FACT FINDER: Box-a-month online subscriptions


It's been called one of the hottest trends in retail. Many people have box-a-month subscriptions.

It sounds pretty easy - sign up online and then wait for a box, filled with goods picked specifically for you, to show up on your doorstep. However, if you're thinking of getting one of these boxes, there are things you'll want to look into before you subscribe.

Heather Denton has a monthly subscription to Stitch Fix. She pays $20 per month to get a box of clothes and accessories picked by someone she's never met. It's all based on a profile she filled out online.

"I have three kiddos," explains this busy mom. "I hate to shop, which is weird for a woman to say, but I hate to shop, and it's very convenient."

Denton picks and chooses what she wants to keep out of the box and then pays for those items, returning the rest.

You can get a box-a-month subscription for just about anything - from diapers to razors, arts and crafts, even a box customized for your cat.

But not everyone's on board. Myndi writes on our WSBT Facebook page about a subscription she recently canceled. She writes, "The box was good 30% of the time. Not worth the money."

Prices for these customized boxes generally run from $10-$100 a month.

We signed up for several at WSBT to get a first-hand look. Birchbox sends make-up samples for $10 a month.

For around $20, Kiwi Crate customizes a box of activities for your kids.

The Honest Company sends natural baby products and runs between $35 and $80 per month.

You won't have to put any money down for a box from the The Trunk Club, but if you kept everything in the box we received, it would cost you $2,400.

Stylist and image consultant Kathy Friend says, "A lot of these brands are brands you're not going to find around here, so that would be the upside."

But she adds if your goal is to get a bang for your buck, you may want to look elsewhere.

"If you are counting on that money to build your wardrobe, or you need that money to buy cosmetics for example, I would suggest that there are a lot of other ways that you can add these pieces for less money."

The Better Business Bureau has this advice: read the fine print.

Area director of the BBB in Northern Indiana Dreama Jensen says, "The fine print is as important or more important than the large print is."

-Make sure you know how much your subscription will cost-How and when you can cancel-Whether or not the subscription will automatically renew-How the retailer will use your data.

The companies are trying to put together boxes tailored to fit your tastes and interests, so usually it involves handing over personal information.

Jensen adds, "Any personal information should remain confidential, and you want to be assured it remains confidential."

But for many, like Heather, it's well worth it. She says, "You have no idea what they're going to send you, and you're excited about it."

She also explains that her box gets her to think outside of the box. "I'm so happy I tried it. I'm always in sweatpants and a hoodie, and I'm trying to be more feminine, and these boxes help - help a lot."

According to the BBB of Northern Indiana, so far there have not been any complaints about these subscription companies.

All the boxes delivered to WSBT showed up when expected and contained what the company promised.

See the pictures below for an idea of what came in those boxes.


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