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Message from Katia About Birchbox Points Changes

Liz Cadman
ByLiz CadmanJun 17, 2016 | 228 comments

Birchbox
3.7 overall rating
660 Ratings | 191 Reviews

As you likely may know, Birchbox is changing their loyalty points program starting in July. The major change is that after July 11th, subscribers can only review 5 more items for points. After that, the sample review + points will be over. Above is the message Katia, the founder of Birchbox, gave to Facebook viewers about the reasons for the change.

I thought this video was much more informative than the original email sent (below) so I wanted to post about it. Let us know what you think!

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.58.42 AM

Birchbox has announced changes to its Birchbox Points program beginning July 11, 2016.

Here are the highlights:

  • You’ll now be able to spend Points in any increment – no more waiting until you hit 100 points to shop. Every 10 points equals $1 to spend on full-size products.
  • Any Points earned after July 11, 2016 will expire 6 months from the date you earn them. Birchbox will send you a reminder so you have plenty of time to shop.
  • Going forward, Points will only be offered for your first 5 sample reviews. New subscribers will earn points for the first 5 sample reviews in their subscription, and as an existing subscriber you’ll have the same opportunity. Starting with your July box, you’ll receive 10 Points for each of the next 5 samples you receive.

UPDATE: To clarify, current subscribers will be able to review only 5 more samples for points after July 11th.

Read our latest Birchbox Reviews to learn more about this box.

Birchbox ($15 per month) was one of the very first beauty subscription boxes—we’ve been reviewing it since 2012! Each month, subscribers get a new mix of 5 beauty samples, such as makeup, skincare, haircare, and fragrance items. Birchbox lets you choose whether you’d like a box of items picked just... read more.
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!

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!
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228 comments

Jayne

Is it just me or does there seem to be a lot of negative comments showing up on old posts lately?

With respect to the whole “gaming the system” and having ruined the point system for all, please keep in mind that BB set up the points system and asked for reviews. They also allowed you to review without trying a product (one question always asked if you had tried the product yet but still gave points if you said no).

So BB really didn’t care if you threw out your product or gave it away. They wanted reviews for whatever reason.

Emily G.

So, I’ve been subbed to BB for 3 whole years, and an Ace for 1 year, and I can tell you that I’m totally unsubbing since their point change. First of all, the Ace system was made out to be like “we’ll be rewarding you for spending so much money at BB and you’ll get surprise extra samples, mystery gifts, and special exclusive coupon codes!”. Well guess what? NONE of that was true, only the fact that I got free priority shipping and one day early to pick sample choice. Never gotten any “extras” or whatever. BB got too big and now they’re really going to go down the drain because they weren’t listening to customers who spend their hard earned money at their company, they just care about getting bigger and bigger and the profit margins getting higher, that the subscribers are suffering now. I mean, they could do 1or 2 points for every sample review instead of 5 each, I understand that’s really too liberal for a business, but there is now ZERO reason for Birchbox to have my business/money. It used to feel like I was important and they really cared, but I can’t help but get the sense that they’re just turning into another “big wig” company…

I’m waitlisted for Sephora Play, but I’d appreciate some similarly priced subscription box recommendations! (Not interested in perfumes or foodie boxes though)

Rachel

I can understand how only having $5 of every box to spend on the box is not sustainable, even with only paying for the packaging, staff and shipping. I assumed they made their money back by overcharging for their store products, and only selling products with high pricepoints.

I predict that if everything else stays the same, the loss of their point system for reviewing products will dramatically decrease their subscriber numbers and how long each subscriber stays with them. I do not think it will be the end for them, as they have such a large presence and brand recognition. The market is so competitive now it won’t take long for subscribers to realize they can get full size products in other subscriptions for the same price.

Cole

I’m a birchbox man subscriber. We pay $20/month for ours. I always thought their point system was overly generous tbh. I didn’t understand how they were turning a big profit for that one, but, I’m pretty annoyed at how short notice they gave. One of the reasons I kept subscribing was because I wanted to become an Ace member. I diligently left good reviews to gather points, and I calculated by the end of the year I would be an Ace. Now they’re removing the points. The points were also definitely an incentive to be a member, at $20 a box it was nice to be able to claim a free bar of soap with my points once in awhile, or just shave some $$ off of some of the absurdly expensive full-sized items.

It makes sense something is up though, in our men’s box we get 1 full sized “sample” to choose from. I noticed lately that those item choices were declining and they also did away with the full sample introductory videos, which were really a highlight to the birchbox man experience.

I think I will cancel now. I dunno.

Candace

If they really listened to the customers’ feedback, Birchbox would know that the reviewing and points system was the only reason many of the subscribers stayed with them. On every review I’d read from Liz researching whether or not I wanted to subscribe to BB, 8/10 people commenting on her posts were dissatisfied with the contents but stayed to keep and redeem their points. So I guess we’ll see how this unfolds lol.

Bonjovan

So, I’m curious. How does one become an Ace without the old point system? It seems like they’re not just taking points away in this new set up. They’re also taking away the perks of being an Ace…

Amy BB

I just had a huge eye opening moment….I received a sample of number 4 hydrating shampoo and have really been enjoying it….I placed it on my BB “wishlist”. Now usually with an item that pricey (over $30 for 8.5oz) I would save use some of my points or wait for a promotion…but sometimes I would just buy it right from BB without really looking elsewhere. So I just went on Amazon and the shampoo is listed by various vendors and many via Prime at 30-50% less than BB is selling it. I can get the 25oz bottle for the same price BB is selling the 8.5oz! I know this isn’t the case with all products, but that is a major mark-up. How are they going to compete? I cancelled my sub for now but I will look at what BB is doing in the future. I do love their curation of products and have found many of my HG items through them. I am also really interested in Korean beauty right now so may give Pink Seoul a try. BTW…..off topic….I recently ordered some Korean beauty through Glow and I tried the Artichoke Essence….no joke ladies…best thing EVER for my skin. I’ve never tried a product that improved the quality of my skin so quickly…which now has made me even more interested in trying other Korean brands!!

Nikita

If I may, for Korean beauty brought to you monthly I highly recommend 3B (Beauty Beyond Borders) though I think they have a waitlist. It’s $12 a month but I think I’ve received a full sized item in every month on top of the samples of things. Oh, and when they do send a foil sample they send at least seven so you can try it for a week. That I like.

I also have Mishibox which is $20 they also have a shop you can buy things from. To be honest I’ve been thinking of stopping Mishibox but only because I already have my skin care regime down. They are wonderful for people just starting out or interested in trying a variety of brands.

You can also look at the site Meme (as in the Memebox in case you’ve heard of it) they sometimes have boxes that are a surprise. You buy them when you want them, but they have awesome selection of items and free shipping on orders of $35 or more. I buy all of my Korean items from them actually and have found several Ride or Die items. They often have sales too.

Nikita

These are just what I’ve tried though, please let me know how Pink Seoul works for you! I’ve also seen reviews of Beauteque and have considered them (not their mask subscription because I personally don’t find it worth it) but at this point in time my budget is being cut so I haven’t had a chance to try them.

Jen

Hi Amy- I am always skeptical of purchasing any type of beauty products from Amazon, I always see reviews saying the product might be fake or a knock off. I love Amazon for other products, just not anything beauty related.

Dianne

Birchbox is selling the box and shipping. Companies are giving the samples to birchbox for the customers to try. Isn’t this how it goes. Ripoff.

Nikita

Birchbox has stated that they pay for some samples. I doubt they get 100% of their items for free, but you can say this for literally all subscriptions. They get their items either for free or a deep discount, Birchbox isn’t the only one to do this.

I personally don’t see it as a ripoff as long as you’re getting products equal or more in value to the ten dollars you spent on the box, but with how small some samples are I can certainly see why you might personally count it as a rip off!

Dianne

I feel ripped off. I’m paying 10 dollars a month for samples that birchbox gets for free and a box and shipping. This was my second box. The box was pretty and the samples sucked. Other subscriptions are better and offer more. Why am I interested I’m hoping their might be something I’m missing about Birchbox. If it’s the same next box. I’m cashing in those points before they go out of business and ripe me off some more.

Peggy Haley

You’re not being ripped off. lol Any company has overhead and other expenses, like shipping, the cost of packaging, the cards they print, the people they employ, etc.

Bets

I almost said this yesterday but bit my tongue. I am upset with BB. I had them cancel my auto-renewal in Nov from the black Friday sale last year. I’ll keep it until then to see what they do going forward, it’s worth the small price I paid.

What’s bothering me though is all the people talking about crappy useless samples they trade or give away and that they are no longer getting points for those unused samples. Why should anyone review and get points for products they never tried? I may be very naive, but if I didn’t try it I sacrificed the points for it.

I can’t help but think those people cost us the system by cheating it.

That being said there are other options I wish they’d considered. Reducing the number of points per sample as so many have said. They could have also restricted the percentage of the cost of store purchases that could be covered by points to make sure they were still getting some cash per transaction.

Cole

“what’s bothering me though is all the people talking about crappy useless samples they trade or give away and that they are no longer getting points for those unused samples. Why should anyone review and get points for products they never tried? I may be very naive, but if I didn’t try it I sacrificed the points for it.”

Tell me about it. I ended up cancelling after all of this but I was a birchbox man subscriber for a year, we pay $20 for our box! The points system was generous but fair due to the high price of our box. When I realized the girls box was only $10 and they were racking up $5 worth of points for “reviews” of products they didn’t even try, and then complaining about it, I felt disgusted. Such a gaming of a system that was meant to reward people for their honest reviews. Such a sense of entitlement the “reviewers” had as well. The points system deserved to be removed. Crying and whining over a box they really only paid $5 for? Pathetic. Greedy. Absurd.

Meg

A couple things…the men’s box is significantly more valuable than the women’s box since men get to pick a cool lifestyle item each month. This is not an apples to apples scenario here. Also, as savvy entrepreneurs the people at BB should’ve known people would take advantage of the system. You can call names all you want but the truth of it is that greed is the American way and people are going to take all they can. That being said, why couldn’t BB just pare down the points system to a couple reviews per box. If BB is going to totally disregard our profiles and send us samples we cannot use then of course we can’t honestly review every product. So just give us points for the couple products we do want to try. It’s a two way street and BB wasn’t necessarily keeping up their end of the deal by sending us products based on our profiles.

Neve

@birchbox – concentrate on getting good quality products in the box and subsequently on sale .. The customer loyalty will follow .. Points obviously helps.. But they are hardly worth anything if you’re website houses worthless products.

Angie

Will be jumping ship soon as well….I really liked the point system and reviewing products. I used the points I accrued for LE boxes Ill get one more and bounce I’ll find a sub to replace this one or get another one then end this one. Either way I’m gone! Hope to see some of you all on other sub threads ?

Lee

The lack of points for the box no longer makes the subscription appealing to me. I only use one or two items from the box and usually do not receive enough of those items to make a decision about the product.

I wished her video addressed the comments in her article. I would have still shopped at their online store because the points for purchases still made it worthwhile to me. $10 off for spending $100 is still better than Sephora’s free deluxe samples. However, her comments regarding coddling customers was unnecessary. Because of these comments, I will no longer be a Birchbox customer.

AmyM

I canceled several months ago because I was sick of getting the same samples over and over, no matter how many times I tweaked my profile. I will give them credit for being one of the first in the sample sub game, but others came along and outpaced them. I used to love their LE boxes, but noticed a decline in those as well. The last few haven’t interested me in the least. Will be interesting to see what becomes of the company.

Rebecca

The Lovely Day LE box was the only one I got when it went on sale last fall. It was awesome. After that, all the LE boxes seemed to be low value for the price, even after using points. Either that, or they were low value with one random higher value item included, which was only an okay item and not enough to make the box worthwhile. Like the box would be $60 but would have maybe two monthly boxes’ worth of samples (no full size products) and then, say, a jewelry tray that might be nice and all but still overpriced for what it is.

KathyB

I bought the gift sub deal on Black Friday (or at Christmas?) for myself. I’ve actually been thinking that I can’t wait until it expires because I’m bored with these samples and have too many I don’t use (I do gift them). My question to anyone is…can I cancel and get a refund since it was a gift, even though it was to me? Does that make sense?

MandyC

I cancelled my gift sub, I purchased it in June and it had 2 Months left on it, I requested a partial refund and interesting the first rep said it could not be done because gift subscriptions could not be cancelled. Nevertheless, the second rep cancelled it and said I’ll be refunded without any fuss…

Rebecca

I did that. Supposedly my refund will show up in the next few business days.

Meg

The video and Bloomberg article were definitely telling. It appears that Birchbox is just another large company that’s lost its way in this difficult retail environment. How else do you explain them insulting and alienating their target customers by saying the product they’ve supported all these years is “boring”. And I’m having a hard time understanding how abandoning their faithful online box customers for brick & mortar stores is going to solve anything. The malls are already saturated with cosmetic options and Birchbox is not bringing anything new to that space. Plus companies are closing stores like crazy right now so it will be interesting to see how Katia and Birchbox are going to make their stores profitable. I don’t think reorganizing stores by product instead of brand is that impactful or different enough to make them outshine Sephora. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Jen

Definitely agree with a lot of these posts. Like another post said, it’s like they are trying to lose subscribers. But they do seem to want to focus on sales from their store. What doesn’t make sense is that by pushing subscribers away they will lose them completely as customers, as there are so many other beauty retailers out there to shop from. So I really don’t understand what they are doing. If giving so many points was hurting them so much financially why didn’t they do something sooner ? It really doesn’t make sense. They must have seen the impact on their financials for awhile now.

The main problem I had with birchbox was the samples, I don’t even care that they weren’t larger sizes, they were just never products I would actually purchase full size (most of the larger products other subscriptions give have the most ridiculous over inflated price that I would much rather receive quality small samples). The perfume samples I also found to be terrible, and a waste of a product in my box. The only time I really enjoyed a box was when I picked a curated box.

Jessvii

I kind of feel like Birchbox the company is blaming me, the box subscriber, for their money issues. Comments on these posts from other customers saying that customers should’ve known the points system was too generous or that it was unsustainable are also troubling. How was I supposed to know? I don’t have a business degree – why would I think that the company is driving itself into the ground? Why would I have that insight? It feels like I’m being shamed for buying something and expecting, you know, to get what I paid for. Comments from the founder along the lines of (I’m summarizing) “Our intention from the beginning was to create a makeup-selling business, not a box service” miss the mark for me – their original intention from several years ago is largely irrelevant. It’s like when George Lucas tinkered with the old Star Wars in order to fulfill his “original vision” for the movies, to the peril of most Star Wars fans. Intentions are supposed to evolve and respond to the world around them. When the world tells you that people really love something, then you should try to the extent feasible to preserve it. What made Birchbox innovative was their box business. And now, well, I think the company has really backed itself into a corner. If all of this is purely rational business decision making as usual, then why continue the points system for this long (we’re talking years not months) if it was such a monetary drain? And why not phase out the points gradually, not abruptly? It just seems like Birchbox is trying to purge itself of its money-savvy shoppers, and having a company that is actually trying to push me away is an odd feeling to say the least.

Emily

Well said.

Jillian

I completely agree.

Cat

After the initial feeling of outrage (primarily because of the news articles I found prior to the wsj article where they talked slightly more the business aspect), I can see it from Birchbox as a company’s point of view more than I did. The points system was too generous and unsustainable. But there are obvious ways PR could have made a huge impact here. We relate to humanizing issues, studies have proven almost any excuse, even the illogical, make people accept less than great situations better. It just further illustrates how the company itself has gone downhill due to mismanagement when I think they have a lot of talented and great people on the service end of things. I would hate to be a customer service rep right now, because no amount of money is worth the frustration and verbal abuse of customers mad over something you can’t control.

How BB could have handled this situation better:
1. Instead of the sudden email after June boxes went out taking effect the next month, an email about why the points system was not sustainable and thanking the loyal customers who built up their business to be where it is now etc. ahead of time. Delivering this news a month earlier and humanizing the issue, mentioning having to cut great staff from their company because of needing to bring costs down, mentioning trying to bring us a better experience still, humanizing the issue as much as possible. How many of us would have felt like we were “in the loop” and that they respected us more by saying anything basic about Birchbox at the end of the day being a business that has to return money for investments because frankly, that’s just the way the world works.
2. Doing that a month earlier not only humanizes the issue, but it makes the loyal customers respect the transparency. Psychologically it creates a sense of intimacy with the company, especially where she had made reference to it being like people were “in a relationship” with Birchbox in one of the articles. She understands that sense of loyalty and expectation, and treating us with a dose of reality for the company would have commanded respect and empathy from many customers instead of alienation.
3. The things she said in the news articles should have been thought out carefully, don’t offend your customer base of you want to expand business online or in real stores. We’re the same people who spend more money on beauty items overall.
4. Cut down on the points program to keep maintaining a smaller points program. Make it about getting even two reviews or 20 points a month, for $2 off a purchase, I’ll respect your company more for cutting way back even if I liked the old perks instead of cutting them out completely. If you have to phase it out eventually, then address it again and do so.
5. Reassure us that you’re going to make an effort to make samples or collaborations better again. I loved the Tati Westbrook curated box even…$21 eye cream 1/3 size? Yes please. Give us at least one phenomenal item every month, even if in most boxes we may say meh to 3 of the 5 or something. Focus on really delivering those couple great value samples.

I just feel like there are so many simple lessons to be learned from this about marketing and psychology, and using the loyalty or sense of intimacy like a best girlfriend that the company fostered for awhile. Instead she just jumped out there representing the company and messed up their brand name bad. I understand aspirations to expand and an unsustainable amount of free items going out, I do. But all around this fiasco could have been handled in a much more savvy way.

Meg

I totally agree and I think your point 4 is a great idea. Honestly, of my 5 samples each month I probably only have a strong opinion – good or bad – about a couple products. These two items get thoughtful and hopefully helpful reviews. The other items which are probably products I have no need or interest in get a quick review just for the points. If BB limited the point reviews to 2, people might not be so upset and BB would get better, more meaningful reviews.

Peggy

I don’t buy that they couldn’t afford the point system any longer. The birchbox samples are ridiculously small–the box IS only worth $5. I’ve also bought some of their discovery kits. I like them of course, but they are also full of tiny samples and I paid over $20 for them (some in points, of course). They probably get some of these samples for free. I definitely agree that birchbox is not worth keeping now compared to other beauty boxes.

Nikita

I agree, if it was truly losing money the plug would have been pulled years ago. Not to mention a lot of samples are given to them for free. That said if they really are having trouble they could have just lowered the points for a few months, then phased them out. Not yanked them away at once. I still say (and this is probably the conspiracy theorist in me) that the company WANTS to get rid of their subscribers so they can stop the box altogether.

Maritz

I cancelled BB several months ago because I didn’t like the samples being sent to me. But when it comes to point systems, BB’s is still the best. And the “sample” experience is easier. You get a sample, you like the sample, go onto the website, purchase the item, get points! Sephora and Ulta make you pay $50 before shipping is free yet BB has free shipping on all items sent in that month’s box. Besides, those “reviews” were just lazy with over over half the ppl just typing smiley faces to get the points.

Sarah

I used my points and cancelled today. Many of the samples I have received have been very small and I have justified staying on board because of the points but this recent change made the decision to cancel easy. I’m thinking about switching to Petit Vour. It’s slightly more expensive, but I’m willing to pay more for better ingredients and/or larger samples.

Gabby

FYI to anyone who this applies to, if you already have a valid coupon applied to the items in your cart, it’ll work when you submit the order. I was able to use WELCOMEOFFER20 on an order tonight but I’d added the coupon maybe a month ago when it was still valid.

Dani

Does anyone know of any working codes right now if I want to cash in my points? I’ve used WELCOMEOFFER20, so I didn’t expect that for work, but WELCOMEBACK20, TAKEOFF20, TAKEOFF15, MOBILE20, WELCOME10, BBJETBLUE15, and BIRTHDAY2016 don’t work for me. And I’ve heard they haven’t been giving out anniversary codes anymore? So I’m assuming I won’t get one this month for hitting 13 boxes. I know I can use a gift with purchase, but their selection right now doesn’t interest me.

Kathy

Nothing works for me either
I shop there but stopped montly box
But i spend Enough to Keep Ace
This ruins any chance of me going back to the boxes tho
After i got over my knee jerk reaction and feeling insulted I realize how wonderful their cs has been to me — so if i still had free ship or a low price pt for freeship, discount and mystery pack ( which i find much better than the monthly box) i would be ok . …. These things drove me to shop there 1st over the bigger stores.. Now i am back to being annoyed again that codes dont work
I had no pts to use, was spending >50 sp freeship anyway so i at least want a promo code cmon bb trying to stay a loyal customer but not making it easy

Shannon

I’m just so disappointed. I have been a subscriber since January 2013. The point system was the main reason I would recommend Birchbox versus others.

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.