Published on February 4th, 20160
O2PUR Free E-Cigarette Starter Kit
Here at TINA.org we encountered an ad playing on the radio for a free e-cigarette starter kit. Because of our past coverage of free e-cig starter kits, we paid special attention and here’s what we found.
- The company is called O2PUR, and advertises a FREE e-cigarette starter kit. The ad mentions the word “free” several times. A reasonable consumer would guess that perhaps the starter kit was, in fact, free? Wrong. If you order the starter kit, you have to purchase “2 Replacement Atomizers” costing a total of $14.99 plus $4.95 shipping and handling, which you’re not told about until you get to the order page. And that’s not all.
- Many consumers have complained that their cards were charged without their consent after signing up for the free kit, and the company’s terms and conditions are anything but clear. As of Feb. 1, 2016, the terms noted a monthly subscription add-on “IF selected by Customer,” in which case your card will be charged $69.95 a month for shipments of e-juice and replacement atomizers, but two days later, on Feb. 3, 2016, this term mysteriously disappeared. And before this term disappeared, we called O2PUR to try to get more info and a customer service representative of the company said that signing up for the monthly subscription might actually be automatic. In other words, it may be a negative-option offer.
- The company currently has an “F” rating with the BBB.
- O2PUR boasts a testimonial page of success stories, but the company notes (in small print) that “[t]he testimonial videos on this page are delivered by paid actors.”
More concerning is that this company seems to be a new incarnation of Vapex, a company previously investigated by TINA.org and fined by Utah for violating consumer protection laws – including offering e-cigarette products as free when they weren’t. The hints:
- Scott Barth, named as an “officer, director, manager, agent and/or owner” of Vapex in the aforementioned agreement, is listed as Founder and COO of O2PUR on his LinkedIn page.
- Vapex’s address and O2PUR’s address listed on the BBB search results are almost identical.
On Feb. 4, TINA.org sent a letter to Utah consumer protection officials alerting them to O2PUR and apparent violations of the Vapex settlement.
Along with touting free e-cigarettes that really aren’t free, the company is making unsubstantiated claims, the same type that Vapex was cited for by Utah, including:
- SMOKE ANYWHERE—The radio ad claims that “[t]he advanced O2PUR design creates a pleasant vapor … this allows individuals to enjoy the nicotine they love whenever and wherever they are.” But at least 18 states and about 400 municipalities restrict vaping, which the ad conveniently fails to mention.
- FEEL HEALTHIER—The testimonial page notes how one user feels “healthier” and how O2PUR users are more active.
And while the FDA has not approved any e-cigarette product as a smoking cessation therapy, the company’s testimonial page lists several “success stories” — including one about how smokers “make the switch” to e-cigarettes and noting how “the craving went away.”
And one last thing: the company is claiming a cost savings, advertising that the average smoker can save hundreds of dollars a month with O2PUR even though the cost really depends on usage levels and tax rates in different states.
For more on TINA.org’s coverage of e-cigarettes, click here.
This article was updated most recently on 1/23/17.
aka 02Pur, O2Pure, 02Pure