Posted by on in Subscription Box News | 51 comments

French Box February 2015 Box Issue Update

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

Do Not Use

First, if you haven’t already seen it, make sure not to use the products in your February 2015 FrenchBox. Full details here.

Today subscribers received this email from FrenchBox:

Dear subscribers,

FrenchBox was created to bring you a piece of France in your mailbox each month at an affordable price; a themed box with quality and varied French products that makes you excited the day it is delivered and happy as you open and discover the products we selected for you.

For the last 6 months, we felt proud of each box that we sent to you.
Meeting expectations for a $24 box with imported products has been a great challenge for us, one that we were conscious of when we started, on the premise that this was a novel concept and a good match in the subscription box business, allowing us to acquire great products for our subscribers to discover and enjoy.

This premise has proven difficult to sustain and the product selection of our last box has disappointed a lot of you. We sincerely apologize that we did not meet the expectation level we had accustomed you to.

But more importantly, we sent you two products that we did not verify and that should have never been sent had we been more vigilant.
We have let you down. We broke the trust you had in us. We feel absolutely terrible that we only realized this after we shipped you the products.

This apology letter is not meant to provide a quick-fix to our mistakes or to ask for forgiveness. It is merely to share our view of the situation with you. We know we won’t be forgiven by a lot of you, especially first-time subscribers. Trust takes time and we shattered the trust that we had built over the last 6 months.

Our ultimate hope is that we can regain your trust through actions and quality boxes, not through apologies of asking for forgiveness.

Going forward, our first decision is to hold off to the next box (March) until we can ship it with the certainty that it will match the level of quality that you have seen from us in the last 6 months. No current subscribers will be charged on February 25th, the usual date for our monthly subscription fee.

Our next step will be to provide a solution to our February subscribers. We are working as fast as we can to come up with a solution for you and we will be emailing it and posting it on our Facebook page. We will also be publishing the ingredients list for the bath pearls that were included in the box.

Finally, we are hard at work thinking and implementing the changes that we need to better serve you and get back to our mission statement. To name a few from the feedback we have received: more complete products descriptions, ingredients lists for all products, publishing more detailed ‘teasers’ for our upcoming boxes.

Until then, we will continue to try to reply to your emails with the information we have and in the shortest delays possible given the recent volume.

Thank you

What do you think of their letter? I’m hoping the solution they decide on for the February box is a refund to all subscribers.

Written by Liz Cadman

Liz Cadman

Liz is the founder of My Subscription Addiction. She’s been hooked on subscription boxes since 2011 thanks to Birchbox, and she now subscribes to over 100 boxes. Her favorites include POPSUGAR Must Have, FabFitFun, and any box that features natural beauty products!
All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.

51 Comments

  1. I looked today and they are no longer taking new subscriptions. I really doubt that we will get a refund. Liz, can you estimate even how many subscribers they have? If there are somewhere between 4000 to 5000 subscribers, and not everybody paid $24, a refund to all you are looking at close to $100,000. I doubt a small start up can afford to do that. I have cancelled my sub, but I so wamt them to succeed.

    • Your comment promoted me to dispute my charge for my new sub. I subbed only hours before this broke and cancelled the next day. Then I emailed them asking for my refund, but they will not respond. On Facebook they said they are handling the Feb business first. Well, sorry, but I paid for a March box and they aren’t even sending a March box out. So I deserve my money back.

      I have a feeling they are going to declare bankruptcy and then start some other new business with our cash.

  2. Reading between the lines on this, tells me that this company is in BIG trouble. Here’s what they’ve done – they’ve completely broken subscribers’ trust. I wouldn’t trust a single product from them after this, because who knows where they got it.

    Then, the big one for me, is saying that they can’t afford to do this box at $24 a month. So, what I see coming is them telling us that they are going to have to raise the price of the box substantially each month in order to provide products not sourced from dollar store bargain bins. It says to me, “hey, I sent you crap for $24 thinking you all were too dumb to notice. Now, I’m hoping you all are dumb enough to give me more money each month!” I don’t think so…

    Then they said they aren’t going to ship March’s box out until further notice if at all – well this is great for monthly subscribers, but what about annual subscribers (or 3 month or 6 month)? Those subscribers already paid for March’s box and beyond.

    Next, they say they are still trying to figure out a way to make up Feb’s box to everyone. The only way they can make that box up is to refund everyone’s money. But, since that didn’t seem to be on the table, I am guessing they 100% can’t afford to refund everyone without going under.

    On top of that, there are several newspaper articles about Frenchbox’s owner Mickael Cohen and his prior business ventures in the Miami area. These articles depict a businessman that is running on debt, absconding with creditors’ money, and very shady business practices.

    After reading those articles and seeing this from them, I would run from Frenchbox. They do have beautiful packaging, but that only goes so far.

    The other lesson I take away from this Frenchbox situtation is to never, EVER sign up and pay for an annual subscription to a box. I might chance it on a bigger company like Popsugar, but even then, I don’t think it’s wise. If any of these companies go under or filed bankruptcy, annual subscribers would just have to take the loss. I’ll take it monthly with subs. Subs come and go, so monthly is the only way to go. 🙂

    • Someone from FrenchBox has popped on MSA to leave a couple comments to assure us the Mickael Cohen who runs French Box is a different guy from the Mickael Cohen who ran airplatinum.

      And sure, it’s entirely possible it’s just an unlucky coincidence, but they do have a lot in common:

      – Both spell their name the same way
      – Both work in the Miami area
      – Both have ties to France
      – Both worked as entrepreneurs in emerging markets starting businesses that followed a model of repackaging goods and services (AirPlatinum repackaged charter flights and luxury cars/accommodations; French Box repackaged goods from france)
      – Both founded their companies with a structure that had both an LLC and a holding company, per company records
      – Both appreciate the finer things: The Cohen who ran AirPlatinum had a million-dollar apartment in a very nice, exclusive community, per the news article; per company records, France in a Box LLC is registered to a residence in a different very nice, exclusive community.
      – There’s no photos and no social media to tell them apart; the Cohen who ran AirPlatinum has all but disappeared

      Again, I’m not saying they’re the same guy, but if they ever met for lunch, they would have a LOT to talk about.

      • I did further research on this using various public records databases. In addition to what you’ve mentioned, they also have the same date of birth.

        • If, in fact, the Mickael Cohen mentioned in the articles is not the same as the one with ties to Frenchbox why not just make this statement initially on their Facebook page? By admittedly deleting a post it appears one is trying to prevent other users from ever seeing said post. When you are striving for transparency in a damage control situation address issues head on. On MSA they were able to control the flow of information so they made a statement. I’m not saying it is the same person either but deleting Facebook posts during this time may not be the best decision.

        • Wow! I hadn’t found that yet.

          I’m so glad you commented. I found myself going down the rabbit hole with searches this weekend to see how many connections I could make, and I’m relieved to discover I’m not the only one.

          I’m also laughing about Stay’s comment about Joey’s hand twin, because the coincidences really are just as remarkable!

          It’s one thing for a subscription box to make a judgment error such as sending boxes with old stock. Startups make mistakes, and the folks getting the boxes have demonstrated a lot of patience and benefit of the doubt.

          But it’s quite another if they are flat out fibbing about this Cohen fellow. Again, not saying they are. But if they are… I wouldn’t trust anything these people said in future.

          • Rather, Brandy’s hand twin comment. 🙂

            Still laughing!

      • I saw that stuff too – especially the post saying the Mickael Cohen of the articles and legal docs is not the same guy as the Frenchbox Mickael Cohen. The fact that all the similarities are there, same spelling (I’ve never seen Mickael spelled that way) birthdate, location, EVERYTHING… tells me this is the same guy. For him to try to make us think otherwise tells me, in my opinion, that this guy is still shady as ever and to stay far away from Frenchbox.

        Either that or maybe there are two of these Mickael Cohens in Miami and they’re like Joey’s identical hand twin Vegas dealer on Friends. Like Joey said, these two could make a fortune if they worked together. It’s like a miracle! 🙂

        • I just Google Mickael Cohen Miami and on the LinkedIn page of the one with planes are shown 5 others with the same spelling. So he is definitely not the only one with that name. Then I checked on Facebook and there were plenty. I stopped to count when I reached 30 Mickael Cohen.

          • Yes, but most of them are blank, bogus Facebook profiles with no photo or info on them. 99% of the others all live outside of the USA. Remember, this Mickael Cohen is in Miami. So, there’s more likenesses than just the name spelling. Same M.O., same city, same birthdate, etc.

  3. Wow. This is even worse than the overlooked/not shipped strivectin that was to be in Feb glossybox. French Box completely over explained too much and gave too much information out. In doing so they look inept. They also chose the wrong direction to go with the apology letter. First, you don’t start out an apology saying it isn’t an attempt to gain forgiveness. BAM, loss of sincerity, which makes your credibility (French Box) plummet. One can also tell there isn’t much experience in the customer relations area based the verbage they chose to print. To admit in writing “the premise (of a “french box” full “french products” imported to USA) of has been hard to sustain” BAM, another nail in their coffin. Who admits to having a terrible business model and not doing enough research on availability of french products and pricing of such products if that is what your business plan offers as main product? The stupidity of the email makes my head spin. The “going forward” and “Next Step” paragraphs are pretty much the gist of what needed to be said. However it is all open ended, not saying if anything will be actually done at all, nor when they are shooting to have their problems resolved. This email gives hints of a terribly run business. I’m thrilled I waited to see how it would play out before I joined the mailing list…as I didn’t see how they would import that many truly french items at such a small cost. Glad my instincts were on mark. Sorry for all those who signed up. At least they are suspending charging your monthly fee.

  4. Darn! I actually got a French box for February – though I thought the subscription wouldn’t start until March and they never sent an e-mail saying they were shipping it. I haven’t opened it and I’m thinking of just sending it back.

    I guess I should call my credit card company first and see what they recommend I do.

  5. Hmm..it think it is interesting that they reiterate the fact that for six boxes prior, they sent out great boxes. Many times this was said in the apology letter as a desperate plea for customers to hang on. Did anybody check on the freshness of those products? I am very curious. I wonder if they were abusing the system all along with 3rd party sellers. Checkcosmetics.net. This was my first box, so I don’t have any prior products. If they have been doing this from the beginning, I wonder if somebody will take this on as a class action lawsuit. These boxes need quality control regulation.

  6. I’m curious how people know the serum is made in China. Is it on the bottle? I know on the cosmetic website you can zoom in on the products and one of them said made in France. When I looked the other day I did not see anything about the serum being made in China.

    • It says Made In China on the back of the bottle.

  7. I think that giving all the money back for February would probably close their business down. Substitute goods at a higher value would be find with me. My biggest concern beyond expiry dates is the Made in China serum. If you are French box you do not ever have products made in China.

  8. My husband gave me a three-month subscription for Valentine’s Day, starting with the February box. I went to France last summer, and thought this would be a fun way to continue my fond memories. Kind of a nightmare.

  9. The more emails and comments from FB I am reading, accompanied with the posts from customers really makes me believe this is a situation that FB will not recover from. That’s just a personal thought but if I were still a paying customer, I’d rethink that.

    I still keep seeing FB claim they did not check their product first. But then where did they get it from in the first place? You can not tell me a reputable company sold them these products under the impression they were current. Even a moron knows that 3rd party sites out of the country sell old stock.

    And if they truly did not know that, then they are not qualified to be running this company. Not even a little.

    • Totally agree. I feel like they’re only sorry that they got caught and because of that they will not recover from this.

  10. I think we should give them a little bit of time to resolve this situation. Just imagine how stressful it must be for them. Hundreds of angry emails to read and answer, getting items for next months boxes, getting solution for February and March boxes. They must make some decisions and I am sure they are working very hard on it. I think it is very good idea to wait with March box or completely skip it until they are proud of items included in this box. Maybe they should send a box every two months so there is more time to get nice items subscribers will love. And I am sure they are working on solution for February box fiasco. I feel for them.

    • I am going to give them time to respond as well. Depends on on the direction they take, I will deal with my annual subscription. But I fear this company will have a difficult time getting products in the future. Like someone mentioned, if the products they feature cannot be sold in the US, it is difficult for the manufacturers. I think many of us like the idea of this box and I hope they make a come back.

  11. I feel bad for them because this situation has to be really stressful. At the same time they did put themselves in it and have not handled it well. They should have been transparent from the beginning and taken more accountability. They are placing blame and although they wrote and apology letter I haven’t seen the words “I’m sorry” yet. I feel bad for anyone that subscribed for a year…

  12. I really believe we should NOT be using the heart bath, it did not come with a packaging… it could be expired even if they post a date, that does not mean our bath pearls are still good.

    Is good that they are reaching out to customers, and I hope they make a big gesture to fix their mistake. Is such a big break of trust, it will be hard for customers to forgive them (and we might be suspicious of the items they send).

  13. I’m glad they sent out an apology letter because it was desperately needed in this situation. However, a lot of the wording really concerns me and I’m more concerned that they have a failing business model and can’t afford to refund our money like we deserve. I’m going to go ahead and dispute the charges because I can’t afford to waste my money on crap. I’m so disappointed with this whole situation, FL has lost me as a customer forever.

    • ^^^ they do have a failed business model and it’s because they are not business people. There are so many grammatical errors in this letter and the last one that I won’t trust anything they say or do (not because they are intentionally trying to screw people over, but because they are incompetent and amateur).

      • Yes! I was going to say they clearly don’t have an experienced copywriter or editor on their team because their written communications are always terrible. At the very least they should have hired a freelancer to craft such an important piece of communication.

        • I am pretty sure a small, newer company in this position can’t afford to hire a copywriter or editor, but maybe a freelancer for such an important message. However, if I was in their position, I believe I would not have hired anyone for this task. Time is of the essence. Their website doesn’t have errors like this and they managed to get all of us to purchase the box, so they can’t be that bad at English to begin with.

          It would have been nice to have a perfectly crafted letter but they easily got their message across. I took it to mean English is not their first language and that they are likely, in fact, actually French.

  14. I have a wholesalers license myself. I’ve seen huge lots of L’Oreal products available at discount usually because the packaging is outdated or the product has been discontinued. If the packaging is old enough to be outdated, then the product itself is probably well past its useable life. That’s fine if you want to sell product at a swap meet, but it is NOT acceptable for a subscription box. (Beauty Box 5 has been guilty of this, but on 1 product in a box, not 3!!) French Box would be better off to raise their prices and offer a well curated box full of quality products as opposed to a cheap box full of poop.

  15. I think the response is well-written and takes into account objections that have been raised by subscribers. It is wise for them to hold off billing for March boxes and to look for a solution for February subscribers. I do have my doubts that they will recover from this. It sounds as though in the beginning they were able to purchase items from France and later had to rely on companies such as Alibaba or a different company to provide the products needed.

    There are things that they have written which concerns me such as : “a great challenge for us”, “This premise has proven difficult to sustain”, ” and the sentence that causes me the most concern: “…we sent you two products that we did not verify and that should had never been sent had we been more vigilant.”. Are they using a 3rd party purchaser or a warehouse to package the items? How do I know this will not be an issue in the future? Verify and vigilant …that is concerning to me.

    My opinion is that if FrenchBox continues to be in business that the $24.00 pricepoint is not sustainable. Either the price point will have to go up or the box is moved to bimonthly or quarterly with a higher pricepoint. I hope future sub owners are reading about this and understand the dangers of having a too low of a pricepoint and that it is not sustainable or could result in compromising which could be damaging to the brand and customer base.

    I was a subscriber who received my last box in December with the intentions of resubscribing in April. My health issues necessitates trust in both my beauty items and subscription boxes. I will not be resubscribing to them.

    • I agree with your concerns. For one thing, most subscription boxes have their boxes sourced out months ahead, so that’s a big hurdle if they have planned out the next few months with questionable inventory. And now that they have this public issue, it will likely be more difficult for them to get deals directly with companies to get the products in their box.

      I hope I’m wrong and they figure out a sustainable model – maybe a quarterly box in the $50 price range will be more manageable.

      • Part of the challenge with a box like this is a lot of brands who would be interested in supplying a box like this would do so to make future sales. And some of the best French products are not widely circulated in the US, so there wouldn’t be a lot of interest to ‘donate’ deluxe size samples to Frenchbox. Birchbox and Ipsy have said they get a lot of theirs for free from companies hoping to increase their sales. So, Frenchbox ends up having to buy product for theirs, which is challenging to make money off $24 when you factor in shipping.

    • They didn’t know? Did you see the Facebook photo of them packing boxes on what looked to be a kitchen table?

  16. I don’t know why they are “working on a solution to February”..in my opinion, they are sourcing their products from cheap discount sites and don’t know how to scramble another box together with quality fresh products. Maybe they are trying to contact vendors in France now, to see if they will give product for people to sample, so to speak. But giving the money back is the biggest losing proposition for them. So we will have to wait, I feel.

    • They probably don’t have the money to return to customers. And they probably have already bought product for the March box. I’d bet they’re trying to figure out if it’s decent enough to send it out as a replacement box.

  17. Glad they acknowledged the expired products and missing ingredient list. guess a solution for feb subscribers is not an easy one to make. Figure they woukd have refunded at least 10 to 15 $ for those who got the feb box. I hope they reinvent the box going forward. Yet with so many subscrbers loosing trust it will be hard to do. I subbed to the very first box yesterday I tossed out all the makeup and beauty items from that box. I wont subscribe again.

  18. I think they’ll have no choice but to increase the price of the box. It sounds like they’re almost blaming the subscribers by saying “well, what do you expect out of a box that only costs $24?”

  19. Either a refund or another box this time curated well!

  20. I do not trust the ingredients list that they posted for the bath beads. They don’t link to where they found the information, nor do they list a manufacturer.

    • Another thing that is making me feel uncomfortable with French Box: a woman in a Facebook group I belong to had posted a link to a news article about the owner of French Box. (I had then posted that link here, at the prior thread about French Box.) She also posted the link to the French Box Facebook. They deleted her comment and blocked her from their Facebook. It looks like they are trying to hide things instead of being transparent.

      • Do you still have this link saved? I’m curious to see.

          • Wow! So he’s probably buying luxury cars and jets and we get dollar store junk!

          • Thank you! This guy is unbelievable.

          • Hi, this is the first time we intervene on this forum.

            The person mentionned in this article is not a FrenchBox Founder.

            This is the second time in the life of our Facebook page that we delete a post.

            The first time was for using an expletive.
            This is the second time because we feel the ongoing smearing has gone too far.

            We’re dealing with our product situation in an honest and open way but we won’t stay silent on smearing.

            Mickael Cohen has NOTHING to do with the article you have linked, it’s a different person with the same name.

          • My apologies, then, French Box people.

            I think that you should understand that subscribers are going to be trying to figure out what’s happening with your company, especially as many have paid up-front for a year. Right now, your response is “Sorry, we’re going to stall on March for a bit, and we still don’t know what we’re doing about February.” It’s not exactly a solid and proactive action.

            Why not refund – immediately – all Feb subscribers in a show of good faith?

            Cheers.

    • Why not post a request on FB that they give this information?

  21. I think it’s bizarre that they aren’t refunding customers or sending anything to make up for the expired products in February. So what exactly did February paying customers receive for their $24…?

  22. The ingredients and expiration date for the bath pearls are now posted on their facebook account.

  23. I guess no one at FrenchBox actually checks the products once they are received from vendors, how could they not know? Hopefully whatever they come up with works out for everyone, customers and company.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments may not appear immediately. More info here.