I have a question about buying subscription boxes or mystery bundles. I understand uncertainty/gharar is haraam, but take for example a beauty subscription box like Birchbox or Glossybox. They sell a monthly box for £10 that they guarantee will include a certain number of items of a minimum value.
Generally, over the past few months buying them for my wife, they’ve been very good value and they have revealed the items in advance, a few days before the following box. Also, they require you fill out a questionnaire beforehand stating your preferences, so it’s not completely random - it’s slightly tailored to fit your needs
Are these sorts of subscription boxes halal? There’s also similar boxes selling halal sweets/halal food or even hijabs. Assuming there’s a guarantee that it will include a certain number of items, of a specific type, and of a minimum value, does this still qualify as gharar?
Assalaamu alaykum dear brother,
Since you are paying a relatively small sum and there is a level of certainty in the items and the genre of items, it will be permissible.
The idea behind this is to give the subscribers a surprise and try different products. In fact, they give you a sneak peak of products which decreases the uncertainty. You also have 14 days to refund after the delivery, which further lessens the probability of dispute, discord or dissatisfaction.
Gharar is prohibited when it leads to dispute, discord or resentment of the outcome and the needs of the counterparties are not fulfilled. This is not the case when purchasing such products.
In conclusion, it is permissible to purchase and subscribe to this.
Allah knows best
Assalaamu alaykum dear Mufti Faraz,
Your reply to brother Qasim is appreciated for its nuance. I have a similar question with a few differences that, I think, change the situation a little. I’m hoping you can shed light on this also.
In this case, the mystery box is one containing trading cards, and the intention for purchase is to resell the cards individually at market value i.e. with transparency and how any product is normally sold. Similar to brother Qasim’s situation, there’s a guarantee that the box will contain a certain number of cards where their types are known (e.g. 1 rare and 9 uncommon cards), and the minimum possible total value of all cards combined is made clear, which is less than purchasing value. It is also made clear that there is a range of possible total value of cards combined, and what’s common/most probable is receiving a combination of cards that are worth a little more than what is paid for the box. There is also a good possibility to receive a combination of cards with a combined value that is much greater than the amount paid for the box. Additionally, what’s guaranteed is the condition of these cards, which is paramount to their resale value.
Having said this, returns are not accepted, but partial refunds or a choice of a replacement card are offered if there are repeat cards. Seller prides themselves on their customer service quality and guarantees making things right if the buyer isn’t satisfied. Does this qualify as Gharar since there is a guarantee to satisfy the buyer, and does the intention to resell change the ruling on this compared to brother Qasim’s example in the previous post?
Finally, does the buyer being ok with the risk, after having weighed the chances of the outcome, affect the ruling? Is this not similar to buying stocks, where the buyer invests in a stock that he predicts he can resell at a higher value on the market?
May Allah keep our intentions and actions pure. Ameen.
Jazak Allah Khairan
Apologies, I forgot to tag you dear @Mufti_Faraz_Adam
@Mufti_Billal I would appreciate your opinion on this matter also if you’re able inshallah. Thank you for your time, patience, and guidance.