How Manscaped tried to con me out of £176

At the start of 2022 I needed a new trimmer and after a bit of searching around the internet I found Manscaped who were offering a bundle that caught my eye as it not only contained ‘grooming supplies’ but also a pair of boxers.

I was in need of some new pairs as I put on about two stone ( about 12kg) of weight during the UK’s time in lockdown so I thought the free pair would be a good test to see if it was worth investing an a bit of a wardrobe refresh.

The free pair that came with the bundle were really comfortable as they had longer legs than my existing boxers which helped when I started walking again to lose some weight.

The price of a 3 pack was a little too high (£44) for me to just straight up commit to bulk-buying and there was a ‘new improved 2.0’ version that was offered, so I decided to try a pair of those so I knew I was buying the right pair for me.

I was glad I did as the ‘2.0’ boxers weren’t any better than the ‘1.0’ but at almost twice the price, so I decided shortly after trying them out to commit to the refresh and put a bulk order in for 12 pairs for a total of £176, more than I’ve ever spent on underwear in my life.

A couple of days later I got my parcel but what was inside it was nothing like the initial pair I got with the bundle. While the original pair were built from stretchy micro-modal I received 12 pairs of what I can only describe as cycling shorts, made out of a lycra like material and coming up a lot smaller compared to the original pair.

A side by side comparison of the front, inner waistband and back of the boxers from my first order and those received in the bulk order
The original pair I got in the bundle on the left compared to the items I received on the right. The material and build is completely different.
three promotional images showing the boxers on the Manscaped website.
The promotional imagery used by Manscaped. Note the waistband logo and back patch match the original pair but the structure of the lower image matches what I received (be it with less obvious stitching)

I was fuming. Not only was £176 a lot of money to drop on underwear but because underwear is one of the items that’s hard to return (as the seller can claim you wore them) I knew that I faced potentially never getting that money back. Luckily as I paid via PayPal (not a conscious decision mind, I just happened to use it) I at least had a second avenue to seek a refund.

I opened a return on the manscaped site, explaining how I didn’t appreciate the bait and switch tactic and was told to send the items back so the return could be processed, which would take around a month in total before I knew if a refund was happening. I did as instructed and made sure to send the return using tracked postage so I’d have the date from which to start my month countdown from.

I’m glad I had that tracking information as after a month of waiting and getting no communications from Manscaped (their website is ludicrously shite for tracking orders, all my orders, which I’ve recieved are still in a ‘processing’ state) I opened a support ticket asking for an update on what was happening, only to be told they’d still not received the return.

I called them out on their bluff, sending a link to the Royal Mail website showing that someone from ‘Seko’ (the name of the company that actually ships your stuff) signed for the package a month ago and within two minutes I had another email saying that the refund was going to be issued.

Fortunately that refund actually happened so I didn’t end up out of pocket but this has obviously left me with a deep sense of mistrust in Manscaped and I will never be purchasing anything from them again.

Tin-foil hat time

The cycnic in me thinks that Manscaped has two business models:

  • A ‘lifestyle’ subscription model — This is clearly the primary model as every part of their order process (from the pricing to the messaging you see as you complete an order) tries to get you to sign up to get a couple of items sent to you every couple of months. When I did my first order I apparently signed up for this and forgot about it and I think Manscaped is banking on this, offering lower prices on goods people want to buy and then keeping a leeching subscription in place that people forget to cancel
  • A bait and switch model — This is a secondary model which takes advantage of those looking to pay higher prices in order to not commit to the subscription. A bulk order like the one I placed means that Manscaped aren’t going be seeing me again for years, so instead of sending the correct item they send the lesser quality one, knowing that it’s likely they’ll be able to use the return process to keep hold of both the product and the money (either by denying the refund or by letting PayPal or the credit card company take the hit on re-imbursing the customer)

The bulk of orders they receive will be those buying one of the bundles which will set up that first business model, giving Manscaped recurring revenue for as long as the customer forgets to cancel the subscription.

The level of people who would be bulk purchasing without a subscription would likely be low enough to keep Trading Standards and PayPal off their back and posts like mine will just be outweighed by all the marketing they do to promote their subscription based model.

The pricing difference between the 2.0 and 1.0 boxers probably helps funnel bulk buyers into purchasing the cheaper 1.0 option too so those customers can be ripped off and those bulk buying the 2.0 option can at least generate enough revenue to be safe.

Slightly cheaper, better boxers than Manscaped’s

I am by no means a boxer officianado (although this experience has somewhat forced my hand) but if you’re looking for a similar pair to the free ones you get in the Performance Package bundle then I’d recommend the Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch Classic Fit Boxer Briefs (make sure it’s Briefs and not Trunk as they have the longer legs).

A three pack is £42 (£2 cheaper) and you can buy them in stores so you can be sure what you’re purchasing is the real thing. A word of warning though, if you’re buying them off Amazon make sure you get the correct style as they don’t show the box on there and they often sell the Trunk style at a cheaper price.

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Colin Wren

Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.