Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Really Happens When You Sign Up for a Subscription Box - Birchbox Edition

**Disclosure: contains affiliate links**
So, we're all pretty much familiar with subscription boxes.  Some are awesome, some not so much, and some are relationships that refuse to quit...i.e. won't stop charging you no matter how much you try.  The promo codes are very tempting, and why wouldn't you trust that blogger's blah blah box review where everything's sugar coated to encourage you to subscribe through their link, giving them so many more boxes for free or shop credit?  Not discrediting all bloggers, there are certainly some who are straightforward.  But, truth be told many more choose to 'glitter fart' (wonderful term coined by the Sir Jamie Grayson of TheBabyGuyNYC) all over their reviews and subscription box shout outs because it benefits them in more ways than one.
I've decided its time to check out these boxes and see what all the fuss is about.  After an absolute horrible experience with both Bluum and Conscious Box (both encouraged by other reviews), I knew I wanted to provide the low down of what happens after you've given your credit card info.  Bluum listened to my criticism and headed my advice and has changed for the better.  Way better.  I would actually recommend them now better.  Conscious Box, negative ghost rider.  Samples were terrible, shipping was terrible, customer service was the absolute worst.  Don't get me started on how many times they've charged me and I had to demand, DEMAND, a refund after I've quit...weeks and months after I quit.
First up: Birchbox
I was referred to Birchbox by my close friend Jossie of My Little Love Note, and it was exactly as I expected.  I honestly signed up simply because I had already filled out a Women's Health mag subscription card and was about to drop it in our mailbox, and she told me Birchbox was including a free year of Women's Health in their July box.  

Cost: $10/month for women's and $20/month for men's
Shipping: Fairly fast! I ordered my July box on July 27th (the cut off date to get the magazine included) and it arrived in my mailbox on August 4th! Just over a week is pretty phenomenal as far as subscription boxes go.
Customer Service:  I only interacted with customer service twice, both through Facebook, and they had my problem solved or question answered at an hour tops.  That gets a five stars from us.  They were sincere, courteous, and not stiff at all.
Box contents:  The box's value was 'there', but I wasn't overly impressed.  If you're looking to sample higher end products, travel a lot, or simply don't get to get out as much as you want and having a variety sent to your door instead works better for you, then Birchbox is right at the same level as other makeup subscription boxes and it'll fit well.  Its not necessarily better, but its not worst either.  At roughly $2.00-2.50/sample, it just wasn't something I would sign up for again.  
I was excited for the lotion and dry shampoo because they fit my purse perfectly, but the body wash samples were very small (even with receiving two, they were disappointingly small, one-use samples) and the eyeliner sample was a joke.  They promoted it as one of the highlights in the bag (and it certainly was, the color was magnificent and the quality, durability, and smudge-ability was exactly what I wanted), but the sample size was so small, so teeny tiny that I almost didn't even get to put it on the other eye.  I found their promotion of it deceiving since it was perceived to be bigger, at least more than one, singular use, and they left a bitter taste in my mouth as a result.  There was also a neat detox product in there that was fun to try, and on a better note I did like how all but the body wash samples were actual bottles or pens with lids.  They can easily be toted around whether while traveling or in your diaper bag or purse.

To give you some sort of scale to reference just how small this sample is: the entire box is just over the size of my hand with fingers together and flat (give an inch on both sides) and smaller than my Kindle Fire.  The dry shampoo that I love, the far left spray, is about the size of my index finger from the knuckle to the tip.  The eyeliner sample is about 3 inches long and the actual sample part of the eyeliner is maybe 2 millimeters. 
Overall: I'd give the box a 4 out of 5 stars solely on the fact that it included the one year of Women's Health magazine that essentially 'paid' for the rest of the box itself.  Without the subscription, I'd rate the box a 3 out of 5 stars.  It contained duplicates from other beauty and makeup subscriptions and was no better or worse than any other we've experienced.  Not a terrible subscription box, but just the same as all the others in its category.  While the box was sturdy and definitely upcycle-worthy, I prefer the bags you can actually use from the Ipsy subscription boxes.
Referrals: Now, something that makes certain boxes a game changer from others have been the credits or bonuses you get from referrals.  This is why many bloggers try to sway you into thinking that even though this month's box was crappy, or it was nothing they cared to use, that the boxes are typically positive experiences and that you'd want to subscribe.  For Birchbox, you get 50 points for every person that subscribes through your link.  100 points = $10, so its easy to see why people are so eager for you to sign up.  They have a great selection of the full-size, higher end products in their store and with only four referrals you can easily find something for you.  Free shipping is only with $50+ orders, but being that most items are $20+ it wouldn't be that difficult to achieve.

Cancellation: Yup.  The big one.  I may not have been overly impressed with the box itself, but the no-catch, no drawn out cat-and-mouse goose chase na-na-na-na-boo-boo-you'll-never-be-able-to-cancel tactics don't exist here.  You just simply click a button...  and your confirmation email is in your box shortly! High-five, Birchbox. High-five.



If you do decide to sign up, feel free to use my link here.  While I wasn't overly impressed, it may fit your lifestyle better. Plus, their customer service is superb.
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