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SCAM ALERT: American Smoke

SCAM ALERT: American Smoke
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UPDATE! December 6th, 2013 by Julia Hartley-Barnes

Boy oh boy, has this scam alert created a stir or what? I guess it is time for a brief update before the owner of American Smoke has a stroke.

In the piece below I state that their juice is cheap Chinese juice. For the record, the owner of American Smoke states that it is not. He states that it is, in fact, American made juice.  If his eLiquid is indeed made in America then I was wrong. However, since the website for American Smoke (both of his websites) have identical business practices of XO, Lift Vapor, et al, it was my opinion that the companies were related.

From what I understand now, only the “affiliates” are related. It seems there are companies out there that market these brands, several of them at a time actually, with the same website code, same graphics, etc. However, the owner claims that “his” website, the one he is “responsible” for is different that the one we went to (I went to). Well, see for yourself. http://tryamericansmoke.com and http://tryamericansmoke.com/best-offer/ The first one is “his” website, the one he admits he is responsible for, and the second is an “affiliate licensed” site, or some such thing. Why they are on the same server in the very same httpdocs directory is fishy, but whatever.

When, or if, you go to the two sites you will see that the verbiage is identical, the terms are identical, the prices are identical, the trial period is identical, so honestly, I have no idea why he is upset with his affiliates marketers, they are using the same words he’s using. The “photos” are different though, if that matters. The owner claims he is trying to run down who made the claims you can so plainly see below, his manufactured outrage is what’s bewildering to me. If the verbiage is the same then there is nothing and no one to run down. Am I wrong?

In addition, the owner states that I had no right to say that American Smoke eLiquid was terrible. He is right, I don’t. Since his claim is that he is NOT the same company as Lift Vapor, Regal, XO, et al, and that he has only hired the same people to run affiliates sites then I had no right saying it tasted like crap. I may be 99.99% sure that it does taste like crap based on his business practices , but I do not know for certain.

As for the rest of the piece, I stand by every word. An email claiming that a “free” starter kit was waiting for me, only to wind up not being free at all is absolutely true, and I provided photos to prove it. The 14-Day “trial” period that begins the moment you click the “submit” button is right there in black and white (on both sites), the $39.99 price for 15-cartomizers is right there (on both sites), the “copy” that describes a 3-piece e-cigarette and graphics that show a 2-piece e-cigarette is right there (on both sites), the $50 “discounted” price for the starter kit if you keep it is right there (on both sites), the “No Risk” offer is proven untrue, that $4.95 and the return shipping is gone, you ain’t getting that back. On both sites. Is this any way to run a long-term e-cigarette brand? I don’t think so, but maybe he does.

So, do I still think it’s a Scam deserving of a Spinfuel Scam Alert? Yes I do. The reasons I believe it is a scam are stated below, I don’t need to rehash them here. From what I understand the owner of American Smoke is “extremely” upset with me and my Scam Alert. It is causing him all sorts of grief. You know, all I can say to that is “change your business practices“. If you have to hide the cost of what you’re selling, if you have to have a very short return period to accept returned products,  and if you have to trick someone into buying your product your product most certainly sucks. But that’s my opinion, yours may differ. – Julia Hartley-Barnes

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?

 

Scam Alert American Smoke

 

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!

Scam Alert: American SmokeAs 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

Scam Alert: American SmokeOkay, 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 eJuice

Triple 7: (Top Rated, exclusively mixed Chinese made eLiquid owned by Triple 7) 16-pack $15.95

Halo Cigs: 5-pack $9.95 + 10-pack +$9.05 = $19.00 – 100% American Made by Halo Cigs themselves

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About The Author

Team Spinfuel is a group of passionate vapers that bring you honest, in-depth reviews and commentary on products, services, and the legal and political ramifications on vaping and ecigarettes. Julia Hartely-Barnes, Tom McBride, Jason Little, Tony Brittan, Nick Bessette and Keira Hartley-Barnes make up the editorial team (video and written) , along with John Manzione, our Publisher, and talented contributors like Mark Benson. Email any of the writers at admin AT spinfuel.com, or just ask for their email address.

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12 Comments

  1. janet

    This is a SCAM!!! I ORDERED THE FREE TRIAL KIT, 8 days later my bank card was charged $120.00 !!!! My bank is going after them for fraud. I phoned American & they refuse to honor their free trial offer or refund my $120.00 even though I have received no products for my $120.00…They are liars, they get your card # and run it up asap!! Two charges in one day for $120.00!!! I never agreed to purchase anything. Buyer Beware!!!!!! FRAUDULANT AMERICAN VAPS IS A SCAM OUTTA LAS VEGAS. Should be prosecuted!
    My bank is trying to shut them down permenently. Then they just reopen under a new name… BUYER BEWARE!!!!

    Reply
    1. Team Spinfuel

      You are exactly right. Call your bank and let them know you were scammed. Ask them to reverse the charge to your credit card. They will probably do it. Somehow, even though we try to warn people, they still manage to stay afloat. People should always check google before signing up with companies like this. If they did they would see find this article before they give them their credit card number. We’re sorry you were scammed, we hope you recover your money and help spread the word. – Julia

      Reply
  2. Joe E

    I am on the side of Julia. Just like everyone with an ISP you are responsible for what happens on your site. The affiliate is under the same domain name http://tryamericansmoke.com so I would agree something fishy. With all the history of tainted products from China in the past few years, I would stay far away.

    Reply
  3. tim doty

    they scammed me also,charged mybank account for shipping for the free trial offer and never shipped it.icalled the toll free number to talk to them and got b.s,for why they never shipped,said i cancelled but not true,then they said my bank denied the charges but my bank already took out the charges wtf???SCAM!!!!

    Reply
  4. Jean Cauley

    I wish I had read this yesterday before I was in a hurry to order a trial from the company bellow. I called them this morning to cancel and they said it was to late. (I ordered yesterday) I told them I did not want to pay $80:00 per month and that was a stupid price) But at this point it looks like I will have to go to my bank to have them place a stop on this company
    OZN Web, LLC dba Tri Vaper
    44 W Monroe #1707
    Tempe, AZ, 85003

    EU Corporate Contact:

    OZN WEB LTD
    145-152 St. John Street
    London EC1V 4PW England
    US Corporate Contact:

    OZN Web, LLC
    44 W Monroe #1707
    Tempe, AZ, 85003

    4.2 TRI Vaper,

    Reply
    1. Staff

      Thank you for your comment. Looks like we’re going to have to publish a Scam Alert for Tri Vapor as well. There seem to be several in the AZ and UT area, perhaps they are all owned by the same group? – We’ll check into it. Let us know how your bank handles it. They should be used to this by now, many are. – Dave

      Reply
  5. Bill

    Bill F.

    You claim to be honest and above-board in your dealings with customers. Prove it!

    It does not matter if the deceptive and false advertising is by you or an affiliate using your site. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that all advertising is honest and not confusing or misleading.

    To me, you only have one option – remove all the auto subscription offers from ALL web pages on your server. If any of your web pages link to another site with an auto subscription offer – you should post a warning that the person is leaving your site and that the new site will have different terms/conditions.

    Reply
  6. Bill F

    Julia,
    Without ever purchasing or trying our product, I think it is a HUGE assumption that we have bad tasting product or we are supposedly some type of ‘scam’ as you put it in your statements. I see where you try and protect yourself legally and say that’s your ‘opinion’ but how can an opinion be something that is a direct conflict of an easily proven fact? The fact is that we have only AMERICAN MADE juice in an FDA certified lab. I will be glad to send you the lad reports. If you would promote yourself as an affiliate for the brands that you so obviously are getting paid to promote, I would call into question your motives. But it is clear that your motives are the exact same motives that you tell your customers that you hate. Greed.

    As far as returns: If someone is genuinely unhappy with our product we give returns even after the 14 days. I have given many and I am willing to prove it to you even though I have no obligation to do so.

    Let me state for the record (which I am positive this post will never make it to your board because your advertisers will surely complain) American Smoke has no affiliation with the companies that you speak of in your post. ( Lift Vapor, XO or any other)

    You say we are less expensive? Correct. We are significantly less expensive that a majority of the competition. We are less expensive because we are actually trying to get people away from traditional cigarettes. That’s the underlying reason for electronic cigarettes in the first place. Yes. We do need to make a little money to keep the fight going. Big tobacco companies have way more money that you and I together and they are so happy to see people like you who bash genuine companies like ours, so the consumers turn away from vapor and electronic cigarettes altogether.

    You state: “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.” That’s not exactly hiding the terms if that’s what you’re suggesting we do. There are multiple spots to see the terms. If we put up a page that was just a giant TERMS page, nobody would ever try the product. At what point do you need to say “I have to attempt to sell this, a little.”

    We don’t run our operation from a garage, either. We have 4 warehouse locations thought the country but we are based in Florida.

    You also say the offer is “NOT RISK FREE.” I have to object to that statement as well. If you read the terms, all we want is enough time to be able to cancel the charge to the customers card. Our system automatically charges the customer, 14 days after the shipment is received (According to the tracking number) and the cost to ship the package back to us via first class postage, with delivery confirmation is $2.62, not $18 as you suggest. So yes, the customer is responsible for the $4.95 and $2.60 which is more like $7.55 total. I could also let you speak to thousands of people who have gotten the kit 100% free. All they had to pay for was the $14.95 for cartridges and we would give them the kit for free. As a matter of fact, if any of your readers want the starter kit, 100% free with no obligation at all except buying the replacement filters, they can use the coupon code: Julia1205 on our ecommerce website http://www.americansmoke.com. I’ll even give you 10% commission for life on all future cartridge purchases from that customer. (email me for details. I’m sure you wont)

    I could go on about the dis-information you are giving your readers but I think I’ve had enough of this. It’s a shame that you waste your writing talent on this negative website. I understand the need to call-out the scams and I agree with you. But selling yourself as an authority who has vetted all the websites who you speak of on here, is a lie. Just as much of a lie as you claim to “hate.” The screen clips that you show above belong to promoters and affiliates. I am investigating the one with the girl and the other claims of FREE STARTER KIT as well. We do not promote a FREE STARTER KIT only a FREE TRIAL.

    In closing; I wish you the best but if you want your readers to believe you, stop making stuff up about others. Yes there are a lot of scams out there. We aren’t one of them. You will most-likely not let this post fly on your site. But in-case you do, just let it be known that a lot of your info about us is wrong. about 90% of it. Have a great holiday. By chance, do you have your attorneys address for me? I have a nice little letter for him.

    Reply
    1. Tcat Houser

      ” By chance, do you have your attorneys address for me? I have a nice little letter for him.”

      I’m sure I can find my Paypal transaction # where they had to cancel the auto-charge.

      “Our system automatically charges the customer, 14 days after the shipment is received ”

      I wondering if that is changed. I was charged $150 or so for an auto-ship,
      about 7 days after I got my starter kit. I called in within 1 hr of seeing that charge
      (I get auto-notification of $0.01 or more of a ‘capture’.

      I was told I should have read…. (I actually read TOS’s) and was told No, you
      are past your 14 days.

      So…
      “As far as returns: If someone is genuinely unhappy with our product we give returns even after the 14 days. I have given many and I am willing to prove it to you even though I have no obligation to do so.”

      Must be a very recent change.

      Since I have been with PayPal since Jan 2000 and a business account
      customer service handled my call and removed the capture quite quickly.

      ” The screen clips that you show above belong to promoters and affiliates. I am investigating the one with the girl and the other claims of FREE STARTER KIT as well. We do not promote a FREE STARTER KIT only a FREE TRIAL.”

      I happen to have some understanding of affiliate marketing. Assuming you are
      working with a reputable affiliate broker (say ClickBank or others) the TOS would
      allow you to shut them down and provide actionable items to use.

      I’m certainly delighted you are offering options beyond analog cigarette smoking.
      I would still be a customer and not have spent a New York minute looking
      at options if I didn’t get such a nasty surprise of a auto-ship bill a week
      after I got my starter kit!

      I walked in suspecting the Gillette ‘give them the razor, sell them the blades’
      and was happy with that.

      I went back to my Nat Sherman ($11 a pack) until I found a Buck Naked (Polaris).
      That was no great deal considering its operational life, and I didn’t have
      any great auto-ship shock.

      I also found it eye-opening when I did a Google search.

      Bill, may I suggest you spend some of the law firm billing
      making things more clear to prospects? I wouldn’t have
      gotten upset and looked elsewhere, I promise.

      I’m going to assume you really want to ‘do good’.
      If so, there are folks using similar tactics, that
      are real bottom-feeders and by using
      similar logistics you put yourself in the same
      bottom-feeding league.

      I’m not calling spinfuel the greatest thing
      since sliced bread. THEY could spend
      a little money on things like a Content Deliver System (CDN),
      .

      The tone of your response to Julie gives me
      the benefit of a doubt that you could
      do ‘good stuff’ if you addressed
      what I have brought up.

      I see a legitimate market for
      the automatic e-cigs like yours and Blu.

      Talk to your lawyer, webmaster
      and clean up the affiliate program

      Address these issues, and I’ll
      sing your praises, for 0% of my sales.

      .

      Reply
  7. PeteC2

    These kinds od scams really burn me. I started with a blu starter kit…under-powered batteries…cartridges that did not last nearly the advertised time…however in retrospect, I was actually pretty lucky! At least there were no hidden costs, the quality of the ejuice was actually pretty good (JC after all), and there were no hidden costs.

    These “free” ecig kit with escalating charges should flat out be against the law. They may just dance on being within the letter of the law, but they are patently meant to mislead consumers. How many folks looking for an alternative to smoking get trapped by one of these scams only to never give vaping another try, and return to smoking?

    Reply
    1. pat

      thanks for posting this, i got scamed by regal cigs x 2. but got my money back minus shipping ,thanks to scam alert being posted.

      Reply
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