We’re inundated by subscription boxes these days. Everything from a box with healthy treats to shoes and even stuff for your dog to enjoy are popping up. I have to admit, they are pretty tempting – try it for free, no risks, cancel before the subscription starts. But, if you’re not quick enough or understanding of how many of these boxes work, you can quickly find yourself on the hook for some steep monthly fees.
That’s what happened to some who signed up to try Julep Beauty’s box. Allegedly, what was hard to see in plain sight on the company’s
checkout pages was that billing information for shipping purposes also meant the buyer was signing up to get the monthly subscription.
According to reports, the company and its owner Jane Park are now on the hook themselves for $3 million due to what’s called “negative option” marketing – or assuming that customers who do not cancel the subscription want to be charged going forward.
The Washington state Attorney General alleges that not only did customers only realize they would be charged when fees hit their credit card statement, but canceling the services was also a tricky thing to do.
I’ve already personally had to help my mother in law cancel and sort out subscription issues like this for other Internet advertisements she’s signed up for without realizing it would create a recurring charge, so I know firsthand how frustrating it can be. As consumers, before we get excited about the abundance of options with subscription boxes, or anything we buy for that matter, it’s our responsibility as well to read reviews and triple check the fine print. But for the companies offering them, the lesson here is to be sure you are open and obvious about what you are offering to customers and what you plan to do with their payment information, or risk heavy fines.
At the end of the day, we’ll be seeing more and more deceptive marketing practices like this being brought forward and those offering similar products are sure to have issues if they don’t educate themselves on how to properly present stipulations and how consumers should proceed.