Published on July 22nd, 20140
How Vaporin E-Cigs Could Cost You
Vaporin is just one of many companies looking to make it big in the burgeoning e-cigarette market. Recently, TINA.org received an email from Vaporin (marked as spam) that pushed a free trial and, obligingly, included a link to “Get yours now!”
But free doesn’t usually mean free. Here’s how that phrase plays out in this case.
Recurring monthly charges
Vaporin.com sells the company’s e-cigarette products but the terms and conditions on that page reveal far less than its counterpart on tryvaporin.com and does not include information on Vaporin’s Refill Program.
TINA.org had to do a little digging to find that the terms and conditions on tryvaporin.com, which is trademarked Vaporin, plainly state that consumers will be automatically enrolled in the monthly shipment program:
Upon placing your first order for the Product you will be enrolled in the Vaporin member Refill Program. Vaporin will send you a Premium Starter Kit … All you pay for is shipping and handling at a rate of $4.95.
Lucky you, a member of the club. But what’s this membership really all about?
In short, it’s a negative-option offer that you must opt out of or else face a recurring $85 charge for additional products every month. And that’s on top of a one-time $110 charge that hits when the 14-day trial period ends. So, that’s a lot of dollar signs tied to something being advertised as free in an email.
Good luck getting out
It’s also worth noting the hoops one has to jump through when attempting to cancel membership. For starters, there are two numbers to call; one to communicate that you no longer wish to be a member of the Refill Program, and another to retrieve a proof of purchase required to mail back the items sent as part of the free trial.
Interesting note on those items: They “must be returned in the same condition as received,” according to the terms and conditions. Seems kind of tricky if you decide to, you know, actually try it out. Oh, and one more thing, there’s a 20 percent restocking fee on all returned products. Free fail.
Unlike the Vaporin email, the aforementioned website tryvaporin.com does not advertise the promotion with the word “free,” but instead calls it a “no-risk trial.”
Another red flag. The testimonials.
Scroll down the tryvaporin.com website and you’ll find two testimonials from “Jenny” and “Kim.” Jenny writes that she’s ecstatic that she can now “smoke my electronic cigarette at my favorite bar with no problems.” And Kim writes that she no longer has to worry about smoking in front of her kids because “there are no bad odors when I smoke.”
But both photos are stock images. Jenny’s photo comes from Shutterstock, where she’s called a “smiling beautiful woman.” And Kim’s photo also appears on the website for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as in another testimonial for an audio coaching series called Overcoming Infidelity where she goes by the moniker Mary S.
Vaporin is hardly alone in misleading consumers in the e-cigarette industry. Click here to read TINA.org’s investigation of emerging misleading marketing tactics within the e-cigarette industry.