Is Sephora Really Banning Customers Who Spend Thousands Every Year?

It was news to us that beauty superstore Sephora recently debuted a new tier to its customer loyalty program. VIB Rouge is for customers who spend at least $1,000 per year at Sephora stores, because some people manage to do that. Some customers report that they were banned from online purchases for placing too many orders. This seems like a bad idea. 

VIB Rouge offers perks like free shipping on all orders, piles of samples, fancy gifts for your birthday and whenever Sephora feels like it, and exclusive events. Sounds very nice…until some of these big-spending customers reported that Sephora cut them off.

Over on the forums at Makeuptalk.com, one poster explained what happened to her:

Long story short, I just found out last week that I can NOT place any orders online at Sephora.com. I kept getting the message that my payment could not be confirmed and my order has been cancelled.

I called and talked with THREE CS reps in two days and they were NO HELP at all. They kept telling me to read the terms of use.

Those terms of use are pretty clear: membership in the program and your right to place online Sephora orders are pretty much at the whim of Sephora. As a private business with many competitors in the marketplace, that’s their right. Here’s what the loyalty program’s terms of use say:

Sephora may, in its sole discretion, alter, limit, or modify the VIB Rouge program rules, regulations, benefits, eligibility for membership, or any other feature of the VIB Rouge program or may terminate the VIB Rouge program at any time in its sole discretion, without prior notice.

What kinds of things will get you kicked out of the program? Buying “too many” of a single item, though what constitutes “too many” is rather fuzzy. Is it ten? Three? We wrote about this problem in the past when discussing Macy’s and a reader accused of buying too many lip glosses for any one woman.

How do you place four orders in one day, anyway? One Sephora fan explained that she placed an order for herself, a gift order for her sister, and then another order when a sale item restocked. “Finally, after lying in bed for a few minutes, I suddenly thought of my friend’s daughter who’s a nail polish fanatic and would certainly LOVE some polish for xmas,” she explained. “Hence, the fourth order.”

We contacted Sephora to ask that their policies are and what’s going on here, and haven’t received a response yet. We’ll post an update if they get back to us.

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    This is insane. I wonder if they think these people might be reselling their products? Or do they have some kind of idiotic marketing/pricing scheme to rival the airlines, where they think people can “game” their game by making large purchases or multiple small purchases at certain price points? (Probably the main reason that airline tickets are usually nontransferrable, to reinforce their byzantine pricing.)

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      A friend (and a Consumerist reader, but did not make the beta) who knows this industry said:

      They are trying to prevent what the beauty industry calls diversion. Fancy beauty companies don’t want to their stuff to wind up on the shelves of Kroger and Walmart. They don’t sell directly to these companies, but these companies are still able to get diverted products. There’s a whole beauty underworld of people who buy large quantities from distributors (like the one I worked at) and then sell them to a third party, who distributes them to stores. Brands like Redden and Matrix, for example, get PISSED when their stuff winds up on the shelves of supermarkets and big box stores, and they try to limit quantities sold because that’s often the only flag for diversion.

    • CzarChasm says:

      They could also have suspected fraud if she was having items shopped to different addresses using the same card number. She did order for herself twice, a friend once, and a friend’s daughter.

  2. CommonC3nts says:

    I dont get it??? Do they not want to sell product and make money??

    • C0Y0TY says:

      They want to sell product and make money from the glamorous people, not the ones they discount who pay discount. They don’t want “them” cheapening the brand.

      • robinm says:

        I don’t think that’s true. I place quite a few orders (way more than I should) and I never order without a coupon. There has to be another explanation here.

        They also have a stellar return policy (90 days, can return even if you used almost all of the product) and great customer service. They give you samples of product in the store and you can sometimes get free makeovers. They are anything but cheap, honestly.