Posts tagged glossybox is shit
Posts tagged glossybox is shit
So, yeah. Subscription boxes. They’re a bit of a thing at the moment aren’t they? I have to admit I fell for the hype and subscribed to a couple, which is why I am writing this blog to highlight some of the issues I have had with this new fad. (LULZ at my rhyming skills.)
Now, if you are poor like me and can’t really afford expensive super creams to put on your face or organic vegetables to put in your belly then subscription services can seem like a really good idea. For a seemingly nominal amount you sign up for weekly or monthly surprise boxes to be sent to your house full of goodies. It’s pretty tempting seeing as these days nobody gets anything sent through their post other than bills and dogshit, so lots of people are signing up. I relented and I subscribed to two, Glossybox for beauty, and Able & Cole for fruit and vegetables (random). I like to cook a lot and only have tiny arms to carry things from the supermarket so the Able & Cole box made sense and so far, after a month, I am really happy with it.
The one I am not so happy with is Glossybox. My initial reasoning for subscribing to Glossybox all the way back in April or May was a combination of laziness (I can’t be bothered to traipse round beauty counters begging for scraps off orange-faced harpies) and curiosity. I wanted to see what was in those boxes. Plus, I have extremely sensitive skin so trying new products out before I bought them made sense, to make sure the ingredients didn’t turn me into a pus-fueled zit monster.
Glossybox play on the fact that their sample products are ‘luxury’, ‘niche’ and expensive. Sometimes they are. A lot of the time they are not, but of course - they don’t advertise this. Glossybox is not a transparent company, it is owned by Rocket Internet whose Wikipedia even suggests they are secretive and a bit dodge. I suggest you read it to get an idea of what kind of company we are dealing with here. Of course, I didn’t know any of this when I signed up and happily parted with my cash, seduced by their shiny website that promised great things.
The first couple of boxes I received were okay, not amazing, but okay. I got some good products, and even bought a couple of them after the samples had run out. Every month there would be a couple of clangers that suggested that their beauty profile system (where you input your skin type, colouring and preferences) wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be (aka, it didn’t work) but I figured it was just teething issues. I would receive products for combination skin when I specified sensitive, and make-up in disgusting colours, etc, but usually the clangers were overshadowed by another product that was quite good. Not this month. The last box I received (and my last box ever coincidentally as I cancelled my subscription) was an absolute horror.
Sold as an ‘International Box’ to showcase various brands from around the world, it basically gave Glossybox the excuse to dump a load of tat on my doorstep. I received a horrendous own-brand lipstick, some lip balm that smelt like hospitals, a Japanese face oil that looked like it had been nabbed from the toiletries in a budget hotel, a whitening nail polish, and - the biggest clanger of all - a 1980s eyeshadow palette from Italy that looked like it would be more at home in a kid’s toybox (or the bin). Just look at it.
(picture taken from withaplomb so as not to waste my camera space on this filth)
As you can see the colours are horrible, the pigment is non-existent, it’s POISONOUS (reading on the back it contains Magnesium) and it was made in China which means it’s been tested on animals. If they had omitted the palette the box would have been so so, but its inclusion represented the utter disregard that Glossybox has for its subscribers. They were not even attempting to uphold their end of the ‘luxury item’ bargain - anyone could see that this item was tat and they were fools to include it. As the quality of the boxes had been slipping for a while I quickly realised that I had been wasting my money on this company and unsubscribed.
Disgruntled, I began to do a bit of investigating. As well as finding out about them being owned by Rocket Internet, I found this article, an interview with their CEO on a business website. She is 24 years old with no business experience and comes from a banking background. She mentions how “A premium box is on the way in October with high end brands, available only to an exclusive set of customers. The price point will be higher and it will operate like more of a club.” A-Ha! So that’s why the quality of the boxes are slipping, it’s because they’re not satisfied with the £250,000 a month they get from their loyal, regular subscribers. They want you to pay MORE for them. Hence the pound-shop tat. What a crock of shit. The article also boasts that in less than a year Glossybox have turned a profit, which is unusually fast for a start-up business. Why is that? Because they are ripping off their customers.
Glossybox obviously have some kind of deal wherein they get all their contents at a huge discount, if not for free. After all, the brands they use are getting valuable data out of it from the Glossybox customer feedback (after you have received a sample you have the option of reviewing it for extra points towards a free box - a system that customers have also been experiencing problems with). As you know customer data is something brands usually have to go to specialist agencies for and can be quite an expensive undertaking, so having their brands blasted into 25,000 homes must seem like a god send to make-up companies and the like. I know I’d be throwing my shit at these subscription boxes like Gorillas in a zoo if it were up to me and I were the head of say, Clarins.
With regards to turnover, I’d estimate that with 25,000 subscribers paying £12.95 a month that makes a monthly pre-tax turnover of £323,750. Assuming the box costs about £2 to produce (including box, packaging, and samples) and that shipping for each box is around £2, that leaves £223,750. Minus monthly wages for their 24 staff (I’m estimating £48,000, an average of £2000 a month each) and not counting for rent of their premises and additional costs, they are still clearing a profit of over £150,000. A MONTH. That’s a lot of money for a lavishly wrapped turd.
The only strange thing I found is that it was hard to find anything negative about Glossybox online. Other than on their Facebook, you really have to search for it. This blog might help to explain why. Glossybox send free boxes to bloggers and journalists (arguably with better products in them) to blanket the internet with positive reviews. The problem is that they are not representative of the average customer’s experience seeing as the bloggers don’t have to pay for the box and are getting preferential treatment.
Upon checking their Facebook page I found that a lot of other customers, hundreds even, felt the same way as I did. They felt let down and disgusted by a company that consistently ignored their complaints, preferring only to respond to positive messages. On the occasion that you did get a response from their “customer services” (who in my eyes should be sacked) it was generic and vague, saying they would “report your comments to the brand team” with no remorse or talk of compensation. As yet, Glossybox have not made a formal statement apologising for the quality of the last box, nor have they responded to the hundreds of customers unsubscribing in droves. In fact, when I tried to advise fellow disgruntled customers of their consumer rights with links on how to complain to Trading Standards, I was promptly blocked from their Facebook and my comments were deleted, which shows they ARE aware, but are refusing to do anything about it.
Either way I have reported them to Westminster Trading Standards as they clearly fall foul of their basic guidelines and I suggest you do too if you’ve received a box that you are unhappy with. You can go via the Citizens Advice Bureau website who provide a handy form with advice on how to complain. They are taking their subscribers for a ride and it’s not on.
Not all subscription services are bad. To go back to my other subscription service, the reason Able & Cole makes sense is because it’s quantifiable. You sign up for fresh organic produce sent to your door on a certain day for cheaper than you would get at a supermarket and that is exactly what you get. It comes straight from the farmer in minimal reusable/recyclable packaging and is generally good-o all round, not to mention ethical. The problem with Glossybox is that it is not quantifiable and it is not ethical. They basically collate together samples - things that are available for free anyway - into a fancy box and charge you £12.95 for the privilege.
“But oh”, you say, “it’s only a tenner!”. Really? At last check I’d spent £98.65 with Glossybox, for a service that I am not entirely happy with, if not appalled by towards the end. They are selling a subscription service, not one off boxes, and an elitist one at that. It IS expensive in the long run and you ARE better off enduring the embarrassment of counters, requesting a few samples and buying the full size products with the £90 odd that you save from NOT subscribing. That is the facts of it. Of course, this doesn’t pander to our need to receive something exciting in the mail, but I can’t help thinking we would be better off doing something like this ourselves - making one off goodie boxes for each other or going direct to a beauty brand that we like - rather than letting an unscrupulous company helmed by a 24-year-old ex-banker profit from our desire to receive surprises in the mail.
For example, last year I made a goodie box for my friend Chelsea’s birthday and it felt really good making and finding stuff to go in it. She’s American so I put loads of British sweets and oddities along with felt toys and crocheted things, and half the fun was in putting it all together. Giving is just as good as receiving. It’s a shame Glossybox don’t adhere more to that mindset.
As I said, not all subscription services are bad, but Glossybox are bad - very bad indeed.