Tag Archives: laissez faire

Smoked by Seal Torch 2000

scamometer seal torchWe are really talking about two products here; a typical low-end tactical flashlight, and a subscription to a newsletter.  The deal is, you accept the free flashlight and end up with the expensive subscription.  It’s March 15, 2017 as I review the seal torch 2000 website.  (Red links are evil; do not click.).  This is the second offer I’ve reviewed from Laissez-Faire Books; they also handle a “tactical pen” that’s endorsed by a “former CIA officer.”

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal or wrong behavior; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer.  I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found … Just a view stretchers.

Post Office box: +1.  Laissez Faire Books | 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. No, this is a real building.pens address

Onerous terms: -1.

  • Your flashlight order automatically triggers a newsletter subscription.
  • Unless you cancel your subscription within seven days, they’ll charge you $40 a month for the newsletter, and they will not give it back.
  • I found no indication of when the seven day countdown begins; when you place your order, or when you receive your first newsletter?  Seven days is barely enough time for something to arrive by physical mail.
  • Accuracy of the information on the website “Cannot be guaranteed.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1.

  • You don’t get to see the second page, which explains about the subscription, until you enter your email address. Even if you decide not to buy anything, they can spam you anyway.
  • They’ll use the information you give them plus what they can suck out of your browser to beam ads at you and spam you.
  • You can try to opt out.  But one person complained that “I cannot get off of the list. I even contacted the spam department at my job. Each email I mark ‘junk’ with Outlook and they still come into my regular inbox. There is NO unsubscribe option in their email, you have to physically write snail mail to them to remove you.

Lying and deception: -1.  A man in a combat outfit steps out of the woods and rests his weapon to promote a “night optical observation” device.

  • After implying that it’s night vision goggles, he reveals that it’s just a flashlight.  But it’s free!  
  • Oh, but to get it you also have to acccept a subscription which you must then struggle to cancel.  Does it help that he’s been on TV?
  • Different parts of the website show different flashlights. Which one is really for sale?

Obfuscation: -1.

  • They don’t tell you about the subscription until you get to the second page.  Then they try to sweeten the deal by throwing in another flashlight, reports, videos, etc.
  • The second page displays a countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • The terms of sale are divided among four documents instead of the usual two.  The Terms and Conditions document is really just a privacy statement. The Privacy Policy is a second, different privacy statement.  The Guarantee Certificate is in fact a guarantee. The Billing Terms is the important document.  It isn’t just about the $4.95 shipping charge; here is where the subscription comes in.

Phony reviews: 0.  The website is festooned with five star reviews. However, it also admits that the real names of its customers have been “redacted.”  I couldn’t find any other reviews of the flashlight, nor of “Spy & Survival Briefing.”

Crummy product: 0.

  • The flashlight resembles typical tactical lights that you’re supposed to be able to blind and hit people with.  I couldn’t find any other information about the seal torch 2000.
  • There’s no way to know what the newsletter, reports, videos, etc. are like..

Overpriced: -1

  • Flashlight; looks like you get what you pay for..
  • Newsletter; at $40 a month, it looks overpriced to me.  You could instead subscribe to American Survivalist Guide for $37 a year (12 issues).

Unauthorized charges: 0.

  • The Better Business Bureau gives a B rating to Agora Financial (Laissez-Faire Books’ parent company) with 50 complaints and eight negative reviews.  The reviews and complaints cover financial services, book purchases and other activities.  Most complaints concerned advertising and service.
  • Reviewopedia has several complaints related to the monthly subscription renewal process. These guys aren’t very good at answering their phones. It isn’t clear to me whether the problem goes beyond this to actual theft.

Final score; -3

I find it a bit slimy for Cade Courtley to trade on his veteran credibility to hawk a deal like this.



Only wounded by a Tactical Pen


Final score; +3

Let’s say you feel insecure, you don’t know how to fight, and you want a convenient, innocuous-looking self-defense weapon.  Maybe just to show off to your buddies!

  • First you thought of a tactical flashlight.  But then you’d be carrying a flashlight around all the time, and there’s that Mae West joke.
  • So then you considered a tactical laser, until you found out that they’re just gussied-up pointers.

Now here’s an even more discrete substitute for martial-arts skills; a sharp object that looks and even writes like a pen.  The Facebook ad for this toy led me to a website that looked like a classic web scam.  Let’s see what the Scam-O-Meter has to say about it!

Ridiculous claims: The Laissez Faire website (not a perfect seller, but I’ll give them a link) claims in text and videos that you could break a window with this pen.  That you could stick somebody in the neck with this pen (without martial-arts skills?).  And that the TSA is unlikely to confiscate it in an airport.  The promoter is a “former CIA officer.”  The site has a testimonial from a man who claims he struck an assailant with the pen, without giving details.

I think the assurance that you’ll feel much safer carrying this pen around with no CIA training is a stretch.  Your assailant may take away your pen and stick you in the neck with it.  I found a forum post about a 2010 airport arrest for carrying a tactical pen.  I’ll give Laissez Faire a pass, but no more.  0

Post office box: I see a real building at 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21201, so +1

pens address

Trivia; the doorway bears the legend “Ordine Figli D’Italia / In America.”  Apparently the building is or was a lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy, an old fraternal society for immigrants.  No idea what’s inside today.

Onerous terms: The website boldly states, “Your Tactical Pen comes with a no questions asked, 100% money back guarantee.”  A Terms and Conditions page turns out to be mostly PR, saying nothing of substance related to the pen.  +1

Invasion of privacy: The company says they’ll send ads to your email address.  But you can opt out, and they won’t share it.  +1

Lying and deception: None found on Laissez Faire, tho the SmartTechTrends.com review (see below) is less credible.  +1

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.40.41 AMObfuscation: In order to find out the price ($35 plus $5 shipping), you must first give your email address.  And then they put up a countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to comparison-shop.  -1

Phony reviews:

  • SmartTechTrends.com claims that an assault occurs every 90 seconds.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported an estimate of three million “violent victimizations” in 2014.  That comes to 5.7 assaults per minute, about ten times the claimed rate.  Odd that the review didn’t use the higher figure?
  • The picture of a tactical pen in the review is not the pen that Laissez Faire sells.
  • The review includes a button linked to Laissez Faire, so payola is flying the other way; that’s an automatic -1

Crummy product: I couldn’t find any complaints.  As always, I disregarded Laissez Faire’s on-site testimonials.  Most Amazon reviewers quite like a similar product.  0

Overpriced: I saw several pages of tactical pens on Amazon ranging from a few bucks to $30.  I didn’t see an exact match for this pen.  Laissez Faire’s pen is more expensive than most.  I found one for slightly less money that has a built-in flashlight and DNA catcher!  0

Unauthorized charges: I found no complaints about this either.  +1

Bottom line

I have reservations about the real usefulness of a tactical pen.  But if you buy into the idea, the Laissez Faire offering seems as good as any.  It’s just a bit on the high side.