We 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.
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?
- 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.
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..
- 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