, most likely it is because no reputable store would accept it for liability reasons.

    Case closed!

  22. Jason says:

    I was on amazon, and I was going to buy some Magic the Gathering ( Trading Cards ). I found a great deal: A card for 1 cent, and a booster pack for pennies. I was going to order 10 booster packs and 20 cards. The subtotal was 30 cents. The shipping and handling was 255$!!!! This is really annoying.

    • JediWoman says:

      It was also a mistake. I have bought thousands of dollars of stuff on amazon. They are legitimate. Call customer service and report the error.

      I have never had ANY trouble getting a refund from amazon. NEVER.

  23. Amy says:

    Thats the catch sometimes for shopping online. People see the price and compare it to whatever they may have seen in the store but when the total comes out for shipping it ends up being more but for some reason some infomercial products seem to have this s & h issue of over charging when a fixed price is advertised.

    • JediWoman says:

      You also have to consider what stores you are shopping in. And remember ALWAYS… When a price looks too good to be true – it is usually a scam to hook a gullible person.

  24. not Bob says:

    Ok, so the thing that stumps me, and no, I’m not Bob, is what happened to the “too good to be true” maxim? People, if it is too good to be true, it probably is, even if you get 2!

    and while I’m no fan of the less-that-upfront approach used by the infomercially based retail sales outfits, why should anyone fell not responsible for making a deal that they didn’t bother to read. (Again, too good to be true? that to me say “read the small print”).

    I don’t think that Bob’s a moron, AND I don’t think that Bob is a moron. I think that those of you who get offended by some truth just want a little pity party cuz you didn’t read a contract. I’ll say it once. and I’ll say it in latin. Caveat Emptor. (use your powers of wikipedia if you do not know what it means).—–

    • JediWoman says:

      This IS a scam and here is why. People use the shipping and handling scam to avoid paying taxes or, in the case of amazon or ebay, to avoid paying the reseller its commission.

      EXAMPLE: If I sell my stuff on Amazon (or ebay) – they only take their commission on the PRICE – not on the shipping since no one is supposed to profit on shipping. (Honor system).

      A lot of idiots think they’re being smart by selling their games for a buck but charging $50.00 for shipping. This way they pay no sales tax. Also, ebay or Amazon makes little to nothing in while the seller walks away with the whole ball of wax. Smart? Nope!

      First – paying taxes is the price of living in a civilized world. Ripping off the tax man comes back to bite you in the long run. (A friend of mine was buying her smokes illegally online. Suddenly she got a bill for more than $400 in back taxes). t

      Second – when you rip off amazon or ebay by avoiding seller fees you rip off all the other small vendors. Conservative claim that everyone’s out for themselves.

      Guess what? ebay is making selling less and less profitable for small guys. Ebay used to function on the honor system. Unfortunately, too many people was less than honorable and only cared about making a quick buck.

      By the way – stay away from legal maxims if you don’t know what you are talking about….

  25. Just me says:

    The fact of the matte is the whole “shipping and handling” is a big fat scam. Shipping a product and “handling” your product is simply a cost of doing business just like having an air conditioner in your place of business is, or just as envelopes or rubber bands are a cost of doing business.

    “Shipping and handling” originated in the 17th century and began to be the norm with Sears and Roebuck. Typically, one in the rural areas could literally oreder anything from a notebook to a cast iron stove from sears. What would happen was Sears would put the item(s) on a wagon, carry it to the nearest freight station and put it on a train, and have it delivered to your nearest freight station, where it would be loaded onto a wagon and delivered to your door. Granny was amazed at all the **** she could order from Sears and Roebuck.

    Now all that carrying and shipping actually cost somethinf back then, and there was a lot of labot in all that loading and unloading.

    Nowadays, you just give it to the mailman and no bog deal, it arrives in your mailbox. There is no real “handling” that goes on today.

    “SHIPPING AND HANDLING” was obsolete 100 years ago. But we sheeple keep paying it becuase it’s what we expect.

  26. JOHN says:

    Surely there is an attorney somewhere who would be willing to take on one of these companies on a contingency basis. I can’t see this ever losing if it ever went to court. It is out and out fraud.

  27. vellial says:

    Do not order from automated machines! I never received my Spacebags I researched my tracking # found they shipped it to San Francisco…never again

  28. Kimbev69 says:

    I worked for telebrands in the mid 90’s they filed bankruptcy a yr or so later but i got out prior to that happening. I was a marketing asst and within the price of shipping is actually product cost, s&h, advertising, payroll and any other cost is figured in, static dusters were less than $1 for the 6 pc product made overseas, icicle lights i think $1.50 for 2 sets th $19.95 or $29.95 is pure profit and seeing what the company has becOme is quite disturbing, i trusted the co and tried ordering the pasta steamer and had exactly the same exp everyone else did, i called my old boss shail Prasad and wrote on their facebook page and miraculously the order disappeared

  29. Carla says:

    when they offer a second product free, just pay addtnl processing and handling, it’s ridiculous! it requires 1 or 2extra key strokes, the warehouse pulls items from same bin (2 reaches), MAYBE a larger box, and usually shipping is only nominally more for 2 than 1. You can ask for a breakdown, but what good is that? There should be a consumer protection law passed to regulate this.
    And to Karma (top of forum) you are only perpetuating the negative sexist **** towards women by your feeble attempt at insulting men using derogatory comments that they are being “women”. Wake up! We have Iit hard enough without you spewing your ignorance.

    • JediWoman says:

      The other thing to consider – though – wow! Did shipping costs go up!! I sell here and there on ebay. Not often enough to make any money. More as a way to get rid of stuff I don’t need. I went to ship some things via USPS the other day and I about crapped my pants! ! Wow! Remember the 2 days/2 pounds/2 dollars the PO used to offer? NO LONGER!! That costs almost $15.00 now! I was floored!

  30. Gyvel says:

    Get real, people: The bottom line here is that the items offered on TV infomercials are cheap, junky gimmicks (generally made in China) that usually don’t work well, if at all, and are essentially useless.

    However, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

  31. Mike says:

    When u order something on line or thru a magazine or over the tv, and u do not read it over front to back and then u complain about it later, who is the moron? You whiney people are idiots to begin with. simpering fools.

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