Over the past few years there’s been a huge rise in the popularity of randomised subscription boxes. Most of you have probably heard of these things in one way or another, but let’s explain for the few that haven’t.
The idea is that you sign up for an ongoing subscription (which can usually be limited in length up front) then each month you get a box containing items that would be worth more than the subscription fee if you bought them up front. The items are usually built around a theme but you don’t know what you’re going to get until the box arrives. For some people it’s a little money going from their account in return for a surprise present through the door every month. Others use them to get cool exclusive items or only sign up for a single month subscription when the theme is something they’re interested in. There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of different boxes available throughout the world from premium shaving kits to healthy snacks to geeky socks (one I aim to sign up for later in the year because, seriously, do you know me at all?).
My Geek Box is a service in the UK that has been going for a while now. I’ve flirted with the service a little, taking advantage of the single Christmas box they make to add an extra joint gift under the tree, but never gotten around to testing it fully until February this year. When I received an offer in the post to sign up for a single box and get two Welcome boxes (identical boxes, with one to go to someone else who wants to see what the service is like) it seemed like the perfect time to try the service. I’d get two boxes for the price of one (as well as a box to give out) and be able to get a good idea of the overall quality of the service. Genius plan eh?
Using the code supplied in that cheeky message, I signed up on the 17th of February this year, entered all the required details, and set up a one month subscription. It took me a while to get used to the layout of the site but I knew what these services were like so I persevered. Sure enough, hidden away in the options, I found that the subscription was set to automatically renew. As I wanted to trial the service first and not be signed up for months, I turned that off immediately setting the one month subscription to end after this first box was paid for.
The subscribed box arrived without the Welcome boxes and, to be honest, I was pretty impressed. Two nice retro gaming t-shirts alongside a couple of toys and some miscellaneous items. It seemed quite good value for money. The Welcome boxes hadn’t been sent yet and, upon investigation, I found that they weren’t due to be sent until the 15th of March. While I was there I noticed I’d saved my payment details on the website and, as I hate to do that (approximately ALL THE SITES are getting hacked for credit card details these days), I removed them.
Now, I keep a tight watch on my finances. At some point I’ll tell you guys about my budget and how everything is split between different accounts and funds that have given us a much better quality of life. So, when I noticed that £17.99 had been taken from my credit card on the 1st of March by My Geek Box, I immediately queried it. I went back through my statements, sure that I’d already paid them, and found they’d taken the money on the very day that I first signed up. Somehow, even with my payment details removed from the site, I’d been charged again.
I immediately went to the site and checked the subscription. Auto-renew was still turned off, so I knew I hadn’t been charged for that. I went through the orders and found that no new orders had been added, so it was obviously a mistake on their part. Sure of my facts, I got in touch with their customer support and explained my problem. What follows is their reply:
The guy had obviously misunderstood me so I carefully crafted a reply to point that out and reiterate my problem. That’s when I found he’d closed my communication down by setting the issue as resolved. I couldn’t reply. I started a new communication with the company, explaining I’d been misunderstood before, and going over how they’d charged me for something that didn’t exist. I told them that I had turned off auto-renew so, even if there was a box set aside for me (and my account said that there wasn’t), it was unacceptable and I wanted my money to be refunded. This was the reply to that.
Hmmm, that looks familiar. Oh, is it a form reply by any chance? Once again the issue had been set as resolved, and now it was clear that they were fobbing me off after taking money from my account without my consent. I started to wonder if this had happened to other people and how they’d handled it. That’s when I found this.
After a read through that post and the comments from even more people who were being fobbed off by this company, I double checked my payment details had been deleted from the site, took screenshot of my complaints and the replies given, took screenshots of the order pages, and then got in touch with my credit card company’s fraud team. Within twenty four hours the extra charge they’d taken had been refunded and all further payments that company took would be clawed back from them.
This was my experience of the My Geek Box service. Three items ordered, one received so far (I’ll update this post if the others ever arrive but I don’t hold out much hope). One payment authorised, two taken. Two issues raised, both closed with the same form letter that refused to deal with the quite serious problems occurring. One investigation that unearthed dozens of other people who’d experienced similar problems with this service.
It should go without saying, but we live in a TL;DR world where people regularly skip to the end, so I’ll say it anyway: