Photo Credit: Everett Collection
August 9, 2014
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If you’re a marketer, here is a tried-and-tested formula to get the attention of consumers: Tell them the product you’re selling is a “miracle” and use lots of feel-good words like “free,” “for a limited time only” and “technological revolution.” This will guarantee your product will get a lot of attention.
If you’re a consumer, however, believing such marketing is a tried-and-tested path to disappointment. When you hear such smarmy words, there’s a good bet somebody is trying to sell you something that’s not so great. Resist the urge to pull out your credit card when something is advertised to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Here’s six “sure-bet” miracle products on the market that are actually sure to reveal themselves to be duds, should you ever buy them.
1. Amish Fireplaces.
The Amish have long been a source of wonder and admiration from the rest of America. They’re an uncomplicated community, eschewing industrialization and the entrapments of the modern lifestyle. So, a few years back, when the Amish rolled out a fireless fireplace that was declared a technological revolution that would slash home-heating bills, the wonder increased. After all, this “miracle idea”
earned Good Housekeeping
magazine’s lauded Seal of Approval,” so it’s got to be great, right? Not so fast.
In reality, these electric space heaters with glowing faux-hearth fires in wood cabinets are only that—space heaters with moving pictures of fire in a cabinet. They offer no breakthrough in home heating. The only thing a consumer can expect to get out of these $300 cabinets is the warm feeling that they’re buying wooden furniture crafted by the Amish, because the heating elements are made in China.
Here’s something that should have tipped off consumers from the get-go. The television commercials and national newspaper ads showed pictures of Amish craftsmen at work, which might seem a little off, as the Amish are famous for being camera shy
. But a little research into the ad’s claims could make consumers even more wary. The Amish Fireplaces are marketed as producing an “amazing” 5,119 BTUs of heat, which really isn’t such a wonder when you find that just about any 1,500-watt heater can produce a similar amount of BTUs.
“There is nothing really amazing about that from an engineering standpoint," Fiona Doyle
, an engineering professor at UC-Berkeley told Consumer Affairs. "Whether a space heater costs $40 or $300, 1500 watts cannot magically be converted into more BTU. The maximum amount of heat energy is 1500 watts and it cannot produce more than that."
Consumer Affairs wondered why such a dubious product would get the Good Housekeeping Seal. Good Housekeeping explained:
In order to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluates a product to ensure it meets product claims and confirms that all product promises and directions are accurate. We verify that all information required or recommended on a label is provided. For categories in which there are accepted industry standards, we review the data to ensure the company has followed current performance and safety methods. If a problem about a Seal product is brought to our attention, we investigate it. Products that have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal carry a limited warranty: if the product proves to be defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the item or refund the consumer.
In trying to decipher this word salad, we can only conclude that the consumer magazine hasn’t found anything to indicate that Heat Surge is making false claims about its product or selling a product that is unsafe.