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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Direct E-Cig Burns Missouri Customers, BBB Says

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge The BBB gives Direct E-Cig an F.
  • The BBB gives Direct E-Cig an F.
Smokeless cigarettes may be better for your health than the traditional cancer sticks.

But when it comes to your wallet, the Better Business Bureau says, look out! They say they've received complaints from customers from 44 states, including 40+ complaints from Missouri and Illinois alone, against Direct E-Cig.

The company, which is based in Naples, Florida, and London, England, promised customers "free" cigs -- but ended up burning many of them with as much as $200 in additional charges to their credit cards.

And the details weren't just buried in the fine print. In some cases, customers never received any warning about the additional charges at all, the BBB says.

The company's business plan was one of the classics, per the BBB's report. Direct E-Cig told the BBB that, once customers had asked for the free smokeless cigarettes, they had to follow a cancellation process within fifteen days or be billed for $109.95, along with future monthly shipments. Should they attempt to return the unsolicited shipments, they were charged a $10 stocking fee for all returns, plus $7.50 for each "opened or missing cartridge."

But customers who received email solicitations for "free cigs" weren't told about all those extra charges, they told the BBB, much less their automatic nature.

"The complaints point to a significant and ongoing pattern of problems with Direct E-Cig," the BBB's president, Michelle Corey, said in a prepared statement.

Even worse: Consumers who bothered to do their homework and research Direct E-Cig found what they believed to be an independent consumer site -- "Consumer Guide USA." They ordered only after seeing that Direct E-Cig had received glowing reviews.

Only problem? That site does Internet marketing for Direct E-Cig, the BBB says, making it hardly an independent assessor.

Direct E-Cig has no contact information for its corporate office on its website, but after listening to really annoying "hold" music for five minutes, we were able to leave a message on its customer service line, requesting the company's side of the story. We also left them an email message.

We'll update this post if we hear back.

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