What a pleasant surprise (not) to find yet another clone of the ever-metastasizing phone lens scam. MobileOptiks’ Proshot HDX is our quarry on March 18, 2017. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal or wrong behavior; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer (someone who takes your money by trickery or theft). I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.
Ridiculous claims: -1. Smart Lifestyle Tips makes these claims in a “review.” They’re just a mask for MobileOptiks; the two URLs have the same domain.
- “Shown To Outperform Professional DSLR Cameras.” Anybody with a passing knowledge of photography knows better than this.
- “Bloggers have been raving on the internet about the ProShot HDX.” Yes, the corridors of the Internet echo with the howls of cheated buyers of lenses like these.
- “The ProShot HDX lenses are classed as premium lenses.” You won’t get three premium lenses for $29. You might get three toys suitable for an uncritical child.
- “75% off their normal price!” Read: “WE ARE SCAMMERS.”
Post Office box: 0. 225 Thomas Ave. N. Suite R – Minneapolis MN 55405. Okay, it’s a real place — shared by more internet companies than James Bond’s Austin Martin has license plates. For example:
- Military Supply USA
- Blue Drone Order Fulfillment
- Consumer Rewards Hub
- Zika Shield
I think it’s a safe guess that all of these companies are really the same outfit. Military Supply USA sells Alumitact X700 flashlights. When I reviewed them, I gave them a -3. The Better Business Bureau gave military supply USA an F for bad service.
Onerous terms: -1
- To get a refund, you have to phone for a return authorization number, and MobileOptiks must receive your your product, all within 30 days from when you placed your order-–not from when you got it. Even though they advertise a “100% money back guarantee,” you pay a $10 restocking fee.
- If your lenses ever stop working, They’ll replace them–provided they are not worn-out or broken. (What else could be wrong with them? Maybe if you got them dirty you could return them?) You pay a $10 restocking fee.
- They don’t guarantee that their product is fit for any use, nor that anything they say is true.
- You can’t sue them or join a third-party arbitration.
- They’ll use all the information you give them, and all that they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you, spam you, robocall, junk-mail and text you.
- They’ll share your information with other companies that will do the same.
You can opt out or ask that your information be removed from their database. However, the BBB received this complaint: “This company has repeatedly ignored our requests to have both them and their affiliate marketers remove our business email addresses from their ongoing SPAM email marketing tactics. We have reached out (politely) several times and were told this was being addressed. Nothing has been done over the course of several months.”
Lying and deception: -1.
- Several links on the first page are labelled “Free offer.” But they take you to the same page that the “Order now” links go to, which instead offers 75% off.
- Warning; on the order form, a quantity of five sets of lenses is pre-checked; that’s $107. Also,”Expedited shipping” is pre-checked–another $10 expense.
Obfuscation: -1. They don’t tell you the price until you drill down to the third page.
Phony reviews: -1. Vague, wildly enthusiastic reviews by people you never heard of before, with bold graphical links to the scam site, are just advertising. I particularly enjoyed the phony review by healthguidewebs.com, which advises, “Due to a poor mobile camera are you lacking somewhere in capturing wonderful photos? If yes, then you don’t need to worry anymore now as here comes ProShot HDX for you all.” Also, the vendor’s own Smart Lifestyle Tips page masquerades as a review.
Crummy product: -1. I’ve tested these lenses, and they are pretty bad. I’ve also received a slew of complaints about them.
Overpriced: -1. Amazon carries apparently identical lenses for $6.
Unauthorized charges: +1. I found no reports of this.
Final score; -7
Modern smart phones already have good cameras. And with just a little effort you can learn to take pictures you’ll be proud of. These toy lenses aren’t going to be much help. If you must have them, buy them from Amazon.