Why I’m Not Now – Nor Ever Will Be – Into Auto-Replenishment
The last time I checked, I only had one face, one body and one head of hair. And while I can plow through an insane amount of beauty product in any given month – I genuinely do love this stuff — I want to control when it crosses the threshold of my humble abode.
Thus I’m bucking the auto-replenishment trend with all my might. And sadly, that means I may not be buying stuff I actually really want.
Before I dive into this charged topic, I want to be clear that I’m not talking about services like Birchbox, which allow subscribers to sample a range of items from different brands each month. I also don’t mean newer entities like LOLI Beauty, which bundles all the mixings for BIY (“Blend It Yourself”) potions into a single monthly delivery.
Birchbox and LOLI are both in the “discovery” space. With Birchbox, and others of its ilk, the hope is that you’ll fall in love with a product and later head to the store, or the brand’s website, to scoop it up. With LOLI, you’re partaking for the joy of crafting your own beauty products from high quality, ethically sourced ingredients.
Right now, for the purposes of this blog post, I’m concerned with two other spaces: The “I’d Like to Try It But Don’t Want to Sign-On for Life” space and the “I Already Like It But Still Don’t Want to Sign-On for Life” space.
Sensing an “I don’t want to sign-on for life” theme? Good. Now I’ll move onto two case studies pulled from the headlines of my own life.
Auto-Replenishment Case Study 1: Crepe Erase
Recently, I was back-and-forthing with a beauty publicist for a “get gorgeous for your wedding” slideshow I was writing for a website. As it happens, Crepe Erase, the buzzy body care brand, is one of this publicist’s clients.
Kindly, the publicist offered to send me the two-step Crepe Erase “Introductory System” to try. I, no dummy, said “Sure.” I live in Florida, I’m in my 50’s and I play tons of tennis. You do the crepey-skin math…
I was hooked from the first slather. I’m all about incredible scents and textures, and the hero product of the Crepe Erase line – the Intensive Body Repair Treatment – has both in spades. I worked my way through the hefty tub within a few weeks. Gone, baby, gone.
But sadly, when I logged onto the Crepe Erase website, I saw that my love affair would be short-lived. Why? Because there were no other options for purchase besides a monthly installment plan. Even if I wanted to pay more for the product to avoid locking myself into an ongoing plan, I couldn’t.
That was a jaw-dropper. And, I think, a missed opportunity on behalf of Guthy-Renker, the infomercial mega-giants that market Crepe Erase. At least give us commitment-phobes the chance to spend more for your product than everyone else! That’s just smart business, no?
Auto-Replenishment Case Study 2: Rodan + Fields
When you weren’t looking, the skin docs behind the Rodan + Fields derm brand bought themselves back from the Estée Lauder Cos. and rejiggered as a direct sales company. Now, from what I can glean, they rely on a fleet of women to sell their research-driven, high-tech skincare over tea and crumpets in the privacy of said women’s own homes.
Right before Christmas last year, I was invited to one such tea and crumpets affair given by one of the moms in my daughter’s school. Despite the terrible timing – did I mention it was days before Christmas? – I went. I needed more skincare like a hole in my head, but this Rodan + Fields-rep mommy person is not only lovely, she also promised to donate the entire proceeds of that afternoon’s sales to the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
Who could say no, yes?
I was on a very short time leash. I swooped into the party, bought the one item I actually didn’t already own in my vast stash – one of those microneedle derma roller gizmos – filled out a pile of forms, and dashed out the door.
I was under the impression, as I dashed, that I’d spent roughly $125 for the derma roller and the accompanying serum. It was $125 I had no business spending, but it was for a good cause. And also – let’s be real – I’m a treatment junkie.
But later that evening, as I began to get pelted with emails from Rodan + Fields Central, I discovered I’d been billed for closer to $325. Not only was there a one-time “PC Perks” enrollment fee of $19.95, I’d also somehow gotten charged for a multi-step “Redefine Amp It Up Special” I didn’t order. The “special” featured an entire cleansing, toning and moisturizing regimen that I absolutely, categorically had no use for.
To make matters worse, I was now enrolled in Auto-Replenishment and could expect another “Amp It Up” kit to land on my doorstep in a few short weeks. Uh oh.
After trying, unsuccessfully, to cancel the “Amp It Up” kit and undo Auto-Replenishment on the Rodan + Fields website, I reached out to the school-mommy party host. I said I thought a mistake had been made, that I had really only wanted the derma roller and the serum, and that I definitely wanted to be taken off Auto-Replenishment.
Even though this all went down in the space of a few hours, she said it was too late to cancel the “Amp It Up” kit, and that the best course of action was to wait for it to arrive and then ship it back to Rodan + Fields Central. She would handle removing me from Auto-Replenishment.
Of course you know where this story is going: When the “Amp It Up” kit arrived, I kept it. I haven’t even opened it yet, months later, but I just couldn’t bring myself to back out of giving an additional $200 to the Children’s Tumor Foundation. After all, the fact that the Rodan + Fields get-together was a fundraiser for a worthy cause was the main reason I went in the first place.
But here’s what’s really crazy about this whole thing: What if, when I finally get around to using the “Amp It Up” kit (and the derma roller and the serum), I completely and utterly love something and want to get more?
I can’t. I’m unable to buy a single Rodan + Fields product unless I fully commit to Auto-Replenishment. And I just don’t want to do that. Not now. Not ever.