We all want to believe products' claims that they'll make our home lives easier. But as the "Does It Work?" testers have learned, promises and reality don't always match. For today's story, food writer Lisa Abraham, consumer reporter Betty Lin-Fisher and home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge, all of the Akron Beacon Journal, put several home products to the test. Here's what we found.
Maybe you've tried the trick of putting plywood under the cushion of a sagging seat to firm it up. Furniture Fix works on the same principle, except it's plastic and provides a little more give than rigid plywood.
Furniture Fix is a set of interlocking plastic panels that slide under a seat cushion in an upholstered chair or couch. Each box contains six panels, or enough to support one seat. For a regular-sized couch with three seats, you'd need three sets.
We tried out one set on a co-worker's aging sectional sofa, where one particularly well-worn seating area sagged and tended to cause the sitter to lean to one side. The Furniture Fix made the seat noticeably firmer — maybe even a bit uncomfortably firm, although not as hard as the board we also tried. And we still found ourselves leaning.
"I think it's an improvement," Betty said, "but I wouldn't spend $15 on it."
Considering we'd need at least two and perhaps three to shore up the sagging portion of this particular couch, we'd be looking at an investment of $30 to $45. That's still considerably cheaper than new furniture, but we thought it was a little pricey for a solution that's less than ideal.
Verdict: It depends.
EZ Moves are plastic pads that are placed under furniture legs to make the furniture easier to slide. Each pad has a foam insert with a felt backing that can be removed and used instead of the plastic on hard-surface floors to prevent scratching.
We tried the pads on Betty's heavy sleeper sofa. Without the EZ Moves, it took all three of us working together to move it across her carpeted floor. With the EZ Moves, each of us could move it alone. Even Betty's 11-year-old daughter managed to move the couch by herself with the help of the EZ Moves, albeit with considerable effort.
I thought the plastic was a little flimsier than the furniture-moving glides I already had at home, but the pads still seemed sturdy enough for repeated use. And we all liked the lifting tool that comes with the glides, which uses leverage to help you lift a corner of a heavy piece of furniture so you can slide the pads underneath.
Where we disagreed a bit was on the value. "It's a little pricey at $19.99, but it does what it says," Betty said. Lisa and I disagreed. "I don't think $19.99 is unreasonable for that package," Lisa said, especially considering that it included the lifter and eight pads.
Verdict: Snap it up.
Organizing freak that I am, I had great hopes for this swiveling spice rack the first time I saw it advertised. It promises to hold spices — or pill bottles, craft supplies or whatever else fits in it — in just a 4-inch-wide space. The unit has two racks that you pull forward from the base and then swivel to get access to the contents.
What goes unsaid in the ads is that you need 4 inches of clearance on either side of the Swivel Store unit so you can turn the racks. Devoting a 12-inch-wide section of cupboard space to storing 20 spice bottles didn't strike any of us as a good use of space.
The plastic used to make the Swivel Store seemed flimsy to us, and the pull-out racks were a little wobbly. "That, to me, feels like it's rockin' and rollin', " Lisa said as Betty pulled out one of the racks.
I liked the side rails that kept the bottles from tumbling off the racks, but we discovered the racks were too narrow for some larger spice bottles. The unit was also just a smidgen deep to fit within the frame of Betty's cabinet, although we were still able to close the cabinet door completely.
Verdict: Skip it.