Following a trial of two TV Shop products, Consumer NZ is urging potential customers to beware.
The advertising may be convincing, with freebies on offer and glowing customer reviews, but the watchdog’s trial found the TV Shop products undeserving of the hype.
The TV Shop’s iTread is a treadmill for walking or jogging. The product doesn’t have an advertised price, but it is available with a “free” Air Roaster Pro on a “30-day, hassle-free, money-back guarantee”.
“We had to call the TV Shop to determine the price of the product,” said Paul Smith, Consumer’s test manager.
“The iTread costs between $1990 and $3115, depending on where the customer is at in the order or return process and how desperate the TV Shop is to secure the customer’s money.
“This product is problematic. The advertising claims it’s suitable for all ages and mobility levels, and good for the whole family,” said Smith.
“However, the instruction manual clearly states users should be over 18, and the item is not suitable for children and frail elderly people. Hardly suitable for the whole family or all mobility levels.”
The adverts for this product claim it is lightweight and, “at just 5cm thick”, can be stored virtually anywhere.
“We measured the iTread at 9cm deep – almost double the advertised claim. Not so easy to store.
“As for the “lightweight” claim, one of our testers found the item to be too bulky to manoeuvre. Because of its shape, it was impossible to lift and walk with.”
Some of Consumer’s trialists found this item to be outright dangerous.
Among the testers’ feedback: “I wouldn’t wish the iTread on anyone. It’s an injury waiting to happen” and “No way would I buy one.”
“Our testers were of varying age and physical ability, and no-one had a positive experience using the iTread. We do not recommend this product,” said Smith.
“As expected, returning the product was a long and drawn-out process.
“When we told TV Shop we wanted to return the iTread, we were offered a two-week extension to the trial period, a $350 discount if we on-sold the iTread to a friend, the opportunity to keep the Air Roaster Pro for $350, and finally a further $625 off the cost of the iTread if we kept it, ‘to save the return cost’.”
Consumer found the return process to be far from hassle-free.
TV Shop’s Pain Erazor Pro is a small battery-powered device that gives tiny shocks for pain relief.
The advert claims the Pain Erazor Pro stimulates the body’s release of endorphins for fast pain relief. It’s priced at $159.99 on a ‘buy one get one free’ deal.
While some triallists found the device provided short-term pain relief, Consumer doesn’t think it warrants the $160 price tag, even with a freebie thrown in.
“Only one of our testers said they would consider buying a Pain Erazor Pro, but even then, only if it was $10,” said Smith.
“Our team of trialists all had either chronic or acute pain to try the product on. While some experienced short-term relief, others found it made their pain worse.
“Basically, it’s not worth the money.
“Following our experience, we recommend New Zealanders think twice before buying from the TV Shop. Don’t rely on the reviews on its website – based on our findings, we think those reviews are questionable.”
Consumer is pleased to see the Commerce Commission has filed charges against the TV Shop for breaching the Fair Trading Act.
The Commission alleges TV Shop breached the act by misleading consumers about the popularity of goods (including by staff posting positive and omitting negative reviews) and about the remedies available when something went wrong. It also alleges TV Shop misled consumers when it offered “bonus” or “free” goods that were provided with the purchase anyway.
“The Commission's decision to prosecute the TV Shop sends a strong message to retailers that misleading New Zealanders will not be tolerated.”