E-juice subscription service ZampleBox has seen its share of criticism since its inception in 2013. From a lack of variety, to claims of poor juice quality and issues with shipping, it seems like the Seattle area-based company has been through it all. But you can’t deny the allure of such a service: a monthly shipment of juices to your door with the potential to discover new flavors and companies you’ve never heard of; all at a discount.
With all the things I’ve heard — both good and bad — I was glad to get the opportunity to try out Zamplebox for myself. Is this criticism warranted? Or as with many things, is it a case of customers being overly critical? In either case, I wanted to give a fair and balanced Zamplebox review.
The concept is pretty simple. You choose the number of bottles you’d like — either 3, 6, or 11 — and the nicotine level, available in 0, 3, 6, 12, or 18mg at signup. The three bottle box runs $19.99 per month, the six bottle box $24.99, and the 11 bottle box $44.99 monthly. I chose the six bottle option to get a good idea of what the service has to offer, and hopefully a nice variety of juice.
Zamplebox says its customers save anywhere from 40-60% off of normal retail pricing, with the bigger boxes being a better value. There’s no contract, and you can skip a monthly shipment or cancel at any time.
Getting Started – The Sign Up Process
Getting started with Zamplebox is relatively easy, but be prepared to spend a little time during the signup process to ensure a positive experience. You’ll need to tell Zamplebox about your experience with vaping (although I’m not sure how this affects the box itself), along with overall juice preferences grouped into four categories: fruit, dessert, menthol and tobacco flavors. I’m good with any flavors except for menthol, so I left all the options checked except for that.
The next two steps are probably the most important, and I’m going to safely assume that most of the naysayers aren’t spending enough time on these two sections. The first is on juices to avoid. For me, it’s anything with pineapple or coconut, so I put those flavors down. There are dozens of other options, so take some time to think about what you don’t want to see in your box.
After that you’re asked about the flavors you actually like. Again, detail is king! The more you provide Zamplebox in either of these sections, the better idea the packers will have when they’re putting together your box. Spending 10-15 minutes here and being as specific as possible is a vital part of the process.
In the next step, you’ll need to choose what level of nicotine you want, and on the final screen, the size of the box (if you didn’t select that at the beginning). From there it’s just like ordering anything else online, so have your credit card ready-to-go. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes or so to complete the signup process if you spend a little time detailing your preferences.
Receiving Our First Zample Box
Zamplebox ships via First Class Mail, which is great, but I had a bit of a strange experience to start out. I ordered late on Friday, so the box didn’t ship until Monday, and when I received the shipment it was marked as an international shipment! I’m not sure if this was a mistake by the shipping folks or if it caused a delay, but it was a little bit disconcerting. Although my box had been mislabeled, luckily it didn’t disappear completely never to be seen again.
In total, I received the box in about four days — somewhat impressive for USPS First Class Mail completely across the country. The packaging is nice, and certainly should allay any fears of breakage during shipment. The box is sturdy cardboard, with a foam insert inside where the juices sit. Zamplebox also includes a removable foam insert that sits on top for additional protection.
Opening the box, there are two stickers, an “official juice rating card” (AKA: marketing ploy to promote Zamplebox on Instagram), and a personalized tasting menu like you’d find at a local vape shop. I found the tasting menu especially helpful in getting a quick idea of what the folks at Zamplebox thought I’d enjoy.
Lo and behold, that time I spent listing what I liked and didn’t like during signup seems to have paid off. Out of the six bottles, four of them were really good, and only one wasn’t what I expected. I’d say it was a pretty good first try.
A Surprisingly Good Experience
My initial Zamplebox review included six juices from five different companies: Churros and Ice Cream from OneUp Vapor; Envy and Fruition from Seduce Juice; Page Six from Saveur Vape’s Blueprint line; Railroad from Cali Steam; and Red Line from Victory Liquid. Only Seduce Juice’s products came in a 10ml plastic bottles, all others were 15ml glass. None of the juices included any flavors from my initial “avoid” list, which was good. Let’s look at each juice individually.
- Churros & Ice Cream by One Up Vapor (4/5): Described as “baked cinnamon churros and ice cream,” the taste is exactly that. The flavor wasn’t overpowering, although at times it felt a bit weak. Solid vape production, and definitely a dessert vape that I won’t get sick of easily.
- Envy by Seduce Juice (3/5): The tasting menu says Seduce’s Envy is a mix of “juicy boysenberries and papaya.” Unfortunately for me, I found myself unimpressed by the flavor. Not that I hate it, but compared to the ones, Envy just didn’t cut it for me. After a half a tank in my Subtank, I was tired of it and ready to switch. It could be the guava that was a bit overpowering: I actually added guava to my “avoid” list after I tried this juice.
- Fruition by Seduce Juice (4.5/5): Like the description says, “Froot Loops cereal and milk.” If I had to nitpick though, I didn’t notice much of the milk come through – definitely more fruit. As with all of the juices that I tested, I filled up my Subtank halfway to start out, but I ended up refilling on Fruition because I enjoyed it so much. I could see this becoming an ADV.
- Page Six by Saveur Vape (5/5): The biggest surprise of this box, and one that I’ll actually reorder again! Described as “raspberry citrus green tea,” the smell is wonderful, and the taste is too. It was like drinking a raspberry tea with a hint of lemon. The vapor production was the most solid of any of the juices (even at 50/50 PG/VG) and I actually found myself not wanting to move on to the next flavor. Hats off to Saveur Vape on this one, it’s a winner.
- Railroad by Cali Steam (2.5/5): I knew from the get-go that I was not going to like this juice. With almost two years of being tobacco and smoke-free, I have zero need for a strong tobacco vape to keep me away from analogs. They call it a “medium bodied tobacco,” but the tobacco flavor was quite strong, with a natural, earthy quality to it. If you’re a fan of tobacco or just getting off cigarettes, this might be your speed, but it wasn’t for me.
- Red Line by Victory Liquid (4.5/5): Despite my negative review of Railroad due to the overpowering tobacco flavor, it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a good, well-balanced tobacco blend. Red Line is definitely one of those. With solid vape production, the nutty vanilla flavor balances out the tobacco really well, and neither flavor overpowers the other.
Overall, Zamplebox did a good job of finding flavors that I’d enjoy. The only big miss was Railroad, and I really wish they would offer an option for me to say NO to full tobacco flavors (or at least a personal comments section that I could express my more specific preferences). Bottom line: I am sticking with Zamplebox and will see how the future months play out.
Some Final Thoughts on Zamplebox
Based on my first experience with Zamplebox, I’m at a loss as to why the company gets such a bad rap in the community. I put in a minimal amount of effort to let them my preferences, and for the most part they did extraordinarily well. Yes, the shipping hiccup was odd, and the customization options could use a little fine tuning, but it was certainly a good value overall. My box’s “retail value” was $66, so at $24.99 it equated to 62% savings for 80ml of e-juice; most of which I’ll use.
I did find a few negatives, though. At times, Zamplebox does feel overly commercial. The company sends out way too many emails: over the course of two weeks I must have received a half a dozen, if not more. It is kind of annoying, and a bit unnecessary. Once you have somebody hooked, there’s no need to continue to promote your brand on a near daily basis. Of course, it’s really easy to unsubscribe from their newsletter. Also, the “Zamplefam” community feels a bit corny if you ask me. I won’t be participating with that, and you don’t have to either.
This is where I think many people in the online vaping community — and especially those on Reddit — get rubbed the wrong way by Zamplebox. The overt marketing tactics of the company are definitely aggressive and in your face, and many vapers take offense to anything with a big corporate feel.
In any case, based on my first experience I would certainly recommend Zamplebox to anyone looking for a convenient way to get exposed to new e-juice brands and flavors. The pricing is excellent, and more than fair in my opinion.
Could things be improved? Sure, but for the convenience factor alone, Zamplebox is definitely worth a shot. In my opinion, much of the Zamplebox criticism is highly overblown; and most of the complaints could probably be avoided if detailed “likes” and “dislikes” were provided during the signup process. We’ll see how I feel after I complete my second Zamplebox review…