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French Box Update for Annual Subscribers

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French Box - A New Subscription Box

French Box sent this email to annual subscribers yesterday. (Thanks for sharing this Lesley)

Dear Liz,

We wanted to reach out to you without further delay to share an important update about your pre-paid subscription with FrenchBox.

We appreciate that you have put your trust in us early on when purchasing your subscription and we want to acknowledge that we fell short of expectations with our last box.

Please trust that we intend to correct this situation the best we can and in the shortest delays possible.

We are going to send you two replacement products in order to bring our February box up to an acceptable value. We expect to do this next week. These items will be brand name, full size products with a combined retail value of about $35. We will post the ingredients list, production and expiration dates on our website once we ship them.

We are planning some changes in the way we offer our box. Changes that are necessary for us in order to produce boxes at the quality level we had originally set for. Among other things, we will now provide detailed information about all the products that the we send: production date, shelf life and list of ingredients. We will no longer guarantee a set schedule for our box and we will change its price in the coming weeks.

How will we fulfill your subscription ? 

Your subscription status today is as follows:
You purchased a 12-month subscription on August 20, 2014 for $204.00.
We have shipped you 6 boxes sor far, which leaves a pro-rated balance of $102.00.

We are going to add 30% to your balance (your final subscription balance is$132.60) and ship you our upcoming boxes until this balance is depleted.
We will provide you with choices when your balance falls under the price of the next box we ship (a single product, a store credit, etc).

Finally, and most importantly, we want to let you know that we are deeply committed to fulfill your existing subscription and send you boxes that you will love in the coming months. Your subscription is particularly important to us because you were an early subscriber.

We hope that you will find these changes acceptable and give us a chance to exceed the expectations you have put for us.

Sincerely,

The FrenchBox Team

It seems like they are really committed to fixing the issues, so I will remain somewhat cautiously optimistic. I’m curious to see what the two items are we will be receiving.

What do you think?

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.

52 Comments

  1. I received my replacement products today – I see that the shower gel is made in the USA…

    While I appreciate products made in the USA, the idea of a FRENCH BOX is to sample products made in FRANCE.

    • Not only is the shower get made in the USA (totally unacceptable to me) Lanvin is a brand you can buy here

      • I can see why one of the replacement items was made in USA. It probably would have taken at least a month to get anything shipped from France (air-shipping such a huge quantity would be a fortune) plus time spent in customs.

  2. Honestly, the way this all sounds to me is they have fallen hard. They tried to over do it in the beginning and now they have spent all of their available funds. In my opinion it seems like they have spent all their yearly and monthly subscribers money and really don’t know what to do. Nowhere in the email did they offer to refund their money. It sounds really odd to me, if it were me I would be demanding my money back, but to each their own. At least they are making up for last months horror box.

  3. Here is the email I received, which was slightly different:

    Dear Crystal,

    We wanted to reach out to you without further delay to share an important update about your recent subscription with FrenchBox.

    You are among the people who signed up after we sold out the February Box and you are currently scheduled to receive our next box.

    We have been busy dealing with issues with our February box. Issues that have forced us to re-think the way we operate and assemble the box. We have decided to delay our next box. We expect to ship it in about 6 weeks.

    We will communicate more details in the coming weeks about the changes that we are implementing. Among other things, we will now provide detailed information about the products that the we send: production date, shelf life and list of ingredients. We will no longer guarantee a set schedule for our box and we will change its price.

    Please note that we have suspended all subscriptions at this time:
    * You will not be charged a second time with this subscription;
    * You will need to sign up again and agree to new terms and conditions if you wish to continue your subscription with us. We will give you advanced access to our new registration system so you do not miss out.

    We disappointed a lot of people in February and this next box is a very important one for us… We hope that you will agree to this delay which is necessary for us while we reorganize FrenchBox.

    Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question about your subscription.

    We thank you for you patience and understanding.

  4. Looking at some of the other boxes, like Yogi surprise, little lace box and some of the others that have recently come out, I think that it is likely that the cost of this box will be between 34.99 and 49.99 and that they will probably do a bi-monthly box in order to be able to source the products. I would think that we are probably not looking at at boxes at 3 times or 4 times the cost, but probably 2 to 2 1/2 times cost. Prior to February’s box, I was always happy with my box (I did not get the cell phone charm and magnet) and always thought the $24 price was low for what you got. I think Yogi surprise has figured out the secret (there box usually doubles the cost and always has interesting items) while Little lace box appears to make it up through their store (has anyone who got a box not ordered something through their store) as I expect is the plan with Oui Please. Based on the et voila publication, It looks like Oui Please will be adding a lot of new items from this last box and I know I will be ordering some things. French box is probably going to need to use one of these two models to pull themselves out of their current situation. I also wrote them and suggested they should focus less on all makeup and include a diverse group of items. I’m going to be cancelling my two makeup subs because I get so much of this stuff in my other boxes.

    • I have to agree with your price point. Which means I won’t be sticking around. I have more faith in Little Lace then I do in French Box at this point. I would need to see how they plan to “restructure” the box to make the price worth it. I have been a subscriber since the beginning and felt the price was fair. In my opinion, this is NOT a $30-40 box.

    • I agree with your assessment! They should up the price and go bi-monthly. It’ll be a better box and there will be less scrambling for product to fill a box each month.

      • They are legally obligated to fulfill the terms of their existing prepaid subscriptions. If they cannot financially manage that then they need to say so and allow customers to make an informed decision about next steps. Subscribers contracted for a monthly box, not a bi-monthly delivery. So even if that kind of business model is better in general it doesn’t change the fact that they have obligations. There is no changing terms absent consent of both parties to a contract. It’s great if folks are willing to roll the dice for future deliveries and certainly their choice. Since they have suspended the purchase of new subscriptions, and have yet to say when they plan to deliver the next box, I would be concerned they are going to make yet more changes or just go under completely. It’s happened many times with start up monthly subscription services, from nail polish to underwear subs. The excuses and promises also flow freely in those instances, but ultimately nothing of substance happened in the end leaving prepaid subscribers holding the proverbial (empty) bag.

  5. What I take is that they misjudged their price point, and could not continuously offer the same quality at that price point (hence bargain bin beauty products) they will need to raise the price to up the quality. I agree that those who paid in advance should not be hit by this increase, however FB does not have the revenue to offer all these users the original price. The solution is to give you a 30% boost in credit, so that they can raise the price. I think it’s a decent solution that can potentially keep them afloat until they get more users. They are being honest and fair about it, some companies would have just folded and left all pre-paid subscribers out in the cold.

  6. I have just signed up for the annual sub and Feb. was my first box… LE SIGH! It looks like they are communicating earlier annual sub customers as I haven’t received this email yet. At this point, all we know is that they will ship 2 replacement items by the end of next week; the next box will ship in about 5 weeks from today; and they are changing pricing and terms for annual subscribers. That means they are skipping March box to push back annual sub holders by a month for now?

    The annual price Liz paid seemed to be a promotional price which ended while ago. I paid $228 ($19/month). I guess I will contact customer service when I get this email and see what it really means. I really hope they give us the option of refund or guarantee the remaining # of boxes at no further cost.

  7. From what I see, the important parts of the letter are these:

    We are planning some changes in the way we offer our box. Changes that are necessary for us in order to produce boxes at the quality level we had originally set for. (Using the word necessary here implies to me that they are going under, and also cannot afford to get decent products at the price they started with, especially now that their shady practices have been outed)

    How will we fulfill your subscription ? (This implies they will not be sending the remaining number of boxes that have been paid for)

    We are going to add 30% to your balance…and ship you our upcoming boxes until this balance is depleted. (At our increased rate, whatever number of boxes this amount covers. We’ve added 30% to try to make up for he fact at you won’t be getting all the boxes you’ve paid for.

    We hope that you will find these changes acceptable and give us a chance to exceed the expectations you have put for us. (Give us a chance basically sounds like if you decide to demand the boxes you paid for, or a refund, we are going under.)

    I don’t think anyone commenting is saying they are charging you 30%,people just word things differently. I also think that everyone should decide on their own whether they want to dispute charges, demand refunds, demand their remaining boxes, or accept this plan. I don’t think anyone here should try to make someone feel guilty for disputing charges or demanding refunds, it is not the subscribers responsibility to “save” this company. It is the company’s responsibility to save their subscribers.

    • Agreed! This isn’t a charity we’re talking about – it’s a business. It is most assuredly not the subscriber’s burden to help the business stay afloat/succeed. To even expect that is utterly absurd. What they need to do is consult with a legitimate attorney about their legal options going forward rather than hoping that subscribers will just accept the changes.

  8. Soooo… I guess French Box has never heard of the term “grandfather clause.” Because that’s what annual subscribers should fall under. They paid their total annual amount; they should receive their remaining annual boxes for no additional charge–may that be only 1 more box or 11 more boxes.

    I mean, that’s how companies do things. I’m not sure why that’s a difficult concept? If French Box can’t AFFORD that, I fully understand that. They’ve taken quite a hit. However, if that’s the case, they should refund the remaining balance to annual subscribers–again, may that be $17 or $187. Theoretically, they should be able to afford to do that because they haven’t bought products for those boxes yet, thereby not needing that money yet. Unless they’re using all of y’all’s annual money to buy those two replacement products. Which is probable.

    • My guess, from knowing something of how start up businesses are structured, is that annual and multi month subscriptions are offered at a discount to show lenders, whether VC’s or banks, that the new business has customers for more than the first month. That’s why there is often such a deep discount at the start on those longer subs. THEN, the money from the long term subs is used as capital to buy the products. They can keep the box going as long as they keep getting more and more subscribers (kind of a pyramid) or its a model like popsugar where they have an alternate route for revenue – with PS it’s dollars from marketing. The more subscribers you get, especially long term, the more likely you are to get discounts on the products you offer as well on the theory that they are getting advertising.

      All of us need to realize that we are basically getting something for nothing- boxes that are valued way over what we paid for them. Either the value isn’t really there (FB’s last box), or they are getting money from something else, like advertising product. Harder for FB, because companies in France may not see the value in this type of advertising.

      These boxes are always a risky proposition. But I definately read this letter as saying they are not guaranteeing that everyone who has boxes left will get the full number they are due. I think they are restructuring, and they don’t know how much they are going to be charging. Kudos to them for trying to fix their product, but this may be their way of telling everyone that they going to change their contract with you. If that’s not ok with you, you should object now.

  9. They need to clarify the email. Are they adding the 30% on as a bonus for being a yearly subscriber? In other words, they will fulfill the remainder of the yearly sub leaving you with the bonus money to put toward a box or a store item? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me because of what is bolded in the post.

    Has anyone contact them to find out what exactly that means?

    This is why I stay away from subscribing for 6 or 12 months. I never thought the FB that I loved last year would be in this spot this year. You never know. Too many subs come and go.

    • Also I wonder if they are not sticking to a set delivery schedule does that change what a yearly sub means?

  10. From what I’ve been reading while following the situation they aren’t allowing yearly subscribers to cancel and get the remainder of their money back. If they are breaking their side of the contract and raising the price/not giving the remaining 6 boxes, I really feel subscribers should be allowed to refuse the new contract and cancel for a refund of $130, or at least the $102. People signed up for the year to get $17/mo boxes… Even if they raise the price I think yearly subscribers (who choose not to cancel) should still get a significant discount off of the new price. I’m really glad I decided not to sign up for this box. I don’t think they even have 6 months left at this rate.

  11. I guess I read this completely differently than everyone else. I read it as they were crediting your account with 30%, probably to offset the price increase they will soon announce.

    • Yes that’s my understanding – and I’m not sure what the prices of the boxes in the future will be (sounds like they aren’t sure yet either), so the extra 30% may not cover 6 more boxes.

      • Correct Liz. They cannot guarantee that you will get a full remaining six boxes. If you don’t have enough in your balance, then you will just either get an item of your choice or a store credit. Also their plan for the new FB is “to fill our box with more full size products, better quality products and surprises.”

        • And herein is the problem legally: they are changing the terms post contract ratification, without consent of the other contracting party. If the contract (subscription) was specifically for a total of 12 boxes for a set price, that’s what they’re obligated to provide. If they ultimately can’t deliver, they are in breach. The confusing 30% discussion wasn’t necessary or helpful in any way. If they’re going to raise the price, say so and give annual subscribers the option to agree to pay more or receive a prorated refund. It does not legally pass muster to say “we’ll credit you 30% on the balance of your account as of now and then if we can, we’ll send you as many boxes as possible up to the 12 we already obligated ourselves to provide but we can’t guarantee you’ll get 12 total even if that’s what you paid for in the first place.” Who wants to play a wait and see game with a prepaid subscription? Changes like this weren’t mentioned, to my knowledge or according to their site, as a possibility when subscribers contracted for an annual sub. Therefore they either have to provide prorated refunds or deliver as they already contracted to do by sending 6 more boxes. It’s fine if they want to raise the price for NEW subscriptions but not for prepaid ones where the subscriber isn’t even given a choice in the matter. My surmise is they purchased a good deal of third party wholesale stock for future boxes and now know subscribers won’t accept expired products. If they truly want to make things right as they keep saying, they need to own their mistake fully. That means an acknowledgment that they knew what was sent in Feb, not a vague “we had no idea…” statement. If they didn’t know then who did? Who is running this sub? It’s rather difficult to reinvest trust in a company that still isn’t being forthright even while attempting to rectify past mistakes. It makes sense they can’t say what items subscribers will receive as replacements because they haven’t yet sourced them and are likely having problems doing so within the allotted price range. Personally I highly doubt they were unaware of the source of their products or the fact they were past their expiration dates; they just didn’t think customers would notice. Then they got caught and the response is to feign ignorance of the problem in the first place.

        • So if are we were to get half the number of boxes with twice the value of items, for twice as much money that would seem like a equal trade off overall. Then they could source better items instead of tiny samples and touristy junk. Not to say thats what they will be offering but if it turns out like that it might be a positive.

  12. Wow
    how can they possibly think this is fair? increasing the price sounds like a giant rip off
    and no mention of replacements for those of us who threw out most of the last box and cancelled at the same time

    • Agree! What about those month-to-month subscribers?! We essentially received a worthless box, and I, like many, cancelled after that. What kind of compensation do we get? It’s such a shame and a bit shady.

      • They say they will send two products to all February subscribers to make up for the two expired ones. Personally, I disputed the charges with my credit card.

    • I’m not from FrenchBox… I’m pretty sure I read somewhere in their communication that all Feb subscribers will get the replacements even if they cancelled.

  13. I agree with everyone here that it doesn’t seem legal (or fair for that matter) to add 30% to everyone who signed up for a year’s subscription. That should be their loss. Also, even with the up-charge, it still doesn’t mean they will get the remaining 6 boxes. That’s breaking a prepaid contract they had with their subscribers. I’m really glad I cancelled this one early; I would hate to be stuck with this mess to clean up.

    • I don’t think they are going to charge people more. I think they are crediting people’s balance by 30% to offset the increased costs of the boxes. It probably has to do with the way their tracking system works.

    • In my letter they added a credit worth 30% of my balance. I presumed it was either a good will gesture or it will offset the new price of the box and annual subscribers won’t be fully affected by a price increase (depending on how much they increase it).

  14. I feel that they are trying to make this right but this email was a little confusing. I still have 6 boxes left so expect 6 boxes more. The 30% adjustment would make sense as someone mentioned on the accounting side but then they mention towards the end there may not be enough for the full box. I feel with a price increase and all of the recent issues they may not get subscribers due to the trust issue. They really need the remaining annual subscribers to review upcoming boxes to rebuild the trust. Anxious to see what 2 items we will be receiving. I would feel better if they were upfront about this last box and not that they were not aware. This still makes no sense to me. Where is the quality control? I just returned from Paris and there are so many items from just the pharmacies that could make a fun great box. I am supportive of FrenchBox and want them to succeed. I appreciate the sincere effort to make this right as obviously they believe in their subscription service. I think others may have simply given up and thrown in the towel. Yikes! I am sorry this is so long.

  15. I don’t have a years subscription, so I’m just commenting lol. But I don’t like hee fact they they haven’t said they will fulfill the remaining number of boxes due to customers with yearly subs, but rather say they will send boxes “until the money runs out”. They aren’t fulfilling their end of the agreement, in my opinion. And that just mean that financially they are in mess. Yikes.

    • Wow, sorry about all the typos. Lately when I try to post to msa, my keyboard is in slow-mo and doesn’t keep up with my typing. Is anyone else having that problem?

  16. This just doesn’t seem right to me. The reason people contract for annual subscriptions is to get the boxes at a discount. Annual subscribers contracted to 12 boxes for a certain cost. Now FrenchBox is changing that contract. If they keep the box price the same (unlikely) you will get an extra box. If they raise it to say $50 you get two boxes instead of six. Fixing this issue should not fall on the shoulders of current subscribers.

    I do not have an annual subscription but I’m doubting I’ll like my two replacement items. I think they are not releasing what they are because they will get another surge of people unsubscribing.

    • Kim said:
      “I do not have an annual subscription but I’m doubting I’ll like my two replacement items. I think they are not releasing what they are because they will get another surge of people unsubscribing.”

      Clever! I hadn’t considered that. I actually was wondering if the big secret about the replacement items had more to do with the fact that they might vary subscriber to subscriber and roughly add up to a certain amount.

  17. Looks like all future boxes are going to be a different price with no set time intervals. I cancelled my monthly after the 6 boxes. I do not need anymore made in China items. A friend of a friend just signed up an annual and Feb was her first box. How awful. She said that frenchbox would not let her cancel and she is disputing the charge with her cc.

    • Made in China?! That just ruined this “French” box for me even more. I think this confirms I should stay away. Thanks for sharing that.

      • So far besides the serum from last month’s box, my brow box was also made in China. That is not to count items like hair band, pocket mirror; plus items where there is no country or origin, like the candle, wine bottle tote and bath pearls, to mention a few.

  18. I think they are suffering from yet another communications issue…
    (I also suspect that they were trying to save costs and outsourced the box last time and it failed miserably)

    I’m reading this as:
    —–
    We realized we screwed up. We are going to make this right by sending you new products to compensate for the poor quality products we sent you in February. Our current business model is not sustainable, thus we are going to raise the price for new subscribers by 30%. However, we made a deal with you already and we intend to keep it. Our tracking system does not recognize subscriptions as a number of boxes, but instead as a monetary balance and each box shipped is deducted as a prorated amount. Thus, for the purposes of our accounting system, the easiest way to rectify this situation is to add 30% to your account balance. This should not at all affect how you receive your boxes, but we wanted to proactively point this out to avoid confusion.
    ——–
    I could be wrong in how I’ve interpreted it, but it’s pretty obvious to me they don’t have a communications professional on staff. They have been correctly apologetic, but the information they provide is confusing. I’m glad I didn’t sign up in January.

    • That’s how I interpreted it as well, although it took me reading it twice.

      • However this last part makes me think how everyone else is feeling

        “We will provide you with choices when your balance falls under the price of the next box we ship (a single product, a store credit, etc).”

        If they are saying you may not get all 12 boxes, they should offer subscribers a chance to cancel and get a refund for the remaining boxes.

        • I think this last part is just because the 30% credit they gave may not equal exactly what the cost of the last box in the annual subscription would be. For example, if they raise the cost of the boxes 30% now that would mean the current $24 monthly box would cost $31.20. I doubt anyone would charge $31.20 a month for a box, maybe $31 or $32 though. Also, annual subscribers pay less per box than if the boxes were purchased individually. So if FrenchBox doesn’t know exactly what the cost of their next 6 boxes will be or the cost doesn’t exactly equal what credit the annual subscribers have in their account, there could easily be some money left over that is not enough to exactly cover the cost of an additional box. I would think at this point FrenchBox would be cautious and give the annual subscribers a little extra credit past what they assume the last box would cost if they don’t know exactly so there aren’t any more problems.

    • I’m actually not sure that makes sense. The original price of a month to month box is/was $24. The annual subscribers got a deal of $17/mo. Adding 30% only equals the original box price of $24/mo.

      This also brings into question the money deducting system mentioned, because if it is really a set system, it would deduct $24/mo from all subscribers and not $17/mo from some and $24/mo from others. Just my thought, though.

  19. Well, here it comes from one of the attorneys. I don’t know the language of the agreement when you signed up for the annual subscription, but unless it said they could raise prices or give you fewer boxes (pretty unlikely), I think they have to give you all remaining boxes- you paid a discounted price for 12 boxes and they have to live up to their end of the contract and give you 12 boxes for that price.

    The more important question might be whether they can stay in business, particularly if everyone who has an annual subscription asks for a refund or all 12 boxes at the agree price. They may not have the cash to be able to refund everyone their remainder, and it is clear they can’t fill boxes for this price. If they go under, you are left with an annual subscription to nothing.

    So, legally, I don’t think they can do it. Practically, they best option might be to let them reduce the number of boxes so you get SOMETHING. I am concerned, however, that they have no details about how often they will ship boxes, nor how much they will cost. They also haven’t been able to get the two new products out to anyone yet. So, it appears the “something” you will get might be very little.

    Everyone will have to choose what they want to do. It could be the first to request a refund from their credit card companies or French Box itself might be the ones to get money back. But it looks like there’s not much money there.

    I have to be honest and say this is why I don’t get annual subscriptions, particularly to new boxes. There are too many variables, and too many of them appear to go under. These guys seem to be trying to keep their head above water, but so far all they’ve been able to show is good intentions.

    • Second attorney chiming in to say, essentially, ditto to Sara’s assessment and advice. The company cannot change subscription terms mid-subscription without having specifically reserved the right to do so in advance, in writing to which the customer prospectively agreed. If the terms were such that you were to receive 12 complete boxes for a set price, that’s what you’re legally entitled to receive. If they cannot deliver as contracted, they owe prorated refunds to all who request them. Based on how they have responded so far, I would be seeking the refund now, before the money is gone (it happens, quite often in the sub box world). It’s already been a week and they’re still trying to figure out how to replace the expired/unsafe items from last month. For me personally, I wouldn’t wait around to see if it all works out. I couldn’t even understand their new business plan clearly so I would basically have to guess what I’ll be charged each month from this point forward, especially since their pricing scheme seems to be a very fluid concept.

  20. I am thinking they will announce an approximately 30% price increase next.

  21. I’m hoping the attorneys who commented last time can jump in on this, but I’d think if you bought an annual subscription, they’re obligated to fulfill whatever quantity of boxes they said you’d be getting.

    I dunno, I feel like this is still a shady move – “we screwed up royally, so we’re raising our prices – which may or may not retroactively retract your pre-paidsubscription length” ? Glad I don’t get this box!

    • That’s exactly why I don’t do pre-paid 6 and 12 month subscriptions. Most box services just seem to come and go too quickly anyway because of all of the competition, or they go down hill after a few months because they’re not equipped to keep up with the demand or maintain quality. If they shut down before the end of your pre-paid subscription, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. I just can’t bring myself to risk hundreds of dollars (in the case of some annual box subscriptions) in advance without a guarantee. I’ll stick with month by month until someone starts offering guaranteed refunds.

      • I agree about sticking to month to month. It might be pricier that way, yet I would rather pay more a $’s a month then dealing with stuff like this. There are some boxes that have been around for a while that I don’t mind signing up for 3+ months – Popsugar, Glossybox, Petit Vour, Julep. All 4 have shown consistency, and value. – Newer boxes I will not take a chance on.

    • From a practical point of you, I think your choices are to take the deal or to ask for a refund of the pro-rated value of your subscription – and open a dispute if they don’t give you one.

  22. I’m concerned that my 30% bonus will not be enough to cover the remaining 6 boxes on my subscription. The idea of buying the annual sub is to lock in the price for 12 shipments. I won’t know until they make further announcements.

    Frankly, I have loved most of the items in these boxes and purchased 3 items after sampling them. I wish French Box would sell some of the items in their shop section but so far that hasn’t been the case.

  23. I was hoping to subscribe to this box as an affordable alternative to the Oui Please box but after February’s flub and now mention of changing the way they offer their box, not having a set schedule, and changing the price… I think I’ll wait a couple of months to see how this plays out before I commit to a subscription.

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