Whimsey Box Update - Do Not Subscribe to Whimsey Box!!

This post contains a rant and a warning.

My horrid Whimsey Box experience is just about over. My credit card dispute was approved today, and a refund should be applied in a few weeks. There isn't much written about "Whimsey-Box-Gate", and it seems, from reading Facebook comments, that unsuspecting people are still subscribing to this dishonest company. This story is long, and complex. I do these stories best in point form, so here it goes.

  • I first subscribed to Whimsey Box in August 2013. I skipped the next month, but they sent me the September 2013 box by mistake. I gave it away.
  • I cancelled my subscription, then resubscribed in time for the February 2014 box.
  • I received boxes every month from February to July, but only posted reviews until April. Some months, I didn't even open the box.
  • Through the entire course of my subscription, I only completed one project. It's not that it was a bad service. It was actually a great service. I just didn't have the time to work on the projects, and most of them didn't interest me very much.
  • I kept my subscription active because I had over $100 in referral credits to use up. Some months I was charged nothing. Some months I was charged only the $5 Canadian shipping cost. Some months I was charged the full $20, then immediately refunded $20. In hindsight, this should have been more concerning.
  • Everything was great through the end of July. Shipping e-mails arrived on time. Monthly "spoiler" sneak preview e-mails arrived the week after shipping. I continued to receive referral credits. (I am very sorry to anyone who signed up for this service through my links, especially those who signed up after July). Things went sideways in August.
  • On August 27th, subscribers received an e-mail titled "Update on Your August Whimseybox". I didn't pay it much attention. Prior to the e-mail, I didn't even realize I hadn't received the regular shipping notice on August 15th.
 
  • Facebook and Twitter have not been updated since September 9th. The blog, not since September 19th. Instagram and YouTube, not since August. The founder, Alicia, hasn't updated her personal Twitter since September 3rd. Their main website appears to have been stagnant for a while too, but I can't confirm a date.
  • I did not cancel my subscription during this time, because I had $185 in credits. I was hoping the boxes would magically start appearing and everything would go back to normal. 
  • October 2nd, I noticed a $20 charge ($22.98 CDN) on my credit card by Whimsey Box. This is when I started to take notice of the Whimsey Box fiasco. The charge was processed September 30th, presumably for the non-existent October box. I immediately e-mailed asking for a refund, citing the $185 credit sitting in my account. 
  • Also on October 2nd, while tinkering around in my account, I accidentally hit the upgrade button. It's the one beside unsubscribe. And just like that, I was charged for a year long subscription at $220. That's $252.06 CDN. There was no confirm option, no checkout page, nothing. Just a button click, and a credit card charge. Dumb mistake. I immediately e-mailed again, requesting that the yearly fee be drawn from the credit. By my math, I should only be charged $55 US. 
  • On this day I also called my credit card company to find out about the dispute process. I was told I had to wait at least 14 days for the first charge and then it could be disputed as products not received. I could do the same for the second charge, but not until the end of the month. 
  • I did not receive replies to either of my e-mails, nor did I receive refunds. I e-mailed again October 16th requesting refunds. I did not receive a reply. 
  • Attempts to use the "Live Chat" support option were negative. No matter what time of day, or what day of the week, the chat window always said "We're not around, but leave us a message a we will get back to you soon.". 
  • Attempts to call their toll-free phone number were negative. No matter what time of day, or what day of the week, no one answered the phone at 1 (877) 245-8744.
  • Sleuthing subscribers discovered that on August 20th Whimsey Box applied for bankruptcy protection, and one of the co-founders was publicly searching for a new job.
  • Another subscriber posted this message, from a former employee:
  • In late September, people started to received boxes. The August box. Mine showed up the week of October 6th. It was a junk craft consisting of cotton balls and paper.
  • I gave up trying to contact them, and also gave up hope that Whimsey Box would be able to sort things out and get back to business.
  • October 30th, I called VISA again. Everything was already documented on my account so I didn't need to explain much. I confirmed I had still not received any product that was due to me from the two charges on October 2nd. I confirmed I had attempted various means of contact with the company with no response. I was put on hold for five long minutes. When the agent returned, she said the dispute was entered and I would receive a refund in 2-6 weeks.
Now a few warnings for others...
  • Whimsey Box is still accepting new subscribers. Their website is still functioning. Whatever you do, DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO WHIMSEY BOX.
  • If you are still a current subscriber, CANCEL IMMEDIATELY. Whimsey Box is still charging active subscribers the monthly fee and  still processing automatic renewals for term subscriptions. 
  • Start your credit card dispute NOW. Do not wait, hoping they will get it right. You have a limited amount of time to dispute a charge. If you were charged for September and October, you are well within your rights now to dispute the charges as product not received.

It is a real shame that Whimsey Box, specifically CEO and founder Alicia DiRago, chose to handle the situation this way. At one time, Whimsey Box was a fabulous company with a fantastic subscription service. With the snap of a finger it went from dream subscription for some to frustrating nightmare for all. By continuing to maintain the website, accept new subscribers, and bill for monthly boxes, Whimsey Box has turned into one giant scam. At this point, all they are doing is defrauding customers. Glossybox Canada, which also shut down unexpectedly, had the decency to e-mail customers and issue refunds within a week of closure. Even Glymm, the first Canadian subscription service to fail spectacularly, managed to communicate with subscribers and stop billing (although it took 2 months to do so). Hopefully Alicia DiRago will do the right  thing and communicate with the customers that have supported her over the past two years.

If you are new to the subscription box game and this story scares you a little bit, fear not. There are ways to protect yourself. Check out my post from a few months ago about how to protect yourself from shady subscription companies and how to tell if a company is legit.

Have you been shafted by Whimsey Box? Share your story here.

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