Monday, 6 August 2012

Busy Bee Candles

Something a little different, and not beauty related, today...

I am a bit addicted to scented candles, I love Yankee Candles but I find the larger ones can be quite expensive and I tend to get bored of the same scent if I have it burning for too long, so, rather than bankrupt myself buying lots of the larger type to swap between I decided to try some wax tarts.  Lots of companies seem to do them now and since they are usually just over a pound for each tart they are a budget friendly way to try out different scents.

I recently invested in a burner and a couple of Yankee tarts to try out.  Safe to say I have found a new obsession and now I want a burner in every room.

As well as my favoured Yankees I thought I would try some from a few different companies to see how they compared.  My first choice was Busy Bee Candles.  I'd read a few good reviews and heard from friends that they were decent quality so, armed with a 20% discount code I decided to check them out.
The site is nice enough and they have a lot of different fragrances to choose from, the prices were very similar to Yankee's - so fairly high, particularly for a less well known brand, but based on what I'd heard and read I decided to go ahead and order.
Here's what I chose:

Postage is expensive, it cost me £3.99 to have 11 tarts posted.  They arrived in a padded envelope with some bubble wrap around groups of the tarts, out of the 11 there were 6 damaged.  Although it doesn't make much difference when using them in a tart burner whether they are in one piece or not it does mean that they were only suitable for personal use, they were far too crushed to give as gifts for example.  For £3.99 PP I expected them to come in a box or at least arrive in one piece.  They took 5 days to arrive.

The tarts themselves are a bit smaller than their Yankee counterparts which is disappointing since they are 10p more expensive per tart.

Due to their condition when they arrived I decided to email Busy Bee and see what they said.  Basically they weren't interested, they claimed they knew the packaging wasn't adequate, had previously heard of breakages from customers and accepted no responsibility once they'd handed them to Royal Mail.

They offered to refund me if I sent them back the order but since I didn't fancy a trip to the post office and having to pay for them to be returned I turned down the offer.  Although it says on their site if you send them a photo of the damaged items they will organise a refund this isn't the case in reality, as despite my sending them a picture they didn't offer me even a partial refund for the damaged goods, all in I felt the reply I got from them was very poor.  Customer service is obviously something they are not particularly worried about.

On opening the parcel from Busy Bee I wasn't overly blown away with the fragrances either, obviously it's a very personal thing but several of the tarts smell synthetic and fake (Pineapple Zing, Creme Brulee, Coconut Beach, Butter Popcorn & Pina Colada) and a couple have a definite whiff of cheap air freshener and public toilets about them (Palm Tree & Coconut Beach). Midnight  Peppermint, Herb Garden, Sun Kissed Raspberry, Cotton Candy & Chocolate Brownie all smell fairly good (although all of them smell quite synthetic, and obviously until they are burning it's hard to say exactly how their fragrances will be but when I lit them it didn't get much better. 

The synthetic smell which I had noticed while the tarts were wrapped carried through to the scent they gave off when lit.  So far none have been offensive but none have made me keen to repurchase or light them again.  I don't know whether it is due to them being a different sort of wax or what but there is a scent that runs through them all.

Palm Tree - Ok, reasonably fresh but with a definite synthetic smell though it, better than I was expecting from how it seemed in its packaging (air freshener and toilets).
Sun kissed Raspberry - Fruity, pleasant enough but again a slight synthetic undertone.
Midnight peppermint - Strong, minty, like chewing gum not natural garden mint.
Candy Floss - Very subtle, sweet smelling, synthetic, and generally a bit nothing-y, definitely not the scent I had hoped for.

All in, with 20% discount, my order from Busy Bees came to £14.30, for £11 I could have hand picked 10 Yankee Tarts from my local supplier and had them immediately or ordered from a well know Yankee supplier online and had 11 of them (incl postage costs) delivered for a similar price.   In future I will definitely stick to doing that. 

Scent is a very personal thing and many of the tarts I chose and bought un-sniffed over the internet smell nothing like I had thought or hoped and for that reason, along with the poor yet expensive packaging and sub-standard customer service, I will probably stick to choosing and buying in person from now on, and I'll also probably stick to Yankee Candles, there might be a reason why they are the best sellers in the candle and tart market!

A little update.  Today - 5 days after I received the email from Busy Bees and my reply to them went unanswered - a parcel arrived, in it were 3 Busy Bee tarts. 

They were not replacements of the damaged tarts I had sent a picture of so I can only assume, due to a lack of further emails or note in the package, that they were some sort of sorry or goodwill gesture, which is a nice idea, but in all honesty a more polite initial email or indeed a reply to my second email would have gone down better.  Either they felt they were in the right and there was no need to send me anything or they know their service was below par and they should have said so initially.

On the plus side, this package smells better, so maybe it was my poor choice of tarts that made the first lot smell unappealing and like freshly sprayed public loos.  Sweet Dreams smells wonderful and what I had hoped Midnight Peppermint would smell of so I am actually quite looking forward to trying that one.


  1. hi, i started with yankee tarts as well which i love and now i thought i would try busy bee. but seeing this review i'm not so sure anymore. i get my yankee tarts for £10 for 10 on ebay which is a lot cheaper than busy bee. think i will stick to yankee for now!

    1. I just buy Yankee now too, you know what you're getting with them!