Analyzing Facebook “Freebies”: Grove Collaborative

I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for advertising, pretty product packaging, subscription services, freebies and deals. Which is dangerous because 1.) I’m always on social media 2.) So are ads that fall almost exclusively in this category.

You know the ones I’m talking about – offering you free things only to reel you in to a pre-paid subscription service? They almost ALWAYS offer a referral incentive of some kind that reeks of pyramid scheme. I’ve seen a wide variety of tempting ads, but last week one from Grove Collaborative got the best of me.

So now that the box has arrived, I decided to use the rational part of my brain to decide if the “amazing deal” I thought I was getting actually WAS one. Ready to nerd out? Here’s my breakdown of prices I paid vs. what I would have paid at Target:

So not too shabby. Although some products were slightly more expensive through Grove than Target, the amount of freebies still landed me some sweet savings. But I’ve been burned in the past, and I don’t want you to be either, so here are some questions to ask yourself when considering similar deals:

1. What do you have to DO to get the deal?

What is the fine print? If you must purchase to be eligible, is it something you would actually buy anyway, and you’re not just buying it to get the deal? Sometimes the deal becomes so alluring you buy stuff you wouldn’t normally have bought just to get to the “free.” (As my dad says, “Yes, you saved 40%, but you WOULD have saved 100% if you didn’t buy it at all!)

Also, what are you signing up for? Where is your information going? How REPUTABLE does this source look? Sometimes a deal is just bait to try and get all your personal and payment information. A simple “Is _____ a scam” search on Google can clear things up REAL fast.

For Grove, you had to spend $20 on their site to get the 5-piece Mrs. Meyers cleaning set they advertised. I already use Method, Burt’s Bees and Mrs. Meyers, among other products they offer, so this was an easy “yes” for me.

2. Are you pre-paying for any future products/shipments?

Try to avoid these scenarios. Don’t lock yourself in to something you are just trying out. See point 3.

3. What is their cancellation policy?

I learned my lesson the hard way on this one with a year-long subscription to Fab Fit Fun. Boxes are sent out four times a year, and each one is $49.99. I saw a promo code from a blogger than let me get the boxes for $30 each, or $120 a year instead of $200. The site said you could unsubscribe at any time, so I thought “Sure, I’ll get one $30 box, see how I like it, and go from there.”

WRONG. You prepay for the whole year, and while you can unsubscribe at any time, you can’t get refunded for anything you’ve already purchased in advance.

Yes, it was nice getting three more boxes, and MANY people I know love them, but the majority of the stuff in each box really wasn’t exactly me, and I ended up regifting about 80% off it. I would have been better off spending that $30 on something specific I actually preferred, rather than playing Russian roulette. (Although I will admit the thrill of surprise when opening each box was almost worth it.)

4. Can you opt-out of automated purchases?

The FAQ page is usually a good place to start when deciding if you want to sign on to one of these promotions/subscriptions. When you register, Grove automatically enrolls you in monthly shipments. And maybe I’m just a slob, but I don’t go through cleaning products that fast, so the FIRST thing I did after reading the FAQ and joining was to deactivate that feature.

5. Are any future purchases/subscriptions more expensive?

Now that you got the great deal, do you want to stick with the program? Usually future offers are not nearly so delicious. As you can see with the price breakdown, I would have actually come out better shopping at Target if it weren’t for all the introductory free products.

And they know this. Hence, the refer a friend program to keep you buying and paying more than you should.

Again, Grove wins a little on this because each referral that results in a purchase lands you $10 to spend on YOUR next purchase. With Fab Fit Fun, the referral commission could only be used towards ad-on items, not the price of future boxes. Still made in good faith, but not as much of a deal.

JULY 20 UPDATE: Word of caution – When you try Grove, you are also automatically enrolled in a VIP membership which after 60 days of a free trial, you then are charged $19.99 a year to maintain. So you have to email┬á to cancel the membership and avoid that fee. They say in their FAQ that they will send you a reminder email that your trial is expiring so you have time to opt out and avoid the fee, but I went ahead and did this about 45 days just to cover my bases.

I did make sure to use the VIP membership one last time to cash-in on my $10 referral bonus, reorder my favorite items, get the free Room Freshener offer, and take advantage of the VIP free shipping:


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