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Glymm: The ugly side of the beauty box business

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The lucrative business of beauty boxes appears to have hit an ugly bump as Montreal-based Glymm abruptly closed its virtual shop last Friday, leaving members wondering what happened to their money.

Glymm members like Ottawa-based blogger Kalyn Lord, 27, said she’s not shocked after months of delayed shipments, subpar sample bags and shoddy customer service.

“They asked customers to be patient on Facebook and promised an email newsletter with updated shipping schedules, and at the end of the day, that’s all we received from Glymm—empty promises,” Lord said. She’s owed two months worth of products.

Members were told Glymm shut down via a short email on April 19. Simultaneously, its website, Facebook and Twitter pages vanished.

Paul Fournier, one of the founders of Glymm and a sales and e-commerce director at Montreal-based fashion brand Mackage (according to LinkedIn), has not returned phone calls. Metro was told by a receptionist that he’s on vacation.

The beauty box industry has grown since LuxeBox, Glymm and TopBox launched in 2011, with thousands of Canadian women paying to have attractive packages filled with sample-sized beauty products mailed to their door each month.

Mir Cheung, 24, of Toronto and a loyal Glymm member since 2011, said she is owed $135 from her annual subscription, plus more in unclaimed gift cards and bonus points.

“This closure leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” she said.

Ken Whitehurst, executive director at the Consumers Council of Canada, an independent non-profit, said the chances of a refund are slim.

“Any business you make contact with, whether through the Internet or not, and they go bust, you’ve got the risk you won’t get the service that you paid for,” Whitehurst said.

He recommends filing a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

“That may not get you your money back, but it will get you the satisfaction of seeing them pursued,” Whitehurst said.

Brian Lau, CEO of Toronto-based TopBox, said he believes his competitor followed an unsustainable business model. Their generous points system translated into dollar amounts, and they offered longer-term pre-paid commitments.

Lau said TopBox’s employs a commitment-free subscription model. “We felt that in order to maintain trust with our members … that we worked on a month-to-month model.”

He added he’s not surprised by Glymm’s demise, but is confident the negative news about one beauty box business will not affect others.

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