Electronic cigarettes are billed as a way to help smokers quit for good. Mark Lara says he decided to give it a try after seeing a trial offer from Direct E-Cig, but there were problems from the start.
He said, "Never worked, they never worked."
Lara tells us he agreed to pay $9.99 for the shipping involved in the trial offer, but shortly after he got a bill for $63. Lara says getting a refund has been difficult.
"They hung up on me a bunch of times on me and then they say they are not going to give me my money back and all that stuff," Lara said. "I said I need my money back, because that was a trial and they never did."
Lara is not alone. According to the Better Business Bureau, 360 similar complaints have come in against Direct E-Cig from across the country.
Monica Russo with the Houston BBB said, "Consumers had signed up for they thought was a free trial and then ended up getting charged $100, $200 or more."
In response to the complaints, Direct E-Cig told the Better Business Bureau their website notes consumers must cancel within 15 days to get a refund to avoid being billed the full price of the $109 kit and future monthly payments.
Officials with the BBB say this is not the first time they have seen consumers getting bills after trying a trial offer.
"If you are surfing the Internet, for example, you'll see a pop-up for a free trial and people who click on it will think they can sign up for something for just a few dollars," Russo explained. "They will give the company their credit card information and find they have been charged for much more."
We contacted Direct E-Cig by phone and was told we had to send an email to the company. We did that and have not heard back from the company.