When I first Googled “cologne subscriptions”, I saw three companies running Adwords ads, Scent Box, Scent Bird & Debonair Scent. The first two are well-known companies in the monthly cologne/perfume subscription sphere. But I was unfamiliar with Debonair Scent. They were certainly investing heavily in their search engine marketing, with an average CPC (cost per click) coming in at $7.34 and their bids competitive enough to rank for a relevant phrase.
Trusting that Google’s safety checks would prevent any fraudulent services from advertising, I threw caution to the wind, foregoing any of the usual vetting I would normally perform before doing business with a new company, grabbed my 50% off Debonair Scent promo code courtesy of Fragrantica and signed up on March 4th.
It was a couple of days until my bank account was charged and I was curious if my DS account had been updated to show an ‘in progress’ or better yet, a tracking number. I logged in but no status was available. I must have had more time available or maybe something piqued my interest – perhaps it was my sub-conscious screaming, “you idiot – you didn’t research the company!” When I typed in “Debonair Scent reviews”
I was seeing aggregate ratings below 3 stars and my heart filled with despair
Upon investigation, it turns out all the recent reviews – say from December 2018 until present day, were all negative and all with the same complaint – ‘signed up, charged, never received anything’. Any vestigial traces of hope were now evanescing.
I immediately removed my payment method from their system and planned on contacting my bank to recoup my $7.49 at some point. Never did I attempt to contact Debonair Scent with the majority of the other reviews stating that communication was a one way street to futility.
Weeks went by and I still hadn’t gotten around to that bank call (can you blame me?). No word from Debonair Scent and no changes to my user dashboard. That is until April 8th when I received an email with a (valid) tracking number saying my order had shipped!
Had I just defied the laws of probability or was my order ever in any jeopardy?
If you’re paying attention, a monthly fragrance subscription sent me my order a little over a month from sign up. No issue there, they fulfilled their obligation. I can’t speak to other people’s reports about multiple months with no orders. What I do find poor is there is no communication from DS about the cut off date for that month’s order window. For example, I placed my order the first week of March – I was anticipating receiving a March order. Not an April order – which is where I think some of the confusion lies. It could easily be cleared up if the company placed some disclaimer in their registration flow, just like Olfactif does.
So is Debonair Scent a scam? No. Is Debonair Scent legit? Yes. Would I recommend them? Read on.
I received my parcel in a nondescript, black bubble pack mailer through USPS on April 13th. Opening it reveals a de rigueur, waxy black box with a nice sliding pull tab instead of a flip open top like that of Scent Box and Olfactif. Also included is a card which features the names, descriptions and ratings of your samples, all from unknown (and suspicious) origins. Along with the ubiquitous coupon for their store.
I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed with the presentation, but that could have very well been influenced by the preceding events. However, for a company that markets itself as some luxury, bespoke cologne subscription service, using verbiage like, “curated”, “hand-selected” and “designer”, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. It was all rather standard and I dare say Olfactif is the true luxury fragrance subscription but more on that in their own review.
Regardless of what subscription tier you select, you receive three 3mL* vials of fragrance. All are “hand-selected” for you based on your scent profile; a four question, almost entirely subjective, quiz. At the end of which you are presented with three subscription choices: month to month @ $15 / month, 6 months prepaid @ $14 / month or 12 months prepaid @ $13 / month.
I believe the scent profile to be nothing more than a gimmick.
My box barely resembled any of my selections, other than masculine - they nailed that one.
My box contained the finest colognes available…from your local Walgreens. With Secret Santa favorites like ZIRH, JOOP and Cool Water it was nearly an embarrassment of riches. Though to their credit, Cool Water By Davidoff and especially JOOP for men are two of the most well-liked colognes in their ~$20 price ranges.
Had I done my due-diligence and reviewed the brands they stock in their fragrance store, I would have adjusted my expectations accordingly. They stock very few premium colognes but a rather expansive selection of mid and low range brands.
*The careful observer may have already noticed the discrepancy in the fill level. All photos were taken before any samples were sprayed. The ZIRH vial is considerably lower than the other two. While I have noticed some of the more premium fragrances don’t come quite as full from other cologne subscription services, that is unlikely to be the case with Debonair Scent as ZIRH is arguably the cheapest of the three,
so I’m just chalking that up to poor QC
I almost always caution against drawing conclusions from such limited data sets, so take all of this with a grain of salt but there aren’t enough (read: any) redeeming qualities here for me to reactivate my subscription for more conclusive testing.
Debonair Scent is one of the cheapest cologne subscription services available and one of the few that operates autonomously.
$15 per month isn’t a bad price to pay for three 3mL samples even for low-end colognes.
It’s just that Debonair Scent is suffering from cognitive dissonance, their branding is high end – their product is budget. If you’re “hand-selecting” colognes for someone, you need to leave a lasting impression. The scents can be bad or good, as long as they’re unique. Unfortunately, my only memory of DS will be disappointment.