Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Some General Thoughts about Birchbox

 
February 2014 Box
 
So this past week, I did the overview post for my March Birchbox, and it was a little less than happy. While I stand by what I said and how I felt, reading it back, it did make me think it was time to discuss my Birchbox experience as a whole. I'm half way through a 12 month subscription and I feel like I've been with them long enough to evaluate my experience fairly. 

November 2013 Box

Pros//

1. Trying new things. Maybe a  bit of a 'duh' thing to list, but it is definitely the biggest pro of the Birchbox setup - not just brands you might not have heard of but actual products too - example: I never knew how much I loved a highlighter until I received one in my November Birchbox.

2. Earning Reward Points. Each month you can answer online surveys related to your Birchbox (overall) and the products within, you normally get about 5-7 a month and each survey earns you +5 Birchbox reward points. 5 points are worth 50p and you can redeem your points in groups of 100 (so £10). Overall, I find the points add up pretty quickly and I enjoy having points to spend in the Birchbox store which carries a pretty good range of stuff - not just what's featured in boxes, but also other products from the brands. For example, so far Benefit Porefessional and Benefit Stay Don't Stray have appeared in boxes, but the shop stocks a pretty huge range; from their tints and blushes, and also their skin care. So for example, when I might not spend £24 on Posietint, but if I can take £10 off that with reward points, then it's much easier to treat myself.

3. Something to look forward to. It's nice getting something in the post - especially a surprise. It's also nice to have a new shower gel or item of makeup to play with - who doesn't love new toys!?! Generally, I use a new product a week from my Birchbox and that makes it last the whole month until the next one; I really enjoy breaking up an often mundane routine by adding in a new product, even if I don't end up loving the product itself.

4. Community. So this one's maybe just me, but I love reading other peoples' thoughts on the boxes, or reviews of the products: how great are unboxing videos? I love seeing if people got the same as me and what their favourite thing is, or if they god different things, what were they?

January 2014 Box

Cons//

1. Unsuitable Samples. OK, so that covers a lot so I'll just quickly try and rattle them off and not get caught up in a rant. So, this past month, part of my annoyance was receiving a completely unsuitable product - a pore minimiser for "oily/combination skin" which is designed to "mattify" skin. Now, thanks to me filling in my Beauty Survey on the Birchbox site, they know my skin is as far from oily as it's possible to be - why send me this product? It's pretty useless. My mum also has dry skin and they sent her it too, so me getting it was clearly not an error. Also, sometimes the samples are ridiculously small. I understand that more expensive products will probably provide smaller samples, that's just common sense, but sometimes they're so small  it's useless. Case in point, this past month I got a 5ml sample of a body oil, barely enough for one use (if even that), how on earth can I tell if it's good for my skin and worth spending £34 on after one use? Even if I thought it seemed good after that one use, I still wouldn't splash out the cash as you simple can't be sure. I've had this issue with facial cleansers from them too; you need a good few uses to determine the suitability for your skin.

2. Hit and miss customer service. Now, just to be clear, I've experienced some very good customer service from Birchbox. In February my mum's nail varnish arrived leaking and they sent out a new bottle, no hesitation. Brilliant. I have however also had several unhelpful experiences with them, and one email response that was downright rude. While there's every chance the service could be good, it puts me off associating with them when it's a bit roulette like.

3. Delivery of the boxes. I'm not sure to what extent this affects people, if it's area specific or what, but I have an awful time getting my Birchboxes delivered. Firstly, they sometimes arrive late at night (as in after 9pm), delivered by someone with no ID or uniform or paperwork (like a delivery sheet to sign), in a random, unmarked car. This makes me uncomfortable. I'm sorry if people think that's silly, but I don't generally open my front door at night to strangers if I'm alone in the house. I think its highly unprofessional for a big company such as Birchbox to deliver like this. However, the other thing they do is possibly even more annoying. They will either see there's no car in the driveway, not attempt to knock/ring the bell and just leave the box on the step (in plain view to the street) or leave it in the mud, or in a puddle or actually throw it over my gate. Yeah. And of course, the fact I've witnessed this tells you I was home, and if they'd have knocked, they'd have known that! Or, they deliver the box to a neighbour... and don't put a card through our door to say they've done that. So, two days later a very annoyed neighbour walks the parcel over and points out they've had it for two days...

4. Unfair Money Back Guarantee Policy. If you buy your Birchboxes on a monthly basis and one arrives that you're unhappy with - for valid reasons - you can send it back and get a refund. if, like me, you have a subscription (paid in advance)... you can't. Now, I understand that because they do various promotions (like a free box with a subscription etc.) they can't really issue a refund, but, what about replacing the unsuitable products or issuing a partial refund in the form of Reward Points to spend in their store? Essentially they have my money now (well, Kenny's - he paid for my subscription <3) and for the remaining six months of my subscription they can send my anything they want, and there's not a lot I can do about it. BUT, if I only bought one box (instead of a year's worth) they would refund me. Does that not seem skewed? Surely more committed, long term customers deserve, if anything, better service, not worse?


 March 2014 Box

Conclusion//

I haven't given up on the whole Birchbox thing yet - but as things stand, I'm certainly falling out of love with them. It could be such  a great idea, but I don't always feel like they make the effort they should with the quality of the samples. When you're spending £12.95 a month on something, you want to feel it's worth it or otherwise, you'd be as well putting that money towards something you actually want.

Will I continue my subscription with Birchbox after my initial 12 months run out? Ooh, the million dollar question really, and to be honest, I don't know if I could decide yet. What I can say for sure, is that I would only ever do it on a monthly basis so that I could make use of their money back guarantee if, like this past month, the box was largely unsuitable.

I so look forward to getting my boxes and trying out all goodies, but I guess I feel like each month I'm less and less happy with what I'm actually getting. Maybe that's just bad luck and personal taste, and I shall continue to be excited for them and keep an open mind, but more and more I can understand beauty box haters' point of view. I used to think they were expecting too much and being picky, but now, after six months, I can see where they're coming from. 

This past March box was definitely a low for me in my Birchbox experience, and I am still hoping that it was a one off and things will resume as 'normal' next month, but I guess only time will tell.

December 2013 Box

So those are my thoughts on my Birchbox experience to date. I hope I've come across as reasonable, and not too ranty about the whole thing, but I'll admit I'm a little frustrated with the issue at the moment. I would love to hear from any of you who are Birchbox subscribers now, or have been in the past, about your thoughts and feelings on the service - please get in touch using the comment section below!

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