To the casual visitor, JewelMint.com seems like a conventional jewelry sales website with one difference. They only display jewelry pieces to you that they believe match the preferences you expressed when you first logged into their site. Every month they create a special list of items chosen just for you. And all jewelry items are only $29.99.
Here is how their system works:
They also have a minute-long video on their “how it works” page that says in relevant part:
“Each month, you’ll receive personalized selections to choose from. But if you don’t find that perfect piece, you can skip that month with no charge.”
To start shopping on this site, you sign up in order to get a customized selection of jewelry items that hopefully matches your taste.
Once signed up, you browse through the jewelry items as you would on any other site, and when you find something you like, you can add it to your cart.
When it comes time to purchase an item you want, the checkout screen is very standard — you fill in your address, credit card, etc.
In tiny print below the “purchase” button is something unusual, however.
Huh? What do they mean you’ll receive a credit for $29.99 each month. Are they giving you money? And what’s this about visiting the website before the 5th of the month business to cancel? Cancel what? If I don’t want to buy, I just don’t buy, no?
The truth is, this is a book of the month club of sorts for jewelry items. And you know how book clubs work: if you don’t want the book, you tell them you don’t want it, otherwise it is automatically shipped and billed to you.
In this case, they are not going to ship you anything automatically, but rather charge your credit card $29.99, whether or not you buy anything that month. If you don’t buy that month, the $29.99 you paid can be used toward a future purchase. And you only have five days to opt-out of being billed for that month.
How do you learn about this foolishness? It is buried in their “terms of service“:
Billing and Payments
Once you have provided your shipping and payment information and successfully made your first purchase, you are a Preferred Member. As a Preferred Member, you will be enrolled for free in our recurring membership program, subject to the following Terms:
•We hope you’ll find something you love when you visit your new showroom at the beginning of each month. If, however, within the first 5 days of the month, you have not yet purchased an item, you may choose to skip the month free of charge from your Account Settings page or by calling Customer Care. If you skip the month, your credit or debit card will not be charged for that month. If you do not notify us that you’d like to skip the month by the fifth day of the month, your credit or debit card will be charged the monthly membership rate and you will earn one (1) credit in your account to enjoy on a future purchase. . [Color added for emphasis.] Please refer to the FAQ’s for your membership rate.
•Credits resulting from the monthly charge are eligible for a refund up to 30 days past the billing date, at the sole discretion of BeachMint. After this period, credits can not be exchanged for any other form of currency and have no cash value.
•Unless otherwise prohibited by law, credits are valid for up to one (1) year after the date of issue. You can accumulate up to five (5) credits through the auto-charge function. Additional credits may be purchased through other functions, features, and offers on the Site.
Since most people probably would not normally find this provision, this company is likely to receive many complaints about their credit card being charged for something never ordered.
If a company has decided to run a jewelry of the month club… just say that, no? Why hide this critical information from the customer? Contrast JewelMint’s sneaky approach with DollarShaveClub.com that straightforwardly tells customers they will get a fresh package of shaving blades every month (and is getting a ton of favorable publicity).