Tag Archives: survival

Tagged by Tacticult Phantom P1 green laser

Tacticult looks like an okay outfit.  Is it?

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; 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: 0.  “Aircraft aluminum” (the stuff beer cans are made of).  But that’s it for ridiculous; so I’ll give them a pass.

Suspicious location: -1.  Buried in the Terms of Service I found PO BOX 16466 Saint Paul MN, a mailbox (obviously).

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have just 7 days from the day you receive it to return the laser if you don’t like it.
  • You have 30 days to return it if it’s defective.  They charge a 20% restocking fee.
  • They don’t guarantee that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  They only send marketing emails if you opt in; and you can opt out.

Lying and deception: -1.  A 30-day “100% satisfaction guarantee” is advertised.  But the Terms describe a 7-day satisfaction guarantee.  The 30-day guarantee is a “free from defects” warranty.  They charge a 20% restocking fee; what, then, does 100% mean?

Obfuscation: -1

  • Countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • “Spin the wheel” game to get a coupon that you can only use for the next 10 minutes; more pressure to decide quickly.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product:  0.  I found no information — sorry!

Overpriced: 0.  I couldn’t find any similar products.  Most small lasers seem to be either presentation pointers or gunsights.  Here’s a $18 laser pointer on Amazon that you can also use to tease your cat.

75% discount: +1.  False.


Total score; -1

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this. Tacticult accepts PayPal.

Conclusion: Almost OK.  The guarantee terms are harsh, and different than advertised.

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Lacerated by Ultrabeam lasers

…then i discovered that lasers are dangerous and cannot be used for the purposes they state,” writes Nick, a guy in Puerto Rico who likes tactical stuff.

… I used them intermittently at the wall, but i hurted my eyes and i still has spots in my vision.  ..Could you investigate the sites?”  Sure, I’ll do a request!  On April 30, 2017 let’s focus the clean white light of the Scam-O-Meter on the company that’s selling Ultrabeam, Official Tactical Kit.  (What’s official about it?)

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; 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.  OTK describes the device as a “Maximum legal wattage survival laser.”  How would it help you to survive?  They give three examples.  Igniting match-heads and popping balloons we can dispense with.  “Can be seen for over two miles” is the third example.  That might possibly be a little helpful.  But we’ll revisit this statement in “Lying and Deception” below.

Suspicious location: -1.  9265 S. Highland Drive #901401, Sandy, UT 84093.  It’s a Post Office box.po

Onerous terms: -1.

  • To return a product for a refund, you have to send it unopened to OTK within 10 days of the day you ordered it — not the day you received it.
  • They charge a $35 restocking fee — nearly the price of the laser.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them or join a class action that’s suing them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  The Privacy Policy is too vague to tell whether you would be subject to aggressive advertising.

Lying and deception: -1.

  • OTK describes the device as a “Maximum legal wattage survival laser.”  But there is no legal limit on laser wattage, other than for presentation laser pointers.  OTK neglects to say what the laser’s wattage actually is.
  • OTK claims that the beam is visible for over two miles.  The Symthic forum has a post reporting the results of laser detectability range tests.  At best, lasers are detectable at a range of 50 meters (about 0.03 miles).
  • The order form is pre-filled for a quantity of three lasers ($110).

Obfuscation: -1.

  • Important links and information are camouflaged at the bottom of the web page.camo1camo2* Only one case and one pair of safety glasses will be provided for free. If you purchase multiple units they will be shipped in one case and with one pair of free safety glasses, unless you opt for aluminum cases on the next page.

PRIVACY STATEMENT | TERMS OF SERVICE | CONTACT US

  • A countdown timer suggests that you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • The Terms and Conditions are padded with extensive, useless text about third-party legal services to make them harder to read.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: 0.  I could find no unbiased information about the laser.

Overpriced: 0.  One laser with no battery is $59 when I add in the shipping.  I couldn’t find a similar laser elsewhere.

75% discount: 0.  It’s 70%, so I’ll give them a pass.

Total score; -4.

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this.

Conclusion: Steer clear.  The terms are oppressive, and camouflaging information doesn’t make for trust.  The laser seems to have no purpose.  Implicit, of course, is the notion that you could use it as a weapon.  And Nick’s experience supports this idea.  I’m not going to score OTK for something they didn’t say.

laugh

Bonus outtake:bo

 

Tickled by Taclight flashlights

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.

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-6-58-11-pm-copy
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:

404

Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  The “Privacy Policy” link is also broken.

scamometer-taclightLying 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.)lights compared

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.burned-link

Cat-nipped by Ultrabeam Lasers

Only mildly scammy compared to some sites I’ve covered, but still a dubious choice on January 21, 2017, Ultrabeam Lasers (red links are evil) deserves their own post.  And this is it!

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 7.57.53 PM.png

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • 70% discount, very close to the magic scammer-detecting discount.  And on Page 2 it changes to 75%, sounding the alarm.
  • scamometer-ultrabeamWhether you find yourself in a natural disaster or just alone in a strange place, this laser is worth the peace of mind it will bring.”  What does this sentence mean?
  • A great addition to your emergency survival kit if you get lost or stranded.”  Okay, it would make your kit heavier, so it wouldn’t blow away.  But wait, it’s “(A) light or a means to generate a fire or signal a rescue team.”  How about matches in a bottle, and yelling?  No batteries required.
  • It comes with the maximum legal wattage making it the world’s strongest laser.”  Actually, US law sets no limit on laser power; it merely prohibits advertising lasers of more than 5mw  as “laser pointers.”  Ultrabeam doesn’t disclose their laser’s wattage.  I found similar-looking lasers that claim between 200mw and 2000mw; see “Overpriced” below.
  • Can burn an eyeball, light a match or pop a balloon in seconds.  There’s cheaper, faster ways to light matches and pop balloons.  As for eyeballs, no mugger is going to stand there while you attempt laser surgery on his eyeball.
  • Starting a fire is hard if “The wood is damn, it is windy or it is raining.”  Hahaha!

Post Office box: 0.  Both addresses are office buildings, instead of the typical UPS store.  But how odd that the addressee is “NightHawkGear,” not “UltraBeam.”  And odder still, “Fetch Deals, Inc.” is handling their mail.  I’m scoring this one “Undetermined.”

  • Corporate Address: Fetch Deals, Inc., Attn: NightHawkGear.com, 228 Park Ave S # 29051, New York, NY 10003-1502
  • Returns Address: Fetch Deals, Inc. Attn: NightHawkGear.com, 31 East 32nd Street, 1202, New York, NY 10003

Fetch-Cash.com and Cal-EZ Vitamins also enjoy the use of this address.

Onerous terms: -1

  • If your product arrived broken, they’ll accept a return for a refund within 30 days of your receiving the product.
  • You have to return the product unopened and unused, or be charged a 20% restocking fee.  So, how do you tell if it’s broken?
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are suitable for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them, or join a class action that’s suing them.  Fallback position; you have to go to New York to sue them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll use all the information you give them, plus all they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you, spam you and robocall you.
  • They’ll share it with other companies that will do the same.
  • You can unsubscribe by clicking “Unsubscribe” in an email or by writing a letter.

Lying and deception: +1. None found.  Some stretchers, tho.

Obfuscation: -1

  • Who are these people?  UltraBeam, FalconV2, NightHawkGear, or Fetch Deals Inc.?  Apparently they aren’t Falcon Flashlights; that outfit is based in Oregon.  The TOS is headed NightHawk, Fetch Deals and NightHawkGear.com.
  • You have to drill through three pages to find out the price ($49).
  • The first page has a picture of a countdown timer to make you think you’ve got to hurry; but the timer isn’t animated.

Phony reviews: -1.  Vague, wildly enthusiastic reviews by people you never heard of.  The reviews have prominent buttons that take you to the vendor’s order form.  These reviewers get a cut of every sale made thru their link; so they’re really just advertising.  I rather enjoyed the review by The Tactical Pros, who write “The moment it was released into the market, its sales soared and they keep running out of stock because these military grade ones are hard to find.”  WellnessSaying.com enthuses, “Since it is useful in lighting matches so you can keep it when you have plans to enjoy the night in the forest.”  Or you could just strike the match?  None of these shills knows how powerful the laser is, either.

Crummy product: 0.  I couldn’t find an honest review.  If you have one of these lasers and don’t want it, send it to me and I’ll test the $hi7 out of it.

Overpriced: -0. Without knowing the $49 Ultrabeam laser’s power, it’s hard to comparison shop.  Amazon doesn’t carry Ultrabeam.  What I found:

Unauthorized charges: +1.   I found no reports of this.

Total Score: -3

There are worse actors out there.  But the laser-power mystery, harsh returns policy and spamming would make me look for a straighter deal.burned-link

Blinded by AlumiTact X700 flashlights

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-1-29-53-amThe great web-scammer flashlight hunt continues!

In this September 30 2016 episode, the Military Supply USA AlumiTact X700, not to be confused with the LumiTact G700.

Ridiculous claims: The scam site makes no claims, other than the typical 75% discount that translates to “This is a scam.”  Leaving the dubious boasting to their tame review sites gives them deniability.  On that technicality, +1 for AlumiTact.

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-1-54-52-amPost Office box: Military Supply USA wins the coveted Bricks And Mortar Award.  But I sure wouldn’t want to work there.  +1

225 Thomas Ave. N. Suite R – Minneapolis MN 55405

Onerous terms: 

  • You have to return the product within 30 days of your purchase — not when you receive it.
  • They only give refunds for working flashlights.  If yours doesn’t work, too bad!
  • If you buy the Lifetime Replacement Plan, they’ll replace your flashlight at any time, unless it’s broken.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them, or join a class action that’s suing them.  -1

scamometer AlumiTact.pngAds, spam, robocalls: Their Privacy Policy is particularly aggressive.  -1

  • They’ll collect personal information from any contact with you, even if you just claim a prize or contact Customer Service.
  • They’ll collect personal information about you from third parties.
  • They’ll suck data out of your browser.
  • They’ll beam ads at you, spam you, send you junk mail, robocall your land line and cell phone, and text you at your expense.
  • They’ll share your data with other companies that will do the same.
  • You can unsubscribe from emails by email; and from texts by text.  (How you stop the other advertising isn’t explained.)  You’re on your own stopping the third-party ads.

Lying and deception: Watch out; the order form is pre-filled for a quantity of 7 flashlights.   -1

Obfuscation: Shortly after the web page displays, a coupon that you can’t close or decline covers it up.  Play their game and click on it to make it go away.  0

Phony reviews:  I particularly enjoyed this one:

Are you looking for any survival flashlight? Are you have any good idea on how to survive yourself, your family members or your dependents from any crisis? If you wish your family to be safe to have good warmth, enough food, water and everything they need to alive?  -1

burned-linkCrummy product: The Outdoor Nerd pins this product as just another cheap flashlight scam.  Infinite Power Solutions concludes, “If you’re expecting this flashlight to be heavy, durable, and made from high-quality materials, then you’re probably going to be disappointed.”  Amazon carries the light, but has no customer reviews yet.  -1

Overpriced: Military Supply USA is asking $35 for one light.  On Amazon it’s $50.  Amazon carries a lot of similar-looking flashlights claiming various lumens for $15 or less.  0

Unauthorized charges: The Outdoor Nerd writes, “One thing I am hearing from people falling for the scam is that many of them never receive anything for their money, which isn’t too surprising.”  I couldn’t find any other complaints about this.  0

Scam-O-Meter score; -3

The terms and privacy policy are dire.  Best stay away!

 

Death by laughter; Shadowhawk tactical laser

Sexy and slightly dangerous, small lasers join electric lighters in that odd class of web scams; good products sold in an evil way.

Overpriced

I’m picking on Shadowhawk again because I so detest their veterans charity scam, Operation Hero Relief.  But on 7/18/16 the identical laser was being sold on several sites:

  • Shadowhawk military tactical laser MAX MV; $69
  • Ultrabeam survival laser; $54 (no battery)
  • Nighthawk tactical laser; $70 ($56 + $14 for a battery)
  • Galleon / Camplife tactical laser pointer (out of stock)
  • Amazon / Camplife tactical laser pointer ($25, out of stock)
  • eBay ($6.59 and up)

(I’m only providing links for the “good guys;” you can google the others if you’d like.)  I’m showing the single-unit prices here.

What’s a fair price?  For once, Amazon let me down.  So I shopped for a similar laser from a reputable vendor, and came up with LaserPointerPro’s “Green laser pointer pen” for $12.99.  Like the Shadowhawk, the LaserPointerPro is a 5 mw 532 nm laser, the maximum power the US government allows for laser pointers.  It can make star patterns on your ceiling.  You can torment your cat with it.  And in several ways it’s actually better than the Shadowhawk:

  • Uses two standard AAA batteries
  • Has a pocket clip
  • Costs 1/5 as much
  • Isn’t sold by a scammer

Ridiculous claims

The value of your purchase is what you think it is.  And scammers are always happy to help you think.

Weapons-grade laser  8DDDD

  • Secondary scammer NationLife boasts “Attach to your pistol or rifle to maintain a perfect aim.”  But they don’t provide a way to attach it.
  • “Blinds invaders!” Shadowhawk assures us of this “self-defense” laser.  My guess is the invader either wouldn’t notice it, or would collapse in laughter, wipe the tears out of his eyes, and take your laser too.  Wikipedia says, “Studies have found that even low-power laser beams of not more than 5 mW can cause permanent retinal damage if gazed at for several seconds; however, the eye’s blink reflex makes this highly unlikely.”
  • NationLife says, “Nowadays it is very important to carry a Tactical Laser due to natural disasters, and terrorism.”  You never know when you might need to give a PowerPoint talk during an earthquake, or take down a hijacker by setting his carefully-positioned match on fire.
  • Galleon screams “Super strong, burns everything!”  If this were true, it might be a disadvantage.

Other silly claims  8DDDD

  • Nighthawk boasts, “We have the most powerful and brightest laser available in the world and still within legal US regulations.”  This is true in a twisted way; the feds have set a 5 mw limit for laser pointers (not laser weapons).  But it’s a good line to use on your friends.
  • Shadowhawk touts “Aircraft aluminum.”  This is the same metal that beer cans are made of.
  • NationLife points out the laser’s utility for teasing cats, pointing out stars and entertaining children.  How strange to read true stuff on such a web site.

Chicanery

Ultrabeam has found a new way to make their Terms and Conditions even more obscure; the Stealth Display:

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.26.03 PM

A second layer of obfuscation is that nearly all the Terms document is about legal services(?), not lasers.  This flak conceals the worst terms I’ve ever seen:

  • You can only return an item within 10 days of your order date (not the date you received it)
  • You can only return an unopened item
  • We charge a $35 per item restocking fee (over half the cost of the laser)

Oddly, Ultrabeam’s privacy policy is pretty good.

Bottom line

Steer clear of Shadowhawk and their slimy ilk.

Those weapons claims … ROTFLMAO!  But if you’re looking for a presentation pointer, cat-teaser or kid-pleaser, the LaserPointerPro is good.  Also there’s eBay.