tv shopping is here to stay

September 12th, 2007

I used to watch a lot of tv when I was a kid. One thing that was very common was for stations (cable stations especially) to broadcast tv shopping in the off hours. I recall TV3 did this a lot, they called it "teleshop" I think.

What strikes me is that not only has this home shopping gig not worn out yet, it hasn't even changed at all from the early 90s. And that's a bit unusual, because so many practices have been forced to evolve or become deprecated. But this tv shopping has survived. Why is this? Do they actually sell those products? Hard to believe, isn't it? I've never bought anything. In fact the very "exclusivity" of the products, how you "can't buy them in any store" raises a serious credibility issue with me.

And the funny thing is they still sell the same things! In the 80s/90s there was a well established stereotype, at least in Norway, about vacuum cleaner salesmen who would come to your house and try to demonstrate the product for you. This was a solid reference for jokes and humor programs. A bit I've seen many times is a person answering the door and before the caller has a chance to say what they want you say "no, I don't want a vacuum cleaner" and slam the door.

And yes, in the 90s they sold vacuum cleaners on tv. This is how it would go. First of all, the studio looks like one of those kitchens they used to give away for prizes in game shows. It's clean, it's very big, no dishes or kitchen ware in sight. There are two hosts. One is the product expert, who is going to demonstrate the product. The other is, usually a woman, the person who is going to exclaim amazement at every detail. They start off with a side-by-side comparison of the product on sale with some other "typical" product. So they make a mess on the floor, and the "expert" tells the woman to clean it up . She tries, and, of course, fails. Then the expert uses *his* product and it goes very well. She's very impressed. Then he starts enumerating the virtues of the better vacuum cleaner, to her wide eyed disbelief.

After that's done, he launches into a sales presentation. This is how much it costs, but we're giving everyone the special discount (which is perpetual) and so you will only pay this much. Plus shipping. And we're giving you these bonus items just because we're nice. And if you order within 10 days you'll get a complimentary cheaper-product-also-sold-on-tv. You can't beat that deal.

Then comes the black and white sequence. A woman (a different one) is shown vacuuming and she's holding a hand to her back, which means her back hurts. She's also doing a poor job of cleaning, as she misses spots here and there. This is you. It's shown in black and white to tell you that what you're doing is arcane and obsolete. And silly. Seriously, wisen up and buy this product. And now comes a repeat of the sales pitch again, without any people this time, just filming the vacuum cleaner, all the extensions you can put on it, and the special price. And the bonus gifts. And finally the list of countries and telephone numbers to call.

And if you turn on the tv today in the off hours, you'll see very same thing. The same kind of studio, the same people, the same lines, the same sequence of scenes. It's like archival footage. And they *still* sell vacuum cleaners. Now they've abandoned vacuum cleaners in the traditional sense, so they sell mops and things that clean with steam and what have you, but it's the same thing.

But how much can a vacuum cleaner really do for you? It makes cleaning easier, but it won't make you happy, will it? I like the products that make you a better person. Like pills that give you more energy, and dietary products, and skin care. It only takes a clever person to make a better mop, but it takes a doctor to examine and approve a chemical that's going to be sold to the public. If you're a doctor you can be the star on tv shopping. They bring you out, you get applause and admiration. Then you have to explain how the lotion works and why it's so fantastic. Be careful to inject some pseudo scientific terms to sound like a credible scientist. And you have to wear a white lab coat and a stethoscope, like you just came off duty at work, because who in their right mind would believe a real doctor would come on a program like this?

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3 Responses to "tv shopping is here to stay"

  1. erik says:

    If you’re a doctor you can be the star on tv shopping. They bring you out, you get applause and admiration. Then you have to explain how the lotion works and why it’s so fantastic.

    Sounds like Oprah when she does one of her stupid diet shows.

  2. Nawaf says:

    "I like the products that make you a better person. Like pills that give you more energy"

    sorry to say but most of these things are kinda illegal to sell, let alone through TV :D

  3. Boyo says:

    I once bought a Sobakawa pillow from TellSell. Complete waste of money. In TV show the pillow was huge, but the one that I got was as small as a couch cussion. So I send it back. After a few weeks I still hadn't heard from them, or received my money back, so I gave them a call. They claimed the package didn't arrive. Luckily I had send it with registered mail, so I had proof. Only after I told them that, did they admit that they had indeed received it. But I wouldn't be getting all of my money back, because they would deduct shipping cost. Which only then turned out to be a whopping percentage of the total sum. And as I also had to pay fthe cost for sending the pillow back to them, in the end the money that I finally got back, was barely enough to cover the shipping cost. :(