Fake ‘free e cig trials’ could end up costing you more…

Warning StampThere is no such thing as a free lunch (or e-cig). At least this is the kind of thinking that we should all adopt, when faced with the myriad of fake offers for ‘free trial’ e-cigs that are currently littering the worldwide web.

Most of us are savvy enough to ignore them. However, there are still too many unassuming people who are being tricked into handing over their credit card details. These people are then charged for expensive low quality goods (if they receive anything at all!) and sometimes even signed up for costly monthly payment plans that they knew nothing about. The money they spend is far more than the money they think they have saved.

So, when presented with an offer like this, the best thing to do is to proceed with caution. Ask yourself the following questions: if it is a free product, why do they need my credit card details? Where is the proof that they will offer what they say they will? And why do they only mention the ‘monthly payment plan’ in the small print?

Get the idea? For those who still think that signing up for a free e-cig trial is a worthwhile thing to do, I have 4 words for you: Read the small print!
From popular tv programs like Watchdog, to every other story and news item out there about someone who has been ripped off, the problem usually begins when they failed to familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions (often found in miniscule print).

Here’s what to look out for:

  1. With fake free trials you will be asked to hand over your credit card details – scammers need this information to charge you for low quality e-cigs at a higher cost than what they are worth – they may send you nothing at all. If you don’t recognize the brand or the company and you have not read the small print, don’t sign up.
  2. Beware of the flashing banners. This is a popular trick used to distract you from the small print. The banners will tell you how great your ‘free’ product is, the small print will tell you the facts – always head for the small print, usually found at the bottom of the screen. 
  3. You will usually be asked to tick a box confirming that you have ‘read and agreed to the terms and conditions’. With closer inspection you will see that these terms and conditions include your membership to a monthly subscription. You will be handing over monthly payments, with no legal backing to say that you have been ripped off. 
  4. They will tell you that you can cancel at anytime, which is probably true – if you can get hold of them. What you may find is that the number they have given you will either be engaged or have a tendency to ring out.
  5. Sometimes trusting your instincts is the best way to navigate through life. Fake free trial websites often look badly put together and overly garish – if it looks wrong, it probably is. Don’t sign up. 

Think of the fake ‘free trial’ as you would the suspect stranger or the archetypal dodgy dealer. Would you give him your credit card details so easily? Would you hand over your personal information based on a flashy smile and offers of a ‘freebie’? Of course not. So why would you do it online?
Behind every website there is a person and just because the platform is different, this does not make the offer more reliable. The truth is, that it is often best to assume that anyone offering a free trial is actually a scammer, until you can prove otherwise.

Most of us know that the internet is rife with these scams. But what makes the fake ‘free trial’ e-cig offer so much worse than your usual internet deception, is the context. For those looking to switch from traditional tobacco cigarettes to e-cigs – which contain less toxins and carcinogens – some of them may be put off trying reputable, quality brands because of the bad experience they have had.

With so many people who use e-cigs saying that they feel better about themselves for using them rather than smoking tobacco cigarettes, it would be a shame for scams like this to put others off. Due to the fact that e-cigs are reusable, it can also help switchers to save money too.

So, if you are looking for a way to save on smoking, simply switching to an e-cig could be the answer. They may not be free, but you won’t find yourself being scammed with offers of ‘free trials’ that leave you out of pocket in the long run.

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Consumer Reports

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