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August 4th, 2017 by


A couple of months ago I subscribed to Loot Crate.

They’re leagues ahead of their competition in the fan Subscription Box game, and recently began shipping to South Africa. In their first five years they’ve delivered over 14 million monthly themed crates loaded with pop-culture entertainment, gaming, sports, and clothing goodies to over 35 territories across the world.

The first crate was delivered after two months, and the second crate arrived hot on its heels a week later. Third crate? Three months later… Still waiting.

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The Problem?

Now, the folks at Loot Crate aren’t to blame. They deliver superior Subscription Boxes with quality collectibles.

The Customer Care team is friendly and helpful over email, constantly updating you with tracking details.

The problem? The tracking stops dead at airport customs for a few weeks and then vanishes altogether into the hopeless abyss of ineptitude that is the Cape Mail Hub.

“We don’t know where your parcel is. We don’t know how to find it, and it could be gone.”

That’s the response I got upon inquiry.

The South African Postal Service is known to be an absolute disgrace, and the customer’s agitation only intensifies when having anything shipped from abroad.

Reports from South African based Loot Crate customers are disheartening. Packages opened at customs and items are missing. Packages damaged, etc.

With all this going on, and with the meteoric rise of South Africa’s nerd / geek / gaming culture evident in expos like FanCon, Icon, rAge, Geekfest and Rush, I’m surprised we haven’t found a local hero to capitalize on this glaring hole in the market.

Dark Carnival seem to be making slow progress. Geek Crate’s website is under permanent construction and Nerd Nab are receiving generally poor reviews.

With that in mind, I took a look at some other South African based Subscription Boxes, free from the paranoia-inducing nightmare that is international shipping.

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Date Factory

Date Factory’s philosophy is that date night for any couple isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. They aim to make date nights as simple and fun as possible, doing all the hard work and planning so that you can kick back, relax and enjoy one another’s company.

Their themed mystery boxes (ranging from African Safari to Raunchy) contain something GOOD, something FOOD and something for the MOOD.  Every box contains a set of instructions and the aim is for couples to reconnect in a creative way.

Price

Monthly subscriptions range from R365 per box, bi-monthly at R375 per month or once-off boxes at R410 per month.

Any Good?

In 2016 Date Factory did over 5300 boxes for the year. You can read some customer testimonials HERE.

The OOH Box

The OOH Box is a monthly subscription that brings you new products to taste. In their Flagship Box you’re guaranteed four bottles of wine and anything ranging from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, spices, confectionary, beer or biltong.

Think of it as a ‘members only’ tasting group; and it’s a great way to find new products. They deliver anywhere within the borders of SA, but as a signature is required upon delivery, not to PO Box or Private Bags. They also have a Little Box containing six items and a Gourmet Box containing four.

Price

Depending on the box you want (Gourmet, Little or the Flagship) prices range from R350 to R700 per month.

Any Good?

The amount of praise OOH Box gets online is silly. People are absolutely raving about them. You can find reviews all over the place by just Googling the name.

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The Book Case

Claiming to be South Africa’s original bookish box, The Book Case is great for lovers of literature. Not technically a Subscription Box yet, customers are free to purchase per month as they see fit, depending on whether they’re interested in the current theme. Each box contains a newly-released novel and 3-5 book-related goodies.

They will soon be launching two children book cases. Each case will contain a highly- anticipated, age appropriate children’s novel and 2-3 unique, useable and developmental items built around the monthly theme that will encourage curiosity, inventiveness and imagination.

Price

A cool R450 per case.

Any Good?

There are no testimonials on their website itself, but a few reviews can be found on customer blogs and YouTube unboxings.

  1. The Book Case Review
  2. Unboxing the ‘Self-Discovery’ Book Case
  3. Ordering My First Book Case
  4. Unboxing ‘Myths and Magic’ Book Case

 

Man Crate

Shipped with a mini pry bar, the Man Crate isn’t for men who are fans of bows and butterflies, pretty paper or unicorns. You have to pry the lid open, in the ultimate test of manliness. Just a man’s iron will, his beard and an awesome crate of goodies.

Themed crates include Beer, Whiskey, Braai, New Dad, Camping, Survival and, erm… The Crate of Grey. Orders placed before midday are dispatched the very same day.

Price

Crates are on the pricey side, ranging from R900 – R1800, but they’re crammed with high quality toys-for-boys in abundance.

Any Good?

You can read some of the glowing customer testimonials HERE.

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Little Black Bag

Rubybox, My Glam Bag, Glossy Box, Glambox – the list of Beauty based Subscription Boxes available to ladies are extensive and exhausting.

With all the mom-blogging available, and a competitive, saturated market, some customers are becoming harder and harder to please. This could be one of the reasons, coupled with the fact that the above-mentioned products have enjoyed quite a bit of reach, that more and more negative reviews have been popping up.

In the end (but I’m a dude so what do I really know) I settled on one which stood out in particular. Hand-curated by a team of designers, Little Black Bag brings you the latest in home décor, beauty, fashion, food and much more. Each monthly themed bag is filled with over five items to the value of over R400.

Price

Subscription packages vary, from R249 per month to the discounted three-month R697 subscription. Delivery is free.

Any Good?

Little Black Bag is no exception to the aforementioned competitors – you will find a catty review or two online, and annoyingly, no testimonials or reviews on their website.

But online search results, as well as similar lists to this one, all have more good to say about them than bad. If you’ve been disappointed by any other Beauty Subscription Box, give Little Black Bag a try.

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