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Starling Box is a quarterly subscription service for women. Each box includes 7-8 full-sized hand-crafted and artisan accessories, bath and skincare items, jewelry, and snacks. What’s more, all products are from ethical brands, including many that offer work and other assistance to survivors of human trafficking.
This is an overview and review of the Starling Box subscription.
One Starling Box is shipped per season: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.
There are no customization options or box variations.
Cost of Subscription
The Starling Box costs:
- $54.95 per quarter for quarterly billing (auto-renewing)
- $199.80 for annual prepayment ($49.95/month)
As you can see, you save $5/month ($20/year) by prepaying for 4 seasonal boxes. So if you can afford it, make sure to subscribe for the full year package!
International shipping costs $15 per box for all destinations, including Japan. Therefore, the total cost of an annual subscription (billed annually) is $259.80, or $64.95 per quarterly box.
Shipping within the USA is FREE.
International packages ship via USPS out of California, USA. For Tokyo shipments, tracking updates continue through delivery. (Let us know in the comments below if you had a different shipment experience!)
Damaged Items & Refund Policy
Starling Box promises to replace damaged items in boxes shipped within the USA. However, they provide no guarantees or replacements for lost, delayed or damaged international shipments. Therefore, you should keep this in mind if you live in a country with a poor track record for package handling!
A better guarantee policy for damaged items would be great. Overall, it shouldn’t be a large percentage of shipments. Also, it is not the best customer service move to tell people that they are not entitled to any compensation when something goes wrong. After all, Starling Box is responsible for packaging the items in a way that will protect them from damage in transit.
Especially when those customers are already paying extra for shipping. If anything, international customers should get the royal treatment, because they are willing to subscribe at a higher price point. If overseas shipping costs are a concern, why not just include replacement items in subsequent boxes?
Average time from shipment to delivery: 9 days (as of Spring 2019). Click to learn more about average delivery times on Expat Box Life.
International shipping rating: 4/5. Reasonable rates. Tracking. Quick delivery. Damage policy could be better.
The Starling Box subscription ships in a pretty branded box, with tissue paper protecting the items.
Packaging Rating: 4/5. Nothing special, but no major issues. Pretty box.
After subscribing to Starling Box, you will receive a friendly welcome email. It’s a nice touch that really makes you feel appreciated and closer to the anti-trafficking mission.
Additionally, Starling Box gets high marks for user friendliness and transparency. For example, you can log into your customer dashboard at any time to review your billing information, address, and subscription details. This is great if you are scatter-brained like me, because you can always double-check your renewal date if you forget to write it down!
Finally, Starling Box gets an A+ for communication about shipments. They send tracking information when boxes ship. Additionally, they follow up with a survey requesting your opinion of the most recent box.
Customer Experience Rating: 5/5. Seamless. Transparency. User friendly. Great communication overall.
During the sign-up process, Starling Box asks for a list of your allergies and says:
We’re committed to keeping you safe. We will remove products with ingredients which contain allergens from your box. We’ll do our best to replace it with another product but it’s not guaranteed.
There is a slight discrepancy between this message and the FAQ page, which says:
If one of our products includes one of your allergens, to our knowledge, we will remove the product from your box. However, we cannot guarantee that all products or traces of products containing the allergen has been removed. In addition, we cannot guarantee that all products have been kept away from the allergen in the manufacturing process.
The positives: It’s wonderful that they make efforts to ensure that boxes are allergen-free. Mere inhalation or skin contact can be enough to set off serious reactions in many allergic folks. Many box providers outright refuse to accommodate allergies at all.
The negatives: It’s disappointing to see this disclaimer language on the FAQ page. Some people might never see it and might trust the more customer-friendly language on the sign-up page.
Also, given that many of the products are handmade, Starling Box should ask proper and pointed questions of the product manufacturers. It’s not that difficult to ask producers if they are confident in their processes for avoiding cross-contamination, and producers should be able to provide a list of the allergens that they handle.
Finally, it would be excellent if Starling Box promised to replace products containing allergens. I am sure that most allergy sufferers would rather receive a repeat, along with maybe an apologetic note of acknowledgment, rather than feeling cheated. It would be unfair if they received a lower value box than their fellow subscribers. Allergy sufferers often have to abstain from treats at office parties and other gatherings, so it’s a real drag when they have to pay the same amount and get less.
Allergy Friendliness Rating: 3/5. Too many disclaimers. Dangerous messaging flow. Lackluster commitment to deliver value on par with other subscribers.
During the subscription sign-up process, Starling Box does not ask about dietary needs other than allergies, and the website does not discuss the issue. So we don’t know if their team will accommodate vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, or other special diets.
Although gluten-free customers can report “gluten” as an allergy, other dietary needs are more difficult to capture in the single question about allergies.
Dietary Needs Rating: 2/5. No clear process for requesting accommodations. No information about whether change requests will be granted.
Other Accessibility Issues
Expat Box Life aims to provide reviews that cover accessibility issues for health needs, dietary preferences, and disabilities.
Let us know in the comments if there are other accessibility needs that you would like us to address for Starling Box!
Starling Box donates 100% of its profits to fight human trafficking and restore safety and dignity to survivors. Every item in the Starling Box comes from an ethical company, and many items are handmade by victims of human trafficking.
Each Starling Box contains an informational brochure. The booklet includes a description of the mission of each company featured in that season’s box. Thanks to this addition, it’s quick and easy to read in more detail about the specific projects. And more importantly, you can see exactly how you are supporting so many great causes!
Charity Rating: 5/5. Donates 100% of profits. Ships only ethical products from ethical companies. Gives tons of information about the causes to subscribers.
What do you think?
Do you have a Starling Box subscription? If so, let us know if you love your subscription box in the comments. Also, please drop a line to let us know if you agree with our Starling Box review.
If you don’t have a subscription, are you thinking about subscribing? If so, stay tuned for our quarterly Starling Box subscription reviews and unboxing posts!
And if you are in the market for a fabulous subscription or gift box for women that offers global shipping, check out our round-up of the top 10 subscriptions for women who live abroad!