Come along as I cancel a BeautyFix order

I joined BeautyFix a little over a year ago when Daily Candy offered a half-off special. For $25, I was willing to give it a try. If you’re not familiar with BeautyFix, here’s the short version: Four times a year, you pay $50 to receive a makeup bag containing eight sample-to-full-size products to try. I thought the first kit was great, so I decided to stick with it.

It has not always been easy.

But more on that later. First, this: When my new time-to-pick-your-products e-mail arrived this week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to walk through it so the BeautyFix-curious could get a look inside the process before committing to the kit. Four times a year, BeautyFix members get an e-mail like this:

This is a change from the original BeautyFix — it used to be you just paid them and got what you got. Now you go to the BeautyFix website and log in to your account, where you are asked to update your “beauty profile”:

If you ask me, this is one of the program’s flaws. It’s great that it’s easy to update your profile when you choose, but is there really any need to ask users to go through this process every single time they order? The profile is several pages long, and having to go through it four times a year seems unnecessary.

Next you get to pick your products. Here’s the complete list of choices for the most recent kit:

So that’s it — you pick your products, click “Ship My Kit,” and wait for your goodies to arrive. At least, that should be it — but in the almost year-and-a-half I’ve been buying BeautyFix, I’ve encountered some hiccups and developed some concerns:

1. Technical issues. I’ve had an entire BeautyFix account just disappear. I joined last September. I got a kit right away, and then another one soon after… and then nothing. I didn’t get e-mails. I couldn’t log in to the website. I called customer service four or five times, and each time the people I spoke with were relatively pleasant and utterly ineffective. They kept telling me I needed to reset my password (doesn’t work when the website doesn’t recognize your account), and then it was that the website was under construction, and then they finally admitted that they just couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t access the website and wasn’t receiving kits or correspondence, and they told me the only solution was to start a new account with a new e-mail address. It had to be a new e-mail address? I asked. Yes. So I set one up with my work address. Not impressed, but willing to give it another try.

2. Customer service is useless. Polite, yes, but not really effective at all. They don’t understand how the website works. I have never gotten a useful answer to a question by calling customer service.

3. There tends to be a lot of repetition in the product selection. Looking over the selection of products above, I’ve already received more than two dozen of them in previous kits — some of them three times. If you Google BeautyFix, Google offers you “BeautyFix scam” as a related search. I don’t think it’s a scam (although I do think it’s incredibly poorly run), but it’s clear there are companies with which BeautyFix has partnerships, along with its sister outlet, DermStore.com. The first two kits I received were exciting because I was trying products I’d never heard of, but the excitement wore off when I started to receive product after product from the same brands. The point is to try new things, not get sold on the same stuff over and over.

Ttoday, a collision of all three of these issues led me to cancel a BeautyFix order for the first time. I logged in and glanced over the list. I was disappointed, although not surprised, to see lots and lots of familiar selections. I’d been less than thrilled with my last kit, but I thought I’d give it one more chance. So I spent about 15 minutes deciding what I wanted (yes, at work…), looked at my selections all lined up on the top of the page, and clicked “Ship My Kit.”

And then I saw a message confirming that my order for one product and one product only — the makeup bag that’s included in every order — had been submitted.

I quickly clicked around the website trying to see my order, but there was no way to go back and review what I’d selected. I logged out and then back in. No luck. Finally I called customer service and gave the polite woman on the other end of the line my order number. She confirmed that I had, in fact, just placed a $49.99 order for a made-in-China makeup bag and no products at all. There was no way to modify the order, but she could cancel it and then I could resubmit it — but there is no way to do this on the website. I would have to place my order over the phone. Did I remember the products I’d selected? No, of course I did not — the website was supposed to do that for me. The only solution she could offer (bless her — the website isn’t her fault) was to read me the complete list of products over the phone and have me select them with her.

At this point I decided to cut my losses. I didn’t have a half hour to spend on the phone dealing with this (again, at work — my own fault), and I’d already been less than enthusiastic about placing the order at all, so I told her to just cancel it. (On a positive note, BeautyFix does allow you to to skip or cancel a shipment without penalty.) The website’s shortcomings were probably just the universe telling me to hold on to that $50 for now.

I don’t want to leave you thinking my experience has been all negative, because it certainly hasn’t. I’ve discovered some products that I love and might not have tried otherwise — like 3Lab’s Perfect Cleansing Foam, which is wonderful, and Skindinavia finishing spray, which I use every single day. To me, though, the website glitches and ineffective customer service would only be worth putting up with if I were getting to discover exciting new things every time I get a package — and that just isn’t happening anymore. When my next BeautyFix order reminder comes along, I’ll take a look at the selection — but unless I see a whole bunch of new additions, it may be time for us to part ways.

BeautyFix
Bottom Line: Great concept, but glitchy and not always satisfying.
Price: $$$
Tip: Worth a try if you can get a discount code — and I’ve seen a lot of them bouncing around out there. Do some Googling before you buy.

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