I have some good news and I have some bad news. First the good news. The number of infomercials on television is decreasing.
Some might say that is great news. But, before you yell hurray, here's the bad news. They are reincarnating as web sites. Changes the whole picture, doesn't it?
For those who've never seen an infomercial, it is a program-length TV commercial touting easy ways to make money in a variety of ways.
Real estate is probably the most often run program. Others include low-interest government loans or grants to start a new business or go to college.
Then there are the old standby classified advertisement sections in newspapers or magazines promising "big money" business opportunities and/or work-at-home schemes. The companies behind these infomercials and print ads claim that by using their products and services, you can learn how to increase your wealth or start a business from the comfort of your home.
These infomercials and advertisements make it very clear you can make the big bucks only by purchasing their books, audio and video tapes, or computer hardware and software. The materials range in price from less than $100 to several thousand dollars.
To clinch the sale, some promoters include a toll-free telephone consulting service with your purchase and offer a money-back guarantee. The fine print in the guarantee is what gets most people.
Web sites promoting these same type of "opportunities" look like an infomercial. Hype, glitz and promises of big money adorn the screen. On the other hand, contact details, other than ordering information, is scant if existent at all.
On television, these infomercials are designed to look, feel, and sound like real TV programs. The FTC says "they often imitate the format of genuine talk shows or investigative consumer news programs."
Because they imitate real programs, "the products being sold often are discussed as part of the program and touted by paid "experts," "moderators," or "reporters", according to the FTC. The programs may last for 30 minutes, interrupted by advertisements for the shows products with ordering information.
As in the offline world, online promoters of wealth-building schemes claim that if you follow their methods, you can make substantial sums of money. The means to easy wealth have shifted from real estate and government auctions to web site sales and development, autoresponder sales, gift clubs and bulk email programs. † The offline world uses the infomercials and advertisements to invite you to attend seminars where you can learn more about their program. You can rest assured the seminar is a slick sales pitch.
The smooth-talking salespeople tout the programs, materials, and services and use testimonials of the people in the back of the room selling the materials to illustrate what easy money you can make. The truth is these people are paid to give testimony. They are on the payroll as salespeople and that's it.
At these seminars the pitch is feverish and it is easy to be lured by promises of success into parting with your money. They are designed to work off the herd mentality. Don't fall for the nonsense.
On the Internet, the herd mentality is engaged through testimonials and a rush to action. You are encouraged every step of the way to BUY NOW! There are only so many days left and this opportunity will be gone forever or some other such nonsense.
The FTC, and everybody else who has studied these programs, gives the following advice:
1.† Be skeptical about "get-rich-quick" advertising claims.
2.† Ask companies for written substantiation for claims in their presentations, especially those about success rates.
3.† Be aware that "experts" who endorse a product often are paid by the advertiser.
4.† Be cautious about "testimonials." They may be paid for and probably owrse, do not reflect the experience of most consumers.
5.† Be wary of purchasing a program if company representatives give you evasive answers or aren't willing to answer your questions at all.
6.† Before you buy, decide whether the price reflects a fair market value.
7.† Be wary of promises of free money or low-interest government loans. As a rule, these are available only in limited circumstances.
8.† Dont be pressured to purchase immediately. Good opportunities are not sold through high pressure tactics.
9.† Before you buy, ask about the companys qualifying requirements and refund policy.
10. Check out the company with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, and state Attorney General's office. They should be able to tell you if any unresolved consumer complaints are on file. † Additional consumer protection resources are available at your local library. Check out materials on personal finance and those geared toward the small business owner.
Your local community college may have a marketing department. Call and ask to speak with one of the professors. Explain the program and ask his/her advice/opinion.
The Small Business Administration and your state and local government have publications and programs for new and potential business owners. Write or call and ask for a list of available publications.
Tap into the Internet. That's right, search engines could turn out to be your best friend. A host of scam busting sites exist and expose scams online and offline.
As always, common sense is your best weapon in the fight against this garbage. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, if you have more than a passing interest, do your homework. Getting too much information is not a crime or a hazard to your wealth.
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Figure comes as rift opens between Northern Ireland Office and MoD over how to deal with historical accusations
As many as 200 former members of the British security forces are under official investigation for alleged criminal actions during the Troubles as a rift opens up between the Northern Ireland Office and the Ministry of Defence over how to deal with historical accusations.
There are at least three prosecutions against British soldiers under way. A former Parachute Regiment lance-corporal, identified only so far as ‚ÄúSoldier F‚ÄĚ, is due to stand trial for murder and attempted murder for his role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings. Altogether, it is understood that between 150 and 200 former soldiers and police are under investigation for alleged actions taken during the Troubles.
President recognises protesters‚Äô demands but vowed to still liberalise the economy
Emmanuel Macron has vowed to make his style of politics more ‚Äúhumane‚ÄĚ, but insisted he would press on with his project to liberalise the French economy and overhaul its welfare state despite five months of demonstrations by gilet jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government protestors.
In his first press conference in two years as president, Macron promised ‚ā¨5bn (¬£4.3bn) worth of cuts to income tax for lower and average earners as well as pension rises for the poorest and vowed no more schools or hospitals would be closed during his presidency, as he responded to protests.
Biden contacted her earlier this month to express his ‚Äúregret for what she endured‚ÄĚ during the hearing, an attempt to reckon with a defining moment from his past that looms over his present bid for the White House.
At least two people reportedly killed in shooting at Qasr bin Ghashir facility near Tripoli
Young refugees held in a detention centre in Libya have described being shot at indiscriminately by militias advancing on Tripoli, in an attack that reportedly left at least two people dead and up to 20 injured.
Phone footage smuggled out of the camp and passed to the Guardian highlights the deepening humanitarian crisis in the centres set up to prevent refugees and migrants from making the sea crossing from the north African coast to Europe.
Court decision blocking fossil fuel activity in swaths of the Arctic complicated administration plans to ramp up fossil fuel extraction
The Trump administration has shelved plans to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the wake of a recent court decision that blocked fossil fuel activity in swaths of the Arctic.
The administration had opened up almost all US waters to companies seeking to drill oil or gas deposits but this expansion has been halted due to a legal setback, according to David Bernhardt, the interior secretary.
Official cites difficulty of identifying victims as reason for revision
Sri Lankan authorities have revised the death toll from Easter Sunday‚Äôs string of bombings down to 253 people from the previous estimate of 359.
The country‚Äôs director general for health services issued the correction on Thursday, citing the difficulty of identifying victims due to the nature of the bombings, some of which took place in closely confined spaces and left some bodies in pieces.
Top watchdog promises to force change following Cambridge Analytica scandal as New York announces new investigation
Facebook broke Canadian privacy laws when it collected the information of some 600,000 citizens, a top watchdog in the country said on Thursday, pledging to seek a court order to force the social media company to change its practices.
US official who was sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the surprise invoice, the Washington Post reports
The United States was handed a $2m bill from North Korea for the hospital care of American Otto Warmbier, who died soon after his release back to the US in a comatose state in 2017, after being detained for 17 months.
Acting on instructions passed down from Donald Trump, the main US official who was sent to North Korea to bring Warmbier back to the US signed an agreement to pay the surprise invoice he was handed by Pyongyang, according to the Washington Post on Thursday, which cited two anonymous sources familiar with the situation.
Fresh details of plot and cast for the 25th James Bond film have been revealed at an official launch at Ian Fleming‚Äôs villa in Jamaica. With the sea in the background, a platter of pears and papaya in front, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson as well as new director Cary Fukunaga told radio presenter Clara Amfo that the new film opens with Bond relaxing in ‚Äúhis spiritual home‚ÄĚ.
A tiny nook for an urn can cost up to ¬£180,000. With 200,000 sets of ashes waiting for a resting place, the city is running out of options
‚ÄúPer square foot, it has become more expensive to house the dead than the living,‚ÄĚ says Kwok Hoi Pong, chairman of the Hong Kong Funeral Business Association. ‚ÄúA niche for an urn in a private columbarium in the best position can cost up to HK$1.8m. This is the phenomenon in Hong Kong.‚ÄĚ
A ground burial plot can cost anywhere between HK$3m (¬£300,000) and HK$5m, but in the city‚Äôs congested cemeteries, vacancies rarely become available. Land is so scarce that 90% of the 48,000 people a year who die in Hong Kong are cremated. But increasingly finding the space even to store ashes is becoming nigh on impossible.
With teenage girls a particular target of street harassment, Farah Benis is on a mission to document incidents and raise awareness
CatcallsofLdn is an Instagram account that raises awareness about street harassment using chalk art. Inspired by and working with @catcallsofnyc, founder Farah Benis collects submissions from the public then chalks them onto the pavement in the place where they happened. The hope is that chalking, documenting and sharing images of the words will help to raise awareness of street harassment and ultimately prevent it.
72% of submissions are from under 17-year-olds, 60% of those were wearing school uniforms and 100% of the perpetrators were adult men
Photographer Zhang Kechun travelled across China to document how urbanisation is reshaping the country‚Äôs natural landscapes. The often dreamlike images of his series Between the Mountains and Water depict tiny figures dwarfed by the immense scale of China‚Äôs economic development
The star of Hannibal, The Hunt and new film Arctic doubts frank conversation is possible in the wake of #MeToo. But is he really also sceptical about climate change?
Dogme 95, the notorious Danish DIY film movement that launched the career of ‚Äď among others ‚Äď Lars Von Trier, has been called a lot of things. ‚ÄúRevolutionary‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúamateur porn‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúshit‚ÄĚ (the last one yelled by the critic Mark Kermode at a Cannes screening of Von Trier‚Äôs The Idiots). With its 10-point manifesto targeting ‚Äúdecadent film-making‚ÄĚ, wobbly-cam aesthetic and tendency towards nudity, violence and cruelty, it has inspired rapture and revulsion in equal measure. Though not everyone, it seems, had such a visceral reaction.
‚ÄúTo be frank, I just thought it was silly,‚ÄĚ says Mads Mikkelsen. ‚ÄúSitting down and writing down 10 commandments of how to approach film-making? ‚ÄėThe story is important‚Äô ‚Äď no shit, Sherlock! Seriously? Do you have to write that down? Was it not important before you wrote it down? All these things were common fucking sense to me.
Conservatives have launched inquiry into alleged racist incidents in local party
Portsmouth‚Äôs major political parties are struggling to contain claims they have racially discriminated against local minority ethnic council candidates.
The Conservatives have launched an inquiry into alleged racist incidents in the local party. A leaked letter shows a former council candidate for the party has claimed he was marginalised, bullied and racially abused.
Khalifa Haftar‚Äôs foreign backers have egged him on ‚Äď and civilians are paying the price
The warlord Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, has never disguised his ambitions. Once one of Muammar Gaddafi‚Äôs generals, he returned from exile in the US when the dictator fell in 2011, attempted to launch a coup three years later, repeatedly declared his intention to take Tripoli and has said that his country may not be ready for democracy.
So the professions of shock from his backers when he mounted his assault on the western capital, held by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord, cannot be treated with great seriousness. The only real surprise about his advance was its timing. By moving while the UN secretary-general was in the country, to discuss arrangements for a UN-organised conference intended to lead to elections, he destroyed muted hopes of a political solution and underscored his already evident contempt for the process. As the prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, complained, the response of many supposed allies was silence.
A hotel room theft, blackmail and a gym brawl are among the accusations thrown in a very public falling out between two athletics greats who were once friends
A sedate Wednesday morning press conference for this weekend‚Äôs London marathon appeared to be over when Mo Farah suddenly raised his hand and began to speak. Clearly Britain‚Äôs four-time Olympic champion had something to get off his chest. ‚ÄúTraining has gone well, and everything else,‚ÄĚ he said, ‚Äúbut there was a slight problem with my hotel in Ethiopia.‚ÄĚ
Charlottesville was a main focus in Joe Biden‚Äôs video announcing his run for president. It‚Äôs the first word he utters on camera, and the video features footage from the right-wing marches that took place in Charlottesville in 2017.
The core values of this nation‚Ä¶ our standing in the world‚Ä¶ our very democracy...everything that has made America -- America --is at stake. That‚Äôs why today I‚Äôm announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. #Joe2020https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
‚ÄúBut I wasn‚Äôt surprised,‚ÄĚ Bro, co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation set up in her daughter‚Äôs memory, told The Daily Beast. ‚ÄúMost people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy. He didn‚Äôt reach out to me, and didn‚Äôt mention her by name specifically, and he probably knew we don‚Äôt endorse candidates.‚ÄĚ
In yet another instance of men telephoning women in performative but ultimately empty gestures, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly called Congresswoman Ilhan Omar regarding a tweet that President Trump broadcasted to his millions of followers that sparked a spike in death threats to the freshman lawmaker.
The Washington Post is reporting that in the phone call, Dorsey ‚Äústood by the company‚Äôs decision‚ÄĚ:
Omar pressed Dorsey to explain why Twitter didn‚Äôt remove Trump‚Äôs tweet outright, according to a person familiar with the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the call was private. Dorsey said that the president‚Äôs tweet didn‚Äôt violate the company‚Äôs rules, a second person from Twitter confirmed.
Dorsey also pointed to the fact that the tweet and video already had been viewed and shared far beyond the site, one of the sources said. But the Twitter executive did tell Omar that the tech giant needed to do a better job generally in removing hate and harassment from the site, according to the two people familiar with the call.
Campaigners react strongly to Brazilian president saying he was opposed to gay tourism
Brazil‚Äôs far-right president, the self-declared homophobe Jair Bolsonaro, has been accused of inciting hatred towards LGBT people after declaring the South American country should not become a ‚Äúgay tourism paradise‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúIf you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,‚ÄĚ Bolsonaro reportedly told journalists in the capital, Bras√≠lia. ‚ÄúBut we can‚Äôt let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can‚Äôt be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families,‚ÄĚ Bolsonaro added, according to the Brazilian magazine Exame.
‚ÄėAbsurd‚Äô that US and its closest allies are not leading players in technology, former PM says
Malcolm Turnbull has revealed that he encouraged Donald Trump to ‚Äútake the lead‚ÄĚ and develop 5G networks in cooperation with allies, including Australia, to hold out ‚Äúferocious competition‚ÄĚ from China and to safeguard networks against cyber-attacks.
In a speech in New York overnight, the former prime minister said that in response to concerns China was stealing a technological march he had urged the US president to ‚Äúensure that we had at least one viable and secure 5G vendor from the United States and/or its Five Eyes partners‚ÄĚ.
Former WA premier Colin Barnett cites businessman‚Äôs ‚Äėappalling‚Äô record while Shorten rebuffs the Greens on climate policy. Follow the day‚Äôs news live
Tony Burke was also asked about Labor‚Äôs very specific, siloed commission of inquiry that only looks a the one water buyback conducted under Barnaby Joyce as minister from Eastern Australia Agriculture.
What we have announced is there is a specific transaction from Barnaby Joyce that is different to anything that Simon Birmingham, David Littleproud, Bob Baldwin, different to anything that any other minister has engaged with. And anything else ‚Ä¶ can be dealt with properly by the Australian national National Audit Office. This one, there was no tender. There [are] arguments about conflict of interest. And it has links all the way back to the Cayman Islands, where there is complete secrecy about who is involved. Everything else you don‚Äôt need coercive powers.
In terms of making sure that we‚Äôve got probity, we will establish a national integrity commission and there will be an ongoing watchdog on probity. In terms of the purchases by Penny that you referred to, they went fully through the National Audit Office, a report in 2011 [and were] given a complete bill of health. If I was arguing that things should apply to every other member of the government who has been involved, then the government‚Äôs characterisation would be fair. The point is no other purchase is like this.
Labor‚Äôs Tony Burke spoke to Virginia Trioli this morning. He also categorically denied Labor was doing any deals with Clive Palmer for how-to-vote cards.
That story [is] entirely wrong ... the concept that someone was commissioned from the union movement to negotiate on behalf of the Labor party is wrong ... I spoke to some people this morning to confirm whether or not it was accurate, and it‚Äôs wrong.
We‚Äôre talking about somebody who ripped off his workers and who ended up costing the taxpayer $70 million. When Bill Shorten said this election would be a referendum on wages, Scott Morrison has just walked straight into that by supporting someone who ripped off workers and then sent the bill to the taxpayer.
Arrests and prosecutions remain thin on the ground despite 62% rise in reports of suspected labour exploitation
More than 7,100 suspected victims of modern slavery were identified across the UK in 2018, with Romanian nationals comprising the largest victim group, according to a national helpline.
Labour exploitation ‚Äď the majority of which was identified in car washes, beauty parlours, construction sites, hotels and on farms ‚Äď accounted for the largest number of suspected modern slavery cases, with London the location for the highest number of suspected victims (1,477), found the helpline‚Äôs second annual assessment, published on Thursday.
In Mozambique, where many people rely on crops to live, Idai‚Äôs impact on two key agricultural areas has been devastating
Marie Jose stares out at her field of broken maize stalks, the cobs yellow and mouldy from days of excessive water followed by weeks of extreme sun. She should have harvested them last month, but Cyclone Idai struck her village in Buzi district, in central Mozambique, and destroyed them all.
She is still dealing with the trauma of losing her grandparents and niece to the tropical storm. ‚ÄúThey couldn‚Äôt hold on in the trees where we were sitting and the wind pushed them into the water,‚ÄĚ she says. Their bodies are still missing.
Toxins from old computers, fridges and other electronic goods are polluting chicken eggs in an area where 80,000 people live
Some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth are entering the food chain in Ghana from illegally disposed electronic waste coming from Europe.
According to a new report by two environmental groups tracking the disposal of e-waste, chicken eggs from the Agbogbloshie slum in Ghana‚Äôs capital, Accra ‚Äď where residents break up waste to recover metals ‚Äď contain dangerous levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among other harmful substances.
Campaigners move to end misconceptions about emergency contraception in country where morning-after pill is outlawed
A pioneering grassroots campaign to legalise emergency contraception is launched in Honduras this week amid ongoing false claims by church leaders, senior doctors and conservative politicians that the medication causes abortions, infertility and cancer.
Honduras is the only country in Latin America where emergency contraception is banned, forcing desperate women, including rape victims, to buy expensive and unregulated contraband pills on the black market.
Well-educated and wealthy, new details emerge about the nine suicide bombers
According to Sri Lanka‚Äôs defence minister, Ruwan Wijewardene, there were nine suicide bombers in total ‚Äď mostly well-educated and from wealthy families. Eight have been identified and one of them was a woman, he said, though Sri Lankan authorities have refused to officially name any of the attackers yet.
Preventing Iran‚Äôs oil from reaching the market will raise oil prices and US business costs
The past two and a bit years have shown that it is naive to expect Donald Trump‚Äôs strategic and economic policies to demonstrate coherence. Even so, the lack of joined-up thinking in the decision to end the waiver against sanctions from nations that buy oil from Iran takes some beating.
Local group National Towheed Jamaat would have needed help to mount such a complex operation
Three days after the bombings of churches and luxury hotels that killed over 300 people in Sri Lanka, Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the atrocity.
The claim was not unexpected. The bombings ‚Äď multiple suicide attacks designed to cause mass casualties among Christian worshippers on Easter Sunday and among tourists too ‚Äď had all the hallmarks of an Isis attack. The group needs to prove its capability and relevance after suffering defeat in its core heartland in Syria and Iraq. It still commands support among a network of sympathisers across the Islamic world. It had the motives and the means.
CCTV video shows two suspected attackers in Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombings carrying backpacks into the Shangri-La hotel in the capital, Colombo, before the blast.
The bombings, which killed 359 people and injured 500, shattered the relative calm that has existed in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka over the past decade and raised fears of a return to sectarian violence.
Barack Obama's former vice-president has entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. It is his third presidential campaign ‚Äď after two unsuccessful attempts at earning the nomination in 1988 and 2008. He joins a crowded and diverse field. If successful, the 76-year-old would become the oldest person to be elected president in US history
Two Florida sheriff's deputies have been suspended after a video showed them pepper-spraying and punching a 15-year-old black student. The video, which was widely shared on social media last week, shows the two officers slamming Delucca Rolle to the ground and smashing his face into the concrete several times. Rolle‚Äôs family say he was picking up a cellphone that a classmate had dropped when one officer pepper-sprayed and jumped on him
Kim Jong-un has arrived in Vladivostok by train before talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Kim is expected to seek Russian support over western sanctions and his negotiations with the US over North Korea's nuclear programme
New footage has emerged appearing to show a suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian's church in Negombo. The subsequent explosion was the deadliest of the series of coordinated bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 50 people. The footage was broadcast widely on Sri Lankan news channels
The Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton has become the 19th person to declare their intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Watch the decorated Marine Corps veteran talk about his fame in Iraq, his attempt to stop Nancy Pelosi's re-election as House Speaker and what makes him stand out in a crowded Democratic field
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