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Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on TWiT.tv. But wait, there's More »

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    The Giz Wiz Asks You! > What's the worst piece of junk you ever bought, or received as a gift?

    My most recent disappointment was the Audio Vox TV Sound Regulator. I have been looking at this device for years. It was originally put on the market by Terk, and then later it became an Audio Vox product. It's been around for years and after doing some research, it seemed to get pretty good reviews on line So I finally brought one for $30 from Heartland America. It's easy to install using RCA jacks. It has to be used between two sources, like a cable box and TV monitor. You need to use "audio in" to the device and then "audio out" to the TV. It seemed to work fine and actually lower the volume of loud commercials right after I installed it. But then out of the blue, especially during quiet passages in a movie or drama, you would hear a loud click on the speakers and it would drop the volume. So now instead of having to find the remote to lower the volume, I was now using the remote to raise the volume, but at odd times. It became so annoying I stopped using it after about two weeks.

    What's your disappointment?

    Dick De
    The Giz Wiz
    I was here.

    April 30, 2009 | Registered CommenterThe Giz Wiz

    As a wedding gift (24 years ago) we received a meat fork! This gift was from a family of five who attended the wedding. The fork was a cheap chrome plated item that was already may years old and was an obvious re-gift.

    April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B

    Well it's not tech but one Christmas I received a little fire hydrant that you can hook on your pants and it dispenses little bags for dog poop. Cute huh? Problem is I don't have a dog and I haven't for as long as the gifter has known me!

    I received a device to put on my keychain which would put out a beep in reply to a whistle, to help find the keys. Worked fine until I got into my car and started it and the beeping of the seatbelt alert tone would set it off. I did not keep it on the keychain for long.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Ingals

    Back in CES 2001, I bought a pair of 3-D glasses for PC gaming. It had a dongle that attached to the VGA output of the video card. The glasses were the the type that each lens flickered on and off to produce a 3-D effect. I think I only used it once or twice for gaming. It didn't work too well. The demo software that came with it was cool though.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTristan W

    No one has answered because we try to forget the worst ones we've bought and forgive the ones we've received. But let me stretch my mind and think. How about the Micowave leak tester I "gave" my wife one Christmas. None of the family's microwaves leaked, so I wasn't sure the thing worked at all. So, I put it inside. For about ten seconds, I thought I was right that it was bogus, then zap the electronics inside went poof. Now my wife had a gift she didn't want that no longer worked. I had to order a replacement and put it on top of the microwave at home as reminder to get my wife flowers and use technology as designed.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLa Mirada Bob

    Mr. Microphone :-)

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Henderson

    It took me a while to remember a bad one. I seem to block the memories of the bad ones and just remember the good ones.
    However, I have one that drove me nuts and I might be stretching to call it a gadget.
    It's a specific game from my old atari 2600 console, E.T.The Extraterrestrial. That game was the biggest waste of money.
    I had around 150 different games for the Atari and I could NEVER figure out how to play that one.
    I remember spending about a week trying to figure that darn thing out. The instruction manual was useless, the game wasn't
    the least bit intuitive, and it frustrated the heck out of me.
    I never did get it figured out. Never had a single moment of fun with that game.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScottSkiba

    The weirdest (and worst) was a roll of white masking tape from my now former sister in-law for Christmas. The worst gadget gift was a battery powered helicopter that flies off a pad from one's desk. The first time I tried it the rotor flew off and hit me in the eye.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

    Well anything that I ordered off ebay that was shipped from hong kong, never seen the word "genuine" misused so frequently

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris

    I think the worst would have to be the Radio Shack 15 Minute Charger. It takes longer than 15 minutes, the batteries only run (at least in my camera) for about 20 minutes, and it's so loud that you have to put it in another room!

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Doyle

    This isn't really tech-related but my worst purchase ever was the Perfect Pancake (the one from the infomercial years ago). FAR from perfect. You were supposed to put the batter on the bottom and when one side was partially cooked flip it over to the other side. Well considering this pan had no sides and it was only partially cooked when I flipped it batter flew everywhere. What a perfect nightmare!!!!!

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn Thompson

    My 2000 Olds Intrigue (should have bought that Camry)

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDick Mead

    My grandparents once bought be an off-brand dremel tool. It seemed to work well, it even appeared to have super high RPM. It looked great until you actually tried to sand, drill, or touch anything with the rotating head. It just stopped on contact.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

    Pretty much every A/V remote control I have purchased - from $9.95 models to $400 do everything models ... none ever worked well and would become frustrating and join the rest in a drawer

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFred Bockmann

    A plastic car alarm clock radio. Didn't go down too well as an Xmas gift.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom

    An electric spray paint gun. I had a bookcase with narrow shelves for paperbacks that I had to paint and I thought spray painting would provide a nice smooth finish quickly. The problem was, I couldn't get the paint thin enough to work and all I got was a sort of blotchy spattering effect. The advice from the store was I shouldn't need to thin the paint more than about 10%, but I gave up after thinning the paint down to about 40% at which point it wasn't working as paint any more - quite apart from the mess I ended up making by having to decant the paint out of the device continuously.

    The really horrible part, though, was the opportunity it gave my wife to take the piss out of me for having spent the money on the tool without getting it to work. "Oh look", she said, picking up the instruction leaflet, with a large SEGrin on her face, "It says you have to thin the paint. Did you thin the paint dear?". "Yes." I reply in tight grumpy tense voice. "There's a little funnel you have to use to test if its thin enough, did you use that?" she says, grin getting bigger. "YES" I reply "It says it should drain through in 20 seconds, but it takes pure water 15 seconds, and un-thinned paint about 15 minutes, so I can't see how I can possibly get it thin enough". "That's unfortunate dear, did you try it anyway?", she says batting her eyelids innocently. "Look, why don't YOU have a go", I reply, by this time irritated enough to hoick the gun over the fence, and annoyed with the mess, the embarrassment, the feeling of incompetence, and regret that I could have spent the money on some other actually useful tool. "Oh no dear" she replies, "you know how I am with tools, you go right ahead and I'll just sit here and watch...."

    The paint gun now sits in its box, in disgrace, in the most remote spider-ridden corner of the garage. Its the worst I can do for it.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid in Oz

    The very worst one I bought was the I Am Rich app for the iPhone. I thought it wasn't working so I bought a second one.

    May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Shultz

    The Archos Jukebox Studio

    It would constantly crash on me, and once it would crash the music would disappear!
    I would have it all loaded up with music, take it to work and have it die in my 1st hour and be without music for the day.
    I returned it in less than a week.

    May 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBibojim

    By far the worst thing that I have ever purchased (3 times mind you) has to be a Connor tape drive backup. I have never, not even once had gotten one of those *&^%$%^ tapes to restore even a single backup. I kept on buying them in the hopes that one would work since hard drives were so darn costly at that time. I know these units had worked for everyone but me, but that's my point of why I consider the Conner tape backup as the worst piece of crap I have ever owned!

    May 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermike troiano

    The worst gift I ever received was a "salad shooter". It sprayed salad out like a fire hose from hell, not good in a small kitchen. I only used it once. I gave up trying to scrape the lettuce shrapnel from the ceiling and just repainted.

    May 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfriedpi

    I've bought about 3 portable vacuum cleaners over the last 10 years. The 2nd one I bought was a knock-off of one of those "Shark" things. It immediately broke the first time I used it, and like a total idiot I tried to fix it. Every time I fixed it, something else broke, requiring me to go to the hardware store to buy some crazy thing like a 1/2 inch spring to keep the dust container latched. Eventually I threw it out and bought a real Shark, which hasnt broken but sucks up about 12 amps of current any time it's turned on, and gets extremely warm if I use it too long. Yay portable vacuum cleaners!

    May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHibbledy Pibbledy

    Inflatable arm chair.

    June 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPete C

    My grandmother-in-law gave me an electric meat carver. At the time, I had been a vegetarian for four years.

    August 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Anomous

    freelance writer

    December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracieAllen27