OMG it’s another Chinese flashlight scam! And not even one of the better ones. It’s February 21, 2017, and the topic is Taclight flashlights (red links are evil; do not click). OK, let’s grab our Scam-O-Meters and do this.
Ridiculous claims: -1.
- “You’d have the ability to disorient any would be attacker with the push of a button.“
- This flashlight will see you thru a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
- LED flashlights are used by uniformed first responders (true, but they’d have to go to an antique store to get flashlights with lightbulbs).
- 75% discount, practically a badge for web scammers.
Post Office box: -1. The “Contact Us” link is broken (see “Onerous Terms”). I found a different Taclight web site that gives this address: 400 RETURNS RD, Wallingford CT, 06494. As far as I can determine, there is no Returns Road in Wallingford, CT. So I’m dinging these guys a point for having no resolvable physical location.
Onerous terms: 0. Clicking on “Terms and Conditions” gets this display:
Lying and deception: -1. The scam site poses as a review of the product. At the top left corner we see the byline “By James Berendsohn.” I couldn’t find anyone by this name who is a journalist or technician. LinkedIn shows one James Berendsohn, a translator living in Ipswich, England. Dim, tiny print at the bottom of the page admits, “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE.”
Further down, I read “We reached out to one of the biggest names in tactical flashlights TacLight for more details. Here’s what Shawn from TacLight shared with us:” That must have been a pretty short reach; the scam site’s domain is buytaclight.com . So is the domain of the order form.
It looks like this web page automatically adjusts itself for whatever state your ISP address says you’re located in. There is no “Observer” in Washington State. Then I read:
Officials stated they don’t want residents to buy a gun or even non-lethal items like a taser or pepper spray. Instead they suggest something you probably would never think of – carry a high power flashlight.
The reason is even non-lethal deterrents are still considered weapons and are restricted in many areas. If you can’t carry it with you at all times it’s not really providing you with much safety.
Here’s what the Police Department in Seattle, Washington really recommends:
Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, a fire extinguisher, and first aid kit in your personal vehicle at all times.
The logic here is not that you can use the light to hit people with or blind them with. It’s that you can use it to see what you’re doing in the dark. (Also a fire extinguisher works better than a flashlight for hitting people.)
Obfuscation: +1. None found.
Phony reviews: -1
- The scam site includes several phony reviews. They’ve “posted” the same clip-art photoshop mash-ups that all the flashlight scammers use. Clicking on a “reviewer” just brings up the order form, not information about the reviewer.
- I’ve found some external review sites that pan this product even while advertising it.
Crummy product: -1. Amazon carries the Taclight T1100. It has a five-star review by one person. Some sites call this a Bell&Howell product. Pay no attention to this claim; Bell&Howell went belly-up and its name is now being rented out to all comers. I’ve found quality complaints here and quite a lot here … okay this is easy and boring, I’m done.
Overpriced: -1. Amazon offers several 1100-lumen zoomable flashlights for less; here’s one by Cree for $12.
Unauthorized charges: -1. I found many complaints of slow or no delivery. Several people posted on Freakin’ Reviews that they started to fill out the order form, changed their minds and did not click Process, but were billed anyway.
Final Scam-O-Meter score; -6
Just shop local or go to Amazon. The score would probably be lower if the scam site didn’t have so many broken links. Which brings us to …
Shoddy workmanship. This isn’t a complaint! Taclight’s sloppy job signals that they aren’t trustworthy, which is good to know. Submitted for your entertainment:
- While looking for James Berendsohn, the supposed author of this mess, I stumbled onto an identical web page for Shadowhawk flashlights. It links to the Taclight order form.
- The order form claims a normal retail price of $244.45. A 75% discount should yield a price of $61, not the $56 they’re charging.