Ben Todd | Jun 2, 2017 | 0
Blue Apron Review: Good Eats or Bad Meats?
The Blue Apron Company is a food delivery service. They provide you with the ingredients you need to make a home cooked meal. Blue Apron has been around since 2012, which is just on the verge of when food delivery services such as Blue Apron became popular. The biggest disadvantage of these services is that they are expensive, but the biggest advantage is that you may prepare a home cooked meal without having to buy the ingredients yourself, and it reduces waste because you are given exactly what you need for the meal and no more (which means no cupboards full of half-used spices).
Let’s Start With The Bitter Before Discussing The Sweet
There are plenty of online articles that review Blue Apron, but you may have noticed many of them claiming to be unbiased and/or honest. Why would so many online articles need to claim they were being unbiased, when they do not feel the need to mention it when they review other services? The reason is due to the behavior of the Blue Apron Company itself.
Blue Apron has been around since August 2012, and over the years, they have accrued many online reviews on review websites (such as Yelp) for fresh ingredients, prompt service, and so forth. They have also had a great many negative reviews because of their marketing tactics and customer support services.
Where this wouldn’t usually influence professional reviewers, it is a fact that Blue Apron uses very expensive reputation management companies to remove negative and neutral reviews about their company from online forums and review websites. As a side effect, companies such as Yelp will pull positive reviews when they are forced to remove negative ones in order to remain balanced.
Many professional reviewers claim their reviews are balanced, honest and unbiased because Blue Apron’s reputation for sleazy marketing and using PR/reputation management companies is well known by the professional circle, so it is in a professional reviewer’s interest to point out that the review has not been influenced by Blue Apron.
Does any of this mean you should dismiss Blue Apron outright? No it doesn’t. This article discusses their good and bad points, including their sleazy marketing, which this article will help you avoid.
Cook And Eat Meals You Wouldn’t Normally Eat
One of the great benefits of Blue Apron is that you find you’re eating Middle Eastern, Japanese, American, British and Mexican food where you may not usually eat it. Each meal comes with a card that gives you the recipe. Some food-delivery services offer great ingredients, but offer poor quality instructions–but Blue Apron is not one of those companies. The recipes are easy to follow, and they explain how to prepare food at an almost gourmet level.
[+] Eat food types and meals that you wouldn’t normally try
[+] The recipe cards offer great preparation instructions
[+] Brilliant ingredients with easy-to-follow recipe instructions
Not So Hot For Carb-Conscious Buyers
Almost all the meals have carbohydrate/starch-heavy ingredients in them. If you are watching your carbs, then you may not appreciate what Blue Apron has to offer. The rude customer service will tell you to eat around the rice or bread, but you are still paying for the carbs, and waste is never desirable. You may either try another food-service company, or eat the carbs and do a little extra exercise. The food is rarely full of fat, so it is not as if you are killing Santa by eating the potatoes or noodles they send you.
[–] Most of the meals have a carbohydrate-heavy component
[–] You will have to try another service if you are carb conscious
[+] The food is rarely fat-heavy, so maybe you can forgive the carbs?
Are The Meal Plans Expensive?
Compared to food shopping and buying your own ingredients, the company is very expensive. It is about the same as ordering a takeaway, and it is far less expensive than going to a restaurant.
At the time of writing, there are numerous meal plans, and the most basic plan offers meals for two people that are delivered three times per week. The cost for the basic plan is roughly the same price as ordering a 14-inch cheese pizza, a soda, and delivery charge in a medium-sized town.
The meals are for two people, but many people find home cooked meals very filling, and some are able to turn the two-person meals into four-person feasts. Save the leftovers for the next day, or freeze them, and suddenly your price per meal is halved.
[+] Less expensive than going out to a restaurant
[–] Much more expensive than buying the ingredients yourself
[+] Meals for two may be stretched into four servings
Do They Allow The Old Switcharoo?
You are given a limited option for what you may eat when you buy a meal plan. Let’s say you opt for the basic plan where you receive three deliveries per week. They offer three suggestions, but if you do not like one or more of them, then they offer you three other suggestions. You have the choice of three set meals, or an alternative three. You cannot swap one for one. This means that if one set of three contains a curry dish, and the alternative three obtain a curry dish, then you will be eating curry. You couldn’t swap the curry in one set of three for the salad in another.
There is also some question as to if their meat and/or seafood is of a poor quality. The truth is that it is not, but the way it is packaged causes issues that appear “quality” related. For example, when beef is vacuum packed, the meat stays very fresh, but the chemical reactions inside create a nasty smell. If you rinse the beef and leave it out for a while, then it returns to its former glory. However, some people smell the odor, especially when opening the seafood parcels, and think the meat is of a poor quality.
[–] The food choices are not as varied as they could be
[–] You cannot switch one meal for another
[+] The meat is not of a poor quality, simply rinse the meat and let it sit
Beware The Funny Confusion
Some cities have very few online reviews from regular (non-professional) reviewers because of the aggressive manner in which Blue Apron manages its reputation. Usually, reviews (good and bad) are pulled from websites because Blue Apron’s reputation managers threaten legal action, or threaten to report the website(s) to Google.
One of the funnier side effects of this is that some people place reviews for the Blue Apron food delivery service on reviews for unrelated companies. There are many cafes and restaurants called Blue Apron, and there are even butchery companies, tiling companies and hardware companies too. It is sometimes funny to see people complain about funny tasting products on a review website for a company that sells car tires.
In a related story, if you post a negative review for a company and then realize you picked the wrong company, Yelp will not help you remove the review. Yelp staff have said (more than once) that they do not care if you post negative reviews about the wrong company.
[–] It may be difficult to find user-submitted reviews for Blue Apron
[//] You may find reviews for Blue Apron where they shouldn’t be
[//] Yelp won’t help you remove negative reviews if you ask
Do Blue Apron Send Too Much Packaging?
The answer is that they do. They over pack their products to lower the chances of different ingredients being damaged during transit, which includes protection from wet and cold weather to a certain degree.
Despite not being a weak-minded leftist (liberals rule, hard leftists have poor analytical skills), it really grinds my gears when people damage the environment, yet I do feel I have to jump to the defense of Blue Apron. Their earlier negative reviews were about damage during transit. They have fixed this with more packaging because they are trying to manage their reputation in a world where new competitors spring up every day.
Is there too much packaging? Yes there is, but it isn’t as bad as many online reviewers claim. The company could learn from a few of its eco-friendly competitors, such as sending eggs in strong biodegradable boxes rather than in around-forever plastic, but in some cases there is simply no alternative to their current method. For example, the way they pack basil helps stop it turning into a droopy green slither, and if you only need a few milliliters of vinegar, then it still needs to be packed in a strong bottle to withstand the pressure from other items in the box.
If you feel that the packaging issue is a big one, then avoid Blue Apron because most of their packaging may not be recycled, and there is more they could do to lower their packaging amounts and lower their impact on the environment.
[–] They send too much packaging
[+] Your items will all survive transit very well
[+] Some packaging options have no green alternatives
Sleazy Marketing Tactics Employed By Blue Apron
Their sleazy marketing and poor quality customer service are two of the biggest reasons why people complain about Blue Apron. The Blue Apron meals are often very good, their ingredients are fresh, and their deliveries arrive on time. However, there are a few marketing tricks you should watch out for.
They claim there is no commitment on their adverts, but there is. You cannot try a meal and then give up; you have to buy at least a week’s worth of meals, which means at least three deliveries, where each delivery has portions for two people. The way to avoid this is simply to expect it and not believe what Blue Apron’s marketing says.
They claim that you may cancel at any time, but this is not true. You have to check a website function that tells you when you are able to change your account. You usually have to see the week through before any changes come into effect.
They claim they will deliver right to your door, but for some people this is not an option because many people are not at home when their deliveries arrive. You may try leaving instructions for the delivery driver via the website, but many people complain that the drivers ignore delivery instructions and leave their boxes of food on the doorstep for dogs to urinate up against.
They claim you will receive free gifts or discounts, but almost every offer has a massive catch. Usually, the catch is that you need to sign up for a full subscription, where you may receive a $30 gift card, but it costs you $59 to use it. Blue Apron often has special offers, but almost all of them are geared towards getting you to give them your credit card information to make it “easier” to sign up when you are ready.
Try before you buy claims are simply not true. You are often given as little as 24 hours to try before you buy. Most people are charged for the meal the day after. If you accept an offer such as a free meal or try before you buy, then be prepared to buy!
The “Bait and Switch” technique is often complained about, but their method seems to change from year to year. For example, one year they offered a gift card that you couldn’t use because there was nowhere to put the code. You are encouraged to sign up and become a customer in order to use the gift card, but if you do not redeem it the same day you sign up, then it is not honored because you are no longer a new customer.
[–] Bait and switch is a common complaint
[–] Don’t expect any freebies without paying for them
[–] You cannot cancel at any time
Truly Awful Customer Service
The customer service department staff are poorly trained, and their bosses must treat them pretty badly considering how rude and dismissive they are to people who call.
The canned responses are read from a script and can be very annoying. They could have hired robots to do the same thing, which is often why their customer support service feels impersonal and dismissive. Getting through to their customer services is difficult and time consuming and the staff do not care if your delivery doesn’t turn up, and you have to convince them you are not lying in order to get a refund (which you don’t always get).
[–] The customer service is very impersonal and dismissive
[–] Getting through to customer support is time consuming and difficult
[–] Their canned responses are annoying to the point of being insulting
How To Cancel Your Blue Apron Account
When there are a bunch of websites telling you how to cancel your Blue Apron account, you have to figure that Blue Apron are probably making it very difficult for people to cancel–and they are. If you are lucky enough to catch a user-generated review about Blue Apron before it is ripped off the Internet, you may notice people complaining about how difficult it is to cancel.
This is usually the first page you see when you wish to cancel. You are told to send an email to receive instructions on how to cancel.
—- Here Is What Happens To Many Blue Apron Customers —-
If you try to cancel, you will be told to send a cancellation email, where you will receive an email explaining how to cancel. Send an email, wait, and you get no response (usually). Send another one, but alter it a little, wait, and you get no response (usually). Contact the customer service department and talk to the rude support staff, and get no genuine help. Send another email, and finally you receive your instructions on how to cancel (sometimes).
———- If you receive the email in return, here is what it will say ———-
We are sad to hear you wish to leave; however, you may reactivate your account whenever you wish logging in once again with your registered email and your current password.
Take note that because we secure our deliveries six days in advance, you will probably have a delivery scheduled. You must log in to check your “Delivery Schedule”.
Required Cancellation Information
Here is a link to cancel:
What You Should Do
Still send the email requesting information by following the instructions on this page.
If you do, or if you do not, receive a reply, you should log into your account and check your Delivery Schedule for your “Changeable By” date. This will give you an indication of how many more meals you will have to buy before your cancellation comes into effect.
Visit this URL and log in with your username/email and password:
Click to cancel your meals alone, your wine alone, or both. Choose your reason for cancelling, and add a comment in the appropriate box if you wish. Click the “Cancel Meal Deliveries” and you shouldn’t be charged for further meal deliveries.
There are also some people that claim you can change and/or cancel your deliveries on the “Pause deliveries” page. However, that option was not available on my account. It is possible that the option is a state/regional option, so here is an image showing the pause/cancel option where the green-circled tick is pointing.
Once you have cancelled your account, you should receive an email confirming your cancellation and saying when you will receive your final order.
To reactivate your account, simply sign back in with your username and password. Do not use a cancellation service to try to cancel your Blue Apron account (no matter how frustrated you become). You must cancel yourself through Blue Apron only. Scam services will charge you a premium to do it for you.
Why Is The Blue Apron So Popular?
In essence, they are providing all the benefits of a food delivery service in an efficient and commercial manner. They may be failing in some aspects, but in others, they are ticking all the boxes. They deliver to most states and most locations in the US, which is a claim few other food delivery services can make, their service is consistent, reliable, and their food choices are suitable for most people.
Some say that the variety of food isn’t sufficient, but most people enjoy eating the same things over and over again. The menus they offer have a fair amount of variety without turning each meal into a circus. You have to create a delicate balance between offering people something new and giving them what they already like, and Blue Apron does that rather well.
The Blue Apron recipes are not easy, but they do allow people who do know how to cook to learn. Using Blue Apron to learn how to cook is cheaper than taking lessons and far easier than learning from YouTube videos. Blue Apron is a convenience company. We used to scoff at the laziness of people who bought grated cheese instead of grating cheese themselves. Blue Apron has simply taken the same grated cheese premise to a new level. You get just what you need to make the meal yourself.
What Else Makes Them So Popular Besides An Excuse To Create Heat In The Kitchen?
The only more convenient alternative is to have somebody else cook the meal and send it to you, but such services are fairly unprofitable unless you cook popular and generic foods that have a wide appeal such as pizzas, burgers, curries, etc. There are few people craving a Waldorf salad on a Friday evening, and fewer people calling for Japanese prepared herring with lemon grass. Honestly, there are better things that people crave on a Friday night.
The meals you receive and eat are healthier than pre-prepared and processed foods. Even if Blue Apron selected unhealthy meals for you to cook, you are still not adding preservatives in the same way that pre-prepared and processed foods have added. In addition, even basic Blue Apron meals contain many of the micro and macronutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle.
Conclusion – They Are Not Perfect, But Are A Good Starter Company
What you see is what you get, which is not true of all food delivery services. The meals you see on their website are what you get when you have cooked them. Maybe you cannot arrange them as nicely as the photographers do on the Blue Apron website, but even amateur cooks have taken cellphone pics of the meals they have made, and they look very similar to what you see on the Blue Apron website.
Despite the immovable nature of some of the delivery staff, such as not putting deliveries where you ask, almost all of the Blue Apron deliveries appear on time, which is a boast many other food delivery services cannot make. The delivery people are also polite on the whole, with some of them going the extra mile to help people with disabilities.
[+] They offer meals that are healthier than processed food
[+] Blue Apron deliver to most places in the US
[+] Payments are secure and they do not sell off your information
[+] The meals offer a reasonable amount of variety
[+] They deserve the credit that professional reviewers give them
[+] Reactivating your account is very easy
[+] You may learn to cook with Blue Apron
[+] They are a well-organized convenience service
[+] What you see is what you get
[+] Deliveries appear on time in almost every instance