When I first reported on e-cig company Red Electronic Cigarettes and called the piece ‘No puffing good’ (C-Store, March 15), I was hoping that it was just a duff batch that Tushar and Jyoti Patel had been lumbered with. The company did indeed come to pick up the stock from their Heathfield General Stores in Crawley, West Sussex. But when the promised refund didn’t materialise, it was looking like the company was only in it for the fraud.
Tushar first sent a recorded delivery letter to the company. It came back as undeliverable. They then got a friend to hand deliver to the address they had, Shepherds Bush Road in Hammersmith. The friend reported back that it was just warehouse space and the people had ‘gone away’.
Jyoti rang her local trading standards office, only to be told that there were other retailers in the same boat.
So the couple are several hundred pounds out of pocket and the TSO says nothing can be done because the company had gone around lifting all the products (and promising refunds) so there is no on-shelf evidence.
The best advice I can hand on to any retailers stocking e-cigs is to make sure the manufacturer/supplier belongs to the trade association ECITA, which has developed its own ‘Industry Standard of Excellence’.
You can be sure that Red Electronic Cigarettes was not a member and that stories like this one will appal legitimate companies such as E-Lites, a founder member of ECITA.
ECITA says it is has been through the legal statutes, regulations, and government guidance notes to come up with its code of practice, and is happy to meet TSOs to help them understand the business and its products.
There will be dubious types in every industry. So stick with those who are working to make sure this infant industry grows up well-behaved.