Every few weeks or so we seem to get a spate of people ringing us up demanding to know where their money is.
They’ve had an electronic cigarette from someone advertising a free trial – and they’re wondering why their money is suddenly disappearing from their bank account. (Unfortunately, one of the companies involved has a similar name to us – check out this list here and guess which one it is!)
Here’s what happens:
1. You see a website which advertises a free e-cigarette.
2. Even though the e-cigarette is free, you are required to put your credit or debit card details in.
3. You get your electric cigarette. Chances are, it is a low quality version, with leaking e-liquid and dodgy components. Let’s just hope the company didn’t skimp on testing their e-liquid too!
4. After a short period, money (usually £50 or so) starts going out of your bank account on a regular basis – for refills! Here’s what Julie has said below in the comments
5. Your bank tells you it is a legitimate scheme, and you need to get in touch with the e-cigarette company which sold you the e-cigarette to cancel it. Here’s a comment from our YouTube video warning about scams:
I know from making other enquiries that my bank wouldn’t stop anything. They’d take it as an ordinary direct debit. Once you’ve made contact with whatever company and paid them for something, the bank will refuse to step in.
6. You try to cancel the trial, and find it impossible or very difficult to get hold of the company.
7. You end up cancelling your card, and have to change all your direct debits as a result.
Here’s what Julie Parnell told us in the facebook comments on this post:
Got my fingers burnt! I ordered a cheap trial starter pack for £7.99, then at Christmas time I had £59 taken from my bank account. My bank refused to refund me, so I had no alternative but to stop my bank card! I couldn’t get any money out until my new card and pin arrived! Very stressful and upsetting! I had to borrow money to buy food and put petrol in my car! The company were impossible to get hold of!
Obviously, there may be some variation, and for all we know there may be some companies which are a bit more legitimate who are doing it. However, if you are thinking of using one of these free trials, consider doing the following:
1. Check the company is not on the consumer protection list run by Vapers Network.
2. Google the name to see if other people have reported.
3. Consider posting a question on an e-cigarette forum or on a facebook group such as Ecig Users or Vapors Lounge to see if anyone else has used them. There’s even a facebook group specifically dedicated to exposing scams: Ecig Vendors, and Ecig Products that are NOT Recommended!
4. If it is a UK company, check to see if it is a member of the UK Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association.
We’re a member of the association, and to become a member had to pass through a strict audit of our processes, as well as undergo UK lab tests to ensure the purity of our e-liquid. (And no – we don’t offer free trials!)
In my opinion, one of the worst things about the scam is that it is likely to put some people off the electronic cigarette for life. But the electronic cigarette remains a device which has the ability to change people’s lives for the better.
1. Get in contact with your bank immediately. When I had a similar experience, my bank were able to stop the company from taking any more money from my account.
2. It may also be worth getting in contact with Trading Standards, although unfortunately some of these companies are based overseas.
3. Contact the company – and be persistent! In the comments below, Peter Edis describes how he got his money back:
To successfully get a FULL REFUND on unsolicited packs mailed to you and money taken from your account without your consent, you HAVE to be persistent, never give up!
See the comments below for the full story of how Peter managed to get a refund.
Electronic Cigarette Scams Exposed
I leave you with a video warning from our MD:
Have you been scammed? Please leave your story below in the comments so other people don’t have the same experience.
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