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Thoughts on B&M's, Clones and Pricing

Discussion in 'General Vaping Discussion' started by Jonathan Tittle, Oct 30, 2013.

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  1. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    So I'v been fortunate enough to come across quite a few vape shops over the past few months, both inside and outside of TN and for the most part, I've enjoyed visiting every single one of them, but I have a slight issue with a number of them. Let me explain.

    I've been to ~8 vape shops in the past few months and blown my vape budget many times over - it's a hobby I truly enjoy and I like to support local small businesses, but there's a limit to how far I'll support them. As of late, I've noticed more and more B&M's carrying clones (not an issue) and they're marking up the pricing to as much as 2-3x what they normally sell for and they're not even educating their employees on how to use what they're selling (pretty big issue to me).

    For the purpose of this thread, I'll give you a quick glance at my visit to Store #01 (no, I won't mention the name of the store).

    I walked into the stored and headed to the display case with the mods. I saw what was labeled as a Nemesis and asked if I could see it. The guy behind the counter said sure, handed it to me and walked off to deal with another customer. Ok, so he was a little trusting, no harm no foul, but he could have lost his job if I walked out with it I'm sure - but I wouldn't have done that.

    When he came back I asked if this was the real deal or a clone (I knew it was a clone), he said he didn't think it was a clone and then followed up with no it's not. So I asked if I could see the box and he said it didn't have one. Okay, so I asked how much it was and if they had more. He said it was $59.99 and yes, did I want to get one today. I gave him a shocked look and he asked what and I said well the one I was looking at from the dealer was a little over $200 and the clone was $22. He stayed quite and gave me that look of "uh, crap." About 2-3 minutes later a girl came over to help me since I was still looking across the case.

    In the display case with the Nemesis Clone was an I-ATTY, a Z-ATTY Clone (which was actually labeled as a clone). It was $29.99 so I asked if I bought it, would they happen to have some stainless steel mesh to go with it and she and the guy next to her, without blinking an eye, said huh? Why would you want to use metal. You should only use silica in rebuildables.

    The other guy then suggested that if I'm new to vaping, I should go with a Protank II or Mini. He said you can't rebuild them and that they're not the best, but you can replace the attys for $2.50 each (i.e. $12.50 for 5) and they perform pretty well.

    Before I left as I mentioned I'd have to look around and that'd I'd be back later this week, he then asked what I was using, so I pulled out my SVD, Protank II rebuilt with a micro-coil and cotton and told him about the juice I had in there (DIY juice). Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have went into detail on all things, but the lack of knowledge for anything other than an eGO battery was a bit agitating.

    What are your thoughts? Am I out of line expecting that a store and their employees actually know something about what they're selling? Or that I think employees should be trained to answer questions about what they are trying to sell someone? The 2-3x cost on (clone) mods and RBA/RDA is bad enough, but lack of knowledge in general is a bit disappointing.
  2. ta2dave76

    ta2dave76 Super Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 15, 2013
    Las Vegas
    I went to a few local shops last week, and ended up at my main shop. One shop I visted, had clones for $90-$125, and very snotty employees. The other ones didnt have much to browse, some had some really rank juice and were pretty lacking on the customer service. If I ask to see the $90 Magneto, dont tell me I will be unhappy with it and try to sell me a Provari for $325.

    My shop sells clones, Sentinals for $40, Chi's and Nem's for $60 and the K100's with batt and charger for $80. They have always answered my questions, and have always shown me how everything works that Ive asked to see. They do this with every customer that comes in, and this is why this is my goto shop.

    Yeah yeah you can get clones for less than $30 from China, but most of the online vendors sell the clones for $40-$60 anyway.
  3. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    The employees at this specific store weren't snotty, so to speak, they simply lack training and don't know what they're talking about and I feel, to a large degree, that it hurts the vaping community as a whole. How? They're selling something they know nothing about and at the end of the day, when a customer walks out the door with whatever they're pushing, they don't know any more than what they walked in with.

    The clones come from China regardless and I would guess that they're simply buying from FastTech, marking it up and then showcasing their severe lack of knowledge and training by not being able to tell anyone potentially interested in the specific product anything about it.

    They can't seriously justify $59.99 for a Nemesis Clone and just expect someone to know everything about it. They can definitely tell you how to turn on an eGO though. No doubt about it. Just defeats the purpose of them even having such mods in their store.

  4. K_Tech

    K_Tech Slightly mad but harmless Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 11, 2013
    Eastern Ohio, USA
    I agree that a store specializing in certain merchandise should have employees that are very knowledgeable. They should at the very least be able to answer the basic questions. Knowing all the ins and outs of their wares would be preferable. I'd be more understanding of a store that just opened their doors and hired a few relatives than I would of an establishment that had a few months of operation under their belt.

    Prices are... well, prices should be set by what consumers are willing to spend, and it's the consumer's responsibility to educate themselves a little on what they're trying to find. I spent at least a few hundred dollars on crappy gas station e-cigs over the years before I got into vaping and started doing my homework. I try to check out as many videos, blogs, and reviews as I can, because I want to know what I'm getting into.
  5. Pita

    Pita Full Member

    Oct 27, 2013
    I've been going into local stores asking for glass tanks......have been offered several tanks they said were glass but I knew they were plastic. Was even sold one as glass that I came home and's plastic. Lol. Turns out I like it so I bought 2 more (but it's still not glass). I've watched uninformed sales ppl actually tap it on the counter to see if it sounds like glass. Btw. Most said it sounded like glass but they were plastic. I'd like more informed ppl trying to help me. I'm a noob and I need real help.
  6. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    I do my homework as well and I've been vaping on an off for 4 years, solid for the past year and a half now due to the numerous upgrades available. I know B&M's are pretty much free to set pricing as they feel, and that's not an issue. I don't mind spending a few dollars more to support a shop that treats me well, and makes me feel welcome or at home.

    This specific shop, I walked in today and felt so out of place and as if everyone there was there for a job, not because they truly liked vaping and wanted to be there because of vaping/helping others get into vaping. When it comes to pricing, seeing a mod $10 over what'd I'd buy it for online is no big deal, I'll lay down the cash. I'd spent $10 for shipping in most cases. But when the price is 2-3x or more, I find it slightly offensive and feel as if they're trying to cash in on the "dumbest" person who may not have the time or resources to do what someone with more time under their belt does.

    Me as an example - 18 years ago. When computers were all the rage in schools and while other kids were bragging about their crazy setups, I couldn't even afford my own nor could my family. I had to use the schools computers to do my work and I barely got by with that because of time constraints (they allowed 10-20 minutes online - dial-up). So to me, those other kids had a huge advantage that I just couldn't afford to have (we scraped by - the term paycheck to paycheck comes to mind). The same goes with vaping. Some people are in the same situation and expect their local shops to take care of them, not rip them off because they don't have the resources to find better pricing or means to research every single thread or review.

    Just my take on it. Obviously they are free to do as they please and my voice probably doesn't matter (if today was any indication), but it just seems wrong. Vapers shouldn't be taking other Vapers (or anyone for that matter) for a sucker and they should be training their employees up to the level of what they plan on selling, or don't sell it.

    Not had that happen, but I wouldn't put it past some. For some, it's an honest mistake. I'll give anyone a second chance, but lie to me twice and I won't be coming back.

    When it comes to being new, I can understand that as well.
  7. K_Tech

    K_Tech Slightly mad but harmless Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Sep 11, 2013
    Eastern Ohio, USA
    I agree 100%. There's a few local businesses that get my money all the time because I get treated like family when I'm there.

    I would be offended, and that just seems unethical.

    Yeah, I'll say that I have certain expectations when going into a shop, and that MOST folks feel the same way, more so when it's a specialty store.

    No, I'd say your voice matters, because it will be joined by other voices. You'll talk to your friends, they'll talk to their friends, and as a group you will vote with your wallets.

    I'm not in the same situation, mostly because the closest B&M to me is about a 90-mile round trip, but one of the guys at work just got into vaping after talking to me a few times. I gave him a list of the on-line vendors I've used, and liked. It's the same principle. Now we talk about deals and gear, and share information.
  8. mommafish

    mommafish Super Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 1, 2012
    I've been to every store in 15 mile radius
    1 loved but went back and got ignored
    2 to Dr office feel u had to sit at a bar read off the menu off the wall and ask for it as he's working with 5 other juice request very expensive for all stuff they carried
    3 father son set-up nice people but not a lot to look at
    4 saw a sign a block up from the house that said grand opining but on the door was a piece of paper that said be back at 3:15 it was 3:30 so ran to do a few things came back a hour later still closed. Wont be going back
    5 nice little shop with mods about 15 bucks more then online and great juice so i keep going to this one time and tine again
  9. madqatter

    madqatter Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 14, 2013
    I think it's difficult for many of these stores to find experienced and knowledgeable employees to begin with, and even those with experience and knowledge may be limited by other factors.

    There's a shop not far from me, for example, that focuses mostly on mechs & RBAs, though they have some eGo batts & clearos. Everyone working there uses mechs with RBAs. I went in last week seeking a cheapie 510 dripping atty (something like this). They had no earthly idea what I was talking about. It wasn't just that they don't stock them, they'd never seen or heard of such a thing. Just wasn't in the realm of their experience. And I can understand that. Vaping is an extremely varied world.

    Many employees will be limited, also, by store prices and policies. Sure, if I was working in a B&M, I would know that Kanger heads can be gotten a lot cheaper than 5 for $13 and that they can be rebuilt. But that doesn't mean I'd be allowed by my boss to charge less than $13 or to encourage Kanger rebuilding. :/
  10. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    I can understand, to an extent, not encouraging rebuilds if you don't stock rebuildables in the first place, but considering this store has, on average, 5-8 rebuildables on-hand at any given time (seems to be ever-changing), and they sell silica and kanthal, albeit expensive, you'd think it wouldn't be an issue.

    Yeah, it'd definitely not a place I can recommend. I did get a chance to try some juice, but when I asked about 3 flavors, I was told none of them were available because they were being reworked. Fair enough...remove them from the boards so people don't ask about them.

    It also seems the juice has went downhill or they're trying to get by with just enough flavor to taste as the others I tried were all super weak. Could be because I DIY now, or they could just be changing things up, not for the better.
  11. hlk

    hlk Senior Member ECF Veteran

    May 3, 2011
    Atlanta GA
    I think this is the challenge when opening a new store.. finding someone with experience and knowledge of the hardware is not easy.

    Even for the owner, there is a steep learning curve. I am blown away by the depth of knowledge the people have here on this forum sometimes. It's amazing how complex the factors are to get a good vape.. we are talking voltage, wattage, ohms.. the average vaper has no clue how these affect your vape. Then you throw in all the different mods, clones, tanks, and it get's downright confusing.

    If I were to open a store today, an experienced vaper would pick up on my limited knowledge and might not return. There are no training classes as far as I know from suppliers that cover what you need to know.. not to mention there are new products hitting the market all the time. I suppose we need to cut some slack to the newbies just getting into the biz.. but they need to get up to speed real quick or the customers will pick up on the vibe that the employess don't have a clue. Then you get a negative post or two here on the forum.. not a good thing at all.
  12. Rocketpunk

    Rocketpunk Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Aug 14, 2012
    Dayton, Ohio
    Oh. YOU'RE that guy!

    Just kidding.

    Rebuildables and sub-ohm vaping by extension are the "extreme sports" of vaping. Not everyone is going to be into it, or know about it as much as you. Hell, I've been doing this almost 15 months, I've started at the bottom and somehow made it here, but I still don't know EVERYTHING about vaping.

    Don't be quick to judge or condescend to the employees. They honestly may not know more about rebuilding than you. In that case, humbly enlighten them a little bit, share your info politely, and don't look down your nose at them. If they try to BS a BSer, take note and decide then if it's worth coming back or not.

    Oh, you rebuildable guys. Some of you act like Hedonism-Bot with your knowledge.

    P.S., for what it's worth, when I encounter a rebuildable guy speaking their Klingon rebuildable speak, I immediately inform them that it's not my bag, I'm not into rebuildables, and they'd do much better speaking with that guy over there (and then I point them to the one person who can wrap a coil and speak sub-ohm Klingon).

  13. tj99959

    tj99959 ECF Guru ECF Veteran

    Aug 13, 2011
    They can ask whatever they want for something, I really don't care because I don't have to buy it. It's the "for something" that bothers me. The unsafe cheep clones, and mismatched kits are causing a real black eye for us.
  14. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    I can understand that not everyone has a vast knowledge of every single product on the market and I'm okay with that, I don't either, but when it comes to selling something you have no clue about just to have it in your display case, then it becomes slightly irritating.

    I don't expect every employee to know every minute detail about every single item in the shop, especially when this specific shop seems to vary their product line-up quite often, but when the experience level starts and stops with an eGO or eGO Twist, how can you honestly sell an RBA let alone a mod?

    Let's say I'm a new customer. I'm new to vaping, but I don't like the look or feel of the eGO and I want to start with something better that I won't have to move away from anytime soon. Naturally, a mod is the next logical step up. Now if you can't tell me the difference between the mods you're selling (regulated, mech, mech with a kick etc), what RBA you think is best or why I should start with a Protank, what I need to do to get it to work and if there's anything extra I need to know upfront (i.e. your new, sub-ohm probably isn't the best place to start - battery dangers etc), then how can you honestly sell me anything more than an eGO?

    I don't mean to come off as a snob, but let's use firearms as an example since that's what I work with daily. If I go to a gun shop that deals exclusively in guns and ask them where their AR-15's are, which is better of the ones they have / why, how's it work and what ammo does it take and they can't tell me any of that information, I'd honestly wonder why they're even in business and why they hired such inexperienced staff.

    People have been horribly injured by using the wrong ammo in a firearm just as they could potentially be horribly injured with a mod/mech and no upfront knowledge from the vendor selling them a battery that may or may not be right for that specific product.
  15. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    It's not even the fact that the sell clones. I don't care if they have a display case bulging with clones, I'd actually like to see the selection, but 2-3x cost is a bit excessive, even for a B&M. Most stores I've seen sell eGO kits, and they're paired pretty well. They don't bother doing mod kits because - at least not that I've seen and I'd wager it's because they don't know much about what they're selling.

    As before, if they don't know about every product on the market, that's perfectly okay with me. I just want them to know about what they are selling to their customers. It's nonsense that any store would attempt to sell a product just to sell a product. The whole point of going to a B&M instead of buying online is so you can have "that person" to speak with if you have any questions.

    As it stands, it's basically I don't know anything about [insert product here], buy it if you want, go home, figure out how it works on your own and I wish you all the best.
  16. bluecat

    bluecat Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    60 bucks for a nemy clone from a B&M isn't that bad. Considering markups they need to provide to cover costs of sale.

    Heck I took my wife out to dinner at a very nice restaurant last weekend. 125 bucks per steak oscar. I could have got 2 good steaks for 25 bucks and grilled them cheaper. I knew going in I was going to pay more.

    Heck going to chain steak shop and they are 20 bucks per.

    You have your right to shop somewhere else. But one really cannot compare direct sales to B&Ms.

    If they were charging 100 to 200 bucks per nemy clone I would have told them they were ripping people off. When I got my first HDMI tv the super store wanted me to buy a 100 dollar hdmi cable.. I raised a stink where other stores were selling them for 10 bucks and that I was going to report them to the BBB for price jacking. I got a 10% discount on the TV and the cable free and their prices dropped on the cables to like 30 bucks.
  17. bluecat

    bluecat Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Unfortunately this is a problem in almost every industry.
  18. Jonathan Tittle

    Jonathan Tittle Unregistered Supplier ECF Veteran

    Sep 7, 2013
    Johnson City, TN, USA
    I can understand the cost of food being higher than it would be if you were to do it yourself simply because you're paying someone else to take the time to properly prepare the food for you and if it's not right, you can send it back. At those prices, I'd say a professional chef or their sous chef is the one taking care of your meal making sure everything is presented correctly and the balance is there.

    In the case of this B&M, there's no personal touch or service for the $60 price-tag on the Nemesis Clone (which isn't labeled as a clone - it's labeled as if it's the real deal). If you buy it, they can't help you with it so you're on your own - so if you're new to vaping and you just bought this based on them saying "oh this is cool, this is what I'd buy if I was in the market", you may be SOL. I even asked if the 18650 batteries they were selling were protected or not, and the answer was I don't know.

    To answer a previous question, this store has been open more than a few months and from what I hear, they are looking to expand another 1-2 stores here in the next 1-2 years, if not sooner. So being new, for them, is out of the question.

  19. Jayvaps

    Jayvaps Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 22, 2013
    South Florida
    Double post. Oops.
  20. Jayvaps

    Jayvaps Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 22, 2013
    South Florida
    This would be like walking into a car dealership and starting asking about the engine on some cars. Some of the sales people will know the answer, some won't, and some will just make garbage up. Really no difference. And just like with the car dealership, the vast majority of customers are not very knowledgable, so the sales people don't need to be either.

    Would it be great if every employee of a B&M knew everything? Sure, but it ain't gonna happen. Most B&M's make the vast majority of their sales as ego type batteries Clearos and overpriced juice.
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