December 07, 2013

American Smoke Scam – Worse Than We Thought

American Smoke Even Worse Scam Alert.

Over the past year or so we have been attempting to alert consumers to various e-cigarette scams on the Internet. Out of all the Scam Alerts we’ve published only two companies have tried to contact us, to bully us, to threaten lawsuits, if we didn’t remove the alert.

Those two companies are Lift Vapor and American Smoke. The American Smoke Company, owned by Bill Fisher, is threatening legal action on Monday, December 8, should we not remove the opinion piece posted by Julia. We would post the emails we’ve received from Mr. Fisher but he has advised us at the end of these tirades of his that we do not have his permission to post any email we receive from him. I wonder why?

So, it got me to thinking; what is a scam? Are these companies, Regal, eCigBrand, Prada, XO, Lift Vapor, American Smoke, and so on actually “scamming” their customers? I decided to look into the matter over the past 24 hours and sheer volume of information available is staggering. Google “electronic eCigarette scams” and Google returns more than 13 million results. 13 MILLION!

Let’s look at the word “Scam” and the definition of the word. The quickest way to do that is to (if you’re on a Mac anyway) hold down the ‘control’ key and move your cursor over to “definition” if you’re using Microsoft Word. Here’s how ‘Word’ defines “scam”.

Scam – “dishonest scheme – a scheme for making money by dishonest means.

Webster’s definition is pretty much the same thing, but adds the following:  synonyms:       fraud, swindle, fraudulent scheme, racket, trick.

The Elements of the Electronic Cigarette Scam

In order for, oh I don’t know, let’s say American Smoke, to commit a ‘scam’ it would have to act in a way that is “dishonest”, creating a ‘scheme for making money by dishonest means. Is American Smoke guilty of attempting to make money by dishonest means?  Or is American Smoke the victim of poor judgment? Let’s look…

Since the publication of Julia’s Scam Alert various staff members have received this email below from the Sender Smokeless.Cig@unitservicefree.com more than 5 times.

 

Scam Alert American Smoke

The domain name ‘unitservicefree.com’ is a blank page, but using the ‘whois’ database we learned that it is owned by Clear View Marketing. http://www.cvmllc.com. One of their services they provide is “Affiliate Marketing.

One of the claims made by Bill Fisher when talking to me was that the “affiliate” marketer went “beyond the pale” making the erroneous claims they made in the email and the website that the email brings you too, http://tryamericansmoke.com/best-offer/.

Bill went on to say that “HIS” website, the one “HE” owns, http://tryamericansmoke.com, was completely different and did not use the same ploys that the other website used.

An investigation into ‘his’ website that he admitted he owned was 100% virtually identical to the one his ‘affiliate’ links to the ‘free starter kit’ email. Is it fair to say that, at the very least, the practices of the affiliate are no different than his practices?

But Where Is The Dishonesty? Where is the “scheme” that qualifies calling American Smoke a “scam” outfit?

Free Starter Kit

Just in case you can’t make it out from the published photo of the email itself, here is the offer for a free starter kit from American Smoke

In order for this email to qualify as being “dishonest” the offer of a free starter kit must be false. Is there ANY offer of a free starter kit on either website? No. There is no offer at all of a free kit. In fact, according to the actual Terms and Conditions on both websites, there is an initial cost of $4.95, which, if you take them up on their offer, from the moment you click the Order Now button on either website you have 14 days to decide whether you want to keep it or return it. If you decide to keep this “FREE” starter kit you’ve agreed to pay $50 for it. So, the question is, how is spending $50 for a starter kit in any way a “Free” starter kit? Even if you return it, providing you have enough time to return it and jump through various hoops to do so, that $4.95 that you paid up front, and the cost of returning the starter kit are lost to you.

Further Dishonesty

On both his website and his affiliate’s website the “words” describe a 3-piece e-cigarette. The ‘photos’ of the starter kit clearly show a 2-piece e-cigarette. One of them is dishonest, but which one? Does it matter? One of them is dishonest. Period.

“A scheme for making money through dishonest means”

There is no doubt that American Smoke and all the other brands are out to make money, no one is denying that. Explaining the dishonest scheme is quite easy…

By sending you an email that says that by paying American Smoke a visit you can get yourself a dandy starter kit for free. This “enticement” is dishonest; there is no free starter kit.

When you do arrive at the site, either the affiliate site or Bill Fisher’s website, you are further induced to get the starter kit by various claims that are most certainly untrue, and since Mr. Fisher and the professional marketing company Clear View Marketing have electronic cigarette experience several of the claims have to have been known to both of them as they constructed their websites.

Examples: “Smoke Anywhere” – We all know that isn’t true. Never mind that ‘vaping’ isn’t ‘smoking’, that’s just semantics, but anyone that knows anything about electronic cigarettes must certainly know that you cannot use electronic cigarettes “everywhere” or “anywhere”.  In fact everyday there are more and more articles in the press about vaping being banned in many places, including most places of work, in restaurants, in stores, in the malls, and in buses and planes, and taxis.

“The #1 Electronic Cigarette” - By what measure? Who said they were #1, and what does #1 even mean? This is dishonest enticement, but Bill Fisher would say it was “selling the product”. Printing “The #1 Electronic Cigarette” is there to entice, to entice is to scheme.

“Supplies Are Limited” – Cleary stated to entice the potential customer to “act now before they are sold out”. Inducing the customer in a dishonest measure is more accurate.

Lay Down With Dogs, Wake up with Fleas

Mr. Fisher, in his emails that we do not have permission to post here, and in his conversations with me, claims that he is a legitimate businessman selling a product fairly and that Spinfuel eMagazine has done nothing but lies, slander, and defame his good name. He claims to have never even heard of Lift Vapor, or any of the others, but then there is this.

The American Smoke phone number that you must use in order to arrange to return your product (the RMA number) is:

1-800-748-8335

Does any other electronic cigarette company have that same number?

Vapor 123 (tryvapor123.com) certainly does. – Some kind of deal, only even more convoluted than American Smoke. Are they the same company or simply another ‘managed by Clear View Marketing’? We have no idea, since the domains name are registered by “Domains By Proxy”, a service that withholds the owners name and address. Nothing wrong with Domains by Proxy, I’ve used them myself. You should see how many emails and hard copy mail you get from registrars and Internet companies if you allow your name and address to be seen by anyone and everyone.

The Hidden Scam

American Smoke has another website called “American Smoke”. Same logo, same starter kit, but because you walked into this American Smoke website your deal is completely different, or so you think… In this website the terms and conditions are completely different. (See screenshot) For the exact same starter kit, the exact same number of cartomizers, you pay $39.60but there is no monthly auto ship, no requirement topurchase anything else…

Seeing this at HTTP://AMERICANSMOKETRIAL.COM we decided to order a starter kit this morning. Seeing as how in plain English and in bold capital letters they are telling you and me that there are NO MONTHLY FEE OR OTHER CHARGES, and at the bottom of the Terms page they further state: YOU HEREBY AUTHORIZE COMPANY (OR ITS PARTNERS, AFFILIATES AND/OR AGENTS) TO CHARGE YOUR CREDIT CARD THE ABOVE CHARGES.

So, if they even tried to auto-ship something to us we would have the right to bring a suit against them for unauthorized charges to our credit card…

So we filled out the form and clicked “submit”…. In about 3 seconds we were whisked away to https://www.tryamericansmoke.com/checkout.php

Yep, the “other” American Smoke website, the one with the Auto-Ship program…

Deceit? You bet. Seeing this, capturing this using Telestream’s Screenflow application that creates a movie of everything we do on the screen… well, all I can say to Mr. Fisher is this; go ahead and sue us, bring us before that judge you want to bring us up to, I would love nothing more than to show them the movie where you replace one Terms and Condition with another, where on the site you state you won’t sign auto-ship cartomizers to us…. And then right before we hit that “Place my Order” button you sneak us over to the other website and all of a sudden we would have been signed up for the auto-ship program. That Mr. Fisher is switch and bait, fraud in the inducement, and yea, it’s a SCAM. Worse then one Julia wrote about. So let’s do this, shall we?

Tom McBrideWATCH THE VIDEO

 


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