Fellow came in with a table that had at one time been a perfectly innocuous reasonably well made piece of cheap unfinished furniture, but it was now brown and streaky and covered with brushmarks and dust blobs and looked like Hell. I instantly recognized it as Polyshades. Actually correcting the problems would be more effort than the table is worth (I mean if it was my table for my own use I'd have fixed it but it would be more in labor than we'd be likely to get for it). I went over it with some steel wool to knock down the gloss so the brushmarks didn't show so badly but it needs a strip and redo if it's ever going to look decent.
That's where the epiphany came. I realized that Polyshades is one the most _difficult_ finishes on the market to apply well and this is probably why it has such a bad reputation. Why? First, it's translucent--any variation in thickness shows as a color variation. Second, it dries fast--it doesn't level well and you can't apply it by brushing it on and wiping it off like you can a stain--by the time you've got the surface covered it's started to dry. Third, it's got the good abrasion resistance that's characteristic of polyurethane--sanding it flat is a pain in the butt. Fourth, the gloss is really shiny--if there's anything wrong with the finish, you'll see it. Only way to get it _even_ is to apply enough that it turns into brown paint. Or to spray it, which most folks aren't set up to do. Or use it on small projects where a single brush stroke will cover everything.
The big trouble with it isn't that it's a bad product, the big trouble is that it's sold as something that's easy to use. It's not. If this same fellow had gone over that table with a regular stain and then the wipe on polyurethane he'd have likely ended up with a nice looking table and probably in about the same amount of time. But nobody told him that.