Why I Cancelled Rent the Runway Unlimited
in Vermont, wearing a Milly cape.
Cancelling Rent the Runway
It’s been over a year since I last wrote about Rent the Runway Unlimited, and a few things have changed since then. While Rent the Runway has made improvements to their membership programs (Unlimited and Update) over the past year, they have been going through some growing pains. Combined with the fact that I’m looking for style that’s more personal right now, I decided to cancel my membership.
This doesn’t mean I’ll never use Rent the Runway again; I still stand by what I said in this post, where you can read all about Unlimited, my tips and tricks, the pros and cons, and when it’s worth it. After three years of using RTR’s memberships off-and-on, here’s what’s changed and why I’m taking a looooooong break.
How RTR Memberships Have Changed
Since I wrote this post all about Unlimited, Rent the Runway has been paying attention to feedback and making membership changes for the better:
The pause option is my favorite addition. You can send all your pieces back and pause your membership for up to three months, which gives the membership a lot more flexibility. And gives you a break from paying that membership fee!
They’ve started picking up more independent brands and of-the-moment pieces. Hello, Brock Collection! The membership closets were getting a bit style-homogenous, but you can see that RTR is now learning and responding to what members want to rent and how they use the service.
Shipping and processing time is less of a bummer. When you’re browsing for a new item, you can see the delivery date before you even place the order, and it’s accurate. RTR also brought dry cleaning in-house, which means more efficient turnaround times.
They’re always improving the mobile app, and it’s so good now that I rarely use the website at all. It’s so much easier to manage on-the-go than sitting with a laptop.
You can add extra items for an additional fee. When four pieces at a time isn’t quite enough, you can add another slot to your Unlimited or Update membership for the month. Another point for flexibility!
in Kyoto, wearing a Proenza Schouler dress.
The Growing Pains
It seems to me like Rent the Runway has focused a lot this past year on improving their systems - the app, the processing time - and has neglected the customer experience and the actual clothes. Inventory and customer service aren’t what they used to be, and as a result, a membership has become more high maintenance.
Since early 2018, RTR’s memberships have grown a lot, and their inventory hasn’t kept with the pace. In this post I mentioned I could always find something for the event in question, and that just hasn’t been true in 2019. It takes a lot more time and strategy to get a specific piece, and sometimes I can’t even find something that will work - it feels more like a competition than shopping.
Customer service is also lagging behind, with delayed responses and representatives that don’t seem to be authorized to do you any favors. In the past, I found customer service to be helpful and kind, working with me to get the items I wanted delivered on time - more than once, they overnighted orders that had been delayed or incorrect! Things are less peachy now; I’ve been emailing with customer service for over a week to get a charge reimbursed and it still hasn’t been resolved.
In my correspondence with RTR’s customer service, they told me that they’re planning to double their inventory, which would be a big help. But in the meantime there’s a lot less to choose from, especially in the Update closet, and not much help available.
Why I Cancelled My Membership
It’s no secret that Rent the Runway’s subscriptions are expensive. At monthly fees of $159 for Unlimited and $89 for Update, designer closet-sharing is a luxury for sure. And when those growing pains started to kick in, my membership started to feel a lot less worth it. And as someone who has referred plenty of friends, family, and readers to RTR, I’m a little salty that I’ve never been able to apply those credits to my subscription fees.
On Unlimited, I loved the clothes and the flexibility of changing things out any time, but managing the membership became noticeably high maintenance. Adding weekly new arrivals to my favorites, stalking items for availability, waiting for deliveries, packing and shipping or going to the NYC store for returns - it took up a lot of time and mental space.
So I decided to test out the Update membership with just one swap-out opportunity per month. While it certainly cuts down on management time, the selection is increasingly limited, and renting something I wanted to wear once meant I had to hold onto it for weeks. It’s less time and money, but also significantly fewer options - Update didn’t win me over.
The value of Rent the Runway’s memberships has changed for me. They’ve worked really well for patching gaps in my wardrobe and trying out a bunch of different styles and designers. In the future - hopefully once the new inventory and old customer service are in place - I’ll still use the memberships occasionally, maybe a few months per year. In the meantime I’m shopping for clothes that are more personal to me, and finding some great designer deals in other places (more on that soon!).
This post isn’t sponsored by Rent the Runway, but using this referral link will earn $30 RTR credit for me (and you!) when you rent or subscribe. Before you get started, read this post with all my best tips & tricks.