The Pitch: "The fastest, easiest and safest way to remove wrinkles"
April 2009. The Steam Buddy is a handheld steamer that promises to remove wrinkles easily from a variety of fabrics. You fill it with water, wait a few minutes for it to heat up and press a button to emit steam. The official website recommends that the wrinkled garment be hung on a hanger so that the Steam Buddy can be moved along the surface of the fabric.
However, the Steam Buddy receives poor reviews from professional reviewers and consumers alike for both performance and the quality of customer service. The Steam Buddy does a mediocre job on light fabrics, such as silk and sheer linen, but can't remove wrinkles from heavier fabrics like cotton. Some users say the Steam Buddy can damage fabric, leaving behind watermarks and mineral deposits, and can leak hot water. Some owners notice a smell of burning plastic. Most reviewers conclude that the Steam Buddy is not a good alternative to ironing.
Several users posting to consumer-review websites complain about the quality of customer service when ordering the Steam Buddy online, particularly about shipping and handling charges that increase the cost dramatically. The Steam Buddy includes a "free" creaser accessory that costs about $10 to ship. Most people end up with total charges of about $40 or more. The Steam Buddy website requires that you provide your credit card information before shipping charges are added in, and some users who decide not to place an order after reviewing the shipping costs have complained about being charged for a product they never actually purchased. Calls to customer service will not cancel the shipment, and if you return the product, you must pay additional shipping charges. Other complaints include being charged twice and receiving two products and being charged for an unordered extended warranty.
The Steam Buddy has been featured in many local television news broadcasts, in which a reporter tries the product or asks someone else to. There are many owner reviews on Amazon.com. There are also reports on consumer complaint websites, such as RipOffReport.com and ComplaintsBoard.com.
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1. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
Consumer editor Yvonne Zanos of KDKA in Pittsburgh tests the Steam Buddy with the help of Laura Scott, who sells clothing made of hemp. The first unit they try, which was ordered online, does not work at all. It heats up a little, but it does not produce any steam. Zanos then purchases another Steam Buddy at a local store. This unit does work, producing bursts of steam. Scott finds that the Steam Buddy does not remove wrinkles from a shirt very well. She says it is "a little labor intensive," more so than ironing. Scott then tries the Steam Buddy on a silk dress, and she finds that it is easier to move on silk. Scott concludes that she would not use the Steam Buddy. Zanos states that ironing is much easier.
Review: Does It Really Do That: Steam Buddy, Yvonne Zanos, March 30, 2009
2. WNDU (South Bend, Ind.)
Reporter Terry McFadden tries the Steam Buddy garment steamer on a wool coat, linen slacks and a silk tie. The Steam Buddy removes a winkle from the wool coat, but it is not effective on the linen slacks. Meanwhile, the Steam Buddy leaks water on the tie. McFadden states that the Steam Buddy "might be a good thing to take in your suitcase, say if you have a cotton shirt." But he says that he wouldn't use Steam Buddy on expensive fabric because of the potential for water damage.
Review: As Seen on TV -- Steam Buddy, Terry McFadden, Nov. 10, 2008
3. WVEC (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Reporter Sandra Parker brings a Steam Buddy to Roberta Lopez, who does not like to iron. Lopez attempts to steam a linen shirt on the hanger, and when that doesn't work, she moves the shirt to an ironing board and seems pleased with the results. She also tries the Steam Buddy on a child's dress, and states, "Now that I am doing this correctly, I think it is easier than ironing." Lopez concludes that she would choose to use the Steam Buddy over an iron, though she mentions that the water must be refilled several times and that her thumb started to hurt from pushing down on the steam release button.
Review: Does It Work: Steam Buddy, Sandra Parker, Sept. 23, 2008
4. KLRT (Little Rock, Ark.)
On this television news show, reporter Kevin Kelly has radio broadcaster Lisa Fisher try the Steam Buddy on two shirts to see if it works as advertised. On the first shirt, Fisher finds that the Steam Buddy does not remove wrinkles as well as a dry cleaner would. On the second shirt, Fisher tries to steam a sleeve with the included crease attachment, but she gives up quickly. Fisher concludes that the Steam Buddy is a dud.
Review: Deal or Dud: Steam Buddy, Kevin Kelly, August 1, 2008
5. KIDK (Idaho Falls, Id.)
In this hands-on Steam Buddy review, reporter Tommy Noel has mother-of-two Lorna Hall try the Steam Buddy on a men's dress shirt, a linen skirt and a bedskirt. Hall remarks that the Steam Buddy does a good job on all three materials. The video shows marked improvement in the men's dress shirt. Hall gives the Steam Buddy a very high rating, though she cautions that care is required around the hot steam.
Review: Does it Really Work? -- Steam Buddy, Tommy Noel, July 31, 2008
6. WCTV (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Angela Salerno tries the Steam Buddy on a suit jacket, a cotton shirt, a pair of khakis and curtains. The Steam Buddy does well on the suit jacket, but it does not remove wrinkles from the cotton shirt or curtains. Salerno tries to use the included creaser accessory on the khaki pants, but it does not work either. Salerno concludes that the Steam Buddy cannot match the results achieved with ironing or dry cleaning.
Review: Will it Work? Steam Buddy, Angela Salerno, June 18, 2008
7. KARE (Minneapolis)
Reporter Rena Sarigianopoulos asks her colleague Nancy Ringstead to try the Steam Buddy on a variety of fabrics. The Steam Buddy does not do well on a cotton shirt on a hanger, but it does better on silk and linen garments. The creaser accessory, meanwhile, does not help achieve a strong crease. Ringstead concludes that she would choose to use an iron over the Steam Buddy, but she does say that she would consider purchasing a Steam Buddy.
Review: Does it REALLY work? Steam Buddy, Rena Sarigianopoulos
At Amazon.com, close to 40 contributors give the Steam Buddy negative reviews. Owners agree that the steam emitted is insufficient to remove wrinkles. Many users say steam is inconsistent and the Steam Buddy can leave behind a white residue or mineral marks on clothing. Other owners complain that the Steam Buddy leaks hot water, and a few notice a smell of burning plastic. Several owners get extra shipping charges that are not refundable when they try to return the machine. Also, a couple reviewers note that at the Steam Buddy website, when you close the browser, your purchase is submitted, even if you do not click on the order button.
Review: Steam Buddy, Contributors to Amazon.com
9. Solitary Refinement
At this blog offering "a bachelor's take on life," Nick Ryan reviews the Steam Buddy. He finds that it works "fairly well" on a pair of pants. Before-and-after photographs of the pants are included, revealing that the wrinkles have decreased and the fabric is much smoother. The writer also tries the Steam Buddy on a heavy shirt, but he doesn't see much improvement. In a note added about six months after the initial entry, the writer states that he has gone back to ironing. After this post, several readers share their negative experiences with the Steam Buddy.
Review: First Review of the Steam Buddy, Nick Ryan, June 1, 2008
10. Ripoff Report.com
At this website for consumer complaints, more than 20 people describe their negative experiences with the Steam Buddy. A few people say they have never received their Steam Buddy, even after being charged for it, while others caution they have been charged for orders they never submitted. The "free" creaser attachment incurs an additional shipping charge. One person complains about being charged for two Steam Buddy units -- although only one was ordered -- and then being forced to pay the postage to return the extra one.
Review: Steam Buddy, Contributors to RipoffReport.com
At this website for consumer complaints, about a dozen people complain about the Steam Buddy. There are reports of unauthorized charges, unexpectedly high shipping costs, unhelpful customer service and defective products.
Review: Steam Buddy, Contributors to ComplaintsBoard.com
A handful of reviewers echo the complaints seen elsewhere of Steam Buddy units that do not work and incur high shipping charges.
Review: Steam Buddy Reviews and Ratings, Contributors to InfomericalRatings.com