Change to Birchbox Points: Are They Failing? Is This a Sign…?


I’m not going to lie, Birchbox has really pi$$ed me off lately.  In March, they screwed up so, so, so, SO badly (read about it here), and in April, too (read about it here).  Finally, they got it right in May (read about it here), so I began the process of being able to forgive them, finally.  Or so I thought.  Then, on June 14, I got a nasty little email.

The email I got has effectively removed any incentive I had to make my full-sized product purchases from Birchbox.  I no longer have any reason not to purchase from Nordstrom, Sephora or Ulta, all of which have great rewards programs. 

The subject of this ominous message was to advise subscribers of upcoming changes to their points program.  If you’re not familiar with Birchbox, here’s how it works:  You get five or six items in your box each month.  When you answer a few questions and post a short little review, you get ten points each, which is 50-60 points per month.  You also get one point for each dollar you spend in the “Birchbox Shop.”  You can then redeem the points for merchandise.  100 points is equal to $10.00 cash, redeemable in $10.00, or 100 point, increments.  So, basically even if you don’t buy any full-sized products, you still get at least $10 in points every two months just for writing reviews.

At first, to the casual observer, this email seemed neutral- it advised that Birchbox has “heard” their subscribers, and points will now be able to be redeemed in any increment, no more waiting for 100 points.  However, the skeptic (and former Corporate America manager) in me didn’t fall for this for a split second.

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I was right.  Then came the bad news- each subscriber would only get points for reviewing their first box, then no more.  Current subscribers will only get points for reviewing the July box, then no more.  WHAT.  THE.  F#@K.

Well, no wonder you can redeem points in any increment.  You will now have to spend $100 to get $10 in points, instead of just $20 (the price of two months’ Birchboxes).    I know, I know, all the legal stuff about how terms can change, etc., etc., etc.  But, this is still terrible customer service.

After numerous Google searches and scouring the internet, I have learned a bit about the company.  Birchbox was started with the intention of selling FULL SIZED products.  It was never intended to be “just” a subscription service with sample sizes.  The main objective was to GET YOU TO BUY FULL SIZED PRODUCTS AT RETAIL PRICE.  The powers-that-be at Birchbox spent a gazillion dollars (is that even a real number…?) on opening retail locations, to SELL FULL SIZED PRODUCTS.

Thus, there are several points to consider:

-Are we subscribers not buying enough full-sized products to justify the company’s investment?  Are most people only redeeming points instead of actual money to get these products?

-Do people change their products so frequently that they have no need for full sizes?  (I know I’m often on to something else by the time I finish a sample.  Often, I don’t even finish the sample itself.)

-Are the reviews ineffective, and thus Birchbox does not find them worthy of awarding points?

As I mentioned in my rant (found here), there is a certain “disconnect” within the Birchbox company.  I don’t know if the lines of communication are faulty, or if they’re just plain clueless or don’t care.  Now it’s like they’re adding insult to injury, again.

So, I have deduced a couple of possibilities regarding this extreme change.  Either they are “punishing” us loyal subscribers for not behaving in the manner they want or expected, or their ship is sinking.  Of course, there are other possibilities, these were just the most obvious to me.  No matter the reason, though, it’s still a pretty $hitty move.

You suck, Birchbox.