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Updates on Quarterly’s Return Policy

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Quarterly Changes

Thank you to everyone who quickly shared this email with me! Quarterly just sent out an email letting current subscribers know about upcoming changes in 2015 – the first of which is the change to their return policy:

Due to the custom and exclusive nature of our Quarterly boxes, we are not able to accept returns. If you are unhappy with your box and are a subscriber, you may cancel your subscription at anytime. If you received a defective product or are missing a product in your box, please contact us at [email protected] and we’ll gladly do everything we can do to resolve the situation.


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.


  1. Does Quarterly usually release full spoilers before it’s too late to cancel? I subscribed to the Will Wheaton box b/c I just have a feeling it’s gonna be really good, but I’m hoping to see the full spoilers before I make my final decision. If they don’t release spoilers before the billing date, I might have to cancel b/c I don’t really have $100 to risk right now!

    • Usually not – I think it depends on the curator though. Bianca Jade is the one curator I can think of that reveals all or most of the box before it ships.

    • I know how you feel, I keep going back and forth on the Dean Karnazes box. I cancelled initially after the “no return” policy. But now I am not so sure. I think it is probably the best running/fitness box out there and it is not just supplements.

  2. Well.. I just unsubscribed from quarterly. I liked that I could return the box if I was unhappy… now that that is out the window, Im not gonna risk the $100.

  3. I have returned several of my boxes as I was very disappointed in the value–namely Book Riot and Pharrell and I liked that part of the quarterly policy. I like that some curators you can buy the box once to try it out. I have two $100 boxes–Nina Garcia and Wil Wheaton (we’ll see how it turns out). After my next boxes if the content is disappointing and I have to swap, give away or otherwise take a loss, I will be cancelling all of my boxes except for MSA which has been fabulous.

  4. Wow.. I received this e-mail and scanned over and deleted it without noticing the tiny “click here” for updates part. :/ Glad you posted this! Will definitely not be taking chances with anything other than MSA quarterly.

  5. I just cancelled Hitha’s box. Her spoilers promised $70 in value, which is not enough over the $50 cost. I enjoyed her last box (and used almost everything on my holiday travel) but I could have just bought most of those items myself for less than the $50 for the box (adding $18 for the cost of her packing guide did put the value over but $18 for a PDF file packing guide seems excessive as well). I’m guessing the same will be true for this one since when companies list the value they always pick full price. Her second box (which I didn’t get) looked really great – just the eye shades were worth more than the box cost! Hopefully the no-return policy will give curators more to spend on their boxes!

    • Same here. I saw her hints listed on her page and decided to cancel. MSA is the only Quarterly box I have left. Which is probably ok since I signed up for the annual OuiPlease subscription.

  6. I had a feeling when I got the email about the changes that one of them was going to be doing away with their return policy. They are probably one of the few in the industry that still had that kind of thing so I feel like it was only a matter of time. On the other hand, they should have been more transparent about it. I’d rather deal with the uproar on the front end-even if it means folks cancel their boxes- then to have the next set of boxes come out and have customers requesting returns only to be turned down. That seems pretty messy.

    • Couldn’t agree more! As soon as I received that email I read further because I just had a gut feeling. I wish people would surprise me by NOT being shady.

  7. Well, now I’m only subbing to MSA after this. I understand that they can lose money over lots of returns, but the fact that I can return something if I absolutely hate it is what has made me spend more on their boxes. I’ve only ever actually returned one box, the latest Nina Garcia, but I’ve felt safe subbing to new boxes knowing I could return it if necessary. It really was their drawing point for me. And the sneaky way they put this at the end of their e-mail really puts me off.

    I’m sticking with MSA because of Liz, but their other boxes haven’t always been strong enough for me to feel safe continuing to sub to them. I’d have to see some real improvements in some boxes and consistency in others before I’d consider a new box with them.

  8. Uggh. Removing a unique advertised feature does not make for an “amazing experience.” Hiding the new policy like that did not leave me feeling warm and fuzzy, just manipulated. We are smart consumers. They should be more open about giving us the information we need.

    I’m sticking with MSA and DesignSponge, but I’ve decided to hold off on the Bianca Jade for another quarter. (Sorry, Bianca — I think you’re fab.) I never return anything, but I liked having the freedom to do so.

  9. I agree that it was probably the Nina Garcia box mass return that motivated them to change policy. I don’t remember seeing the return policy advertised on their site. I thought it was unofficial- like only if you know to ask. I only knew about it from MSA, but I never used it.
    I think it will be good for Quarterly because now we will think more closely about which curators we trust- which means we will probably be more happy with our boxes. I only get Design*Sponge and MSA so even if a box isn’t perfect for me, I’ll probably still enjoy it because they have great taste that’s similar to mine.

  10. I think this is a positive change. Quarterly obviously loses a lot of money on returns and I imagine that without them they will be able to put more value into the boxes. One of the things I love about subscription boxes is the risk/reward. Sometimes I am disappointed and sometimes I am wowed. If you take away the risk, you lose the reward as well. You may as well just go out and buy items that you like and forget subscription boxes all together.

    • I agree with the comments that this should have been more prominent in the email, but I am not surprised my the change in policy. It was a great option, but expensive – especially with them paying for the return shipping. Also, if these don’t sell out on Best of Quarterly it is worse for them. I returned the first Eva Scrivo box and then cancelled the subscription when I saw her next spoilers. I felt guilty returning it – but did it and loved the policy. They are probably very upset to have to change it and get an avalanche of cancellations – but I’d rather they change it then have them go under.

      • Note: the shipping charges on Best of Quarterly are high – I’m sure they’d clear out their excess inventory quickly if they just lowered their shipping cost. $8 on a $50 box? That’s about 20%!

  11. Well that certainly removes any interest in trying our new boxes from them.

    Keep in mind, though -if you pay with an American Express card, one of the benefits is return protection. If a merchant will not accept your return within 90 days of purchase, you can open a claim with AmEx and they will refund your money.

  12. Even before this policy change, MSA and Wil Weaton are the only people I’d trust enough to get Quarterly boxes from. It’s just too much money to risk. I’d probably trust Design Sponge too except that my taste and theirs isn’t exactly the same. I wish there were more $50 Quarterly boxes from people I trust, but alas, MSA is the only one. πŸ™‚

  13. Can I ask how people have had success cancelling? I’ve tried to cancel Quarterly subs twice in the past. The first time I got a popup window asking if I was sure that I wanted to cancel and a little box to click if I wasn’t sure but no way to indicate that yes, I was sure that I wanted to cancel. I ended up needing to call/email (can’t recall which) to get them to cancel the sub. Last time I tried to cancel I had the same thing happen with the popup window to nowhere but I haven’t followed through yet to get them to manually cancel it (which is of course the design I’m sure). Has anyone else had this problem?

    • I just cancelled a number of them with out any problems.

    • I had no problems canceling before via my desktop computer. Maybe it’s a problem with accessing their website via a mobile device?

    • I’ve had that problem when trying to cancel using my cel. When I cancel in the computer the Pop-up shows completely and I’ve been able to cancel without issues.

    • If I recall, some browsers work better than others. I tried IE and it worked fine.

  14. Not risking Quarterly boxes with this change! Pass!!

  15. WOW. I read the email when I got it, but I had no idea about the returns policy, and it wasn’t even an email that sounded important. If I had had a busier day I would have deleted it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  16. I am so tempted to cancel my Wil Wheaton box, but I will wait and see since I was born in the 70’s and I am very curious about the box. It is a $100 gamble though….I’m nervous! I am keeping MSA and Design Sponge for sure. We’ll see how Wil does and I’ll make a decision after initial box. I am definitely not risking any other Quarterly boxes with the new return policy. I would rather spend that money on Oui Please!

  17. Thanks so much for highlighting this. I too got the email and just skimmed through it.
    I’ve always been wary of the prices of the quarterly boxes and when I read reviews of some of them (thank you Liz!!) I am so glad I didn’t order them (Nina Garcia for one)
    The only box I am planning on ordering is the MSA box

  18. As a Canadian subscriber, the return policy didn’t really apply to me anyway so no loss. Just need to be more selective about which curators I subscribe too and stalk the spoilers.

  19. This is a shame. One of the things that made Quarterly stand out was their return policy being so different from the norm. I don’t like returning things, so I don’t just order at random and return what I don’t like, but I did end up returning a new box I got as it was so very different from all the previous boxes I had seen reviewed in that subscription. This is going to make me very hesitant to sign up for anything new though I am not planning on giving up my MSA and Book Riot subscriptions .

  20. I agree. I think it was definitely the Nina Garcia returns that changed this policy. I know I returned mine along with many many other people. The curation was terrible for the last box and I was thrilled to know I could return it for $100 refund. Definitely won’t be ordering the Nina Garcia box in the future without that safety net.

    • I will need some spoilers soon for Arianna Huffington and Nina Garcia to continue with the $100 boxes. Based on past performance and cost, I feel I will continue with Rosario Dawson box and MSA. The $100 boxes are more risky to me as the value for price has not been as good as the other two boxes.

  21. I get why they are eliminating the return policy – it seems that people were frequently abusing it. However, I totally agree that the communication about the change was really shady. The new policy should have been included in the email not as a vague side note. One of Quarterly’s major issues is communication and based on this email I don’t see that it is improving in 2015.

    • I’m not sure people were abusing returns but they definitely used the option. Quarterly offered no questions asked returns. I don’t see that as abuse so much as taking Quarterly up on what they advertised. It definitely was all kinds of shady to bury the return policy change in a link in the email. They know the majority won’t see the link or think it’s important to click and read. When you’ve advertised a return feature in the past (and they had advertised it several times) then you take it away, you need to share the change in an equally obvious manner.

      Quarterly needs to focus their efforts more on improving curation for the several of their subs, to include cutting some curators loose who can’t seem to make it happen in a timely manner (hello Nina Garcia). Some of the subs seemed like they’d be fabulous but in reality had little to no objectively measurable value (Pharell’s first one comes to mind). That’s what I mean by Quarterly improving curation-they need to provide more guidance to some curators in terms of compiling a box with a better objective/substantive value. While it’s nice to have a signed this or that, it’s often not as valuable as they tend to think it will be, especially when it is intended as the “big” item; it’s particularly bad when the special item has little connection to the curator. Like “here’s a random signed paper restaurant menu that we had so and so sign.”

      The other main area for improvement is meeting their advertised shipment windows (or at least being proactive in letting subscribers know about delays). While it’s great that they don’t charge until they ship, some people are budgeted for a box at a certain time and can’t easily roll with the ever slipping projected delivery dates. When a summer box becomes a fall box and eventually is a winter one, you have a serious problem. Either select better suppliers and/or hold them to firm shipping dates or don’t publicly offer a box until you can be more certain of the delivery date window.

  22. Thanks for posting this. I got that e-mail but I just kinda scanned through it and didn’t read about the new return policy. This is disappointing. I liked knowing that if I didn’t like what was in the box, I could return it and not waste $50-$100. I’ve gotten 3 boxes from Quarterly and returned one of them because it was totally not what I was expecting. I just canceled my subscription to Naomi Kyle’s new box because it is the first box and I just can’t risk $50 on trying out a new box.

  23. πŸ™ Now I’ll be cancelling all my quarterly subs except yours Liz, that one I know delivers πŸ™‚

  24. I didn’t notice that part of my email. Wow… Well, that made me just cancel 6 boxes that I was getting. I am now only keeping one. Liz’s box. Which stinks but I am going to throw over $400.00 on boxes without that safety net. That net made me spend a lot more than I wanted too on boxes with them. O’well. πŸ™ sigh

    • I JUST ordered Bill Nye. Any comments on this one? Should I quit before I start???

  25. Well, this will make me cancel all of my sub boxes with Q, accept for Design Sponge and My Subscription Addiction. For a $100 gamble, it’s just not worth it. I do have a question regarding defective products, and if anyone out there has had good luck with Quarterly. I received a split cutting board in my DS box in December. Quarterly, said they were contacting the manufacturer. It’s been a few weeks. Any happy stories?

    • I do! My first MSA box came with a shattered candle. The glass was everywhere. I took photos of the box and the shattered candle and attached them to the email. They replied pretty quickly and I was satisfied with the resolution. Hope things work out for you!

  26. Oh, I am excited about the new features!

    I am not shocked about the change in return policy, I thought it was kind of crazy that they let people do that when there was nothing WRONG with the box, it’s just that people didn’t like the curation (which is always a possibility when you are buying a box of random stuff). I can see this upsetting a lot of people who relied on that feature as a safety net, but I don’t know of any other sub that lets people do that.

  27. I got their email too and, honestly, felt like it was a teeny, tiny bit shady. They bulletted out the “refer-a-friend”, points program, etc. And then say as kind of an aside the point that they made a couple changes to shipping & returns to give us an “amazing experience” – but didn’t list those out, as if they were nothing major.

    I think no longer accepting returns is a pretty MAJOR change that should have been a bullet point in the email – or even its own email notification. I also don’t see how they think that getting rid of their return policy is an enhancement that will give us an “amazing experience”. One of the reasons I love Quarterly is for their return policy. I had 2 Nina Garcia subscriptions and felt great about it because of the return policy if the box was a dud.

    After all the shipping delays on the last Nina box and the fact that it was a complete dud for me, I returned my boxes. This was one of the things that made Quarterly awesome in my book – I didn’t really mind the delays or the duds because it was a no lose prospect for me. Now, I will be cancelling both my Nina subs because I don’t want to deal with the constant delays again (the delays stung less when I knew I could return it if I didn’t like it) and I no longer have a safety net for a bad box.

    It makes Quarterly boxes very unappealing to me now.

  28. I have purchased several boxes from them: MSA, Rosario Dawson, Mizzfit and Nina Garcia. I have at least liked most of what I got from most boxes though I did return (actually got it stopped from shipping) the Nina Garcia box. I just cancelled Nina and got an e-mail asking why. I both sent an e-mail saying no return policy makes me wary and filled out their survey. If you are cancelling anything, make sure you let them know why.

  29. I have returned two boxes to them, one based on statements made by the curator, and the other for the box itself. I was thinking of buying a $99 box but now I want to wait to see what is in it.

  30. On the plus side, this could mean more value in the boxes – someone has to pay for the cost of the returns. I wonder if this will mean more or fewer spoilers? More people will be reluctant to sign up without them but there will also be more people jumping to cancel if they aren’t excited by what they see.

  31. I was worried all the returns on the Nina Garcia box might bankrupt them. I wonder if that’s the box that pushed them to change their policy?

  32. That’s unfortunate. And a reason for me to no longer be a customer. $50.00 to $100.00 a pop isn’t worth risking losing.

  33. I’ve ordered four quarterly boxes and have never returned anything, but I liked having the safety net. I can understand why they’re doing this, because there were boxes where it seemed like every subscriber must have returned it.

  34. That’s too bad! I never returned any box but I was happy to have this possibility. It felt safe to buy expensive box. Now… not so much! :-/

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