As an attempt to find some ~c~o~n~t~’e~n~t~ for this blog, I signed up in early Spring this year (2021) for a snack subscription service called SnackSurprise.
If you’ve got any kind of social media, you might have seen adverts for SnackSurprise. They offer monthly subscriptions to an international snack subscription, where each month, a bunch of savoury and sweet treats and drinks from a mystery country are sent to you, and you get the opportunity to try new things.
With the thrill of lockdown well and truly faded, and thinking of the times when I’ve had incredible snacks from parts abroad (❤ TimTams ❤), I decided to sign up for this service. It wasn’t cheap, but it also wasn’t expensive. There were three “levels” of subscription available, so I split the difference, and signed up for a £14 a month middle tier – which promised thirteen items per month – one drink and twelve snacks.
Now, I signed up for this in early April, and, to be fair to them, when I signed up, they warned me that my April box wouldn’t be delivered until late in the month. I hadn’t really expected anything different – this ain’t my first rodeo with a subscription box, Gentle Readers, and I know that you often pay early in the month and don’t get the box till later during your first month, because, well, you are a new client and they build brand loyalty by serving the existing customers first, and Newbies get whatever’s left. I’ve had multiple subscription boxes – from make-up subscriptions, to book subscriptions, to some sort of gaming loot subscription (that one was an accident – I bought a one-off box for YoungerBro’s Christmas present, and nearly ended up in a year-long agreement…) – so I thought I was ready for a subscription box of snacks.
Reader, I was not.
April’s box came from the country of Portugal, and contained a selection of snacks that were…uninspiring. There were some chorizo/spicy sausage flavoured crisps, and some “peasant stew” flavoured crisps (tomato and garlic, I discovered, using Google Translate). They were interesting, and Flicks and I enjoyed nibbling at them whilst we watched something from the MCU on the tellybox. The drink that month was a fizzy pineapple drink, not my favourite flavour, it has to be said, but it wasn’t terrible. There was (amongst other things) a small chocolate umbrella, some chewy pineapple fruit sweets, some pineapple flavoured chewing gum and some pineapple flavoured chocolate. “Wow,” I said, picking through the box. “The Portuguese really love pineapple flavoured things, don’t they?”
I wasn’t overwhelmed with this first offering, but I decided to give it another chance the next month. None of the snacks had thrilled me, and I was a bit annoyed I’d paid so much for a box which had included three snacks that I could have bought from the supermarket for a much cheaper price, but the novelty had been fun.
May came around and at the start of the month, I checked my bank balance to discover that – prompt as you like – SnackSurprise had debited my account the requisite £14. So, having waited around two weeks from payment to delivery the previous month, I was…disconcerted…when, whilst reviewing my bank balance at the end of the month (the 28th), I realised that I had paid for, but not received, a May subscription box.
I checked my emails – no email. I went to the website and scoured it for information – no notification. I found you could log in (I didn’t remember setting up an account, but luckily, my password manager did), so I logged into my account. And there, on a page several tabs in, I found a note. “All May boxes are delayed because we don’t want to send out a substandard product. Please check back for updates.”
Gentle Readers, I was NOT PLEASED. OK, it’s only £14, and I was absolutely having #firstworldproblems that my exotic snacks hadn’t turned up. But I had paid for those snacks, and I expected them to be delivered. And I didn’t think it was unreasonable to expect an email when said delicious snacks weren’t going to be on time. (Mid-rant, Flicks told me to check my privilege, which I did, but I was also annoyed AF and I wanted snacks.) I checked back into the website a few days later. No update.
June arrived. And once again, prompt as you like, on the 4th….ding! £14 left my bank account to SnackSurprise.
Reader, I fumed. I took several deep breaths and then I thought about it. So far, on that date, the 4th June, I had paid this company £42 for one box of bloody pineapple flavoured goods. I don’t even like pineapple that much! So, I calmed my tits, and I wrote them an email, asking for a) an immediate cancellation of my subscription and b) an immediate refund of my June payment, as I had no further interest in receiving their goods. The May box/money, they could keep.
I received an email back, Gentle Readers, that stoked the fires of wrath within my breast to a level that even Flicks (used to my dramatics) muttered, “Holy hell,” pointed me back at the keyboard and backed away.
The email read, in no more words than this, “We will try to cancel your subscription and we can’t give you a refund. We don’t know how to refund you.“
“NO!” I replied. “YOU WILL NOT ‘TRY’, YOU WILL ABSOLUTELY FORTHWITH AND WITHOUT HESITATION CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION AND YOU WILL ISSUE A FULL REFUND FOR BOTH BOXES I HAVE NOT RECEIVED.”
The customer service rep wrote back and told me she would “try” to ask the accounts department for a refund. Also, Good News! May boxes were suddenly available and mine had been shipped that very morning! On next day shipping! It would be with me in no time at all!!
NEARLY A WEEK LATER, a miserable box dragged itself up to my front door, and rang the doorbell. “I’m here,” it wheezed. “Happy May Snacks.”
“Dude,” I said, looking down at it. “It’s the 11th June.”
“End me quickly,” the snackbox whimpered.
Flicks and I opened the box to find this month’s mystery snacks came from the good ol’ US of A. There were four bags of crisps this time – all cheese flavoured, apart from the red hot Cheetos, which I immediately handed to Flicks with the proclamation, “For when you need your colitis to flare up.” There were two mini snack-sized chocolate bars and a can of pineapple Fanta that were “novel”, but every other snack was available from the “international foods aisle” in my local big supermarket. Gentle Reader, please understand, I know this is a ridiculous situation, but I felt cheated. If you want to know how underwhelming that box was, I had to look it up on their website to even remember the country. Since I was thoroughly fed up of pineapple by this point, I handed the drink to Flicks, to wash down his red hot Cheetos, and threw the rest of the snacks in the cupboard. At least I liked Pop Tarts.
I had heard nothing from SnackSurprise about my refund, so, towards the end of the month, I logged into their website and checked my subscription. Readers, I was still subscribed.
Only this time, there was an option on the website there hadn’t been before. A “Cancel Subscription” button. Intriguing.
I immediately pressed it, despite suspecting that I would be congratulated on upgrading my subscription to the SUPER DELUXE tier, but no. My subscription was, immediately and without fuss, cancelled. I noted that June boxes had now shipped, but I had not received one, nor had I received my refund.
So I wrote again to SnackSurprise. “I have not yet received my refund for June. Please process this within 48 hours, or I will call my bank and arrange a chargeback.”
Within hours, I had received an email that informed me a refund wasn’t possible as, surprise! They’d just sent out my June box.
A likely bloody story. Anyway, the box arrived, looking distinctly less woeful than its predecessor and the snacks were from New Zealand! How exciting! This box seemed a little light on snacks. At least two items were missing, but I was prepared to take the hit as long as the remaining goodies were worth it.
The drink was a lemon soda – handed to Flicks for his tasting pleasure – and the crisps were bacon and cheese flavoured and green onion. I picked them out of the box, and examined them with interest. Yummy. Next out of the box was something that looked suspiciously like a Mars bar by a different name. There was a peanut chocolate bar. And then, Gentle Readers, as I removed the information leaflet, I found the main snack that was occupying most of the bloody box.
An enormous bag of Pascall Pineapple Lumps.
Fucking. Pineapple. And worst of all, this is pineapple, covered in chocolate.
“Huh,” said Flicks, as he walked into the kitchen to hear my harpy shriek of outrage. “Foreigners are really into pineapple, aren’t they? Who knew? Isn’t that every box now?”
It turns out I am not alone in finding SnackSurprise a little…disappointing. I recently found the Trustpilot review page for SnackSurprise, in which they seem to have other unhappy customers who report similar dissatisfaction. Whilst the company clearly cannot be expected to know that pineapple is not my favourite flavour (!! – and of course there is slight exaggeration for comic effect), the reviews here do seem to share my sense of frustration with the delays and poor customer service.
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