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julepwandIt appears Julep needs to polish up its customer service — at least according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The non-profit business watchdog recently issued Julep an “F” rating over the Seattle beauty startup’s inability to respond to customer inquires. The BBB has received 172 complaints from Julep customers, with 118 of those unresolved or unanswered.

The main problem revolves around Julep’s Maven subscription program, which sends a monthly cosmetics box to members who pay a fee. According to the BBB, some customers seem to be having trouble canceling their membership.

The issues have become such a concern that the BBB published a press release last week.

Jane Park was named CEO of the Year at the 2014 GeekWire Awards. Photo by Eric Tra.
Jane Park was named CEO of the Year at the 2014 GeekWire Awards. Photo by Eric Tra.

“Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has identified a pattern of complaints from the cosmetic retailer’s consumers, who claim Julep is unresponsive to phone calls, emails and Facebook messages,” noted the press release. “Consumers also allege after following cancellation instructions, the company continues to charge them.”

One customer who spoke with KOMO said she reached out multiple times on email and via phone to cancel her Maven subscription, but never got a response. Finally, Julep followed up on a Facebook message.

The BBB notified Julep on Aug. 19 of the complaint pattern, but its website notes that the company has not responded to its request to “address the pattern.”

Julep CEO Jane Park, who was named CEO of the Year at the 2014 GeekWire Awards, told KOMO that the complaints have been addressed. Park added that she never knew about the BBB issues until last week and explained how the company wasn’t prepared for an influx of orders coming through in July.

“We were not prepared for the customer service calls and questions that came out of all of the orders,” Park told KOMO.

Julep has had a busy 2014. The eight-year-old startup, which raised $30 million this year from marquee investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Maveron, and Madrona, launched a new nail polishing tool called the Plié Wand this past January and began allow Maven members to customize their monthly boxes in May.

In July, the company hired former Blue Nile VP of Operations Dwight Gaston to be its chief delivery officer and oversee operations, customer service, fulfillment and product development.

We’ve reached out to Julep and will update this story when we hear back.

Update, 11:50 a.m.

Here’s a statement from Gaston, who, as we mentioned, was brought on in July after more than a decade with Blue Nile. Gaston references the summer surge that we noted, as well as a shipping error, for why customer service suffered in the past several months.

“Julep has been in business in Seattle more than seven years and has a large, loyal customer base. We experienced a surge in demand this summer due to the popularity of several new products. At the same time, new policies from one of our shipping partners caused a delay in some deliveries. These issues impacted our customer service.

Recently, we’ve taken steps to ensure customers have a positive experience as the company grows. I was recently hired as Chief Delivery Officer and am committed to improving logistics and shipping for the long term. We’ve also doubled the size of our customer service team, adding weekend and extended hours to our call center, and hired a seasoned senior director of customer service.”

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