PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Cosmetics, razors, underwear, jewelry, food, even stuff for your pet – there’s a subscription box for just about anything.
You see ads for them all over social media.
The subscriptions range in price from $10 a month to a few hundred. They’re cool and convenient, but are they really a good deal?
“It depends on you. It depends on what you’re interested in, and what you’re looking for,” Duquesne University Marketing Professor Dr. Audrey Guskey said.
Guskey said the first rule of thumb is when you first sign-up, never subscribe to anything long-term.
She said you may get bored with it, tired of it or you might not like it at all and then you’re stuck with it.
But, she said when you do find something you like you should immediately subscribe to a longer commitment.
That’s because the monthly fee for a six-month or year subscription is typically less than if you’re just paying on a month-by-month basis.
Guskey said the boxes that give you the most value are usually the ones that offer smaller, sample sizes of things.
That way, you can try new things and find out if you like them before you buy the larger, more expensive versions.
“If you were to pay full price for these items, you’d be paying significantly more, probably 10 times as much,” Guskey said.
On the flip side, subscription boxes that focus solely on food tend to end up costing more than if you just went to the grocery store.
Guskey said that’s partly because it costs more to ship perishable items and also because you could save more money if you went to a grocery store with coupons or shopped at a discount store.
When it comes to shave clubs, Consumer Reports recently checked out four of the more popular ones for quality and value.
Dollar Shave Club’s “Humble Twin Blade” was the least expensive, but the testers didn’t like how it left their skin feeling.
“Price is somewhat important, but to me overall, the shave is the most important,” tester Marc McEntee said
The Gillette Fusion ProShield was the hands-down favorite among the testers for overall quality, but it was the most expensive.
Despite the higher cost, Consumer Reports found it was still a slightly better deal to buy the ProShield through the online club than in stores.
One more thing to keep in mind about subscription boxes, some of them offer the first month free or half-off, so look for those deals.
You also might be able to find some deals through discount websites like Groupon and Living Social.
The bottom line with subscription boxes is that they’re cool and trendy and a fun way to try new stuff, but just remember convenience comes at a cost.
“If you like the surprise and you like the convenience try it for a while, but I would say overall, just be careful, maybe not subscribing to this annual thing because in reality there’s going to be a lot of money coming out of your checking account”, Guskey said.