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Aqua Globes

*Est. $10 for two
Reviewed
March 2011
Aqua Globes

Works to evenly water plants in most soils

Pros
  • Dispenses water evenly
  • Works on most plants
  • Attractive
Cons
  • Tricky to fill
  • Can become clogged if misused
  • Can drain too quickly in some soils
  • Can shatter if dropped
Where to Buy
 

The Aqua Globe is designed to water any kind of potted plant, so you don't have to fret about over-watering or leaving your plants unattended while away (up to two weeks). For the most part, owners say Aqua Globes work pretty well. Most people who put the Aqua Globe to the test find that it dispenses water into their plants as needed, and after just a few weeks, their plants are thriving and the soil is moist.

The most common complaint about the Aqua Globe is that it clogs too easily, but others suggest that following the instructions should alleviate this problem. The opening at the end of the tube is tiny, so it's a bit tricky to fill the Globe with water. Some users who have plants in loose or fast-draining soils find that the Aqua Globe empties too quickly, causing their plants to be over-watered. There are some complaints of the Globes being an eyesore, but others find them an attractive addition to their plants, so it all comes down to personal preference.

Popular Mechanics tests an Aqua Globe on a dying houseplant, and it works as advertised, reviving the plant after a few weeks. Two news stations, KLRT in Little Rock, Ark., and WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., test the Aqua Globe as part of their regular consumer product reports; both are impressed with the results and give it their seal of approval. About.com's guide to herb gardens, Amy Jeanroy, tests the Aqua Globe and finds that it's a good product with some limitations. Customer reviews on Amazon.com, Epinions.com and Target.com are more mixed, with some loving their Aqua Globes and others complaining of clogs, over-watering in certain soils and filling difficulties.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 

Our Sources

1. PopularMechanics.com

Harry Sawyers tests an Aqua Globe on a wilting indoor plant. Within two weeks, the once-dry plant soil was moist to the touch and the plant was revived. However, Sawyers complains that the Aqua Globe is a bit of an eyesore. He also warns users to be sure to clear a path for the Globe's stem before inserting it, or it can easily become clogged with soil.

Review: Aqua Globe Review: Do As Seen on TV Products Work?, Harry Sawyers, Nov. 20, 2008

2. KLRT (Little Rock, Ark.)

KLRT, a Fox affiliate in Little Rock, Ark., tests an Aqua Globe at a local nursery, where owner Chuck Walton says the main reason most plants die is overwatering. The test involves three plants: one isn't watered, one is watered by hand and one is watered with an Aqua Globe. After a month, the ignored plant is dead, the hand-watered one is wilting, and the one watered with the Aqua Globe is healthy and thriving. KLRT deems the Aqua Globe to be a good buy that works as advertised.

Review: Deal or Dud: Aqua Globe, June 18, 2008

3. WTVD (Raleigh-Durham, N.C.)

A reporter for WTVD, an ABC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., tests an Aqua Globe in a potted houseplant and finds that it works as advertised. She warns users to be sure to follow the instructions, and advises consumers to create a tunnel in the soil so that the Globe doesn't clog. For larger plants, Wilson recommends using two Aqua Globes.

Review: Does It Work: Aqua Globe, Diane Wilson, July 30, 2008

4. About.com

About.com's guide to herb gardens, Amy Jeanroy, reviews the Aqua Globe and awards it 3 out of 5 stars. She says the concept "has some merit" and that the product can be useful, but they're not the solution to all your watering needs. She urges caution with the top-heavy design and thin tube which can get clogged easily. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

Review: Aqua Globe, Amy Jeanroy

5. Amazon.com

More than 100 customers review the Aqua Globe on Amazon.com (the Aqua Globes are listed several time on this site), and the reviews are a mixed bag. More than half of the reviewers are very happy with their results, and report that the Aqua Globe does a great job of keeping their plants watered properly. Of the reviewers who are displeased with the Aqua Globe, the most common complaint is that they become clogged with soil too easily. Some also say that the Globes are hard to fill with water, and a few reviewers complain that the Aqua Globe actually overwatered their plants.

Review: Aqua Globes Watering Bulbs 2-pk., Contributors to Amazon.com

6. Epinions.com

About a dozen users review the Aqua Globe on Epinions.com, and while most are happy with the product, they warn that the Globes are tedious to fill and say there's a learning curve to getting them to work properly. Those who don't like the Aqua Globe say it empties the water too quickly in well-draining soil, looks unattractive and breaks easily.

Review: Aqua Globes As Seen On TV 2 Pack, Contributors to Epinions.com

7. Target.com

A handful of owners review Aqua Globes at Target.com, giving the product an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars. Most customers are happy with their purchase, but one notes that the Aqua Globe is top-heavy when filled and must be placed at the correct angle. The same owner says that the topsoil still gets dry sometimes, so she continues to do some manual watering.

Review: Aqua Globes Watering Bulbs 2-pk., Contributors to Target.com

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BeDazzler

*Est. $20
Reviewed
March 2010
BeDazzler

Tricky to use on anything but very thin materials

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Works well on thin fabrics
  • Easier to use than similar GeMagic
Cons
  • Plunger often misaligned with baseplate
  • Hard to get consistent results
  • Can make clothing uncomfortable
  • Not many rhinestones included

The BeDazzler is a tool that resembles a stapler, designed to make it easy to attach rhinestones and other studs to fabric. It's similar to the GeMagic, also advertised in TV infomercials. The BeDazzler has a wheel-shaped base with various settings for affixing studs to fabric. Once you select a design, you place a plastic plunger on the base and a stud or rhinestone at the top of the BeDazzler. The fabric is inserted between the plunger and the base. When depressed, metal spikes on the underside of the stone penetrate the fabric and affix the stone to it. The BeDazzler kit includes an instruction booklet, 15 transfer patterns, 50 clear rhinestones, 50 colored rhinestones and 150 studs.

Reviewers judge the BeDazzler a useful tool if you have enormous patience and can follow directions very exactly, but note that results may be inconsistent. It's hard to apply even pressure, and the plunger and baseplate are often misaligned. For both reasons, the studs and rhinestones often aren't securely attached and have to be pried off and redone.

Results seem to be easier to achieve on thin materials such as paper (for cards and scrapbooks) and thin fabrics like cotton T-shirt blends. Applying studs to jeans and leather is a lot trickier. Even if you succeed in making your design on a piece of clothing, the studs or stones may fall out when the item is washed.

We found the best evaluation of the BeDazzler in a comparison review at the website of Allstar Plastic Industries, a manufacturer of plastic rhinestones. This review is especially useful because it also covers the similar GeMagic stud-setting tool. A brief review at KCBD (Lubbock, Tex.) tests the BeDazzler on four different fabrics. We found useful owner-written reviews at Amazon.com, along with helpful hints and brief evaluations published at Yahoo Answers and RhinestoneGuy.com.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 
Featured StoresStore RatingNotesTotal Price
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$6.99
EtsyEtsy rated 3.87 (23 reviews)23 store reviewsIn Stock. $29.50
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$14.06
 

Our Sources

1. Allstar Plastic Industries

This review compares the BeDazzler with the similar GeMagic, as well as three more expensive tools. No testing is documented, but the differences among the five tools are discussed in detail, with helpful information about sizing replacement studs. Both the BeDazzler and GeMagic are described as "toys" that are poorly made and tricky to use.

Review: Stone and Stud Setter Review, Editors of Allstar Plastic Industries

2. KCBD (Lubbock, TX)

Tests here find that it's difficult to use the BeDazzler to attach studs securely to thick materials like jeans or a leather purse. It works better on a handkerchief and T-shirt -- leaving the reviewer inconclusive about whether or not to recommend it.

Review: The BeDazzler: Does It Work?, Oct. 26, 2006

3. Amazon.com

Only a small minority of owners reviewing the BeDazzler are happy with it. Most of the reviews are angry and very negative, citing prongs that hurt the clothes wearer, having to reset studs with pliers, and flimsy construction. The small number of rhinestones in the kit also comes in for complaint.

Review: The Original BeDazzler Tool, Contributors to Amazon.com

4. Yahoo! Answers

Two users reply to a question in this forum. One says the BeDazzler works but is tricky to use, requiring some practice aligning the tool, finding out how much pressure to use, and handling the tiny rhinestones and studs. She recommends hand-washing items or machine-washing them inside a pillowcase, in case studs fall out.

Review: Is the BeDazzler or GeMagic Easy to Use?, Contributors to Yahoo! Answers, 2006

5. RhinestoneGuy.com

This long, detailed article recommends the BeDazzler as a cheap but useful tool for setting rhinestones on jeans. It also includes a lot of specific information on which sizes and models of rhinestones to use.

Review: Decorating Jeans and Pants, Phil Brandt, Not Dated

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DirectBuy

*Est. $5,000 for three-year membership
Reviewed
February 2011

A costly investment that yields little, if any, savings in most cases.

Pros
  • Might be good for large remodeling projects
  • Some members report significant savings
  • Many locations accredited by Better Business Bureau
Cons
  • Very high upfront fees
  • Extremely aggressive sales pitch
  • Can't see catalog before you sign up
  • Huge number of consumer complaints

According to its website, DirectBuy allows members to purchase merchandise from manufacturers at wholesale prices. DirectBuy's business model boils down to this: In exchange for an upfront buyer's club membership fee of roughly $5,000, you have the opportunity, over the next three years, to save 25 percent or more on a catalog of home-improvement products and furniture.

Users and reviewers are far from impressed with the DirectBuy experience. From the onset, people are turned off by DirectBuy's lack of transparency -- prospective members are not allowed to see what products are available, preventing them from comparing prices. Users say the showroom sales pitch is overly aggressive, and many say they felt cajoled or even bullied by salesmen who issue severe and absurd ultimatums. (A ConsumerReports.org staffer who visits two DirectBuy outlets is told he had to sign up on the spot or never come back.)

We found reams of negative comments at RipoffReport.com, GardenWeb.com and at blogs like BradsBlog.com, in which a brief comment about DirectBuy elicits 600 or so vituperative comments. An interior designer posting on GardenWeb.com says she's had numerous clients who were initially very enthusiastic and hoped to save thousands with their investments. However, every single one of those clients was outraged with DirectBuy "not just because of 'beyond poor' service, but they were upset their $3-$5K could have been used on real, tangible products."

The only positive reviews of DirectBuy we could find were at ConsumerReviews.org, and the 20 posts here are uniformly ecstatic (especially compared to what we found elsewhere online). Since ConsumerReviews.org hides behind a masked domain name (meaning we can't tell who operates it), it's highly suspect. In fact, this site represents the very worst of what's out there when it comes to credibility.

One plus is that many locations have Better Business Bureau accreditation, so it's worth checking with your local BBB before signing on. We scanned the ratings for many DirectBuy locations, and while we generally noticed a good number of official complaints, most appeared to have been resolved.

It is difficult to find any positive feedback on DirectBuy, but ConsumerReports.org allows that it might be a worthwhile investment if you're planning to spend over $20,000 on your remodeling project -- and if you're willing to sign up for the program without knowing what merchandise is being offered.

Our Sources

1. DailyFinance.com

WalletPop.com reports on the complaints by consumers about DirectBuy's nonrefundable membership dues, strange customer service policies like no canceling or returning orders, and the numerous lawsuits against the company. The reporter concludes that while there seem to be substantial numbers of satisfied members, there are also many very unhappy ones.

Review: DirectBuy Complaints Mount, but Company Says Its Big Fee is Worth It, Jorgen Wouters, Oct. 11, 2010

2. ConsumerReports.org

ConsumerReports.org staffer Chris Fichera visits two DirectBuy franchises in New York, enduring an extremely hard sell ("we had to sign up on the spot or never come back") that doesn't allow the opportunity to see what products or manufacturers are included in the program. Due to the lack of transparency, ConsumerReports.org is reluctant to say whether or not members actually save money. Fichera notes that "even if you were to save 25 percent on purchases after joining, you'd need to spend more than $20,000 just to recoup your membership fee." Although ConsumerReports.org remains leery of DirectBuy, they do say the program might be beneficial for someone furnishing an entire home or performing major renovations.

Review: With DirectBuy, It Will Cost You a Lot to Save, Chris Fichera, Sept. 13, 2007

3. RipoffReport.com

At last look, more than 300 consumers have posted complaints here about DirectBuy, and all of them are unusually vitriolic. The consensus is that these companies reap huge up-front charges and fees for a limited amount of savings on the part of the consumer. However, editors report that DirectBuy retained them to conduct an investigation of the RipoffReport.com complaints so that they could improve customer service and resolve the consumer concerns posted. DirectBuy says they have made improvements in their customer service as a result of this investigation.

Review: DirectBuy, Editors of and contributors to RipoffReport.com

4. GardenWeb.com

In this extensive thread, do-it-yourself home remodelers weigh in on DirectBuy. The consensus is that you'll need to spend a lot of money in order for your investment to pay off. Although a few say they saved a significant amount of money, especially on high-end merchandise, the majority of users are largely disappointed. One interior designer says many of her clients invested in DirectBuy and are absolutely frustrated by their experience -- not only is the customer service "poor," but the quality of the items received is "subpar," as well.

Review: Anyone Used Direct Buy?, Contributors to GardenWeb.com

5. BradsBlog.net

This blog post is notable less for its content -- a brief, skeptical blurb about DirectBuy -- than for the appended comments, over 600 at last count, which are almost uniformly negative. Complaints echo those found at other sources: prospective members are not allowed to preview what's available, salespeople are rude and aggressive, and the savings are not worth the cost of membership fees.

Review: Beware DirectBuy, "Brad", Nov. 27, 2005

6. Yelp.com

Over three dozen comments here (for this particular California DirectBuy location) run the gamut from intense complaints to some positive reviews, especially from people who remodeled multiple rooms and hired the store's in-house designer.

Review: DirectBuy -- Mountain View, CA, Contributors to Yelp.com

7. Consumerist.com

A reader reports that when she wanted to visit the DirectBuy showroom, they wouldn't give her a pass unless she provided her husband's name, saying they only offer passes to a married person if both spouses can be present at the meeting.

Review: DirectBuy Won't Let Me In Their Showroom Without My Husband, Meg Marco, Sept. 15, 2010

8. ConsumerReviews.org

Every one of the 20 or so reviews posted on this site is completely ecstatic. However, this website publishes nothing but positive reviews, and it operates under a private domain name -- meaning we can't determine who owns it. There's no information at all about this site. In fact, it represents the very worst of Internet credibility.

Review: DirectBuy.com, Contributors to ConsumerReviews.org

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Dryer balls

*Est $10
Reviewed
February 2010
Dryer balls

Dryer balls soften fabric but won't reduce static cling.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Fluff clothes well
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Don't eliminate static

Dryer balls may look unusual, but the concept behind these spiky spheres isn't as farfetched as it may seem. They're designed to separate clothes as they tumble, and the constant fluffing and air exchange results in a faster drying time. According to manufacturers, dryer balls also eliminate the need for fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Just toss them into your dryer with a load of laundry.

Dryer balls are made by different companies, but all brands essentially look and function the same. We chose to cover several brands -- which may or may not be officially called Dryer Balls -- in order to provide readers with enough reviews to gather a general consensus.

Popular Mechanics writer Harry Sawyers runs National TV Products' Dryer Balls through a lab test and comes away unimpressed. His biggest complaint is the noise they produce as "the hard plastic clanks audibly against the dryer drum." What's more, Sawyers says they don't make appear to make laundry noticeably softer. They do appear to do a decent job of fluffing clothes, but Carolyn Forte, the director of home appliances and cleaning products at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, tells Sawyers that other objects -- such as a clean tennis shoe -- will fluff clothes just as well. The Dryer Balls also fall short when it comes to controlling static electricity, he says, something that dryer sheets are designed to do.

Three news stations -- KOMO in Seattle, KCBD in Texas and WJAC in Pennsylvania -- test Dryer Max Dryer Balls and get mixed results. Tish Johnson, a volunteer for KOMO, gives them a thumbs-up, although she says that her laundry is not nearly as soft as when she uses fabric softener. KCBD editors pit Dryer Max Dryer Balls against a fabric sheet by washing two identical loads of laundry. They find the dryer balls made the towels fluffier and reduced the drying time by 15 percent. Charlene Kulick, a volunteer tester at WJAC, gives Dryer Max balls a thumbs-down after running them through a complete cycle. Kulick says the balls created too much noise in the dryer and she had no idea when to replace them.

In a brief review, Erin Huffstetler, guide to frugal living for About.com, also reviews Dryer Max Dryer Balls, listing their pros and cons -- but not disclosing her testing methods. She says the balls do cut energy costs by reducing drying time and soften clothes without the use of chemicals. Echoing the complaints of other reviewers, Huffstetler cites noise and static cling among the product's drawbacks.

User reviews for The Original Dryer Balls at Amazon.com are pretty evenly spilt down the middle. Some owners love them and say they work as advertised, while others say they're very noisy and fall apart easily -- in as little as a week in one case. A few users actually recommend using a tennis ball instead, saying they're cheaper and work just as well, if not better.

"Amy," a blogger at MakesMomHappy.com, writes a lengthy post -- complete with before-and-after photos of her laundry -- praising Mystic Wonders' Wonder Balls. She says they took "10 minutes off the dryer cycle," and her clothes came out incredibly fluffy. However, she points out that Wonder Balls do not alleviate static cling from her towels and says she'll continue to use a dryer sheet along with the balls.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 
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Good Looking DiscountsGood Looking Discounts has not yet been reviewed0 store reviewsIn Stock. $125.00
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eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$125.00
 

Our Sources

1. PopularMechanics.com

Harry Sawyers tests National TV Products' Dryer Balls to see if they perform as well as the advertisements claim. He is largely unimpressed, saying he notices no difference in his laundry -- aside from a lot of noise while drying clothes -- when using them. He also dislikes the fact that they cannot control static electricity, making them inferior to dryer sheets in his opinion. Sawyers asks Carolyn Forte of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to weigh in, and she says "a clean sneaker" would be just as effective in fluffing clothes.

Review: Do Dryer Balls Work? As Seen on TV Lab Test, Harry Sawyers, Oct. 23, 2009

2. KOMO (Seattle)

In a test for this Seattle news station, volunteer Tish Johnson tries Dryer Max Dryer Balls while drying her sheets. She likes the clean feeling they create, saying, "It feels like if I'd have hung 'em up outside." However, she says the sheets don't come out as soft as they do with dryer sheets. Despite this, she says she'd recommend the product.

Review: Does It Work? Dryer Ball, Connie Thompson, Updated: Aug. 31, 2006

3. KCBD (Lubbock, TX)

Editors compare Dryer Max Dryer Balls to a fabric sheet by washing two identical loads of towels. They come away thoroughly impressed with the Dryer Balls, saying they made the towels fluffier and reduced the drying time by 15 percent.

Review: The Dryer Max Dryer Balls: Does It Work?, Editors of KCBD, Mar. 1, 2006

4. WJAC (Johnstown, Pa.)

Charlene Kulick , a volunteer tester for WJAC, uses Dryer Max Anti-Static Balls on a load of her laundry and comes away unimpressed. Her biggest complaint is that they make too much noise while they are in the dryer. She also doesn't like the fact that the manufacturer doesn't indicate when to replace them.

Review: Try It Thursday Tests Anti-Static Dryer Balls, Editors of WJAC, Updated: Nov. 8, 2007

5. Amazon.com

About 20 users have posted reviews for The Original Dryer Balls, and they earn an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Reviews are mixed: Some users say they really like them, and notice their clothes are fluffier and drying time is shorter. Others are disappointed, complaining that the Dryer Balls make a lot of noise in their machines, and one user says they fell apart after about a week.

Review: Dryer Balls - The Original Dryer Balls, Contributors to Amazon.com

6. About.com

Erin Huffstetler, About.com's guide to frugal living, reviews Dryer Max Dryer Balls but doesn't provide any details about her testing methods. She does recommend them, saying, "Dryer Max Dryer Balls are a great buy for those looking to cut energy costs or move away from chemical fabric softeners." However, she does encounter some drawbacks, including noise, static cling and a tendency to get stuck in clothes. Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.

Review: Dryer Max Dryer Balls: Product Review, Erin Huffstetler

7. MakesMomHappy.com

In this detailed post that includes photos, blogger and mother "Amy" raves about her experience with Mystic Wonders' Wonder Balls. She says they reduced her drying time by 10 minutes, making her clothes especially fluffy. Wonder Balls must still be used with a dryer sheet in order to eliminate static electricity, she adds.

Review: Laundry with No Soap?! It's a Mystic Wonder!, "Amy", May 18, 2009

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Furniture Fix

*Est. $15
Reviewed
July 2011
Furniture Fix

Helps for lightly used items, but isn't a fix for truly saggy sofas

Pros
  • Elevates cushions
  • Can perk up some worn furniture
Cons
  • Panels prone to cracking
  • Multiple sets needed for sofas
  • Problems ordering on website
  • Sharp edges can damage upholstery

Furniture Fix is a set of plastic panels designed to slip under chair and sofa cushions.  Makers claim that these panels will add support to sagging springs and cushions, and even give new life to furniture that otherwise would need replacing.

User reviews provide the bulk of the feedback on Furniture Fix. While a small handful of owners are pleased with Furniture Fix and claim to see a vast improvement in support and height, others aren't so pleased. Even those who are happy with the results note that the slat sets don't include enough panels for a sofa, so the cost is doubled or tripled for larger items. Other owners question the product's durability, reporting that the panels can crack.

The only non-user review we found was from a Washington affiliate station, KEPR, as part of their "Will It Work?" series. In the video, staffers bring out a sagging sofa for the experiment, only to read in the Furniture Fix instructions that at least three sets are required for a sofa. Fortunately, they find a matching sagging loveseat, and after sliding several Furniture Fix panels underneath the cushions they find that the cushion has actually been lifted by two inches. While the results are successful, they conclude that the Furniture Fix doesn't make the loveseat any more comfortable -- and add that you can probably get the same results by sliding a TV tray under the cushions.

Another hiccup is the product's website; customers report overcharging, order doubling, aggressive telemarketing and the impossibility of getting a refund. According to customers, not only is there no order confirmation page on the Furniture Fix website, but the navigation is extremely (some say deliberately) confusing; they say that clicking the button for a free set will actually double or triple a paid order, adding additional shipping and handling charges. Calling customer service to cancel the order does no good; callers are told to call back in a few hours and, when they do, are told that it's too late to cancel because the order has already been shipped.

In the end, Furniture Fix might help bolster sagging cushions in smaller items, but you can probably make your own solution with a piece of plastic or light plywood.

Our Sources

1. KEPR (Pasco, Wash.)

KEPR staffers bring out a sagging sofa to test the Furniture Fix, but find that the instructions say that you need at least three sets for a sofa. They're limited to testing it on a sagging chair instead, with successful results: the chair cushions are lifted by two inches. However, they conclude that, while the Furniture Fix panels do the job, they don't actually make the chair any more comfortable -- and shoving a TV tray under the cushions, they add, would probably have the same results.

Review: Will It Work? The Furniture Fix, Jay Frank, May 25, 2011

2. Amazon.com

Furniture Fix gets only 2 out of 5 stars from about two dozen user reviewers on Amazon.com. The negative posts say that Furniture Fix doesn't hold up and cracks, and that you need to order several sets in order to have enough panels for a sofa. One positive poster says that it does add support to a daybed, although the daybed is not used often and that the plastic wouldn't be sturdy enough for an item that is used frequently.

Review: Furniture Lift & Fix Panels, Contributors to Amazon.com

3. Walmart.com

User reviews skew to the negative on Walmart.com. The only 5-star review states that while the product does fix sagging furniture, it only works well on pieces that are "gently used." Another major complaint is that one set is very small and multiple boxes are needed to line a large couch.

Review: As Seen On TV Furniture Fix Interlocking Panels, Contributors to Walmart.com

4. QVC.com

The majority of user reviews on QVC.com swing in Furniture Fix's favor; many of the 30 owners are pleased with the improvement in their furniture and say the difference is noticeable. However, middle-of-the-road reviews state that while the product works initially, the slats slide and don't stay in place. Also, since the plastic is sharp, there are a few cases where users report damage to their couch's upholstery.

Review: Furniture Fix Set of 12 Adjustable Furniture Savers, Contributors to QVC.com

5. ComplaintsBoard.com

There are a number of complaints here about the Furniture Fix website; customers complain of overcharging and order doubling, of poor customer service and of aggressive telemarketers who won't take no for an answer.

Review: Furniture Fix Forum, Contributors to the ComplaintsBoard.com

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Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow

*Est. $300
Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow

Not much more than an expensive space heater

Pros
  • Attractive fake flames
  • Looks like a fireplace
  • Portable
  • Remote control
Cons
  • No thermostat
  • Often trips circuit breakers
  • Wooden cabinet not top quality
  • Expensive
  • Reports of customer service problems

The Pitch: "The best and easiest way to save money on gas bills"

April 2009. The Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace -- probably better known as the "Amish Heater" in the as-seen-on-TV infomercials -- is a small heater with two power levels (750 watts and 1,500 watts) that uses fake flames (from two light bulbs behind the "logs") to simulate a traditional wood fireplace. The fireplace's wooden cabinet is on wheels, making the unit easy to move. A remote control adjusts power, heat output, even the brightness of the "flames" -- but there's no thermostat to fine-tune temperature.

The heater's advertisements claim that the cabinets for the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace are made by Amish craftsmen -- an aspect that has attracted considerable attention from professional reviewers and consumer advocates. We found quite a few comments online from people who said they'd bought the fireplace or considered buying it "to support the Amish." Although the manufacturer's assertion appears to be generally accurate, some owners express dissatisfaction with the quality of the cabinets nevertheless. (Note that the actual electric heater isn't made by the Amish; only the cabinet.)

The infomercial ads also emphasize that the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace will save you money, but reviewers agree that the electric heater unit (which is made in China) is no better or worse than most electric space heaters, most of which cost far less. Electricity can be an expensive way to heat a house, so the only way to save money with an electric space heater is to turn down the central heating and heat just one room. The price of the Heat Surge is competitive with other electric fireplaces, except that it's much smaller than most. The whole unit is only about 2 feet high and 2.5 feet wide.

The Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace can only be purchased from the manufacturer (online or by phone), so shipping costs for returns can be expensive. We found many complaints from buyers who wanted to return it, either to replace a defective unit or for a refund. There have been hundreds of complaints to Better Business Bureaus about the Heat Surge; the company's rating at the Canton, Ohio, BBB is a D+ at the time of this writing.

We found the best review of the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace at Consumer Reports, where both a blog entry and a video discuss their tests and evaluation, including an examination of the manufacturer's ads and claims. A review at KABC (Los Angeles) includes a video interview with a man who bought the Heat Surge, focusing primarily on the company's claims that the fireplace saves owners money.

A review in The New York Times covers several aspects, including a probe into the actual involvement of the Amish in making the wooden cabinet. The Better Business Bureau in the Canton, Ohio, area rates the company's practices, while Good Housekeeping evaluates the heater itself. We found several bloggers discussing the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace; two of the most useful are WalletPop -- for its credible information -- and The Alternative Consumer, which includes over 500 comments, many from buyers of the Heat Surge.

Where To Buy
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Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

Consumer Reports, which tests and rates space heaters in its reports for subscribers, reviews the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace in this article, and editor Bob Markovitch reviews it in a video here. (The blog is free for anyone to view.) Consumer Reports tests the heater for safety and performance as well as evaluating its features, energy-efficiency and value. The video even shows how the fake flames are produced. The print review goes into more detail in evaluating the manufacturers' claims in its ads.

Review: "Amish Heater" Does a Good Job, but Don't Expect any Miracles, Jim Nanni, Feb. 21, 2009

2. KABC (Los Angeles)

Reporter Ric Romero discusses the manufacturer's claims about the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace, particularly about its performance as a heater and that Amish craftsmen make the cabinets. Romero interviews a disgruntled customer in Southern California, whose electricity bill went from $20 to $125 after he started to use the Heat Surge. The reporter quotes the local electricity provider, Southern Edison, as estimating that it costs about $23 per month for each three-hour period a day that a space heater is run. Romero also reports that the Southland Better Business Bureau has received hundreds of complaints about the Heat Surge electric fireplace about misleading ads and circuit breakers tripping.

Review: Consumer News: Can an 'Amish Heater' Cut Your Bills?, Ric Romero, March 31, 2009

3. The New York Times

This article probes into the question of how involved the Amish really are in making the wooden mantles that surround the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace. An eyewitness -- Ohio state Sen. Bob Gibbs -- reports seeing Amish workers in the Heat Surge workshop, along with non-Amish workers. The article also reports that the Heat Surge heater ads no longer claim that the unit is "an Amish man's miracle idea" or that the heater uses no more electricity than a coffee maker. The Better Business Bureau in the Canton, Ohio, area, where the units are assembled, reports about 240 complaints since the product was launched.

Review: Amish Space Heater: Is That an Oxymoron?, Steven Kurutz, Feb. 11, 2009

4. Better Business Bureau of Canton, Ohio

The Better Business Bureau has raised the rating of Heat Surge from F to D+, citing improved customer service and a decrease in the number of consumer complaints. The report notes that Heat Surge is not a Better Business Bureau "approved" business, but that the company met with the bureau in September 2008 to discuss ways to improve its customer service -- including the refund policies and access to phone support.

Review: Heat Surge, Better Business Bureau

5. Good Housekeeping

The Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace earns the Good Housekeeping Seal, which means it's been tested and approved here. The Good Housekeeping Seal also adds an independent two-year warranty against defects.

Review: Home Heating and Cooling Products, Editors of Good Housekeeping

6. DailyFinance.com

This brief, skeptical review of the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace includes a video of the original as-seen-on-TV piece -- which indeed claims that the heater can heat the home and save money, and that the heater is free. (You just pay for the Amish-made mantle.) Most of the other information in the review comes from Consumer Reports and The New York Times reviews listed above.

Review: Don't Fall for That Amish Heater If You Want to Save Money, Aaron Crowe, Feb 13, 2009

7. The Alternative Consumer

Almost 600 readers add comments to this skeptical review. The original review isn't based on personal experience with the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow electric fireplace, but questions the infomercial ad's claims. The unnamed reviewer notes that all 1,500-watt heaters produce the same number of BTUs, and that natural gas produces those BTUs at much lower cost. Reducing heating costs by using a space heater also depends on users' lowering the heat in unused rooms. Some user comments are positive, praising the attractive and relaxing fireplace effect, but one reader reports that a spokesperson for Heat Surge admitted that some positive online comments have been planted. Many of the comments here are quite negative. One reader complains about the high cost of returning the heater (even during the 30-day money-back guarantee period). The quality of the cabinet's wood, finish and craftsmanship earn criticism from several buyers.

Review: Heat Surge Fireplace: What's Up with That?, Editor of and contributors to AlternativeConsumer.com

Hercules Hook

Works fine in drywall, but holds less weight than advertised

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Works well in drywall
  • Can insert with one hand
Cons
  • Holes are bigger than pin-sized
  • Holds less weight than advertised
  • Doesn't work on wood or plaster
  • Requires sufficient hollow space behind wall
  • User complaints about online and phone sales

The Pitch: "Holds up to 150 pounds and only leaves a pin-sized hole!"

April 2009. The Hercules Hook promises to hold heavy pictures, mirrors and even cabinets on walls. The J-shaped metal hook can be pushed into drywall without using tools or first drilling a pilot hole, and once inserted is designed to brace itself against the back of the wallboard. Although ads claim that one hook can hold up to 150 pounds, reviewers who test the Hercules Hook say even 80 pounds is too much -- even when two hooks are used together. Users also note that the hole created by the hook is a lot bigger than a pin (more like that of an ordinary finishing nail).

Within its limits, however, most users find the Hercules Hook effective and easy to use. The hooks don't work in plaster or wood, and you have to avoid the studs when inserting the hooks. In addition, the wall must have sufficient hollow space behind the drywall to allow the bent wire to turn and anchor properly. Even insulation can interfere with the Hercules Hook.

Users recommend buying the Hercules Hook from a retail store rather than online or by phone through the company. We found a lot of complaints about online sales, particularly outrageous shipping charges and unexpected credit card charges. Some users say they felt tricked into signing up for automatic monthly shipments of Hercules Hooks, and that it's very difficult to stop this once it's activated. Although a free laser level is included as an incentive to buy the hooks online, most users say the laser isn't properly aligned and isn't functional.

 We found the largest number of user-written reviews and ratings of the Hercules Hook at Amazon.com, followed by InfomercialRatings.com. These comments cover the pros and cons very well. An ingenious test of the weight limits at YouTube is also very helpful, while a blogger at The Court Jester criticizes the security provided by one of the websites selling the Hercules Hook.

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Our Sources

1. Amazon.com

More than 70 users review the Hercules Hook here, giving it an average rating of four stars out of a possible five. Users don't take the 150-pound rating seriously, and note that the hole created by the hook is bigger than a pin hole. However, most say it works well as long as the wall is drywall and has plenty of hollow space behind it. Even fiberglass insulation on an outer wall can keep the hook from turning to stabilize.

Review: Hercules Wall Hooks with Laser Marker, Contributors to Amazon.com

2. InfomercialRatings.com

About 40 users give the Hercules Hook a reasonably positive average rating of four stars out of a possible five. Some praise it as effective and easy to use, while others complain that it's hard to push in, makes a bigger hole than the ads claim and doesn't work on their walls. Even a drywall wall has to have enough hollow space behind it; insulation can prevent the hook from inserting properly. Readers leaving comments suggest not buying online because of unreasonable shipping charges.

Review: Hercules Hook Reviews, Contributors to InfomercialRatings.com

3. YouTube.com

This ingenious video review involves hanging a platform from two Hercules Hooks, then gently loading the author's children onto it. It holds the two youngest and lightest children, but not the third child, who weighs 83 pounds. The father notes that the hooks go in easily, and even when they pulled out due to excess weight, the wall wasn't damaged. He estimated that each hook can hold up to 40 pounds.

Review: Hanging My Kids From The Wall Using Hercules Hooks, M. Sakowski, Jan. 11, 2009

4. ToolMonger.com

Instead of testing the Hercules Hook, Toolmonger blogger Chuck Cage asks readers about their experiences with the device. Quite a few say they've used it successfully to hold framed pictures and items as heavy as 60 pounds. However, several users speculate that even if the Hercules Hook could hold 150 pounds -- which it doesn't appear capable of doing -- the drywall itself probably couldn't support so much weight. Other readers warn against ordering online, saying they were misled into signing up for automatic, recurring shipments of the Hercules Hook; a few others say the site isn't secure. They suggest buying the hooks at a local store instead.

Review: Wacky: The Hercules Hook, Chuck Cage, April 15, 2009

5. AsSeenOnTVReviews.net

Only a handful of users review the Hercules Hook here. Most praise it as easy to use, but some note that it doesn't work if the wall isn't hollow. Several users say the free laser level offered by the TV ad is junk.

Review: Hercules Hook, Contributors to As-Seen-On-TV-Reviews.net

6. The Court Jester

This brief review charges that one of the websites selling the Hercules Hook, HerculesHook.com, isn't encrypted (despite claims to the contrary). Readers add their own complaints about the HerculesHook.com site, saying the company doesn't reveal how much the credit-card charge will be, and that it's very difficult to stop the automatic shipments (and charges) once they're activated.

Review: Fraudulent Security Claims on 'Hercules Hook' Website Could Affect Consumer Confidence Online, Ben Lucier and Heather Williams, Oct. 15, 2006

See All Infomercial Products

Magic Mesh

*Est. $20
Reviewed
November 2011
Magic Mesh

An unreliable alternative to a screen door that works for some, but not for most.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Flimsy material
  • Looks unattractive
  • Lots of gapping
  • Doesn't always close
Where to Buy
 

Magic Mesh is advertised as a simple and affordable alternative to installing a screen door. The mesh curtain is designed to be hung over a doorway using reusable adhesive tabs or thumbtacks; a series of magnetic closures are supposed to keep Magic Mesh in place. The manufacturer claims it's a great way to let fresh air in and keep bugs out, allowing people and pets to go in and out as they please.

When tested, however, Magic Mesh comes up short. Although easy enough to install, many users say it is flimsy and looks unattractive. The magnet closures work better for some than others, but several owners complain that the material tears easily and that the adhesive tabs aren't strong enough to hold Magic Mesh in place. Another common complaint is that Magic Mesh does not provide a tight seal, as there is gapping between the magnets and along the bottom, so bugs can still fly in.

A reporter for WXIA in Acworth, Ga., tests Magic Mesh and says the magnets don't always close; the material also tears easily, she notes. Tests conducted by WGRZ in Buffalo, N.Y., and WGHP in Greensboro, N.C. produce similar results. Reviewers on Amazon.com are mostly unhappy with the product, complaining that the material is flimsy and the magnets aren't strong enough, though a few are happy enough with Magic Mesh since it's cheaper than putting in a screen door.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
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Our Sources

1. WXIA (Acworth, Ga.)

Reporter Karyn Greer brings the Magic Mesh to a viewer's home to try it out. They say it's easy to hang up, but note that the magnetic closures don't do a very good job of keeping Magic Mesh closed. They also notice some of the mesh coming apart after only one test. They ultimately give Magic Mesh one thumb up and one thumb down, saying that it's "hit or miss."

Review: Try It Review: Magic Mesh screen door, Karyn Greer, Aug. 24, 2011

2. WGHP (Greensboro, NC)

Melissa Painter tries out Magic Mesh at a viewer's home. They say the screen is easy to hang up, but they also think it looks unappealing. After several passes in and out of the house, Magic Mesh only closes behind them about half of the time. They deem it a "dud" for being unreliable.

Review: Deal or Dud: Magic Mesh, Melissa Painter, Jan. 6, 2012

3. WGRZ (Buffalo, N.Y.)

Mary Friona tries out Magic Mesh at her own home and is able to hang it up easily, though she thinks it looks unattractive. It closes behind her each time she walks through it, as well as when her three dogs run through it -- but after a week, the screen is failing. Friona also notes that it doesn't completely seal off the doorway, and bugs could get into her home.

Review: Product Test: Magic Mesh Screen, Mary Friona, Sept. 7, 2011

4. Amazon.com

More than 175 customers review Magic Mesh on Amazon.com, and most are either disappointed or have mixed reactions. Some of the common complaints are that the material is flimsy and tears easily, there is too much gapping between the magnet closures and the magnets are so weak that a strong enough breeze will separate them. A few like Magic Mesh and say that since it is so inexpensive, they don't mind that it's not as strong or effective as a regular screen door.

Review: Magic Mesh Hands-Free Screen Door, Contributors to Amazon.com

See All Infomercial Products

Mister Steamy

*Est. $20
Reviewed
December 2011
Mister Steamy

No more effective than drying your clothes by themselves

Pros
  • May work in small loads
Cons
  • Doesn't remove wrinkles
  • Loud
  • Only works on high heat
  • Tends to deteriorate quickly

Mister Steamy is advertised as an affordable way to get the soft, wrinkle-free laundry results that expensive steam dryers produce. You're supposed to add water to the Mister Steamy dryer ball, toss it into the dryer with your laundry, set on high heat, and your clothes should come out dry and without wrinkles. It also comes with a bottle of freshening liquid that can be added along with the water to help remove odors from fabrics.

Unfortunately, the results users see rarely come close to living up to Mister Steamy's claims. Clothes tend to come out of the dryer just as wrinkled as when they went in, and sometimes even more so. Some users also notice spots on their clothes from where Mister Steamy leaked both water and the freshening liquid. Many testers are also disappointed that Mister Steamy only works on a high heat setting and that it's so loud while rattling around the dryer. A handful of people find that Mister Steamy works on smaller loads of laundry that contain delicate fabrics, but no one recommends using it in large loads with heavy fabrics, like denim.

Several television news stations give Mister Steamy a hands-on test. KFVS in Cape Girardeau, Mo., gives it F for both leaking on the clothes and showing no sign of reducing wrinkles. WVEC in Hampton Roads, Va., also declares that Mister Steamy doesn't work, as everything in the dryer still needs to be ironed. WTXF in Philadelphia is a bit happier, finding fewer wrinkles in a load of laundry dried with Mister Steamy when compared to a load dried on its own. Reviewers on HSN.com are very dissatisfied, citing everything from an abundance of wrinkles, the noise factor, and the high heat issue in their complaints. Reviewers on Amazon.com echo these complaints, though a select few recommend trying Mister Steamy in only small loads of laundry.

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Our Sources

1. KFVS (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)

As part of a regular KFVS "Does it Work Wednesday?" segment, Lauren Keith brings Mister Steamy to the laundromat to try it out. Using both water and the freshening liquid that comes with Mister Steamy, she tests a load of wet and a load of dry clothes. When she checks both loads midway through their cycles, she notices not only spots of water on the clothes, but also from the freshening liquid. After both drying cycles are complete, Lauren still sees some spots and everything is wrinkled, so she needs to re-wash the clothes and iron them once they're done. Ultimately, Mister Steamy gets an F grade.

Review: Mr. Steamy: Does it Work, Lauren Keith, Feb. 8, 2010

2. WVEC (Hampton Roads, Va.)

Sandra Parker asks a local viewer try out Mister Steamy in her home. Using only water, she first uses it in a load containing linen shirts, which come out extremely wrinkled. Wondering if the fabric is the problem, she tries Mister Steamy in another load containing cotton-based clothing, but they also come out wrinkled and will need to be ironed before they can be worn. When asked if Mister Steamy works, she says no.

Review: Does it Work? Mister Steamy, Sandra Parker, July 12, 2010

3. WTXF (Philadelphia)

Michelle Buckman tries out Mister Steamy in a side-by-side test. She puts one load of wet laundry in the dryer without Mister Steamy, then puts another load in with it, using only water when filling. When comparing both finished loads next to each other, she does see less wrinkles in the load that had Mister Steamy in it, though it isn't completely without wrinkles. She calls Mister Steamy a deal since it could eliminate the need to iron basic items, like jeans and t-shirts.

Review: Deal Or Dud: Mister Steamy, Michelle Buckman, Not Dated

4. HSN.com

About 150 customers review Mister Steamy on HSN.com, and the majority of them are dissatisfied. Many complain that they see no reduction in wrinkles when using Mister Steamy, though a small percentage find that it works for smaller items, just not sheets or heavy fabrics. Several also don't like that Mister Steamy is only meant to be used on high heat, since they don't dry their clothes on that setting. Other complaints include how loud Mister Steamy is as it's bounced around the dryer and how quickly the sponge inside of it deteriorates.

Review: Mister Steamy Steam Dryer Ball Set, Contributors to HSN.com

5. Amazon.com

Two dozen customers review Mister Steamy on Amazon.com, and more than half of them give it the lowest possible rating. Most reviewers found their clothes to be no less wrinkled after drying them with Mister Steamy, and some even say their clothes were more wrinkled and damper than they would have been if dried on their own. Several find that it works in small loads with just a few items that need to be de-wrinkled. The many unhappy customers also comment on how loud Mister Steamy is in the dryer and how quickly the interior sponge falls apart.

Review: Allstar Marketing Group MS011112 Mister Steamy Dryer Balls - As Seen On TV, Contributors to Amazon.com

See All Infomercial Products

nuvoH2O

Est. $700 and up
Reviewed
August 2013
nuvoH2O

With an excellent customer-service reputation, 90-day money-back guarantee and high recommendations from actual homeowners, the nuvoH2O is worth a try if you have hard-water issues.

Pros
  • Small and convenient to place
  • Does not produce waste nor require electricity
  • Excellent customer service
  • Lifetime warranty and 90-day money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Few users have trouble installing
  • Rare cases of ineffective use

Performance

The nuvoH2O claims to produce softer water by using citric acid rather than sodium. However, experts in water technology, like Mark Timmons from USWaterSystems.com, say getting softer water from a salt-free system is impossible; the only way to soften water is to use sodium. A salt-free system like nuvoH2O produces conditioned, not softened, water.

While some may question the science, most customers who have nuvoH2O in their homes, such as those who review it on Amazon.com, are happy with the results of the system, saying they see a reduction in hard-water spots and that their water both feels and tastes better. Only a small percentage of users contend they see no improvement.

Ease of use

NuvoH2O claims to remove hard-water buildup in water heaters and plumbing fixtures, and to produce softer water that leaves less residue on dishes and your body. The nuvoH2O uses citric acid rather than salt to condition the water, though, and the various systems can be attached to a water supply by anyone -- no plumber needed. However, a notable number of people find the installation process trickier than promised.

Customer service

Whether or not nuvoH2O owners are satisfied with the performance of their system, they all agree the customer service is excellent. Amazon.com contributors attest that nuvoH2O customer service representatives are quick to respond to emails or phone calls, and only one user (out of nearly 100) reports having trouble receiving their 90-day refund when requested. NuvoH2O even goes so far as to respond to each partially negative Amazon.com review, explaining that they "wanted to comment on your experience with us. We just recently created an Amazon.com account to respond to these types of issues."

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 

Our Sources

1. Amazon.com

Amazon.com contains feedback on the nuvoH2O from just over 90 customers. It scores an average rating of 3.85 stars (out of 5). More than half of the reviewers find the nuvoH2O to work as promised and are more than pleased with the customer service. Others question its effectiveness.

Review: NuvoH2O Home Complete Salt-Free Water Softening System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2013

2. RipoffReport.com

RipoffReport.com allows dissatisfied customers of any product or service to share their experiences. In this case, one such disgruntled consumer submits a long rant against nuvoH2O. He is met by several existing or potential nuvoH2O customers who call into question his evaluation process and specific claims. The Director of Business Development of nuvoH2O attempts to answer his complaints, including explaining in great detail the water-softening process of the nuvoH2O, complete with works cited.

Review: Complaint Review: NuvoH2O, Contributors to RipoffReport.com, As of August 2013

3. USWaterSystems.com

Mark Timmons, who has been working in the water-treatment industry for more than 38 years, addresses water-related questions on USWaterSystems.com, a site that sells water-treatment filters and accessories. When a contributor asks specifically about the nuvoH2O system, Timmons admits he has never used it, but believes the results it promises to be scientifically impossible to achieve.

Review: Saltfree Water Conditioners -- Boom or Bane?, Mark Timmons, Jan. 14, 2011

4. ConsumerReports.org

In the user forums section of ConsumerReports.org, several contributors discuss the pros and cons of different water-softening processes. Within the answers posted by several well-informed users we found useful information regarding the value and effectiveness of different units, including the nuvoH2O. Currently, ConsumerReports.org does not evaluate water softeners.

Review: Discussion: Water Heaters - Salt Free Water Softeners, Contributors to ConsumerReports.org, As of August 2013

See All Infomercial Products

Pro Caulk

*Est. $10
Reviewed
August 2011
Pro Caulk

Works well, but isn't much better than using your fingers

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Works with a variety of sealing compounds
Cons
  • Doesn't work on textured surfaces
  • Made from flimsy material
  • No more effective than using your fingers
Where to Buy
 

Pro Caulk is a simple tool that is advertised as being the solution to messy caulking projects. It's a collection of small, silicone discs that produce different sealing edges when they're run along wet caulk. Simply apply the sealing compound of your choice to tile, select the appropriate Pro Caulk disc and slide it along to get a perfect edge. The tool will collect the excess product, making the clean-up process a lot easier.

Pro Caulk has been tested by many reviewers and customers, and the majority of them say the tool works as advertised. They find the tool simple to use and say that it leaves a smooth finish most of the time, though it depends on the surfaces being worked on. A few users say the material that Pro Caulk discs are made from isn't very strong, and both happy and dissatisfied users note that smoothing caulk with their fingers yields the same results, making them wonder if Pro Caulk is really worth the price.

Several local television news programs give Pro Caulk a hands-on test, including KFVS in Cape Girardeau, Mo., which finds that the tool works well on flat surfaces and gives it an A grade. WMBF in Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C., says that Pro Caulk is no substitute for a caulk gun, but that it's a useful tool for those with little to no experience working with caulk. KLRT in Little Rock, Ark., has trouble getting a smooth finish and declares Pro Caulk to be a dud. A reporter for Popular Mechanics tests the tool and is impressed with how it smoothes both straight lines and corners. Reviewers on Amazon.com are mostly happy with Pro Caulk and how easy it is to use, though a small percentage didn't get the results they wanted and found the tool to be flimsy.

In the end, most seem to find Pro Caulk to be useful, particularly for those new to caulking projects.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

In Stock. Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping

 

Our Sources

1. KFVS (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)

As part of KFVS's regular "Does it Work?" segment, Lauren Keith tests Pro Caulk with a couple of Habitat for Humanity volunteers. They first test it in the furnace room and find that Pro Caulk doesn't leave a smooth finish when used against a textured wall. A second test in the bathroom fares better, as the flat bathtub surface helps to make a smooth caulk line. It does take two swipes with the Pro Caulk to get a nice finish. Overall, they give Pro Caulk a grade of A, saying that it works well when sealing a flat surface.

Review: Pro Caulk: Does it Work?, Lauren Keith, April 29, 2009

2. WMBF (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

In a regular "Does It Work?" segment, WMBF tests Pro Caulk on some countertops with a professional carpenter. They find that it works well to create smooth caulk lines, though it may take a couple of tries to get it right when used in corners. Pro Caulk also successfully collects a lot of the excess caulk, making the clean-up process a lot easier. While the carpenter says it's no substitute for a caulk gun, he does think that Pro Caulk would work for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience working with caulk.

Review: Does It Work: PROCaulk, Editors of KLRT, May 4, 2009

3. KLRT (Little Rock, Ark.)

A KLRT reporter tests Pro Caulk with some flooring experts in one of their "Deal or Dud" reports. They find that the tool doesn't leave a perfectly smooth finish, as it claims to do. They also test the Pro Caulk grouting tool and find that it leaves behind too much messy residue. Saying Pro Caulk isn't the tool to use for a project as complex as caulking, they deem it a dud and say that they get better results just using their fingers to create a smooth finish.

Review: Deal or Dud: Pro Caulk, Editors of KLRT, May 1, 2009

4. PopularMechanics.com

Harry Sawyers tests Pro Caulk while sealing some exterior windows. He says the tool creates a smooth seal in both straight lines and in corners, and that it is far superior to using his fingers to smooth out the caulk. Sawyers says Pro Caulk works as advertised and would be a welcome addition to anyone's toolbox.

Review: Pro Caulk Review: Do As Seen On TV Products Work?, Harry Sawyers, Dec. 17, 2008

5. Amazon.com

About 50 customers review Pro Caulk on Amazon.com, and most are at least satisfied with the product. They find it easy to use and most were able to get smooth caulk lines when using Pro Caulk in their projects, though a select few were unhappy with the results they got. The most common complaint is that the Pro Caulk tool is flimsy, and many customers -- both satisfied and not -- wonder if it's worth the price when they get the same results using their fingers or a plastic spoon to smooth out caulk. The average rating is 3.3 out of 5 stars.

Review: Pro Caulk Complete Caulking Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com

See All Infomercial Products

Sobakawa Cloud Pillow

*Est. $20
Reviewed
September 2011
Sobakawa Cloud Pillow

Good for those craving firm support -- just air it out first

Pros
  • Supportive
  • Reduces neck pain
  • Keeps its shape
Cons
  • Too firm for some
  • Initial chemical smell
  • Doesn't stay cool, as claimed
  • Smaller than standard pillow
Where to Buy
 

If the advertisement for the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow is to be believed, it is the ultimate solution for anyone seeking a more comfortable night's sleep. Rather than feathers, foam or fiber, the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow is filled with millions of "air beads" that conform to the shape of your head and neck. According to the ad, these beads also retain their shape longer than other fillers (giving the pillow a longer life) and help keep users cool in warm weather.

According to the many who have used the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, it does deliver on many of its claims. Those seeking a firm and supportive pillow say the Sobakawa keeps its shape better than other pillows and reduces neck pain. However, others find the pillow too hard for their liking. Both happy and unhappy customers mention a distinct chemical smell, which dissipates over time. Reviewers also agree that there is no cooling factor to the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, and that they get just as warm sleeping on it as they do with any other pillow.

A reporter for TV station KLRT in Little Rock, Ark., tries out the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow and says it's a deal, praising the way it conforms to and supports a sleeper's head. Owners posting reviews on Walmart.com are mostly happy, saying that the pillow is supportive, though a few say the pillow is too small and too hard. Amazon.com customers are more mixed in their reactions; some find the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow comfortable and supportive, while others don't care for the pillow's filling. Customers on both BedBathAndBeyond.com and Target.com who want a firm pillow are generally satisfied with the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, though a select few find it to be too firm. Nearly all owners agree that there is a smell to the pillow at first and that it does not offer a cooling factor.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

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Our Sources

1. KLRT (Little Rock, Ark.)

In one of their "Deal or Dud" news segments, a reporter for KLRT gives the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow to a volunteer to test. She uses it for a 30-minute nap and reports that she finds the pillow comfortable and loves the way it "flows" around her head in a wave-like motion. She does notice an odor to the pillow but says that it doesn't bother her, though it might bother those who sleep with their face in their pillow. Overall, the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow is considered a deal.

Review: Deal or Dud: Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, Chad Garneau, Jan. 6, 2011

2. Walmart.com

More than 50 customers review the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow on Walmart.com. Most are reasonably satisfied, with 70 percent saying they would recommend the product. Those who crave a supportive pillow or suffer from neck pain like the firmness of the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow and how it molds to their head and neck. Some of the dissatisfied customers say that the pillow is too small and too hard for their liking. Nearly all say that the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow isn't cooling, and many mention a chemical smell that is present when first using the pillow.

Review: As Seen on TV Sobakawa Micro-Bead Cloud Pillow, Contributors to Walmart.com

3. Amazon.com

More than 30 customers review the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow on Amazon.com, and their reactions are mixed. Some say the pillow offers better head and neck support than pillows with other fillers, while others complain that the filling makes the pillow feel too hard. It is almost unanimously agreed that the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow does not remain any cooler than other pillows, and that there is a distinct smell to the pillow when it is new, which bothers some more than others.

Review: Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, Contributors to Amazon.com

4. BedBathAndBeyond.com

Of the more than 20 customers who review the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow on BedBathAndBeyond.com, most give it a positive rating. Those looking for the support of a firmer pillow are very happy, saying that the pillow offers ample support and that they sleep comfortably with it. A few customers who mention experiencing neck pain with other pillows say they have less or no pain when using the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow. The select few who are unhappy with the pillow say it's too hard and small. Everyone agrees that it does not remain cool.

Review: Sobakawa Cloud Pillow, Contributors to BedBathAndBeyond.com

5. Target.com

A handful of customers review the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow on Target.com. Most find it comfortable and supportive, though the chemical smell that accompanies the brand-new pillow is a deal breaker for some. A couple of customers also mention that it's smaller than most other pillows, which they do not care for.

Review: Sobakawa Cloud Microbead Pillow, Contributors to Target.com

Twin Draft Guard

Blocks drafts if your door gap is small enough

Pros
  • Easy assembly and installation
  • Can be adjusted to door length
  • Blocks drafts on most doors
Cons
  • Doesn't work on doors with large gaps
  • Doesn't glide smoothly over carpet

The Pitch: "Keep Warm Air In & Winter Air Out"

March 2009. The Twin Draft Guard works wonders in blocking out drafts, but only if you have the right door, reviewers say. The foam tubes are easy to trim to the proper size, and installing the Twin Draft Guard beneath a door is simple. If the space between the door and floor is small enough, and the floor isn't carpeted, the Twin Draft Guard tends to stay in place and successfully blocks drafts from homes.

Users who have larger gaps between their doors and floors find that the Twin Draft Guard doesn't work for them. At best, it doesn't create an airtight seal; at worst it tends to either get stuck under the door, or the door opens right over it. Those who have carpeted floors also find that the Twin Draft Guard gets stuck on the carpeting, rather than gliding smoothly over it like the commercial demonstrates.

Two news stations test out the Twin Draft Guard, and come away with opposite reviews. A reporter at KFVS in Cape Girardeau, Mo., finds that it creates an airtight seal, but a reporter at KIDK in Idaho Falls, Idaho, tests it in a home where the doors are high off the floor, and says the Twin Draft Guard doesn't work. Customer reviews on Amazon.com and AsSeenOnTVGuys.com echo these results; those who have smaller door gaps are very happy with the Twin Draft Guard, while those with larger gaps are unable to remedy their draft problems.

Where To Buy
Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

 (330 reviews)
Buy new: $17.99 $13.49   22 Used & new from $9.31

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EtsyEtsy rated 3.87 (23 reviews)23 store reviewsIn Stock. $14.00
 

Our Sources

1. KFVS12 (Cape Girardeau, MO)

Lauren Keith tests the Twin Draft Guard as a part of KFVS's regular segment, "Does It Work Wednesday?" When first unpacking the box, she worries that it looks a bit flimsy, but after sliding it under a visibly drafty doorway, it blocks out all of the incoming air. After trimming the inner foam tubes to fit, she is left with some excess outer shell material that she wants to disguise. However, she gives the Twin Draft Guard a grade A for creating an airtight seal as advertised. She also shows how the Twin Draft Guard prevents doors from opening over the top of throw rugs and certain mats, suggesting that users make sure to have a rug that stays in place.

Review: Twin Draft Guard: Does it Work?, Lauren Keith, Jan. 29, 2008

2. KIDK (Idaho Falls, Id.)

Tommy Noel puts the Twin Draft Guard to the test with a homeowner who wants to lower his utility bills. He says the Twin Draft Guard is easy to assemble and install, but the gap between his floor and the bottom of the door is too large. When opening and closing the door, the Twin Draft Guard consistently slides out from underneath. It also fails to create an airtight seal. He also tests it on a carpeted area, but it does not glide smoothly as advertised. He concludes that the Twin Draft Guard might work for those with small gaps between door and floor, but it doesn't work on any of the three doors he tries it on.

Review: Does it Work? – Twin Draft Guard, Tommy Noel, Feb. 22, 2008

3. Amazon.com

Over 100 customers review the Twin Draft Guard on Amazon.com, and most of them are satisfied with their results. Most agree that it is easy to assemble and install, and those able to create a tight seal with the Twin Draft Guard are very happy. The most common complaint is that it does not work with all doors, as advertised. Users who have large gaps between their doors and floors find that it doesn't create an airtight seal, has a tendency to get stuck beneath the door, and needs constant readjusting. Those with carpeted floors also warn that the Twin Draft Guard doesn't glide smoothly over carpeting as it's advertised to do.

Review: Twin Draft Guard Brown, Contributors to Amazon.com

4. AsSeenOnTVGuys.com

More than 25 customers review the Twin Draft Guard on AsSeenOnTVGuys.com, and most are very happy with the product. Satisfied users say the product eliminated drafts, and some even notice a decrease in their utility bills over time. However, a couple of reviewers complain that if a door has a large gap beneath it, the Twin Draft Guard will not stay in place.

Review: Twin Draft Guard – Twin Draft Guard Insulating Device Protector Stopper, Contributors to AsSeenOnTVGuys.com

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