Birchbox Says It Will No Longer Share Gift Recipients’ Addresses

Days after Consumerist highlighted privacy concerns related to Birchbox sharing the personal addresses of gift recipients with the person who sent the gift, the company says it has changed its practices.

A rep for Birchbox confirmed to Consumerist today that it had “taken immediate action” to stop sharing gift recipients’ addresses and tracking information with the gift giver.

“We take our customers’ privacy very seriously and we understand the concern around this issue,” the rep said. “It is always our intention to provide the best customer experience possible, but sending gift recipients’ personal details to the gift giver was an oversight and we sincerely apologize.”

The Concerns

Last week, Consumerist shared the story of Mike, who had purchased a three-month gift subscription to Birchbox for a friend, using only her email.

Through this system, the giftee receives an email notifying them that someone has sent them a subscription gift. They can then redeem this gift for the boxes by providing their address and other personal information.

When his friend redeemed the gift and the first box of samples was shipped, Birchbox also sent Mike an email containing his friend’s full mailing address — information he’d never given the company.

“Obviously, this has some privacy concerns and a potential to easily be exploited,” he says.

Consumerist tested Birchbox’s system by purchasing our own gift subscription. We also received the same email with our gift recipient’s full address.

A Different Take

Before publishing our first story, Consumerist contacted Birchbox through its media email line.

We received a response from the company explaining that Birchbox includes the gift recipient’s shipping information in the email “to let the gifter know that their recipient has successfully set up and claimed their new Birchbox Gift.”

The Birchbox response also said that the gift-giver could then, if they wanted to, use that address to send a gift or gift certificate directly to the friend. The Birchbox staffer who contacted Consumerist told us at the time that there was currently no way for a customer to opt out of having this information shared with a gift-giver.

Even though Consumerist address our request to the Birchbox press line and labeled it as a “media inquiry,” the company now claims that the person who responded to our request was a member of its customer service staff.