I ordered a $59 sample pack of 15 Gurkha cigars from Thompson Cigar Co. The description stated that the order would consist of 3 each of the Regents, Legends, Master Selects, Grand Reserve Maduros, and Master Select Maduros.
These are all well-known (and expensive) nationally-distributed cigars. For example, the Grand Reserve - Gurkha's "flagship brand" - comes in a wax-sealed glass tube and retails for about $15. The Legend is limited production (800 boxes / year) and goes for over $10. The website claimed that the retail value was $242.
So imagine my disappointment when my order arrived. No wax-sealed glass tubes, for sure. In fact, the only nationally-distributed cigar in the bunch was the relatively inexpensive Regent (it can be found online for as little as $4).
The rest of the cigars have Gurkha bands, but are of unknown quality and are not sold by anybody except Thompson Cigar. They certainly are not the expensive, sought-after cigars that were advertised.
When I tried to call Thompson on the phone, the machine suggested that I use the online chat feature. The representative stated that "we reserve the right to substitute the cigar for something else of equal or greater value."
I asked which of the cigars I had received was of "equal or greater value to a Gurkha Grand Reserve, the most expensive cigar Gurkha makes. His response? "The cigars that were substituted are all of equal or greateer [sic] value."
Which begs the question: equal to or greater than WHAT? Certainly not the Grand Reserve they were advertising. I must have missed the fine print - they reserve the right to substitute a cigar with something of equal or greater value COMPARED TO A PIECE OF DOG S**T.
This is a ripoff, plain and simple. These were not substitutions made due to lack of availability - the cigars are all wrapped up in assorted 5-packs and ready to ship. Thompson is deliberately engaging in deceptive advertising.
The customer service representative indicated that I could return the cigars. Which is fine, except I have to pay for return shipping. Why should I pay $7.50 for the privilege of being lied to?
I have purchased a lot of items over the internet, but never have I been the victim of such an overt scam. A little internet research (which I should have done before ordering) reveals that Thompson is doing this on a regular basis. And this is no small operation - they're running full-page ads in Atlantic Monthly and who knows what other periodicals.
Class action, anyone?