So if you’re a Birchbox subscriber, you’ve likely noticed the emails and media upset lately about their new points changes, but if you didn’t follow carefully, or go directly to their customer service, you may not know exactly what the new changes mean. Since Birchbox has been my favorite subscription since the beginning, and I’ve always heavily recommended them, I’d like to go over the pros and cons about the changes and what they mean for you if you are a current subscriber or if you’re considering whether they’re worth it (or still worth it) to subscribe to.
If you are not familiar with the points system Birchbox has been known for, you could earn 10 points ($1.00 store credit) for every single item in your box that you reviewed. Even if there were 7 items. These could be spent on absolutely anything in the store, and people would be able to redeem them for huge points values. These points expired 1 year from the date they were earned, and if you hit 500 points, you would hit “ACES” status, with benefits like some ACES only items, special sales, early access to sample choice, etc etc.
All of the changes are active July 11th, and this MAY (at least for now) only be valid info for the US subscribers.
As of July 11th, you will be able to redeem points in increments of 10 ($1.00 credit) rather than 100 ($10 credit).
Your product reviews will now directly impact the boxes you receive in the future (according to them).
NOTE: You can still earn point through referrals (50 points each) and through purchases (1 point per dollar spent).
From July 11th, on, you will be able to review 5 more items for a total of 50 combined points. That’s it. Forever. No more points for product reviews.
Points will expire 6 months after they are earned, instead of 1 year after. So if you do not spend them, they will disappear. This is only meant to happen to points earned on July 11th or later, and you do get warning emails.
It still takes 500 points to reach ACES status. You could do this by reviewing every product in your box and get 500 points, now the only way to earn points is through referrals (50 points each) and purchases (1 point per dollar spent).
What This Means:
If you were someone that reviewed your products every month, you basically were paying $5.00 or less per box, now you will be paying $10.00 per box because you won’t be getting store credit.
If you did not review products in your box, this really doesn’t change anything for you. Except now you will be able to redeem points from purchases and referrals in quicker increments, as long as you redeem them within 6 months.
If you are a current subscriber, you can review your items on July 11th (the first day they are open for Everyone to review, although some people have been able to review items already if they got the curated box and it already shipped) whether you’ve received them or not, and ‘cash out’.
Other Information About This Announcement:
Birchbox has been very shady about this. The initial emails sent out to people that earned points often were not clear if it would max out at 5 reviews per box, or 5 reviews forever. You can look through their Facebook page for information on this. Consumers have been equally upset about the change itself, and the shadiness. If you hadn’t reviewed a lot of items? You got a different email. They didn’t even mention the limited reviews. And some people didn’t even get an email.
Birchbox started and quickly ended service to Canada, and has laid off many employees both from Canada, and in the US. I’m unaware of any layoffs beyond these two areas.
Birchbox was one of the pioneer sample boxes, and now will openly state that they are “not in the business of selling samples.” Which is not what consumers want to hear. This is the product we love and enjoy.
Birchbox has opened store locations to sell full sized beauty products and has aspirations of being similar to Ulta or Sephora. AKA, not the service that most people were looking to them for, just a big makeup store where half the stuff is overpriced. They’ve recently announced the closing of at least one store, now referring to it as a “pop-up” (in popular opinion, this is to look like they aren’t going through the financial problems that they are).
Katia, one of Birchboxes high and mighties… well I don’t know any of this for fact, so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s viewed that Katia is more interested in the beauty themed shark tank like show coming up and becoming a reality star than in this business. One of the co-founders of Birchbox separated from the company semi recently as well. That just looks like bad news to me.
But the biggest issue for me with this change, is they weren’t honest. They have claimed over, and over, and over, that these changes are to make sure that reviews are only made for products actually tested so that we get ‘quality reviews’ and that these changes are best for the customers. The real issue? Their points system wasn’t sustainable. Because of the Beauty Box Boom (probably already used somewhere, but it sound good, so if it’s not, let’s coin it!) they’ve not raised funding in the past year (or more, again, not 100% informed on this). And they haven’t reached profitability. Their main competitor, Ipsy, reached profitability already. Though I will say, It is absolutely useless to look through Ipsy’s reviews.
I genuinely believe the majority of consumers would have been more understanding of these changes if they were announced honestly. Hey, we need to make some changes to keep up a sustainable business and continue offering this awesome service, so unfortunately we have to do A, B, and C, but to try to make up for it, we are also adding X, Y, and Z, and hope that you will continue to be a loyal subscriber.
Doesn’t that sound like a WAY better plan than acting shady AF about the changes?
Many people have gotten refunds, even for their year long prepaid memberships, even when they aren’t technically required to. This is a MAJOR change in the system you subscribed to. And you have the right to request it and inform them that it completely changes everything.
Is Birchbox Still Worth It?
I don’t know yet. I personally have a subscription that is active through February. I will not be requesting a refund, But, I will be looking closely at the value of each product both in retail value and personal value, and honestly? If the samples are what they’ve been lately, I don’t know that I would let my subscription continue beyond what’s already paid for. If they want these change to be okay, they need to step up their sample game and I believe change their ACES system so that you can reach it without spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars in their store. I think if they could give a different type of points per review, like maybe only good towards ACES membership, and once you’d reviewed enough to get those 500 points or whatever new number, you’d have ACES status for a year. That would cost them little to no money and give customers an incentive to write reviews beyond those first 5 and the distant promise that supposedly they will FINALLY help in getting our boxes more personalized.
I cashed in 200 points in the end of June, because I believed that what I wanted to purchase would likely be sold out on the 11th when hundreds of thousands of people will be cashing out their points. Reddit especially has a ton of people that will be cashing out points, because honestly? People are expecting them to go out of business. I don’t know about that. But it is actually a possibility with the way their management and marketing team handled all of these changes in one of the worst ways possible.
Here’s What I Got:
17 oz S’well Bottle in Blonde Wood
This is a $35.00 water bottle. Why? Because the claims are that it will keep your drink cold for 24 hours, or hot for 12. I have yet to put a hot drink in this because hello, it’s July, even Minnesota is hot as hell. BUT… I’ve been using it for ice water constantly. 6 icecubes, 9 hours later (6+ in the sun, another 4+ in bed under a blanket with body heat) my ice cubes were ALL still at least half size. 14 hours in, ice cubes were about 1/3rd size, and at 24 hours, with a few refills of fridge-dispenser-cold water, but no added ice (the last at 18 hours in), my water was COLD. It GENUINELY kept it cold for 24 hours.
Warning, if you put ice in it before bed, and you are really tired in the morning, you may do something stupid like tip it way up and have painfully cold water and ice cubes slam into your teeth. That’s one way to wake up.
This bottle also does not condensate, doesn’t feel hot or cold on the outside when you hold it (except for the cap sometimes), is vacuum sealed, hand painted, and meant to be good for the environment.
They also have a version of these that is 15 oz at Target called Sip by S’well that is differently shaped and doesn’t have the 24/12 hour guarantee, but is still meant to stay cold and hot for a very long time. That only sells for $25.00, so $10 less for 2 oz less, and different designs (I don’t know if the Sip versions at Target are hand painted, I don’t believe they are, but the designs are pretty).
The second item I chose was the Dr. Jart+ Soothing Hydra Solution Sheet Mask. This mask sells for $6.00 and was just $1.00 more than the cost of shipping. I haven’t tried the mask yet, but I know Dr. Jart+ by reputation and by the few other products I’ve tried from them and I’m excited to try this mask, though I’d honestly never pay $6.00 for one sheet mask at full cost.
I also added the Mystery Duo pack to my cart that comes free with any order of $35.00 plus. Because this rings up as $10.00 in pre-total, I was above the free shipping quota of $50.00. With my $20.00 off, $10.00 free duo, and 20% off coupon “WELCOMEBACK20OFF” (may or may not work, people have had mixed results) I got all of these items for $12.80. Whereas my retail value including my ‘free’ samples was $50.67.
My ‘free’ samples in the mystery duo were a 0.26 oz sample of Dr. Brandt’s Xtend Your Youth Face Cream worth $9.02, and a single packet of the LA Fresh Waterproof Makeup Remover Wipe worth $0.26. I have not yet used the LA Fresh wipe, but have used others from them and they’ve been about average. I’ve almost used up my Dr. Brandt face cream sample and while it’s very supple and creamy, it seems pretty average too for a moisturizer, but may do better for someone looking for anti-aging properties.
If you’re looking for a good water bottle, I absolutely recommend S’well. I haven’t personally tested the Sip by S’well version, but if you do not have Birchbox credit or would prefer to use your credit on other things, I think you’d be good with that version for $10 less. My personal value for this water bottle is around the $25.00 price range, and the only complaints I’ve heard about them is that the hand painted versions are sometimes not as detailed as people would like, and people say the paint may chip easier than preferred.