The Problem With Subscription Boxes

Before writing on this particular topic, I decided to Google it a bit to see what opinions were out there on subscriptions. After researching for a few minutes, I came across a blog talking about the danger of subscriptions. Within just a few moments, an add popped up and asked me to subscribe to the blog for “Just 9.99 a month!” I literally laughed out loud. Even a blog which claimed to dislike subscriptions wanted the viewer to subscribe! I mean, subscriptions are everywhere! There are infinite kinds of subscriptions for the consumer to enjoy: Netflix, Amazon, online services, books, magazines, gyms, or monthly boxes full of “goodies” delivered to your door.

I am going to specifically talk about the latter: subscription boxes. Although Forbes claims that subscription boxes are dead, I have a hard time believing this. I still see ad after ad on social media for subscription boxes of every kind, with thousands of likes on each one. Also, considering that I personally know several men and women who still enjoy the monthly subscription box, I felt compelled to write about them a little bit.

For those of you who missed the subscription box rage, a subscription box is a box of  “gifts” that is sent to the buyer’s door on a regular basis. The boxes are filled with goodies, usually following a particular theme. All the buyer has to do is sign up for box and pay a fee every time they receive a new box.

Although subscription boxes seem innocent and fun, here’s a few reasons why you should turn the other way.

1. They are expensive

I’m sure this point is very obvious to everyone, but it is worth looking at. Subscription boxes are expensive, even if the subscription claims to be only a few dollars a month. Unfortunately, these dollars add up over time. For example, when I was in my subscription box craze a couple years ago, I had a monthly box of makeup delivered to me that was only ten dollars a month, and I bought into it. However, just four, short months later, I realized I had spent 40 dollars on makeup! I looked at what I had gotten from the boxes. Most of the makeup were sample sizes, and there were very few full sized items. That’s when I realized that that ten dollars a month for makeup I spending was not worth it at all. For the 40 dollars I spent on junky makeup, I could have gotten a couple of very nice makeup items that would have lasted me a long time.

2. The items are unneeded

Most subscription boxes are made solely for buyer’s entertainment. That being said, it’s safe to assume that most things in subscription boxes are probably unneeded. Sure, the buyer might get something in every box that they use frequently, but chances are, the majority of “gifts” received won’t be touched by the buyer more than once or twice. This is especially true for hobby boxes, makeup or beauty boxes, or any box that sends more than two products a month.

3. The company knows nothing about you personally

Let’s face it. Companies who send out these boxes know nothing about the buyer. Why is this a problem? Well, how can a company know what to send their customer if they don’t know them personally? They don’t know anything about their buyer’s tastes, skin types, hobbies, etc. All they know is how to take that monthly check from them. In fact, they are sending their customers the same overstocked garbage from their inventory that they are sending every other customer they have. So, when a subscription company claims to have a “stylist” specifically picked out for you and only you, don’t buy into it. It’s not true.

4. The buyer often forgets to cancel

I would say that the forgetful customer is one of the biggest ways that subscription services make their money. Oftentimes, subscription companies will offer a trial run, where the buyer gets to pay a discounted price, or possibly receive free items. After that, the buyer has to pay the full amount for the next automated, monthly order. The consumer will give away their credit card information to receive discounted/free items, and then, more often then not, they forget to cancel the next monthly order and will end up paying for more and more orders as time goes on.

Companies also claim that the buyer can cancel their order at any time. Although this is technically true, chances are the buyer will forget to cancel “at anytime” and will end up paying for more subscription boxes even if they aren’t wanted anymore.

5. It’s harder to cancel orders than the company claims

Say you have a subscription box that you no longer want to receive. You go to the company’s website to try to cancel it. I know from experience that it isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds. And why would it? The company doesn’t want to lose that regular income from you. Therefore, they aren’t going to make it easy for you to cancel. They will make you take surveys, ask you about a dozen times, “Are you sure you want to cancel??” and possibly not be able to find your card number or previous orders. Then you will have to call customer service, who still won’t be able to help. Eventually, after leaving you on hold for too long, you’ll file a complaint, and then they will magically find your orders and cancel your boxes for you.

Now that I have written a few paragraphs on subscription boxes, I think I should say that I am not against all subscriptions. I rather like my Netflix account, and I do enjoy my online book subscription. However, I think that discretion should be made when it comes to subscriptions. I know from experience that it can be hard to control spending when subscriptions take out a chunk of income each month. Therefore, my suggestion to you is when you see a targeted ad on social media for a subscription, pass by it without clicking. If you have some subscriptions you no longer want, cancel them. And if you are tempted to get a subscription box, do the math and think about the yearly expense to see if it is still worth it.

Thanks for reading, Friends! Let me know what you think about subscription boxes in the comments, and have a blessed week!

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