December 05, 2013

SCAM ALERT: American Smoke

Scam Alert: American Smoke

Scam Alert: American Smoke – An Opinion by Julia Hartley-Barnes

In this morning’s email Inbox was an email with the subject line: “Girls hate cigarette breath”. Being a girl, I had to admit it to myself, yes… indeed I do hate cigarette breath. In fact, looking back, I don’t understand why the women I dated over the years, the ones that did not smoke, put up with it. Ever since I quit smoking I can’t imagine dating a smoker, I don’t care how gorgeous she is.

In any case, without thinking I clicked on the email because I thought it was an article in SodaHead, my morning guilty pleasure for reading material. It wasn’t. The email contained a graphic. This is the graphic, provided by my operating system’s ability to take screenshots.

Notice the statement in clear English?

 

 

Claim Your Free Starter Kit

Now, let me ask you; if you were a smoker interested in switching to an electronic cigarette, but you weren’t quite sure you wanted to drop $250 for an eGo device at the Mall Kiosk (highway robbery right there too!), wouldn’t YOU click the link to claim your FREE Starter Kit? Of course you would.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the woman in the graphic was instantly recognized as the same model, the same photograph, used in more than a dozen different, but identical scams. I knew the moment I saw her pretty features that American Smoke was just another name for Lift Vapor, XO, and all the others we’ve written about in the past. That being the case I clicked the link…

 

Look familiar? Sure, it looks exactly like all the other “free starter kit” scams we’ve written about. So, where is this “free starter kit”? And who the hell voted these guys The #1 Electronic Cigarette? Their employees? Jesus, I hate this kind of crap!

As you can see, there is NO free starter kit. All of a sudden it’s turned into “Claim Your Exclusive Starter Kit”… What happened to “free”?

Not So Bad?

Unlike the other cookie cutter scams this one is a bit different. Maybe our Scam Alerts are starting to work, or maybe these guys are developing a conscious, and at first the “deal” don’t look nearly as bad as they are from the others. LOL, yea sure…

What You Get and What You Pay

Your Starter Kit contains the following items:
  • Stainless Steel Atomizer
  • Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery
  • USB Charger
  • Wall Charger
  • 5 Full Flavored Cartridges
  • Hard Plastic Carrying Case
  • Designer Display Box (!!)
  • 20-Page Instruction Manual
  • Lifetime Warranty

Okay, so here’s the problem: When are these guys going to update the copy of their cookie cutter websites? Are you getting a 3-piece e-Cigarette with an atomizer, cartridge and battery that were popular in 2010, or are you getting the 2-piece cartomizer and battery? Which is it? The photograph shows the 2-piece kit and the words say a 3-piece kit, which one is it?

What you will Pay

You can either fill out the “Tell Us Where To Send Your Exclusive Starter Kit” to find out what you’ll really pay, or you click that tiny grey colored link at the bottom of the page that says “*terms apply”…Or, you can click the “Terms of Use” link as well.

The Terms

 

Upon placing your order for the Product you pay shipping and handling at a rate of $4.95 (USD). As a Trial Member, you have 14 days from the date of your order, to try the Product. As a Trial Member, American Smoke will immediately send you a Starter Kit that includes:
  • 1 extended Ultra-Last battery
  • 5 flavored cartridges
  • 1 USB charger
  • 1 wall charger
  • 1 warranty card
  • 1 instruction card.

At the end of your Trial Period (if you wish to keep your starter-kit) we will charge the credit card on file at a discounted rate of $50.00 for the product you already have. We will also immediately ship you 15 refill cartridges. (Equal to 3 cartons of traditional cigarettes) and bill your card $39.95.

If you wish to cancel you must call the toll-free customer service number 800-748-8335 before 14 days from the date that your product was ordered. You must return the kit to us at your expense via traceable mail.

You will automatically be enrolled in the Home Delivery program. An American Smoke service coach may contact you to make sure you understand how to work the device and the flavor and strength is good for you. You will automatically receive the same 15 cartridges every 30 days and your card will be charged $39.95. You will also receive a 30% discount on all purchases on our website and get a free lifetime replacement warranty on all batteries.

In other words, you authorize the COMPANY to immediately charge your credit card $4.95 (USD) for shipping and handling of your starter kit. (Total charge $4.95) Then 14 days from your original order you authorize the COMPANY to charge your card $36.00 for the original kit you received $14.00 for the original cartridges you received and $39.95 for the 15 cartridges that will be sent to you on the 14th day. (Total charge $89.95)
What you’re actually paying is $89.95 + $4.95 = $94.90 for a Starter Kit and 20 cartridges or cartomizers.

Not Risk Free

Wouldn’t you think that if there is a cancellation policy that said that you had 14 days to cancel (from the second you place the order) that would mean that if you played by their rules you could try it out and if you don’t like it you could get out of paying anything for this blunder? Well, no. Read the following paragraph carefully:

If the Product is not right for you, you must call 1-800-748-8335 during the Trial Period so that we do not charge your card when your 14 day Trial Period ends. You will get a return-authorization-number to return the kit via traceable mail at your expense. You must ship the product back to us within 7 calendar days of your call to cancel and the COMPANY will not charge you anything more.

What this means is that IF you receive the kit soon enough that you have ANY time left in your 14-day trial, and IF you can through to them to arrange a return and an RMA number, and IF you return the product IN TIME, and YOUR expense (traceable mail means 2-Day Priority, Medium-Sized Box, $11.30), then you just might escape this scam for the low, low price of $17-$18. Minimum.

Auto Home Delivery

“You will automatically receive the same 15 cartridges every 30 days and your card will be charged $39.95”

More Math!15 cartridges or cartomizers for $40 Comparison Time:

The following brands of “prefilled cartomizers” are 1000% higher quality than the product you will receive from American Smoke. How do I know? Because we’ve tried several of these kits and the juice is god-awful, cheap, Chinese juice. Not DeKang juice which is actually good juice, but real cheap, made in the back alley cheap. The following brands actually use good juice, including Johnson Creek Enterprises…

Blu Cigs: $12 for a 5-pack plus $10.80 each for 2x 5-packs =$22.80 for 15 cartomizers filled with Johnson Creek 100% American Made eJuiceTriple 7: (Top Rated, exclusively mixed Chinese made eLiquid owned by Triple 7) 16-pack $15.95Halo Cigs: 5-pack $9.95 + 10-pack +$9.05 = $19.00 – 100% American Made by Halo Cigs themselves

You, our faithful readers already know this stuff. But, smokers who have no yet ventured into the land of electronic cigarettes do not. They have NO IDEA what a pack of prefilled cartomizer “should” cost, nor do they know there is a difference in QUALITY of various eLiquids. Some smokers may even think that buying 15 cartomizers for $39.95 plus shipping, is a pretty good deal, despite being twice as much as the “good stuff”.

So, What Do We Do?

Is American Smoke running a scam? Of course they are, they bring you to their site under the guise of receiving a FREE starter kit and then they have you committing to a purchase of $89.95 and $39.95 a month for cheap products.

Now, granted, American Smoke’s scam costs less than the others we’ve written about, so let’s give credit where credit is earned. However, what is stopping these guys from playing in the legitimate sandbox? Two things; greed and ignorance.

Greed by these guys that know how ignorant smokers are when they know nothing about electronic cigarettes. “Caveat emptor” you say? Is that really how we want things to be?

Look, my problem with these guys, and all the others guys that run these operations out of their homes is that this industry really has an opportunity to save us all from billions and billions of dollars of healthcare costs and tens of thousands of lives and they are jeopardizing it.

When an unsuspecting smoker desperately wants to get off the fast road to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses and cannot kick the nicotine addiction, but doesn’t have the wherewithal to investigate the industry, to learn the facts, to compare products, and yes, to actually think there are companies out there willing to send you a starter kit for free, then damnit we need to expose these operators for what they are, greedy people who just don’t care.

American Smoke is playing the same game as the others, but they are charging less than the others, but it still doesn’t make it right. It’s legal, but that doesn’t mean its right.

We, and that means me, you, and everyone else that does know the industry to some extent, have an obligation to the people who have not yet made the switch to electronic cigarettes to help them avoid these tasteless, cheap products that they will do nothing more than chase them back to cigarettes with a vow never to look at e-cigarettes again, and about $100 lighter in the wallet.

We publish these Scam Alerts not to warn you to stay away, you’re already buying your eJuice, cartomizers, batteries, and other vape gear from reliable vendors. We publish these alerts so that once it’s published, once it’s been crawled by Google and Bing, it’s out there, and anyone that types the company’s name into a search engine will see it. Maybe, just maybe, we can get these companies to stop what they’re doing. If not, well, maybe enough people will begin to do a little investigating before they fall for these “free” rip-offs so that its no longer profitable for these companies to operate.

And because we know these guys read Spinfuel, I’m going to address them directly.

“Hi, my name is Julia Hartley-Barnes. Your company, in my opinion, is ripping people off. Stop it. Stop it now. Merry Christmas!”

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