The SmokeStar Rippoff Game
Another day means more e-cigarette scams to warn you about. Today it’s Lift Vapor doing business as Smoke Star. (We can only hope that our scam report on Lift Vapor caused them to change their name and perhaps one day they will just give up and get a respectable job somewhere.) Like all the others, Smoke Star (Lift Vapor) promises one thing and delivers another. Here are just some of the problems we have with this miserable company.
The 14-Day Trial Period – This trial period begins the moment you place the order so that by the time you get your starter kit you’ll barely have time to try it before you’re stuck with it. When I received the email inviting me to take advantage of this truly amazing product I took a look at the website and began to sign up for the program (it’s the only way you’ll see the $4.95 shipping fee) and on the following page they show you the “normal” shipping cost to be $12.95, but because I signed up I was given an $8.00 shipping discount. I feel special.
… Which leads to…
The REAL price – After the 14-Day trial your credit card will be charged $109.67 plus Sales Tax (if you live in the state of Florida) for the product you already received (the starter kit) in addition to the shipping charge you paid when you ordered ($4.95). Apparently this franchisee lives in Miami. Here is the actual address: E-Cigarette - 1521 Alton RD #752 Miami Beach, FL 33139
Exclusive Smoke Star Starter Kit
- 1 Advanced Smoke Star Atomizer
- 1 Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
- 5 Tobacco Flavored Cartridges
- 1 USB Charger
- 1 Wall Charger
- 1 Designer Display Box
- 1 Soft-Touch Hard Plastic Travel Case
- 1 Full Color Instruction Manual
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
Remember what Tom said in his Guide To Vaping – Choosing the Right e-Cigarette; never buy a 1-battery starter kit, not at a mall kiosk, not online, not anywhere. And reading the description of the starter kit it seems to me to be a 3-piece e-cigarette and yet the photos show a 2-piece (battery + cartomizer) e-cigarette. I have no idea which one it is at this point.
The Auto-Ship Program
Referring again to the well-hidden Terms and Conditions; “Then 30 days from your initial order of the Product (and every 30 days thereafter), you will be sent a new supply of the Product containing 2 packs of cartomizers, (A total of 10 cartomizers) and your credit card will be charged $69.62 (the Monthly Fee.). Please note that Florida residents must add sales tax”.
First, they tell you that your first order for the 10-cartomizers will be shipping to you 30 days after you ordered the starter kit. So, when you placed the order you spent $4.95, then 14 days after you placed the order you were charged $109.67 plus tax, and then 16-days after the trial period ends you are charged another $69.62 plus tax, then every 30 days after you will see the charge of $69.62 for another 10-cartomizers. In the first 30 days you’ll spend $195 for a single battery starter kit and 15-cartomizers.
As a pack a day smoker you’ll go through 2 or 3 cartomizers a day, so on the off chance that you even like the cheap Chinese e-Liquid they inject into their cartomizers the $70 10-pack will last you no more than 5 days, no way in hell will 10 cartomizers last you 30 days. Anyway, the cost of these cheap cartomizers is a whopping $6.96 cents EACH, or about 500% more than any reputable company would charge you for the same thing.
Returning Your Kit
Obviously there are many victims trying to return the product so Smoke Star (Lift Vapor) so they make it extremely difficult to do. They insist on having a valid RMA number or they will refuse delivery of your return. Fair enough, but trying to get a valid RMA is damn near impossible. We called the number several times and half the time the phone rang off the hook without answering, and the other half we got voicemail. It is pretty hard to get an RMA number when you can’t speak to anyone at the company.
What You Can Do
First, you can avoid any 14-Day Trial e-Cigarette offer you receive. That’s the best way to avoid becoming another victim. If you’re looking for a good e-cigarette try reading some of our reviews or follow Tom’s “Guide To Vaping – Choosing the Right e-Cigarette”. But let’s assume for a moment that you didn’t see any of our Scam Alerts or Tom’s “Guide To” series, what can you do?
Cancel your credit card immediately – The easiest, most effective way to deal with these types of e-Cigarette scams is to cancel the credit/debit card you used to sign up with. Once they fail to charge your credit card they will leave you alone, cancel your auto-ship program and move on.
If canceling your credit card is not an option (though I don’t know why that would be. Banks can deliver new credit/debit cards in 2 or 3 days now), your next best bet would be to keep trying to reach the company by phone or email (1-877-647-3625 and firstname.lastname@example.org) until you get that elusive RMA. When you ship the product back to them don’t leave anything out, and always send it back via 2-Day USPS Priority and track the delivery.
There is nothing to be ashamed of by falling for one of these e-cigarette scams. They say there is a fool born every minute but what they forget to tell you if that there is a con artist born every minute as well. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare to get out from underneath something like this. Cancelling your credit card is the fastest way with the least amount of frustration, but no matter how you choose to deal with it, just know that you’re not the only one.
Help Others – And because you’re not the only one, not even the first one or the last one, what you should do after you get out of your situation with one of these e-cigarette scams is to help others avoid the same mistake. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
Pass the URL to any of our scam alerts to friends and other smokers who might be looking to switch.
Make sure you inform anyone who will listen, even is they don’t smoke they surely know someone who does, and get the word out any way you can. Ask your friends to warn others, post it on your Facebook page or anywhere else you frequent on the Internet.
Shame the company – I know, this has little chance to succeed, but you never know. All of these companies are franchises, they all use the same website template, the same payment processing systems, and the same Terms and Conditions. Email each of them, call all of them, write letters to the editor of your local town, try to shame the employees and the owners and let them know that what they are doing is morally wrong and will do nothing for them other than earn them bad karma.
There are 43 million Americans still smoking cigarettes. Every day thousands of smokers try an electronic cigarette. No one knows this better than the people behind Smoke Star, Lift Vapor, Regal, Prada, Saphire, XO and all the rest. They know it’s a numbers game and no matter how often Spinfuel posts a Scam Alert, no matter how many people pick up the phone or ship the product back there will be others right behind them ready with their credit card in hand, looking to save a bunch of money by trying this 14-Day trial. How these company owners or employees sleep at night is beyond my comprehension, but I’ll sleep a little easier knowing that we’ve exposed another one. If even one person avoids one of these e-cigarette scams then it was worth the time to post this alert. In the end it’s all about the karma.
Smoke Star – Just Another e-Cigarette Scam