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DRTV products skewered? You make the call

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Consumer Reports reviewed 15 popular DRTV-sold products, and many readers responded with snark. Is it fair?

The New York Times said, "It may come as no surprise that… nearly all are found to be lacking." CBS News: "Consumer Reports says you're better off switching the channel since the products are usually sub-par."

So let's test their claims.

Consumer Reports said of the PedEgg: "It was very good at removing calluses and good with dry skin. It did better overall than a pumice stone." On MagicJack, "Calls connected, and voice quality was clear." The Grease Bullet "did a reasonable job with most residues if the cookware soaked for the recommended half-hour." With the Ab Circle Pro, "The nutrition plan is strict, so most people could lose weight on that alone."

Mighty Putty "took more than 350 pounds of force to break its hold on metal and wood (270 pounds on plastic) and it excelled at filling gaps." A single Hercules Hook "is strong enough to hold 40 pounds or more." A car using Auto Sock "made it uphill many times."

Then, there was one review that I think has to come with a caveat. The popular Snuggie blanket "was so far from snug that many staffers had trouble walking." But is that the point of buying the product? I don't see a ton of people in the spot jogging, roofing or otherwise being ambulatory. It's for lying around the house and makes no claim otherwise. In fact, the point of the Snuggie is that it covers your legs when you're lying down! Why would it be short enough to walk around in? That's what a robe is for.

By my reading of the article, eight out of 15 products had moderate to positive reviews. I would say, with deference to the Newspaper of Record, that's not "nearly all are found to be lacking."

Consumer Reports does an admirable job exposing the flaws of products and services — that's what it's there for. In the end, it's up to the consumer to decide what they want out of a product and make a decision based on this information (unless, of course, the claims are dangerous, illegal, or both.) Can you deal with food sticking to your Slap Chop (and a sore hand) to avoid having to dice with a knife? If so, more power to you.

Certainly many products, regardless of the medium through which they are sold, have been negatively reviewed over the years. Unfortunately, the reaction to this particular exposé simply affirms what's said in Consumer Reports' introduction: "Infomercials are the Rodney Dangerfields of advertising: They've gotten no respect for their quirky hucksters, ceaseless superlatives, and corny product names since at least the early 1960s." Luckily for the industry, infomercials also "can chop marketing costs to as little as one-tenth the size of a traditional advertising campaign" — so they're likely not going anywhere.

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