Thursday, March 26, 2015

French Box February 2015 Replacement Items & Retrospective

A true test of character for any company is how they handle their mistakes.  The subscription box business is not immune and with the enormous challenges involved in getting a new box off the ground, problems are inevitable.  French Box certainly experienced their share with the February box which was a hot mess.  I didn't bother to review that box but its problems were widely reported and lots of drama ensued. What made that box such a spectacular failure is that, since their debut last fall, French Box had been sending some of the highest quality boxes out there.  To see such a disaster with their name on it was an unpleasant surprise for subscribers.

In case you missed it, the February French Box contained a box of L'Oreal nail wraps, a L'Oreal lipstick, some heart-shaped bath pearls, a Paris-themed emery board and a cosmetic serum by Alexis Cosmetics.  Many subscribers reported old and tattered packaging on the lipstick and some (including me) got just a lipstick with no packaging at all.  The bath pearls looked like a dollar store item and contained no ingredient list.  The facial serum appeared to be discolored and also had no packaging or ingredient label. The nail wraps and emery board were o.k., but obviously inexpensive.  

The howls of protest were immediate.  Angry complaints flooded French Box's Facebook page and the comment sections of many blogs.  Demands for replacements and refunds were everywhere.  Human nature being what it is, there were exaggerated claims and ridiculous demands for restitution. To read the vitriol on French Box's Facebook page, you would think an expired lipstick or lack of an ingredient label were truly catastrophic events!

French Box was a bit slow to respond to the maelstrom; it was clear that they were in damage control mode.  First they sent an e-mail telling subscribers not to use the facial serum or the lipstick.  That gave impetus to the opportunistic crowd who (predictably) raised their demands for compensation. Apologies and explanations were eventually forthcoming with the bottom line being that French Box was re-grouping and two replacement items with a combined value of $35 would be sent to everyone who had received the February box. French Box said that their March box would be delayed. Details about future boxes and pre-paid subscriptions were unclear.

I received the two replacement items fairly quickly, a shower gel and a body scrub. 

The first item is an exfoliating hand scrub from La Sultan de Saba.  I've never run across this type of product before so had to give it a try.  It's a grainy scrub made with rice powder.  It eliminates dead skin cells, leaving your hands feeling very soft. It has a slightly oriental amber musk sandalwood scent.  Retail value is $20

The second replacement product is a shower gel called Les Notes de Lanvin in Oud & Rose. (Can someone tell me what "oud" means?)  This does have a lovely scent and I'm sure will please anyone who loves luxurious bath and shower products. Retail value is $14 

These products are typical of the quality and value that subscribers had come to expect from French Box. I do feel that the replacement items adequately made up for the problems in the February box.  The fact that the mistakes were acknowledged and quickly rectified speaks well of this company. 

It does seem unlikely that French Box will be able to continue sending a box of imported luxury products for just $24.  They have not been clear about their plans but I suspect their service will be re-engineered with both frequency and price adjustments.  For now, French Box is on hiatus and their future is uncertain.  Only time will tell whether or not they can survive the debacle of February's box.

As for character...well, it goes both ways.  The response to February's problems brought out the best and worst in people. Some took the low road, immediately resorting to threats and extortion with downright absurd demands.  (Makes you wonder how these people react when there is a REAL problem in their lives?)  Like common looters, the opportunists stepped right up looking to profit from the situation.  Others were much more circumspect, watchful for a solution but demonstrating a mature compassion for the business stresses experienced by a new company.  Turns out that a failed subscription box is a pretty good litmus test for personal character!

There were a lot of lessons here...primarily for French Box but also in how we as consumers react to the tiniest bit of adversity.  As for me, I appreciate their quick acknowledgement and response to this situation.  French Box has a great concept and their first few months were marked by stellar boxes.  I hope to see them recover so they can keep charming us with little monthly doses of French luxury!

Thanks for reading,


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.    

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