Web surfers, beware. Anyone out there advertising a “free trial” electronic cigarette is simply trying to separate you from your hard-earned money. I’m a savvy enough online shopper that I’ve seen this exact thing happen in other market segments, but unfortunately for some people, this has made it’s way into the electronic cigarette market.
I’ll do my best to summarize how you can spot a free trial e-cigarette scam so you can avoid falling into this trap.
First, let’s take a look at some of the things to look for.
1. “Rush My Order.” “Just pay shipping & handling.” “Tell us where to send your free kit.”
That type of language is typical on free trial offers. Avoid inputting any information, especially your credit card information, on forms that show up on websites touting free trial offers. This leads to my next point….
2. Look for a form that collects your personal information on the home page of the site you land on. Companies that sell any type of free trial offer need to collect your vital information, especially your credit card – so they make it as easy as possible to get this accomplished. They use the front page of their site, the premier real estate, to collect this info.
3. Around this information, look for “hot buttons” that say “click me,” “submit your information now, or my all-time favorite “submit your information securely now.” While your information may be transmitted in a secure manner, the way they use this information, namely your credit card, makes me feel very insecure.
Now that you know what to look for, here is why you need to avoid these types of “offers.”
A free trial of an electronic cigarette sounds great on paper, so why is it such a bad deal for e-cigarette shoppers?
Well, here is the low down dirty secrets of why these companies do this. It’s really a shameful, tasteless process that 99% of companies unfortunately fall into. I’m not saying that all companies run their free trial offers this way, but the vast majority of them do, and this is why you should avoid them…..
Once you submit your information to their credit card processor, you are putty in their hand. After your 14 day free trial is rushed to you, the clock starts ticking. As you try out the products, you are contracted, via tiny wording and crafty legal jargon, to their billing model. The billing model usually ties you, the customer, into an agreement where after 14 days, you are sent the “full” starter kit – at values ranging from $79 – as high as $149! Most consumers simply forget how the agreement works, so after paying $7.95 for shipping and handling, the last thing they expect is another larger charge forthcoming in the weeks proceeding their purchase.
But what if I cancel before the 14 day free trial ends?
Well this is where I start to call companies that participate in this billing model “con artists.”
It’s often times that I read horror stories of people trying to cancel their orders, to no avail. The emails, phone calls, and letters go unanswered. This is often an attempt to get that clock to 14 days or whatever date is set to bill the credit card on file. Or, in lesser words, it’s done on purpose to deceive customers.
I hate reading these stories, especially when it happens in an industry I care about: electronic cigarettes.
I’d like to commend all the companies out there with great track records, customer service, and straight-forward billing models. All the “free trial electronic cigarette scams” should learn from you.
Sorry to rant, just trying to educate any consumers out there contemplating free trials.
Below are some images you can find associated with free trial offers. When you see them, RUN!
Here is one with the order form I was talking about.