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Video: Seen on TV: Do they work?

By “Today” consumer correspondent
updated 12/20/2006 4:35:10 PM ET 2006-12-20T21:35:10

We’re back with the latest installment of our as-seen-on-TV trials. If you are like me, you are captivated by those late-night infomercials. You say you won’t buy into them, but they are too enticing. And around the holidays, many of us are tempted to buy those amazing products as stocking stuffers. So I thought it was time to try some of these items and see how well they work.

Most of the products I tried out came in thick plastic packages that are difficult to open, so I decided to try my first infomercial product on an infomercial product. The tool claims it can open safely and easily open packages. I used the OpenX to open the One Touch Can Opener’s package. It opened the it without a problem. For $4.95, this product is a whole lot easier than using your teeth or even some scissors. I’m giving the OpenX an A. (If you’d like more information on this product, check out the manufacturer’s Web site, www.openx.com.)

One Touch Can Opener
Next, I tried the One Touch Can Opener, which sells for $19.95, plus $7.95 for shipping and handling. Since I like to tool around the kitchen, I thought this would be a real time saver. The infomercial says this product will open the cans from the side, eliminating any sharp edges. No struggling with the manual opener … this one works on batteries. You’re supposed to be able to place it on a can, press the button, and it removes the top in seconds. So, I bought cans of different sizes, tuna cans, soup cans, huge tomato cans and gave it a whirl.

Out of the 12 cans I tried to open, four, or a third of them, had tops that didn’t come off completely. The battery also started to poop out by the last can. The infomercial shows the lids without sharp edges — an opened can wouldn’t even burst a balloon. That claim just begged me to try that. One of the cans jagged edges did cause the balloon to burst. Guess it doesn’t work every time! Since the four lids that were left on our cans clearly had sharp edges, I gave One Touch Can Opener a C. The makers of the product told us: “Less than one percent of people who bought the One Touch Can Opener returned it …we’ve tested the one touch hundreds of times and never popped a balloon!”

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If you’re like me and like to buy food in bulk, but need a way to keep it fresh, then this next product may be for you. It claims to help keep your food fresh longer. The manufacturer claims the Eurosealer creates an air-tight seal that locks in freshness, so food lasts longer. I found out from the company that the infomercial model which uses electricity isn’t being sold anymore, I purchased the newer one from a major retailer. This current model uses batteries.  We purchased a battery operated Eurosealer for $7.99.

I tried packing chips in bags and sealing them according to the instructions. I tried sealing the chips eight times and never had any success. The chips sprinkled and, in some cases, poured out of the bag. Since I still wasn’t convinced that the produce didn’t work as advertised, I decided, with some trepidation, to try leftover spaghetti in a bag and sealing it.  The infomercial version shows it as working perfectly. Well, good thing I did it over my sink.  You probably can guess what happened: messy tomato sauce and pasta rushed out of the “sealed” bag.

They said you simply slide Eurosealer along the edge of any bag and it’s sealed airtight.I tried it on a bag of chips. But I didn’t get the seal I was hoping for. It rained chips. What a mess! Of the eight bags we tried none were fully sealed. I gave it an F. The makers of the Eurosealer told us: “We haven’t had many issues from unhappy customers from all the pieces we’ve sold.”

Ever-Green Watering System
Watering a Christmas tree can be a real chore. So when I came across the Ever-green Watering System for $20, I thought this would be a great help to many. I found a New Jersey family willing to see if it worked. Jenny White of Ridgewood, N.J., easily assembled the unit.  She filled the tank with water, elevated it and water easily flowed into her tree stand. The days of crawling under the tree and having ornaments drop on her head … are over. And the best part? The unit is disguised as a present which sits neatly under the tree. It was easy to setup and can be used over and over again. That deserves an A+ for sure. (If you’d like more information on the Ever-Green Watering System, check out the manufacturer’s Web site, www.evergreenseasosn.com.)

Happy Holidays and happy shopping.

Janice Lieberman is the “Today” show’s consumer correspondent. She joined NBC News as a consumer reporter in 1999. She is author of “Tricks of the Trade: A Consumer Survival Guide.” She is a graduate of Rutgers University.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints


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