An Editorial on the e-Cigarette Industry
Up until yesterday I had no idea what topic I was going to choose, it certainly wasn’t going to be the e-cigarette industry to talk about for my Wednesday edition of The Opinion column. Then, I received an email that stated, in part,
“You are really putting yourself on the line with the Halo. They must be paying you big bucks… At least that is the way it looks from the outside.”
I admit… I was stunned. “Is that how it looks? Really? Did every word I ever write about telling the truth, about not being swayed by anyone or anything just go in one ear and out the other?”
And now I have my opinion topic for today…
Can You Support A Great Company And NOT Look Like A Sellout?
First, the up front and absolute truth: Halo Cigs, nor any other company, has every owned us editorially or otherwise, and cannot and does not influence our opinion on anything. They NEVER pay us to review them, they NEVER ASK for a positive review. Halo, like the vast majority of other companies, let the chips fall where they may.
The ONLY Company to ever push us toward a “glowing” review is the one I slammed the hardest. Yes, that company put out a terrible product, and that alone would have been worth writing a negative review, but they also had the hubris to suggest they were the only great product on the market. I took exception to that type of marketing and PR and I made sure they understood that this company (Spinfuel) was never going to risk its integrity by reporting anything that wasn’t 100% true. I wrote a review based on my honest experience, as I ALWAYS do, the only difference in this one review is that I also revealed the kind of pressure companies like them like to ply reviewers with. It is a shoddy and it is dishonest way to do business. Apparently, its also running rampant.
There have also been companies that once they’ve seen our review choose never to speak to us again. That’s a shame. Because of their refusal to keep a dialog going they will never have the opportunity to show us a new product, to get feedback from our staff and our readers on how they might improve the product. By writing us off they burn a bridge to tomorrow that could pay off for them in the long run. Smoke Frii and Green Smoke, MyFreedomSmokes, Big Daddy Vapor, NicStick, VaporBitch, and others just couldn’t take the fact that we weren’t going to like what they were selling and we would never write a review that said otherwise. We would never tell our audience how great the products were in hopes of selling a few starter kits or other products for a 20% commission.
The Wild West (again)
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again; the eCigarette industry, as it is today, is like the old Wild West days where con men sold snake oil and called the drug “that which will cure everything”. It was a time when good and common folk were always a target. With companies attempting to take advantage of smokers looking to switch to something less harmful, good and common folk in 2012 are now the targets for these unscrupulous, Wild West types.
The past several months I’ve been in direct contact with good companies, bad companies, and everything in between as my job description as the Editor of Spinfuel calls for. It’s been an education, that’s for sure.
When I witness a bad company in the e-cigarette industry oversell their product to unsuspecting consumers who are simply looking for a square deal, it angers me on so many levels. Much of the time the consumer is separated from his or her money before they get wise to what’s going on, and in the end they are out substantial amounts of money after these crooks play their con. Sadly, these potential eCigarette consumers will shy away from the eCigarette market for a long time before daring to step back in. “Fool me once.” you know what I mean?
Supporting the good companies…
Okay, first, let me get this out of the way about various companies and the components they use. I think we all know by now that just about every company purchases the components that make up their starter kits, even the eCigarette itself, from various Chinese manufacturers. Some of these companies are better than others. Good companies in the US buy quality components from the better manufacturers in China, the shoddy companies buy from the cheapest Chinese companies.
What matters is what the end-user company, whether it’s Halo, ProSmoke, or whomever or whatever, chooses to use to assemble their branded product. Any company can choose parts from a catalog and put together an inexpensive starter kit, pay a couple of hundred bucks to slap their logo on it and call it their own. Many, too many, companies do just that. And they buy from the components are cheaply as possible, without regard for quality. A prime example of such companies is “Smoke Free”, which we expose in an upcoming article.
Then there are companies that pick and choose quality products made by reputable and quality companies in China, such as the battery, atomizer, cartomizers, etc., and they match the components so that they perform to their maximum potential. Then, after some customization, and testing, testing, and more testing in order to make sure that the customer is going to be satisfied with whatever package they put together, present that product along with great customer service and create a great company. I believe that companies like Halo, but not exclusively Halo by the way, fit into this category more and more. Still, the bad companies, the cons, are still very much alive and active and need to be driven out of the industry.
My experience in past years was in the tech industry, writing for tech magazines. I watched, and participated in a million arguments about Apple computer and how their products were made of the same components as the less expensive PC. As a supporter of Apple I kept reminding people that they may indeed have a Sony DVD-RW, an IBM hard drive, and one of three RAM manufactures inside a MacBook Pro, but it was the quality of the entire product, as a single product, along with their industrial design genius and amazing customer service that made Apple so special. I believe there are eCig companies that fit this very bill, so the argument that they all use the same components holds about as true as the PC vs. Mac arguments.
My relationship with Halo Cigs is strictly a business relationship, nothing more. I’ve never even spoken to anyone from the company. I was impressed first by the quality of their eJuice, (which is purely American Made with top quality ingredients) and then again when I reviewed their G6 line of eCigarettes, and then once more when I decided to see if ALL 3-piece eCigarettes performed as poorly as ProSmoke.
Since Halo and South Beach were the only two 3-piece companies I had any contact with I contacted both of them and asked to review their 3-piece starter kit. South Beach, for whatever reason, never responded despite us having a great relationship with them, while Halo Cigs did respond. We also attempted to contact American Blue Tip (for the 10th time I might add) and again, no response to any email or phone call we made. Hello American Blue Tip! Let us review your product!
With only Halo Cigs 3-piece Starter Kit, the Element, a Starter Kit that contained not only atomizers and cartridges to make up a 3-piece eCigarette, but also included a couple of blank 510 Cartomizers, which adds a tremendous value to their starter kit.
Buying an Element Series starter kit from Halo means that you have both a 3-piece and a 2-piece eCigarette. You were also encouraged to fill and refill your cartomizers and cartridges, with their eJuice or anyone else’s. (Despite being based on the same technology of “battery+atomizer+cartridge” Halo Cigs never once announced on their website that they “do not recommend” refilling their cartridges, as ProSmoke did and continues to do. Nor does Halo Cigs ever suggest that you should only refill their cartridges with their eJuice.
These types of choices, for less money than ProSmoke, were head over heels better for the consumer. And to top it off; their batteries, atomizers, cartos and carts were better quality then ProSmoke (and most others), by a mile, which reinforced my belief that A) The 3-piece eCigarette is a viable option for many, and B) Despite ProSmoke’s poor performance, there ARE good 3-piece eCigarettes on the market.
I would have loved to include South Beach and American Blue Tip in our reviews, but we can only do so much. Hopefully one day we will, and if they are good products we’ll proudly say so. The more good products on the market, the better.
The decision to run the Halo Element review days after our ProSmoke review was mine and mine alone; I wanted to inform our audience that they should not write off all 3-piece eCigarettes when companies like Halo are offering the best of all world’s with their 510-compatible 3-piece and 2-piece kits.
Indeed Spinfuel does support Halo Cigs. They are a good company that deserves recognition is this overly competitive market. They never over-promise, they never push their product on you, and they always do right by the customer. That certainly fits my description of a great company.
I use their products daily, not because I have to, but because I want to. And that doesn’t mean there are not other great eCigarettes out there. There are plenty of them, and we’ve written about many of them in Spinfuel, and hopefully we’ll write about many more. I don’t use Halo exclusively, however, I use a variety of PV’s, because it’s the nature of the job.
So I’ll say it again, one more time, Spinfuel eMagazine, and every employee, including myself, will never sell our integrity to anyone or any company, no matter what they offer. If you knew me personally you would know that already. You would know that any behavior like this is abhorrent to me. Since you don’t know me personally, I understand that I may need to tell you from time to time.
We will never tell you a product is great unless it is, nor will we ever tell you a product is terrible, unless it is. And if the situation calls for it, we just might write about a great company more than once a week. That’s not being paid off, that’s being excited that such a company exists at all.
John Manzione / Editor