Change in Birchbox Points Program Effective July 2016

Wow — HUGE change in Birchbox’s points program. I got this email while I was at work:

Change in Birchbox Points Effective July 2016Change in Birchbox Points Effective July 2016Change in Birchbox Points Effective July 2016

So basically, you will only be able to review 5 more samples for a total of 50 points after July 11th. Points will also now expire 6 months from the date earned, instead of the full year like before. The only (slight) upside of this new policy is that points can be spent in any increment. No more waiting until you have $10 worth to use them.

Like most other subscribers, I’m incredibly disappointed. Initially when I first got the email I completely misunderstood it: I thought they meant you could only review 5 samples each month even if your box had 6 samples. (Which is actually super reasonable and I would support such a rule.) But then once I read it over again I realized they meant that you only get to review 5 samples TOTAL. For a whole year! It’s such a horrible change that I honestly kind of thought it was a joke or a typo.

I feel like the points program was the one thing that really made Birchbox special. With so many other beauty subscriptions out there, the points were a huge incentive to subscribe to Birchbox instead of the competition. There are some months that don’t work for me, when I get samples I can’t use or really dislike or are really tiny. But I’m always okay with it because I felt like the upside of getting $5 worth of points to spend makes it worthwhile anyways. Without the points, I don’t think I would be happy to pay $10 for every month. There’s almost always one or two samples that I dislike or are so tiny they should be freebies (looking at you, perfume samples!).

Another thing to take into account is the Aces program. Right now, if you earn 500 points in a calendar year you become a Birchbox Ace, which gives you free shipping on all full sized orders and early access to boxes. Without the reviews, a subscriber would have to either spend $500 to become an Ace or refer 10 friends. Considering it’s only $350 to become a Sephora VIB, Ace hardly seems worth it. And without Ace, I wouldn’t get free shipping on all my orders. Sephora offers Flash shipping for $10/year. That’s 2-day shipping for all orders for only $10. I also get free 2-day shipping on all orders with Amazon Prime. All department stores offer great beauty gift with purchase promotions several times a year and Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns every day.

So why would I shop at Birchbox?

I have been an on-and-off subscriber to Birchbox since 2011 and genuinely loved my experience. I’ve recommended it to countless friends and gifted lots of subscriptions. It saddens me that one of my favorite subscription boxes is getting rid of their best perk. Without the points, I have no reason to shop with Birchbox anymore. My favorite brands and products are carried at other stores like Sephora and Nordstrom, who both have better rewards, free shipping, free samples, and physical stores near me. There are beauty boxes that give better value and a larger range of brands than Birchbox, for not much of a price difference (I’m thinking I’ll try Allure for $15/month). My annual subscription expires in July, and with a heavy heart I will not be resubscribing.

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2 thoughts on “Change in Birchbox Points Program Effective July 2016

  1. I was really bummed out when I got that email yesterday. . . once we got clarification that it is only 5 reviews in a lifetime (the wording on the email wasn’t very clear). Looking at the Birchbox site today, I realize that I’ll rarely shop there because the discount (10%) will be wiped out by shipping costs since I won’t make Ace again. I think Birchbox is in financial straights and I get that they have to reign in all the freebies and discounts. But completely taking away the fun and incentives with the monthly box was a really bad move on their part. I’ve never thought my samples alone were worth $10, but felt $5 after putting in some time to give a review was fair.
    They were on Facebook telling people that they still want reviews, now claiming them to “personalize” our box. Which makes no sense, when they’ve led us to believe they’re using our beauty profiles to customize. Anyway. . Sephora is really stepping up their game with Play, more curated “best of” boxes & free flash shipping. Ulta as well. . I just put in an order and got a $71 value bag of samples for spending $25.

    • Completely agree with you, Sara! I totally understand that giving $5 worth of points isn’t sustainable, but they could have made less drastic changes or cut costs elsewhere. Those cute printed boxes (as much as I love them) are definitely costing them a pretty penny to design and print each month!

      I’m also annoyed that the original email was phrased like “we’ve heard the feedback” as if customers were asking for the points to be abolished. I don’t think any customer has ever asked for that. Like ever. Just the boxes and samples themselves are rarely worth the cost, especially since I get so many perfume samples or brands that I don’t really care for (Harvey Prince, anyone??). I just don’t understand how they plan to compete with stores like Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom, or even online shops from the brands themselves. Benefit, Tarte, and Too Faced all offer free deluxe samples with purchase, fun promotions, and seasonal sales.

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