Mooned by HDeals x334 Selenic Moon

This moon looks so pretty.  What could possibly be wrong with it?

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: HDeals.US
Office address: Rue 9 N98 Hay Elmanar Youssoufia Safi, Morocco
Return address: Wang KaiKai, Qipei a4-1-201, dong yangshi jinhuashi 322100, China
Email: sales@hdeals.us

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Suspicious location: 0.  Google Maps couldn’t resolve either address.  Normally I’d ding them a point for this; but I think the problem is that the address’ formats are unusual.

Onerous terms: -1

  • The guarantee period is 30 days from the date of your order – not the date you receive your lamp.  Shipping is estimated to take up to four weeks (28 days).  You may have only two days to get it back to them — in China.
  • To be acceptable, your returned lamp must be unused.  So much for “Satisfaction guaranteed.”
  • Only regularly-priced items can be refunded.  But the lamp is on sale, $16 off.
  • You pay the return shipping — to China.
  • They don’t guarantee that the quality of the lamp will meet your expectations; nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  You can opt in to receive emailed advertising, and opt-out.

90 daysLying and deception: -1.  HDeals.US advertises a 90-day guarantee.  But their returns policy specifies a 30-day guarantee.

Obfuscation: -1.  Lots of pressure to buy now.pressure

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.  (I’m ignoring the on-site testimonials, since there’s no way to check them.). I see an on-site form for adding a review.

Crummy product: +1.  Amazon’s remarkably similar offering is rated 4.5 stars by 118 customers.  It’s not unanimous; I noticed some grumbling about poor-quality 3D printing and harsh lighting.  And of course I can’t be sure that the Amazon product is the same as that from HDeals.US.

Overpriced: -1.  HDeals.US is asking $39 for their 4-inch model.  Amazon has a 3.9-inch model listed at $18.

Bad service: +1.  There are so many Hot Deals companies, and so many complaints about them, that I had trouble finding relevant complaints.  Anyway my test “customer question” email was promptly answered.

Total score; 1

Unauthorized charges: HDeals.US doesn’t accept PayPal.  This presents a particular risk when dealing with an overseas business.

Conclusion: I found some of the Amazon reviews discouraging.  I would just walk away from this product from any seller, unless it’s retail so I can see it.

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Left in the dark by ClearSight night driving glasses

Not only was I ripped off, they sent me a fradulant tracking number, and My Bank called me this morning  to ask me if I was moving to LosAngles, California.

get money backOctober 28, 2017: One of many complaints about ClearSight on file at RipoffReports.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: ClearSight
10024 N Taryne St., Hayden, ID 83835
Phone: (415) 727-8750
email: contact@clearsightglassesco.com (I found a complaint that this address doesn’t work)

Ridiculous claims: -1.  Comfortable 1-size-fits-all design.”  Anybody who wears prescription glasses knows this can’t be true.

Suspicious location: -1.  “10024 N Taryne St., Hayden, ID 83835” is an office/warehouse building; in this four-year-old picture it was for sale.  That’s not suspicious.  But this partial list of other businesses using this address, some dubious, is.

  • hqDollar Fulfillment
  • Positive Vibez
  • Vanika Jewelry
  • Locket Kingdom
  • How 2 Publishing
  • Macek Consulting
  • Invisible Body Shaper
  • Shurkleen Carpet Cleaning
  • Klein’s Home Improvement
  • SafeSound Personal Alarm

Onerous terms: 0.  I see little to object to in the easy-to-read terms.  I’ll note that they don’t guarantee that their glasses are fit for any use, nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  You can opt in to receive emailed advertising, and opt out.

Lying and deception: +1.  None found.

Obfuscation: -1.  Constant popups about other people who have supposedly ordered glasses.  Also; “Stock is extremely limited: Sell Out Risk: HIGH.

got himPhony reviews: -1.  On-site testimonials are fake.  I checked the picture of one of them and it’s all over the internet.

bevelCrummy product: 0.  All ClearSight definitely says about the glasses is that they are tinted yellow and are “anti-reflectory.”  It isn’t clear whether this means they have an anti-reflective coating.  ClearSight doesn’t say they are polarized.  One of the pictures on the ClearSight web site shows a lens with a bevelled edge.  That looks like a wrap-around bifocal; I doubt it would be helpful.

Overpriced: +1. ClearSight is asking $20 for a pair.  It seems pretty easy to “win” a second nearly-free pair for which you pay the shipping charge.  So, say, $10 a pair.  Amazon has several yellow-tinted drivers’ glasses offerings, including this pair for $8 that is polarized and comes with a case.

Bad service: -1.  I see complaints of slow or no delivery.  One person writesThe money has already been taken out of my account, where are my glasses?  They were ordered on October 6th, 2017?”  “I placed an order and never received the night vision glasses.  No way to contact them.  Website not available. No way to track the shipping number they gave me.  It is a scam.  They just kept my money,writes another.

Total score; -1

Unauthorized charges: I’ve seen some complaints about this, but it looks like the real problem is slow delivery.  Some of the small sellers collect orders until they have enough money to buy a case of whatever they’re selling.  A bad sign; ClearSight doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Buy some drivers’ glasses at your pharmacy.  There you can try them on and test them and, if necessary, return them without a hassle.

 

Fun with faces; an easy way to catch scammers lying

All you have to do is catch them lying … about anything.

For the past year or more, I’ve been outing web scammers based on my ten-point Scam-O-Meter scoring system.  If ten points sounds too complicated, here’s a tip; all you have to do is catch them lying.  Catch them lying about anything.  Once you do, that’s all you need to know, unless you’re happy with forking over your credit card data to a liar.

A very easy lie to check is any portrait that you see on a web page.  I prefer to use portraits of people giving rave testimonials, if the web page has them.  Portraits of satisfied customers, doctors and other experts, or the supposed founder or owner of the business give good results too.  I’ve even found a scammer who posted an image of his supposed building that really belonged to a different business.

While it’s not true that “A picture never lies,” it is true that this kind of lie is ridiculously easy to spot.   Here’s how to do it:

  1. Store a copy of the photo on your device
  2. Run a Google Image Search on the photo
  3. The search results reveal the lie

1: Store a copy of the photo on your device

Our example is this ad for ClearSight night-vision glasses I noticed on Facebook.  Normally, you can alt-click on a photo on a web page and capture it.  Here I am doing it on a different web page in MacOS on the Sierra browser.  Other OSs and browsers have basically the same feature.  When I alt-click the image, a floating menu pops up.  I select “Save image as …” and go thru the usual dialog to pick a folder in which to save it.

save as

Some web pages are designed such that you can’t grab the individual image so easily.  (And that evasiveness should already be ringing an alarm bell if you were thinking about buying something from them.). For example, ClearSight Glasses won’t let me grab a portrait next to a testimonial.  “Save image as …” doesn’t come up on the menu.cant save

got himThis isn’t really an obstacle.  On a Mac it’s easy to capture all or part of a screen image; and other OSs have a similar feature.  There’s no way a scammer can keep me from recording the pixels on my own computer’s display, and a screen-cap is all I need.  For me, it’s [Apple] [shift] [4]; my mouse pointer turns into crosshairs.  I draw a box around the part of the screen I want, and whatever is inside (like Andy Barns) gets stored on my computer.  Got him!

2: Run a Google Image Search on the photo

Go to Google Images.  Click on the camera.search 1

Two tabs appear.  Click Upload an image.  Then click Choose file.search 2

Navigate to the image or screen cap you saved on your device and run the search.

3: The search results reveal the lie

We’re looking for any of these results:

  • The picture is from a stock photo service.
  • The picture obviously belongs to someone else.  Stolen, probably.
  • The picture appears in lots of ads, with a different name in every ad.

If none of these is true, the web page passes the lie detector test … that test, anyway.

Here’s what the top of an image search result looks like.  Scrolling further down, you’ll find links to any web pages that contain the same picture.  I’ve found that some of the pages don’t have the picture I was looking for.  Maybe they were changed after Google indexed them.  Or maybe the picture was part of an ad that didn’t appear in the page on this round.

results

You’ve been very patient to read this far!  So now let’s enjoy some of the results of my search on the portrait from the ClearSight testimonial.

It turns out that Andy Barns has really gotten around.  Here he is pitching a shoe-polishing gadget for Equerry, only he’s Steven Graham:

test 2

This versatile man is also a massage specialist (no name?) for LotusInParis:

masseur

And now as Bruce The Builder pitching Cheddar, a loan company.  Notice he’s moved from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Pennsylvania.  Must have; it’d be a hell of a commute:

builder

There’s way, way more to Andy Barns’ online career.  Let’s look at just one more item; here’s a knockoff of The Onion having some fun with Robert Alexander, played by our friend Andy.

yam

If I’d been considering buying a pair of ClearSight night vision glasses, I’d have given up the idea by now.

I didn’t find a stock photo service selling Andy Barn’s picture.  So I’m guessing it was originally stolen from somebody’s online post, simply by copying it to a file as I explained earlier.  I’m a lot more cautious now about posting pictures of myself and anybody I know!

 

Bitten by Bella Labs teeth whitening system (2017)

Then my bank cancelled my card and they took out on my husbands different card. This is ridiculous and my bank is like they get away with it and they don’t give us any info to track. So now both my bank card and my husbands have to be cancelled.

October 25, 2017: The above is from PissedConsumer.com re: Bella Labs’ wrinkle cream free trial / auto-ship scam.

I was hoping that by now Bella Labs’ teeth whitening product that I wrote about in July 2016 had bitten the dust.  But this scam isn’t brushed off that easily.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Website: Bella Labs
US phone: (818) 303-9260. (See web site for other countries.)

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • “Dentists around the world are raving about the benefits that come from at-home teeth whitening systems.”  They might switch to ranting after reading the next one.
  • Best-TeethWhitening-Kit.com: “You can, of course, go to the dentist. But what’s the point of wasting so much money on several treatments to bleach or whiten your teeth, when you can use Bella Teeth Whitening System at home?”
  • From the same reviewer: “According to studies, people with whiter smiles tend to have a healthier personal life and earn more money.”  Okay, “studies” is plural; let’s see two of them.
  • PerfectTeethPenBlog.com: “Works effortlessly in delivering professional teeth whitening treatment at home, in the office or anywhere you feel comfortable.”  Yes, you’ll look great sitting at your desk drooling with this plastic thing in your mouth.  Driving might be a good time, too.  Or you could work in a quick whitening while riding the subway.

Carmen_SandiegoSuspicious location: -1.  Bella Labs doesn’t disclose their physical address.  Their T&Cs don’t even mention the state or nation whose laws govern the agreement.  So I present my Carmen Sandiego “Where In The World’ Award.

Onerous terms: -1guarantee

  • They may charge a 5% checkout fee.
  • Once you submit an order, you can’t cancel it.
  • You can’t return an opened or used item.  This makes a risk-free trial rather difficult.
  • If you ordered a set of items, you have to return the whole set unopened and unused to avoid a penalty.
  • They charge a $10 restocking fee per unopened, unused item that you return.
  • They run an auto-ship program.  It isn’t clear how you avoid joining it.
  • They don’t guarantee that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them, join a class action that’s suing them, or join a group arbitration.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll beam ads at you; spam, junkmail and robocall you; and text you at your expense.  You can opt out.
  • If you registered on a do-not-call list, hahahaha!
  • They’ll share your data with other companies that will do the same.
  • If they sell their company, your data is part of the deal.

Lying and deception: -1.  Everybody knows that “free” means you don’t have to pay for the thing.  Not now; not ever.  Right?  But not these guys.  offer

How interesting that 29.97 * 5 = 149.85.  This means that they charge the same price for the “free” boxes and the boxes that are not “free.”

Obfuscation: +1.   None found.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 4.49.05 PMPhony reviews: -1.  On-site testimonials are fake.  “Lisa in New York’s” picture is for sale on iStock.  “Publisher”reviews-for-hire include Best-Teethwhitening-Kit.com and (charmingly unique English) PerfectTeethPenBlog.com.

Crummy product: -1.  See “One of the worst teeth-whitening products.”

Overpriced: -1.  Bella Labs is asking $30 per month.  Compare this to Amazon’s All Star Whitening offering; $25 for a starter kit that includes your first month’s supply of gel, and $7.59 for a month’s supply of gel.  With Amazon there’s no danger of getting entangled in an auto-ship scheme without your knowledge.  All Star Whitening also looks like a better quality product.

Bad service: -1.  PissedConsumer.com has many complaints about this.

Total score; -8

Unauthorized charges: PissedConsumer.com is stuffed with complaints about Bella Labs’ free trial sample scam.  I saw mention of an auto-ship service in the T&Cs, so if you buy anything from them it’s possible you’ll discover you’ve somehow enrolled in it. Another bad sign: Bella Labs doesn’t accept PayPal.  I’m turning on the CREDIT CARD RISK ALERT red light.

Other: ScamAdvisor.com notes “Low trust rating.  This site may not be safe to use.”

Conclusion: Stay far away from Bella Labs.

 

Blindsided by Gadgets Catalog 1080p projector

I couldn’t believe how great this product when I got it. The picture and sound quality are above and beyond for the proce.

October 25, 2017: I didn’t edit this testimonial from Gadgets Catalog’s web page about their 1080P Mini Portable HD LCD Projector that has two grammatical errors I know of.  Contact information:

Web site: Gadgets Catalog
Address: 11081 Madrigal St, San Diego, California USA 92129
Email: support@gadgets-catalog.com

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • The projector’s claimed image size seems exaggerated; see “Lying and Deception” below.
  • The claim of a 50% discount is bogus.  Gadgets Catalog is really offering the projector at about twice the going rate.   See “Overpriced” below.

hqSuspicious location: +1. It’s not suspicious.  “11081 Madrigal St, San Diego, CA” is somebody’s house.  I only found one other business using this address; a catering service.

Onerous terms: -1.

  • Gadgets Catalog estimates delivery time at 2 to 5 weeks (35 days.). But the return policy is for 30 days from the date of purchase (not from the date you received your projector).
  • If you use your projector, you can’t return it.
  • The projector is on sale for 50% off.  Note that you can’t return an item that’s discounted.
  • You have to pay the shipping to return the projector.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products will meet your expectations; nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1. You can opt-in to receive emailed advertising, and opt-out.

Lying and deception: -1.  “ … turns your living room into a full-blown home theater with an image up to 220 inches diagonally!”  That’s a claimed image width of over 18 diagonal feet, worthy of a theater indeed.  Further down, it looks to me like Gadgets Catalog whittles down the claimed image size to 5 or 5.6 feet.  They did it indirectly and in an equivocal way; see “The amazing shrinking image size” at the end of this post.

Obfuscation: +1.  None found (tho the image size business is confusing).

Phony reviews: -1.  I see lots of on-site testimonials.  Usually I ignore them because I can’t verify the writers.  But here, several are written in similarly broken English; that stinks.  I didn’t find any external reviews.

Crummy product: 0.  53 Amazon customers rated the same projector an average of 3.3 stars.  Opinions varied:  “Poor quality. Did not project very well. Terrible focus. Returned this item.”  “Very good picture, but hard to read captions. Easy to use in the dark and very useful to carry with you.

Overpriced: -1.  Gadgets Catalog is asking $80 for one projector.  Amazon offers the same projector for $42.

Bad service: +1.  They responded promptly to a “customer question” that I sent them.

Total score; -1

Unauthorized charges: Gadgets Catalog is unknown to the Better Business Bureau, and I’ve found no complaints about them elsewhere.  They delete your credit card data when the transaction is complete.  Gadgets Catalog doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Why pay twice as much?  Also this projector doesn’t look very good.  Rather than gamble $80, I suggest paying more for a device that’s more likely to meet your needs.

Bloopers:

  • Does the projector have a speaker?  I don’t see one, and speakers aren’t mentioned on the web site.
  • Playing virtual baseball, upside-down?

 

The amazing shrinking image size

In the Specifications section of the Gadgets Catalog web page about the projector, I read: Projection Distance: 0.8-2M

All of a sudden we’ve jumped to the metric system.  Is this just to confuse Americans?  (I suppose everybody else was confused by the non-metric measures.)  2 meters is about 78 inches or 6.5 feet.  If the projector can only be six and a half feet from a flat wall, the edge distortion of its 18-foot-diagonal image must be considerable.

Then I read: Projected Dimension: 30-60inch.  What does this mean?

  • If it’s “Between 30 and, at most, 60 inches” then it’s describing the projected image with a single dimension.  Since we’ve been talking about the image’s diagonal measure up to now, let’s assume we still are.  But 60 inches is way smaller than 220 inches.  Suddenly we’re talking about a 5-foot-diagonal image instead of 18 feet.
  • If it’s “30 inches high by 60 inches wide” then it’s describing the projected image with two dimensions, and we’ve stopped talking about its diagonal measure.  Is this just to confuse people?  The Pythagorean theorem lets us calculate the diagonal measure of the picture.  Skip the following if you grok Pythagoras:
Imagine the rectangular image split in half by a diagonal line between two corners.  That line makes the rectangle a pair of right-angled triangles.  We only care about one triangle, because what we want to know is the length of their common side — the diagonal measure of the image.  Pythagoras’ formula is:
A^2 + B^2 = C^2   … where C is the side opposite the right angle.  Side C is the diagonal measure of the image.
30^2 + 60^2 = C^2
900 + 3600 = C^2 = 4500
C = 67 inches = 5.6 feet

5.6 feet is slightly large than the first interpretation.  It’s still way short of 18 feet.  My guess is that you can get a faint 18-foot-diagonal image or a distorted 5-foot-diagonal image, your choice.

Exposed by Gadget Snob USB spy camera

NO MORE endless video files wasting your precious memories with footage empty rooms!”

Facebook advertiser Gadget Snob doesn’t reveal their location.  I’m guessing, based on the charming and unique style of English, that it’s pretty far away.  Contact information:

The Gadget Snob
Phone: 1 800 416 9027
email: mrs.gadget@thegadgetsnob.com

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.

Ridiculous claims: -1.  Based on what I see on Amazon, the $65 discount offer is based on an inflated price.

Carmen_SandiegoSuspicious location: -1.  Gadget Snob doesn’t reveal their location, earning my Carmen Sandiego award.

Onerous terms: 0.  The website has no Terms of Service document. It advertises a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee.  But where would you have to ship your returned camera, and how much would that cost?

Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  The website has no Privacy Policy document.

Lying and deception: 0.  None found.

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.43.34 PMObfuscation: -1.  Animated countdown timer, warning that very few cameras are still in stock, etc. give the impression that you don’t have time to make a careful decision.

Phony reviews: +1.  I’m ignoring the on-site endorsements, since there’s no way I can check them.  I found no “publisher” reviews.

Crummy product: +1.   This Reddit thread is mostly pro, with a few loud exceptions.

Overpriced: +1.  The Gadget Snob is asking $40 for one camera.  Amazon has several offerings at about the same price.

Bad service: +1.  Most commenters in this Reddit thread were happy with the service.  I sent the company a “customer question;” they replied the same day.

Total score; 1.

Unauthorized charges: I found a few accusations of unresponsiveness.  Because I don’t know the company’s location, I can’t find it at the Better Business Bureau.

Conclusion: Their mystery location is annoying, and they seem a bit flakey.  You can get the same camera for the same price on Amazon.

 

Undone by UberTorch Flashlights

Money taken out of my acct immediatiy plan to go to my bank and dispute charge right away hope i get my money back expensive lesson very angry at this company dont order anything from them ever they are a ripp off

This in response to my post about a different offering from SC Enterprises Ltd, TV Frog.  Now I see they’re selling those Chinese flashlights that you’re supposed to be able to blind and hit people with, in this case branded UberTorch.  Contact information:

SC Enterprises Ltd
19-21 Crawford Street, Dept. 706
London, UK W1H 1PJ
By Phone: +1 716 330 1335
By Email: support@ubertorch.com

September 4, 2017; There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.


Ridiculous claims: -1

  • You’d have the ability to disorient any would be attacker with the push of a button.  Right, get out your flashlight, fumble it to the correct setting and shine it in his eyes.   See how far you get with this plan before you’re looking at the ceiling.
  • This light’s incredible LED technology is used by the U.S. Navy Seals, the Coast Guard, …  They’d have to go to an antique store to buy an incandescent bulb flashlight.

Suspicious location: -1.  19-21 Crawford Street, Dept. 706, London, UK W1H 1PJ is a mailbox.  It’s shared by known scam TV Frog.  po

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have 30 days from the day you ordered to return the flashlight — not from the day you receive it.
  • You have to return the flashlight unused.
  • All sales are as-is and final.  
  • They won’t give you a refund, only another flashlight or non-transferable store credit.
  • You pay the return shipping (apparently to the Netherlands)
  • They don’t guarantee that the flashlight is fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  With your permission, they’ll email you advertising.

Lying and deception: -1

  • With Over 20,000 Sold This Month, People Are Talking:  A peek at the source code for the web page shows that this number isn’t a variable; it was typed in with the rest of the sales pitch.  Are they going to go back and edit it every month?  I don’t think so.
<h2>With Over 20,000 Sold This Month, People Are Talking:</h2>
  • We are proud to be fulfilling great products in the USA, helping to provide jobs to American Citizens.  I found a British address; see “Suspicious location” above.  UberTorch’s governing law is BC, Canada.  ScamAdvisor reports that the web site is based in the Netherlands; and buyers of associated product TV Frog have to return their defective products to a Netherlands address.  I see no evidence of shipping from a US location.

Obfuscation: -1.  Careful with that order form; it’s pre-filled for a quantity of three flashlights ($135).

Phony reviews: +1.  Despite SC Enterprise’s claim that “People are talking” I couldn’t find any UberTorch reviews, phony or otherwise.

Crummy product: 0.  I couldn’t find any unbiased ratings.  Keep in mind that a good product can be the bait for a scam.

Overpriced: -1.  SC Enterprises prices one UberTorch at $67.  Amazon offers the UberTorch for $149.  It has no customer ratings yet.  Amazon also carries the remarkably similar Woqhain 800 lumen zoomable flashlight for $9; it’s rated 4.5 stars.

Bad service: -1.  My test email to support@ubertorch.com has gotten no reply yet after five days.


Total score; -5

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this.  ScamAdvisor gives UberTorch website a trust rating of “Low – may be unsafe to use.”  SC Enterprises accepts PayPal.

Conclusion: Buy a flashlight at your local hardware store.