Health

Toothbrush subscriptions are the future, but this one is flipping terrible

By Oliver Smith 10 May 2017
Image: Getty/Dave_Pot.
Summary

Uber Sonic isn’t the answer to your dental woes.

You can get almost anything delivered to your door these days, so why not your toothbrush? It may sound like a strange idea but subscription toothbrushes have taken off in the US and are now coming to the UK.

You read that right.

Names like Quip and Goby will ship you a discounted electric toothbrush for $25 or $50, then send you replacement heads every few months for $5 or $6.

It’s like Dollar Shave Club but for your teeth, an oddly appealing idea.

Dentists say you should replace your electric toothbrush head every three months, but let’s be honest, no one does that. A toothbrush subscription promises to keep your teeth clean and dentist happy.

It also promises to be a genuinely useful subscription, unlike say, subscription socks.

Unfortunately, Quip and Goby are only in the US for now (Quip says it’ll post internationally, for a price).

Luckily, or unluckily, we found a UK toothbrush subscription service to try.

Meet Uber Sonic

While at first glance Uber Sonic appears to be matching the business model of Quip and Goby – cheap toothbrush, subscription replacement heads – in fact, it’s disappointingly different.

Firstly Uber Sonic’s toothbrush is a modestly priced £19 (comparable to the most inexpensive models from Oral-B), but its build quality leaves much to be desired.

Uber Sonic’s website seems confused whether the brush is crafted from “stainless steel” or “anodised aluminium”, all I can confirm is that it feels cheap and plastic-y.

Mine also needed recharging after just three days of use and had a weird glitch where it wouldn’t always turn on, despite being fully charged.

Next, Uber Sonic is determined you’ll change your toothbrush head every single month, far more than dentists recommend, and that you’ll pay roughly £4.50 each time for the privilege.

That’s £54 a year on toothbrush heads, and it’s nuts.

But by the look of this Advertising Standards Agency ruling, things used to be much worse. Uber Sonic previously misled people into subscription commitments of over £100 for their toothbrush heads… so I guess we got off lightly.

Using subscription as an excuse

There are some excellent toothbrush subscription services in the US which come highly recommended and don’t break the bank.

These kind of healthcare services are the future – just take a look at Dollar Shave Club’s recent $1bn sale to Unilever.

Even Gillette is getting in on the act.

It makes sense to get items that need regularly replacing sent directly to your home, whether that’s razor blades, toothbrushes or toilet roll – and if a subscription can lower the prices of these, even better.

It’s just a shame we don’t have a quality toothbrush subscription service in the UK yet; until we do my toothbrush head will remain unloved, unchanged and my dentist unhappy.