Shop Talk: Sample Sale Sites & The Credit Debacle

Shop Talk: Where We Talk About Everything Retail

Mmmm, sample sales. They’re the first thing you think of in the morning – not because of your passionate love of sales, but instead because upon opening your e-mail application, you have 734 sale notification e-mails from the 852 different sites you’ve subscribed to.

Our relationship with sample sales is lukewarm: while websites like can makefinding our favorite brands at discount prices rather easy, we’re no longer excited at seeing “twenty new emails!” in our inbox shortly after waking up – because at least half of those are going to be auto-generated sample sale emails.

Do you remember what got us into this “sample sale” thing in the first place? For many of us, it wasn’t the idea of cheap clothes. It was the referral credits.

“Refer a friend, and when they buy from our site you’ll receive a $20 credit toward your next purchase!”

Twenty dollars? That’s awesome when the dresses available are discounted from $200 to $80. Get a couple of them, and your new pumps, or ridiculously-priced jeans, are almost free. And almost every sample sale site offers them:

Sample Sale Referral Credits

  • Billion Dollar Babes [ $20 per purchasing referral ]
  • Editor’s Closet [ $25 per purchasing referral ]
  • Enviius [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • ideeli [ $25 per purchasing referral ]
  • Pure Citizen [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • RueLaLa [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • Swirl by DailyCandy [ $25 per purchasing referral ]
  • Beyond The Rack [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • HauteLook [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • The Sample Sale [ $25 per purchasing referral ]
  • Row|Nine [ $25 per purchasing referral ]
  • Biva [ $10 per purchasing referral ]
  • Modnique [ $15 per purchasing referral, $10 per friend’s friend’s purchase, $5 at friend’s friend’s friend’s purchase… & $5 at signup! ]
  • (If I’m missing one – leave me a note in the comments!)


Have you noticed who isn’t on the list? Our oft-mentioned, previously most-loved sample sale site The Granddaddy, some would say, of sample sales. They grew to be enormous and their client list grew right along with their subscribers. When I wasn’t sending an invitation to join Gilt to everyone in my address book (amassing them tons of new users), I was spending money (& copious credits) on all kinds of beautiful clothes. Love! What more could you ask for? Each referral that purchased earned you $25! These days? Gilt has completely wiped out their credit system, and replaced it with this:

Each referral who purchases earns you one step closer to earning Free Shipping, which you get after ten referrals purchase.

You might be thinking, “Hey, that’s not so bad! Save it for a rainy day, you know? Shipping can be brutal!” Well, this is a fantastic outlook – if you plan on buying something within 14 days after you reach 10 purchasing referrals. I know my tone is oh-so-subtle (not. Is it ever?), but you can probably tell that I think this is crap! I went from having a great reason to use Gilt to having to refer friends to avoid their shipping charges. I’m a bit disenchanted, and thus, haven’t shopped there since.

Obviously, we’re pretty passionate about saving money around these parts… And nixing our shopping credits is a great way to move down on our priority list! We both fully understand that they don’t have to offer credit for referrals, but we didn’t even get an explanation! They broke up with us over a text message that we never received.

How do you feel about shopping credits? Do you find yourself shopping on websites that offer them? How did you feel when Gilt removed their credit program?

Probably watching Netflix.

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