Note: some of the links below contain affiliate information. If you make a purchase, I get a little cheddar. However, I have never, and would never, recommend products I don’t use and love.
I have a couple friends who recently signed up with The Honest Company. The Honest Company (I’m just going to call it THC because that’s too much to type) specializes in safe, eco-friendly products for your home, for babies, health and hygiene products.
As a parent, I want to minimize our impact on the planet and use safe products around the house (and on Sprout’s super sensitive skin). I decided to do one of their free trials (free, but you pay $6 in shipping). After I signed up, I got an email confirming the order for my trial, but saw the first red flag. In the body of the email this line bothered me:
Your first full month Bundle will ship 7 days after you receive your trial.
So, by trying your products, I’m immediately obligated to buy more? I didn’t like that. The other part that I didn’t like: the bundle was $36 with another $6 in shipping, so they basically had me on the line for another $42. But my friends were raving about the products, so I decided to wait for the trial to arrive and give it a go.
Two days later (super-speedy shipment on the trial), it arrives.
I tried the lotion. Meh. It was light and watery, and I didn’t feel like it really did much. It certainly didn’t come close to the lotion that my best friend makes, which is chemical free, earth-friendly, creamy and healing, without being greasy.
Next I tried the shampoo + body wash, which, again, was “meh”. I have thick hair for a dude, and it took quite a bit to achieve a good lather on my noggin’. I had to use so much of the product on my hair, that I only got to wash half of my body thanks to the limited trial size. Even so, what I did wash body-wise was decent. No oily feel, no drying feel, which is important because I have naturally dry skin. It was okay as a body wash but I wasn’t jumping up and down. It certainly wouldn’t take the place of our Alba Botanica Bath and Shower Gel (in Sparkling Mint), which is rich, creamy, earth-friendly and moisturizes my dry skin beautifully.
We gave the laundry detergent a go as well. It handled lightly-soiled items without a problem but I have a three-year-old boy…lightly soiled is a miracle. He had a pair of shorts with a really light grass stain on the pocket (something our normal detergent would have handled without a problem). We gave The Honest Company detergent a try and no luck. The stain was untouched. I was worried the stain was permanent (we didn’t dry the shorts), but I went ahead and gave the shorts a wash with our normal detergent (Seventh Generation Liquid Laundry) and – voila! – grass stain gone. The other items we washed in The Honest Company detergent came out just fine though. I suppose I could have pretreated the stain before washing it, but doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of non-chemical, earth-friendly products?
I did not use the healing balm, other than a quick trial. It was way too greasy, even in a tiny application.
The hand soap was hand soap; nothing worth noting. We will be sticking with our Method Hand Wash, Sweet Water, which is a family favorite.
Overall, I wasn’t as impressed as my friends were with the products. I am all for using eco-friendly, chemical free solutions, which is why we use things like Seventh Generation and Method, which aren’t perfect, but are far more eco-friendly than most product lines. To me, The Honest Company’s products just seemed diluted or ineffective.
It took us a few days to try everything because we’ve been busy, and I wanted to wait for a load of Sprout’s clothes to be ready (I figured we needed to see how it did on the hardest clothes to clean, right?) for a wash.
By the time I had decided that I didn’t think that The Honest Company’s products were right for our family, 4 and a half days had passed.
I logged onto The Honest Company’s website, went into my account and tried to find where I could cancel the Essentials Bundle that I had ordered the trial on. I couldn’t find a way to cancel the bundle anywhere, which was odd because I could change my hair color with THC’s powerful and robust site.
The website says this about cancels:
The Honest Company strives to provide the best service and personal experience, but if you decide to cancel, please call Honest Support at 1.888.862.8818 Monday – Friday 7AM – 5PM (Pacific).
Please note: Accounts cannot be cancelled via email, Facebook, or other forms of social media.
I was confused about why I can manage everything about my account and subscription via the site, but not cancel? Further, why would a phone call be needed, unless they were going to try to badger you into keeping your account active or upsell you? I decided to send them a message via their Contact Us link, asking why I couldn’t cancel via their website.
Here is what I sent them:
I can’t seem to find where I cancel the membership online? I ordered a trial and I’m not crazy about the products, so I don’t want a bundle shipped to me. Help!
…and here is the response…
Thank you for reaching out! We’ve received your subscription cancellation request, however, it’s our company policy to process cancellations over the phone. Our Honest Support Team can be reached at 888.862.8818 between the hours of 7 am – 5 pm PST Monday – Friday.
Please note that on the 7th day following delivery of the samples, you are automatically enrolled and charged to receive the monthly subscription. The Honest Company strives to offer convenience and value with our monthly subscriptions and bundling allows us to offer our high performance, non-toxic products at a significant discount. We look forward to speaking to you soon!
The Honest Company
The Honest Company
Customer Service: 888-862-8818
Hours of operation: 7 am – 5 pm PST
Honest.com / @Honest / Facebook.com/TheHonestCompany
From that, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a simple call to cancel; it was going to be a call into a sales team.
I made the call a couple hours after getting the email response and my suspicions were confirmed. The polite rep who answered the phone was very cheerful, even after I told her I wanted to cancel. Here’s the shorthand of how the call went:
THC Agent: Can I ask why you want to cancel your subscription?
Me: Well, I don’t really have a subscription; I just ordered a trial. And I just didn’t like the products.
THC Agent: What we sent you was a small sampling of the products we offer. You could always change the items in your bundle to try different items? We have a wide range of items for your home, health and beauty products..(I stopped listening for a minute here, but the selling continued).
Me: No thanks.
THC Agent: Just so you know, you are receiving a 35% discount, which was locked in when you signed up. If you cancel now, you’ll lose your 35% discount. You could always just skip this shipment and try the bundle at a later date.
Me: Honestly, I’ll forget to go in and skip it, or I’ll miss the cut off. I’d rather just cancel it and, if I want to try different products later, I’ll sign up again.
THC Agent: I understand. Would it help if I offered an additional 15% discount off of your first bundle shipment?
Me: (getting frustrated) No. I don’t want to keep the account active; I don’t want anything else shipped to me.
THC Agent: Okay, I can get the account cancelled for you.
Here’s what chaps my hide about all of this…their name, and their advertising, their mission statement and everything else, revolves around honesty.
To me, offering samples of your product is genius! I’m much more likely to buy your product if I have the chance to try it out first. And I am your demographic: I order almost everything online and I’m a fan of recurring shipments.
But automatically enrolling me in a plan that will cost me $42 a month, with a preset selection of products I may not need/want, simply because I asked for the sample pack is dishonest.
Telling me I have 7 days from when the sample arrives to cancel, or I’m charged $42, and products I haven’t selected, ship out to me is dishonest.
Not allowing customers to cancel a subscription they didn’t really want via your website, when everything else in the known universe can be done via your website, is dishonest.
Making your customers call into a Sales center to cancel, and then subjecting them to a hard sell, while they’re trying to cancel a subscription they didn’t want, is dishonest.
The reality is that The Honest Company is banking on the fact that people will try their products and then forget to cancel the subscription, even if they don’t love the products. Even if you don’t gain a long term customer, you automatically get $48 from every person that tries your product ($6 to ship the samples, $36 for the bundle, $6 for the bundle shipment).
It’s probably a genius business model. But it’s dishonest.