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For a small fee, consumers can get nail polish, beauty products, dog treats, food, wine, razors, and even apocalypse prep gear sent to their home every month. These subscription services and others like them can be exciting and convenient, but can also be problematic if you’re not familiar with how such services work. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has some advice when signing up with a monthly box company.

  • Make sure the company is legitimate. Search for reviews and ratings online and make sure they have a presence­—whether it is on the internet or a physical customer service/office space. Contacting the company should be easy, and information should be readily accessible.
  • Be sure to fully read the “Terms and Conditions” page. It’s important to understand how you are charged, how to cancel the service, what requirements there are for returns, etc. Terms and Conditions might be lengthy, but reading them ahead of time can prevent issues later.
  • Know when free trials and monthly discounts end. Because the subscription fee remains consistent, most box companies will automatically charge your account every month for your convenience. If the site is offering a three-month free trial or similar discount, they’ll continue to charge you after the promotion is over. If you’re only interested in trying the service during the promotion, make sure you remember when to cancel.
  • When filling out your profile, make sure to be specific. Most companies cater the items in your monthly box to your answers on your profile. For example, if a consumer said they have more oily hair, they’ll receive products made for oily hair. This gets even more complicated with sites that ask for your income level—they’ll only send you things that you can afford to buy. Keep this in mind when setting up a subscription account to make sure you actually want to use the products you pay for each month.
  • Read the privacy policy. Because you’re giving all this customized information about yourself to the company, you should know what they’re doing with it.

Monthly box subscriptions are incredibly popular and consumers are signing-up for a variety of services. But, as with everything, it’s important to do your research before subscribing. For additional information on how to safely shop online, read our Online Smarts blog posts.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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