Class Burned at E-Cigarette Money Tricks

     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Lift Vapor, an e-cigarette company, defrauds people by swiping $99 to $149 per month from their credit cards after a "free" offer, a class action claims in Federal Court.
     Lead plaintiff Loren Ronzheimer sued Lift Vapor, a Hartford, Conn.-based LLC.
     It's not the first such lawsuit. Vapor Corp. and Global Vapor Partners, of South Florida, were accused of a similar scam in a November class action in Chicago.
     In both cases, the defendants are accused of offering "starter kits" for free or cheap, plus shipping and handling. The shipping and handling, billed through a credit or debit card, gives the scammers access to suckers' bank accounts, from which they proceed to take money every month, without proper notice, according to the lawsuits.
     Ronzheimer claims he was promised hundreds of dollars worth of e-cigarette accessories for "no cost" - except shipping and handling.
     He claims he authorized Lift Vapor to charge his debit card $7.90 for shipping and handling, in October 2013. In December, he found he had been charged an additional $99.16.
     "Lift Vapor fails to clearly and conspicuously disclose to consumers-who are eager to receive their free trial of e-cigarettes-that 10 days following the transaction it will charge consumers' credit and debit cards between $99 and $149," the complaint states.
     Ronzheimer claims Lift Vapor enrolled him into a monthly program that tacks on recurring charges for refill cartridges, without his authorization.
     "Lift Vapor is careful to bury mention of the initial trial charge or the monthly charges in the Terms and Conditions, which never appear on the same page as the free trial offer," the complaint states. "Lift Vapor also obscures mention of these fees through the use of flashy graphics and misleading statements that tell consumers that they only pay shipping and handling and that the 'Total' price for the starter kit is "'$0.00.'"
     He seeks compensatory and statutory damages for unjust enrichment, breach of contract, consumer fraud and violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
     He is represented by Robert Shelquist with Lockridge, Grindal & Nauen.