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E-Cig Scams: When "Free" Isn't Free

Posted by Aqua Smoke on 10/28/2014
E-Cig Scams: When
Vaporizer Starter Kit

At first glance, free e-cigarette offers look very tempting. Just fill out an order form and you'll be sent a Vaporizer starter kit with everything you need to begin enjoying a smoke-free life. If you decide that e-cigarettes aren't for you, all you have to do is return the product -- you won't have to pay a penny. As many luckless customers have discovered, however, those trial products are anything but free.

Here's how the scam works. In order to receive the trial product, you have to hand over your debit or credit card number -- ostensibly to pay for shipping and handling. You only have a very limited window within which to return the e-cigarette, typically around two weeks; if you don't send it back before the deadline, the terms of the trial state that the vendor can charge your credit card for the full price of the kit. It's common for the product to arrive after the deadline has already expired, making it impossible for the customer to return it on time.

This would be bad enough, especially since many vendors are charging upwards of $100 for a starter kit worth less than $40. However, the initial cost of the kit is often just the tip of the iceberg. A typical free trial agreement may also include a recurring charge for refill cartridges or e-liquid, which can come to as much as $50 per month (excluding shipping and handling costs). This part of the arrangement is often buried in the fine print, meaning that customers may not even realize they're paying for refills until the charges show up on their card statements.

By this point, you may already have paid around $200 for a $40 product; but that's not the end of the story. Canceling the refill payments can be very difficult, even impossible. You're usually required to phone an expensive premium-rate number -- only to find that you can't get through to a representative. After repeated attempts to cancel their payments, some scam victims have resorted to stopping their credit cards as the only way to avoid further charges.

Instead of throwing away hundreds of dollars on so-called free trials, it's better to look for an inexpensive Vaporizer starter kit and buy it outright. For as little as $36, you can obtain a kit consisting of the battery, cartridge or cartomizer unit and charger, and a bottle of e-liquid or a few cartridge refills. If you can't find a low-cost starter kit at your local tobacconist or a specialist e-cigarette store, you can easily purchase one online at Aqua Smoke.

If you want an even less expensive way to try smokeless cigarettes, a disposable e-cigarette typically costs under $10 -- less than the shipping charges for most trial offers. Unlike standard e-cigarettes you can't re-use disposables, and in the long term they're a little less cost-effective than refillable models. Even so, they're still cheaper than being caught out by a "free e-cig" scam.