July 15, 2015

Sephora Extraordinary Rewards Review

If you're a Sephora Beauty Insider then you're familiar with the points you earn when you shop and the mini product perks that you can redeem your points for. Generally these range from 100, 250, or 500 point rewards that are typically things like mini mascaras or perfumes. Once a year, however, Sephora releases a very limited quantity of 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 extraordinary point rewards. These rewards included things like full-size perfume and makeup, books, designer handbags, and even trips. Though I didn't get the reward I wanted (the Elizabeth and James handbag), I was fortunate enough to score two of the 1000 point perks:

Anastasia Beverly Hills 1000 Point Perk
Precision Slant Tweezers ($36 CDN value)
Brush #12 ($23 value)
Clear Brow Gel ($29 value)
Pro Pencil in Base 1 ($23 value)
Brow Duality Pencil in Matte Shell/Lace Shimmer ($30 value)
Sephora Gift card for brow shaping ($35 value)
Total Perk Value: $176 CDN

Laura Mercier 1000 Point Perk
Signed Eye Art Artist's Palette ($70 value)
Lip Glace mini in Baby Doll ($19 value)
Flawless Skin Face Polish mini ($11.50 value)
Small makeup bag
Total Perk Value: $100.50 CDN

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
First and foremost, I have to say I love the idea of this yearly event. For point hoarders, like myself, they are a great way to use up your points on things you actually want (I could seriously go a lifetime without getting another mini mascara sample). Although truthfully I probably won't use most of the products in the perks I received, they are still much, much better than the standard perks offered year-round.

The rewards offered this year included:
  • Stella McCartney handbag and garden party event/trip (5000 points)
  • Elizabeth and James Nirvana White & Black perfume set, handbag, and sunglasses (5000 points)
  • Urban Decay Naked Vault set: Naked 1, 2, 3 palettes, 3 Naked Flushed palettes, 3 lip glosses, 3 double-ended eyeliners (2000 points)
  • Drybar blow dryer and hair products (2000 points)
  • Bobbi Brown beauty book, lipsticks, shimmer brick, mascara, eyeliner, skin products (2000 points)
  • Josie Maran products and cookbook (1000 points)
  • Atelier Cologne fragrance set (1000 points)
  • Caudelie mini products and a chapter from an upcoming book on skincare (1000 points)
  • Kat Von D contour palette, brush, eyeliner, and lipstick (1000 points)
  • Stella McCartney perfume and tank top (1000 points)
There certainly were some appealing perks! I wanted the Elizabeth and James set and Bobbi Brown as well but there were extremely limited quantities. Sadly, these awesome rewards were overshadowed by the very unfortunate way this promotion was handled by Sephora. The vast majority of Beauty Insiders did not even know it existed. I remembered the general time last year the event happened and paid close attention to Sephora's Beauty Talk forum to find out more details. Some people, including myself, received emails that told them the extraordinary rewards would be coming soon and to keep an eye on their email for further details. No further emails regarding the rewards were ever sent.

I managed to find out the day they were being released, but not the time. The VIB Rouge hotline had said they would be launched at the start of their business day, so depending on the time zone you were in, this should have been somewhere between 8am-12pm. What time did the rewards go live? Between 3:30am-4am EST. I happened to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and looked at my phone, only to see half the rewards were already sold out. Quickly I added three to my cart (the two I received and the Bobbi Brown), only to be confronted with the next set of problems with the promotion.

Although all the rewards explicitly stated they were available to be redeemed and shipped to both Canada and the U.S., the website would not allow shipment to Canada. Not wanting to miss out entirely, and given that at that hour there was no one in their offices I could phone for help, I scrambled and had them sent to my parents place in Florida. While this ending out working alright for me (still had to pay to then have them shipped from Florida to Canada), this clearly wasn't a viable option for most Canadians who were then left without. During the shipping confusion, the Bobbi Brown perk sold out on me. By the time I woke up again in the morning, all the rewards were sold out, and a huge social media backlash had begun.

People were MAD! And rightfully so, they were promised at least the chance to access these "once in a lifetime" extraordinary rewards, and most people awoke at a normal morning hour to find them already completely gone, if they had even heard about them in the first place. I called the VIB Rouge hotline once their offices were open in the morning to try and get the shipping address changed, but the order had already been released to UPS or whichever provider they were using. The customer service representative told me that they had no idea what happened, that the rewards were not supposed to be released at that time, that they were supposed to ship to Canada, etc. Which I could understand...if the exact same scenario hadn't played out almost identically with the extraordinary rewards last year. Obviously the rep answering phones had nothing to do with it, and I genuinely felt bad for her and the others working that week because undoubtedly they were being bombarded by angry complaints. But it's like blaming a waitress for your steak being over-cooked. They may be the front line, but they didn't cook it. No official statement was ever released and as far as I can tell they deleted all comments and posts regarding the rewards debacle from their Facebook page.

Overall I'm very happy this is something Sephora offers, but they desperately need to iron out the kinks in their promotions. It might seem entitled to be complaining about not being able to get these 'free' perks, but every point is a dollar spent. So people redeeming these extraordinary rewards are loyal Sephora customers who have spent thousands of dollars patronizing them. To alienate this segment of your customer base is just plain bad business. Despite the negativity, the people who did receive these rewards were generally happy with them and the disappointment seems to have subsided. After all, it's only makeup.

What extraordinary rewards would you like to see offered next year?


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