SURVEY SAYS: Have You Purchased an Unusual Novelty Item?

March 3,2010 ( - A few months back, I bought a “Bark-Off” – and let me just say it was an “educational” experience. 

For this week’s bonus question, I asked readers what was the most unusual/worst novelty item YOU’VE ever bought?    

There were some purchases that I would characterize as “obvious” novelties: 


I’m still a fan of the whoopie cushion, as are my kids; I even have the app on my phone.  I can’t recall any unusual/worst novelty items. 


I bought a fake dog poo . . . to give as a poetry award at my law review’s end of year party. 



A “Pet Rock” 

“Big Mouth Billy Bass” as a gift for my uncle who loved to fish.  He adored it; my aunt was less than thrilled.


“My Staples’ “”That Was Easy”” button made a big hit at my desk…Now I have a Star Wars remote-controlled R2D2 mini-droid.” 


And then there were the ones that, like my “Bark-Off” purchase seemed to be in the “hey, that looks kind of interesting” category.  On the pages that follow, I’ve listed several, and the “consequences” of each purchase. 


What did you get? 

One of those "noise" insect repellents.   


How did it work out? 


What a joke.  Not a huge deal getting a refund, however, the shipping and handling cost made it a financial joke added to the joke of the purchase itself 


What did you get? 


One of those rotary tools for trimming our dogs’ nails. 


How did it work out? 


We have two large dogs (53 lbs and 105 lbs).  The worst thing about them, is that their nails are really hard to trim (because the nails are so big, and the dogs do not like to get their nails trimmed.    


So after seeing a commercial, I bought one of those rotary tools for trimming our dogs nails.  Turns out that:  1.  The dogs are insanely frightened of the thing.    2.  It takes several minutes to do each nail.     3.  The smell of charred dog nail is really unappealing. 


It worked as well as my husband predicted. It wasn't that expensive, and it does do exactly what it says it will do, so there really is no basis for asking for a refund. I suspect that it would do a much better job on smaller dogs. I've moved on to taking them to a Pet Store, where they have the industrial trimmer. 


What did you get? 


Bought a facial cream that was to change my looks.  


How did it work out? 


After the prescribed application, I wiped it off and damn!, it was still me. 



What did you get? 


A hand sewing machine. 


How did it work out? 


…with no bobbin, it doesn't do anything but poke holes into fabric....if that's what you want, it's perfect... 



What did you get? 


A solar powered fan to cool my parked car 

How did it work out?  

Leaving the window open a little bit is just as effective although the rubber strips you put round it do keep out rain. 



What did you get? 


Adapter that made my radio into a Bluetooth device once it was tuned into a certain radio station 


How did it work out? 


Did not get that station, told it was not their fault, but they would give me an additional one free for my inconveniences. DUH, it the first one did not work - why would you give someone another one? 



What did you get? 


I bought the 'As Seen on TV' Listen Up sound amplifier for a hard-of-hearing elderly relative who lives in my home. 


How did it work out? 


I'm so glad that I tested it out Listen Up before giving it to my relative, because in doing this I discovered that it was the worst piece of junk I had ever seen. The product blocked out all other sounds except my own breathing - which was greatly amplified! Though I didn't spend much money on the product, just out of principle I contacted the company and they sent me a full refund, no questions asked (which is revealing). In hindsight, I'm glad it worked out this way, because it wasn't the most inspired 'gift' idea I've ever had. 



What did you get? 


The Thigh Master 


How did it work out? 


First time I tried using The Thigh Master, it slipped and flung across the room knocking items off my dresser. Needless to say, I didn't use it very much. 



Now, I kicked this whole thing off with my purchase of one of those “hey, this might work” purchases.  And, while I might have been willing to just walk away from that admission, a couple of readers wanted to know….more: 



Well, do tell.  Does the "Bark-Off" work?   


I'm curious if your Bark Off was a worthwhile investment? We're about to have a baby, and while our dog doesn't bark, our neighbor's dog barks incessantly, and we were thinking about something similar that comes as a birdhouse (from SkyMall) that might be a way to help get it under control! 


So, how did it turn out? 

For the record, I bought two, not one (we have multiple dogs and multiple doors), though mostly because it was packaged in such a way that the second one was, effectively “free” (aside from the aforementioned postage and handling charges).   


They did appear (well, one did, anyway) to emit some noise that was faint enough that it seemed to be just outside the range of human ears. 


Unfortunately, it also seemed to be beyond the range of canine ears.   


In other words, it turned out to be two relatively expensive pieces of battery-operated plastic. 


And a good story… 


Thanks to everyone who participated in our….survey!