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Buying plants online – it’s not all rosy

Green computer mouse in grass

If our experiences are anything to go by, buying plants online can be a lottery. Our Gardening team used several well-known suppliers and got a mixed bag of deliveries. Some plants were damaged, others diseased.

Four members of the Which? Gardening team ordered an assortment of young plants for trials this summer, from well-known online suppliers and one smaller specialist website.

While many of the plants arrived on time and in perfect condition, we had quite a few letdowns. They included:

  • Small plants that were little more than cuttings
  • Damaged plants
  • Plants with dried-out roots
  • Diseased plants
  • Plants that were the wrong colour
  • Plants that were incorrectly labelled

Plants that are incorrectly labelled can especially wreak havoc with our testing, since if we can’t be sure that a plant is what it claims to be, we can’t include it in our trials.

We’ve also had problems with the delivery of the plants themselves. Many deliveries were held up in the post, came late, and in one case, not at all! Again, this makes co-ordinating our trials a bit tricky.

Your rights when buying plants online

Of course, when ordering a product by post or online, you have some legal protection from the Sale of Goods Act, meaning most companies will offer to refund or replace an item.

But it’s not so straightforward with plants. It’s not always obvious that something is amiss straight away – it may be several weeks or months before they flower, for example. By the time you’ve noticed the flowers are the wrong colour, it may be too late to organise a replacement in time for the growing season.

Have you been satisfied with the plants you’ve received after ordering them online, or have you had some disappointments? If so, what were they?

Comments
Guest
Rachel says:
25 June 2015

Having placed and order in March for begonia Illumination and still not recieving them by the 25th June decided to phone up and enquire where said plants are (the phone no on web site is constantly engaged!!! found another contact no. and got through} they did not e-mail me plants had been sent, the were posted in May apparently lost in transit (really) no more in stock so no plants (the system is down/the web site is running slow – must have a crib sheet of excuses in front of customer service operator) anyway getting refund; will be very lucky now to find plants in any sort of reasonable condition.
DO NOT USE VAN MEUWEN as totally awful – first and last time I use them, however I have always been satisfied with other online suppliers – rant over

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
25 June 2015

Hi Rachel,

Thank you for your review.

I’m sorry to learn that your plants were lost within the transit process and that you had difficulty getting in touch with our customer care department. I appreciate this is frustrating and I hope that you will accept our apologies for this.

If you could please provide me with your order number, I will be able to investigate the matter further for you.

Kind regards,

Mark.

Guest
Bob Stanton says:
25 June 2015

Good Morning,

I wonder if you can help me, please.

I eMailed you two days ago, but have not even had an acknowledgement – not the standard of ‘Customer Service’ I was expecting from a so-called reputable company.

In April this year I ordered some bulbs and seeds from you. ( Order Number : V10418043 )
From this order number you should be able to find my address and eMail address.

The seeds were just fine, but the Polianthes Duo bulbs have failed.

They were planted according to instructions a couple of days after delivery, at the right depth and orientation, but so far only two of the sixteen have appeared, ( and those are only just emerging )
– a bit late for summer flowering, I propose…..

I have waited to give the bulbs a chance before getting in contact with you, but I think you will agree that as far as viability of your products is concerned, I have paid £15.60 for two packets of seeds !!

Your comments / help would be appreciated.

Regards

Bob Stanton

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
25 June 2015

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your review.

I’m sorry to learn that you have not received a response to your email. I have tried to search for an email you have sent from the email address which is on your account but unfortunately I have not been able to locate one. I am sorry that this is the case.

I am very sorry that your Polianthes bulbs have not performed as expected. Whilst various factors can affect the results of any living item, our customers are usually delighted with the quality of their product and the resulting display. I appreciate that this has not been the case in this instance.

Accordingly, I have processed a refund for the Polianthes bulbs. This will be credited back to the original payment card used when placing the order.

Thank you for bringing the matter to our attention.

If there is anything further I can be of assistance with, please get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Kind regards,

Mark.

Guest
Bob Stanton says:
25 June 2015

Hello, Mark,

Thanks for the prompt reply and for refunding me the price of the Polianthes bulbs.
( I hope that this will include the P&P incurred, as well… )

I have seen other posts that have referred to the non-viability of your Polianthes bulbs, so I think you might have a problem here.

Can you give me some idea of the timescales involved in getting this refund processed, please?

Thanks again for your help

Regards

Bob Stanton

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
25 June 2015

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply.

I can confirm that I have actioned a refund for the price of the bulbs at £9.96 and the P&P at £3.95 which will total a refund payment of £13.91. This should be reflected on your card statement within the next 3 – 5 days.

King regards,

Mark.

Guest
Bob Stanton says:
25 June 2015

Thanks, Mark – Appreciated…

Regards

B o b

Guest
Fiona says:
26 June 2015

Like so many on here I have received plants from Gardening Direct whose packaging was nothing short of non existent, 150 smashed to smithereens begonias, verbenas someone played football with etc.

Van Meuwen, dried and dead plants, who uses Royal Mail to post live plants!!!!

But anyone out there who wants to receive great quality plants, packed in the most amazing condition, delivered to your door by courier. You get texts telling you the exact time, you can change this to suit you, then people can I suggest a company called Plant Me Now. This is the second year I have ordered from them and I am so happy with them, other plant companies should send their packing teams to then for some serious training!

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
29 June 2015

Hi Fiona

Thank you for your review.

I am very sorry to learn of your disappointment with your recent Van Meuwen order. If you would like to provide me with your order number I will be happy to look into this for you and investigate further.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest
Eileen Stoten says:
21 July 2015

My order came two days ago and I am so disappointed with it. The picture of the plant was so lovely and although I was not foolish enough to think that my plant would be like that, I did not think it would just appear to be two small damaged leaves in a little frail pot. It was half out of the pot so I carefully re potted it but what a waste of time, I am sure it cannot survive. Any helpful ideas?

Guest
Catherine says:
7 August 2015

Very disappointed – ordered 3x cranberry plants, one was practically DOA. Planted them up in hanging baskets with a mixture of John Innes no 3 and John Innes Ericaceous Compost. The first one died within 2 weeks and the remaining two have now, sadly, given up the ghost. Such a shame as this is the only problem I’ve had with any of my orders.

Guest
Catherine says:
7 August 2015

Oh, forgot to mention that this was from van meuwen :-/

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
10 August 2015

Hi Catherine

Thank you for your review.

I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment with your recent order. If you can kindly provide me with your order number I will be happy to look into this further for you.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest
Catherine says:
10 August 2015

Hi Natalie

The order number is V10472227. If I remember correctly, the cranberry plants on the order were dispatched late due to there being a problem with stock. As I say, everything else on the order was fine, the tomatoes are delicious and the plum and cherry trees seem to be thriving. It’s just the cranberries which have all died 🙁

Catherine

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
10 August 2015

Hi Catherine

Thank you for your reply.

Once again I am very sorry that your Cranberries have not performed as expected. Whilst various factors can affect the results of any living item, our customers are usually delighted with the quality of their product and the resulting display. I appreciate that this has not been the case in this instance.

I have replaced your Cranberry collection for delivery when our next stock arrives. This is currently scheduled to be in September.

Thank you for bringing the matter to our attention.

If there is anything further I can be of assistance with, please get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest
Catherine says:
10 August 2015

Hi Natalie

Thank you very much for that – as I say, I’m very happy with the rest of my purchases so I’m positive that the replacement cranberries will flourish!

Catherine

Guest

Mark, TM1362954X
This relates to a replacement as the one I received from Van Meuwen in June 2015 died.

You replied back to me by email and this website advising I would have to wait until September for a replacement. As I have not received any further updates from Van Meuwen on this I wanted to check if this is still the case – is it still scheduled for Sept and if so will it be the 1st/2nd week in September or the end of September as I want to check I am not going to be away on holiday when it is due to arrive

Regards
John

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
14 August 2015

Hi John

I have checked the status of your replacement order and can confirm this is still scheduled to be despatched in September. As I am sure you can appreciate, when dealing with living products, we can only despatch when the plants have reached their optimum condition for transit, as well as when most suitable for planting. Therefore this restricts our ability to forecast a specific delivery date.

However, I have now added your email address to your order to ensure you are notified by email once your order is ready to ship. If you would like me to add any delivery instructions to your order in case your Clematis is delivered while you are away, please let me know.

In the meantime, if there is anything further I can be of assistance with, please get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Kind regards

Natalie

Guest
Johnp says:
14 August 2015

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for the prompt reply and for adding my email address to the order. At least this way I’ll know beforehand when the plant is ready to be despatched so if necessary I can make arrangements for someone to look after the Clematis till I return if I’m gong to be away on that date.

Regards
John

Guest
Liliana Sutton says:
29 August 2015

Re: Van Meuwen. Order No. V10494991.
I ordered Aubretia plugs, when they arrived last week,dispatched 17th Aug, arrived 24th Aug!!
they were practically dead, though I thought I would give them a chance, put in a tray,
but they were indeed deceased..
I have sent a message via their system as they suggest – no reply. I have tried to
send an email, cannot access that either. I am loathe to telephone, it takes forever
to get through, Other plugs that were ordered are satisfactory, but a little lanky.
As one of your other comments, who uses Royal Mail? they are not the best at
getting things on time. Are they at all related to Thompson Morgan? the packaging
is exactly the same. Could you look into my problem for me? Thanks

Guest

Hi Liliana

Thank you for your review, please accept my apologies for the delay in reply.

I am very sorry that your Aubretia plants arrived in such poor condition. I can see that these have now been replaced and I am confident your replacements will arrive in much better condition.

However if you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest

Hi, I have been patiently waiting since June for a replacement plug as my
Clematis Top To Bottom Lavender Blue 5cm Plug died from Van Meuwen. I was told when the new plugs were grown I would be sent one by end of sept. Well guess what the end of sept has come and gone and I have not recieved my replacement nor have i received an email advising of any delay if there is one??
Order Number: V10477849/1
Order Date: 09/06/2015. I do not want to hear any more excuses and want to know when I will receive the plant otherwise I want an immediate refund. I have waited long enough and have missed out for this summer now. This something I didn’t expect to happen when buying a plant from Van Meuwen. Please look into this and explain why I have not received a reply advising of any delay and when I can expect to receive the plu. Disappointed/fed up waiting customer

Guest

Hi John

Thank you for your review.

I am sorry to learn of your disappointment with your original order. I have spoken with our Despatch Team to investigate the latest on your Clematis and can confirm the labels for this order were printed yesterday and we are anticipating to despatch your order by the end of this week.

I do hope this delay has not caused you any inconvenience and I apologise for the disappointment this has caused.

We advise expected arrival dates according to the usual growth rate for the individual product and in accordance with the most optimum time for planting. However, weather conditions and natural light levels can affect how well a product develops, either speeding things up or sometimes slowing the growth down. We try to ensure customers are aware of this possibility by stating arrival may differ by 2 weeks either way, but I can fully appreciate your disappointment.

In view of the disappointment you have experienced, I have arranged for a £10 voucher to be sent which I expect will be with you by the end of next week.

If there is anything further I can do to be of assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest

Hi Natalie, just an update to your reply I have received my new plug plant on saturday 03.10.15 and its fine and alive I’m glad to say so will keep it in my mini greenhouse now until next year, then plant out once the frost has gone in spring. I am still awaiting the £10 voucher which you kindly offered to send to me. Can you check and see if this has been sent? Maybe you have forgotten to send it.
Regards
John

Guest

Hi John

Thank you for your reply.

I am really pleased to learn your replacement arrived safely.

With regards to your voucher I am sorry to learn you are yet to receive this. I would ask that you allow until Friday for it to arrive.

However, should it fail to arrive after this given time please let me know and I will be happy to look into the matter further.

Kind regards

Faye

Guest

Hi Faye,

Today I received the voucher so I am now finally 1 happy/satisfied customer. Its a shame though it has taken this long for it to be resolved to my satisfaction but thank you Mark/Natalie for replying so promptly to my emails and resolving this matter for me.
Kind Regards
John

Guest

Hi John

I am pleased to learn you received your voucher and your query has now been resolved to your satisfaction. If you ever need any assistance in the future please let us know as one of our team we will be more than happy to help.

Kind regards

Faye

Guest
Maria says:
1 May 2016

I placed an order at Van Meuwen in the middle of March. The order was due to arrive till the end of April. I sent an email inquiring the delivery date but there is no answer. I wonder how could I know the delivery date. I’m dissatisfied with the service, it’s not the first time I order plants online and there never been any problems with the delivery..

Guest

Hi Maria

Thank you for your comments.

I am very sorry to learn that you have not received a response to your email.

If you can please provide an order number, I will be happy to check the despatch status.

Kind regards,
Ryan

Guest
May says:
13 May 2016

Last year I placed an order for ‘Tulip Colour Carpet’ and received two bags of 16 tulips. The bags were printed ‘46043 Tulips Colour Carnival’ so I had no reason to suspect they were incorrect. On the website, they are listed as double peony-flowered in bright carnival colours.
Unfortunately the tulips I received are all single flowers in white with red streaks, so naturally I am very disappointed.
I contacted Van Meuwen but they have made no attempt to respond nor resolve the problem.

Guest

Hi May,

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments.

I’m sorry to hear that you never received the correct tulips.

I’d like to rectify that now if I may? If you can please provide me with your order number, I will be happy to look into this further for you.

Kind regards,

Richard

Guest
Ros says:
14 May 2016

I have just received part of an order from Van Meuwen. Like others, I couldn’t get through to the customer phone number. Strangely, it is possible to get through to ‘sales’ but not customer service. I’ve emailed and who know what will happen.
The plants I received today were small, bone dry and the stems were broken. I am appalled. I have bought better and much cheaper plants at Homebase which is hardly a quality plant supplier!

Guest

Hi Ros,

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

I’ll be very happy to look into your enquiry for you if I may?

May I ask you to respond to this post with your email reference number please? Your reference number should look similar to the following:

TM1234567X

I will await your response.

Best regards,

Richard – Customer Care Team

Guest
Ros says:
15 May 2016

TM1500189X Re: order no: V10768386

Guest

Hi Ros

Thank you for your patience. I apologise for the delay.

I understand that you have spoken to one of my colleagues and that this has been resolved.

If you have any other queries, please do let me know.

Kind regards,
Ryan

Guest
Terr says:
24 May 2016

Hi, I’m hoping maybe to receive a comment from Van Meuwen. I emailed to them regarding the £30 I paid last week for dead and almost non-existent Lobelia plugs. I ordered 2 lots of 72 plugs…lucky if 30 in total were even replantable. All of which are now dead.
I did not check reviews for this company first before I ordered.
Not recommended.
Poor quality product, even worse customer service (that is, complete lack of it, and lack of any reply from VM)….very disappointing.

Guest

Hi there Terr,

Thank you for your review. Please let me apologise for not responding sooner.

May I ask you to amend your original review to include your order number and/or your email reference number.

As soon as I have these details, I will be able to attend to your enquiry.

Best regards,

Richard

Guest
Lesley Aitken says:
2 June 2016

I received a delivery note from Hayloft for a delivery I didn’t place with my address but the wrong name. I have tried several times to contact them and left messages but with no response – also emailed again no response. Today I have refused the delivery from Royal Mail – what a farce – does that mean the person who ordered the plants will not receive them? Terrible antiquated service. I would definitely not recommend them to friends.

Guest
Leigh Tapley says:
15 June 2016

I ordered 4 Magnolia Standards that were offered in the Radio Times. Four ‘trees’ arrived but looked barely more than sticks – ‘bare’ being the operative word. I planted them according to the instructions immediately and expected some growth. After a few weeks, when I realised nothing was going to appear, I contacted Van Meuwen. The 26th May I finally got an email but just a ‘we’re sorry, we’re receiving a high level of emails’. No response as yet despite two follow up emails. Appalling customer service. I expect replacements or a full refund. I often buy plants from Thompson and Morgan with no problems.

Guest

Hi Leigh

Thank you for your comment. I am very sorry to learn that you have had problems with your order.

If you can please give me your order number, I will happy to help further.

Kind regards, Ryan

Guest
Leigh Tapley says:
24 June 2016

Finally, finally, after several emails it has been resolved and I have been given my money back.

Guest
Irene Turner says:
11 July 2016

Just recieved dwarf fruit patio trees or rather dead stems from Van Muewen, dreadful condition and one looks diseased. As these were a gift from my elderly mother I didn’t want to make too much fuss so called and took forever to get through. Turns out the order had been cancelled and should never have been charged to my mum or sent out never mind the dreadful plants recieved. This company seems to be dreadful. Would never purchase this standard of plant if you saw it in a garden centre never mind pay exhorbinate inflated prices for stems. Given up on mail order as several bad experiences this year stick to your garden centre or local nursery much better stock.

Guest
Van meuwen says:
13 July 2016

Hi Irene,

Thank you for your review. I am sorry to learn of your disappointment with your Mother’s order. If you would be able to provide me with the order number or your Mother’s postcode I will be happy to look into this further for you. The service you have received is not indicative of our usual practise and I am very sorry that this has convinced you to shop elsewhere. Nevertheless, I do hope that I will be able to help in some way.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest
Rubbish Plants says:
11 August 2016

Ordered plants early June for a special birthday. Plants arrived dried out, nearly dead and looked very pathetic. Having waited 6 weeks, arriving in a taped up airless box they looked dead. Immediately contacted Customer Services who said they would be replaced if they did not revive. They have not and sadly the recipient is going to bin plants. Customer Services now do not respond to my messages. Full refund would be appropriate. Will never use them again – terrible quality all round.

Guest
Van Meuwen says:
12 August 2016

Hi,

I’m sorry to hear that your plants have not recovered as expected and you have not received a reply to your email. If you can kindly provide me with your email reference which should like this TM12345X, I will be happy to look into this further for you.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest
Ellen Furness says:
13 August 2016

Hi Natalie.
Thanks for response. Customer No. 15358812 Order No. V10817417 of 17 June 2016.
Sorry to say these plants not recovered and have been thrown away! Very embarrassing for me as they were 60th present. Which I now have to replace at my cost. Jamaal McGlachie advised on 2nd August replacement plants would be sent if delivered ones did not recover? Since his email and my subsequent ones I have had no response. I do not wish to have replacement – just a full refund as the momentum of my gift has long gone. The recipient was not happy and me less so.
Kind regards

Guest

Van Meuwen have been apologising for their poor quality plants and their poor customer service for over five years now on this site alone. Why can they not learn from their mistakes? At what point does a company get stopped from trading under false pretences?

The company repetitively states that “the service you have received is not indicative of our usual practice” but there are so many complaints one has to wonder how true that statement is.

It is not clear whether Rubbish Plants [above] was referring to that company but the mail-order/on-line plants business certainly has a bad name.

Guest

Hi John

Thank you for your review and for taking the time to pass on your comments. I am pleased to advise that as a company our complaints are less than 5% compared to our overall sales with 95% of our customers being delighted with their orders.

Forums and review sites are generally an outlet for complaints and we are happy to utilise these to resolve customer queries. All of our plants are sent after passing our Quality Control standards and we take great pride in providing this service to every order no matter how big or small. On occasion we may find that delivery for a specific area takes longer than we would generally anticipate and this can unfortunately have an effect on the quality of the plants. As per our Terms of Business, we will always refund or replace any item when necessary to ensure that the customer is satisfied with their order.
As I am sure you can appreciate, it is not ideal for us as a business to have our customers feeling this way towards us however, we are always open to such feedback to improve upon the quality of the service we provide.

Following the reviews we have received we have taken big steps into improving our service based on our customer feedback. We have integrated a new ordering system with a far better overview of our products, moving the despatch process in house to personally oversee the despatch of our orders and introduced a tracking service for our larger items. We are continually looking for ways to improve and appreciate whenever a customer is able to let us know where we have succeeded or fallen short of their expectations. Feedback such as this is invaluable and every comment made helps us to make steps to improve our overall customer satisfaction.

I hope you have found this helpful.

Kind regards

Natalie.

Guest

Thank you Natalie. I understand your reasons for some plants having deteriorated during the delivery process and that you replace them when notified. However, your customer service clearly continues to let customers down and the issues are the same as they were five years ago. Putting things right takes time and costs money which is reflected in the price, and hence the lower value, of your plants.

Guest

At least Van Meuwen bother to reply to posts on these Convos which is more than can be said for many organisations 🙁

Guest
anne moore says:
20 August 2016

I ordered some plants off Van Meuwen through groupon on my tracking it says tnt post and i’m a bit worried as the tracker said they were on there way on sunday 20/08/16 but still not received them and obviously being plants if they are in transit all this time will be dead. Its my first time with groupon so really not sure of the process to be honest.

Guest

Well, it’s still only Saturday 20/08/16 so you might be lucky with a delivery later today.

Guest

Hi Anne, I wouldn’t be too concerned, as John said we do delivery right up until the evening and hopefully they have arrived with you by now 🙂 If they have not arrived though please provide me with your order number or postcode and I’ll be happy to look into this for you.

Kind regards

Natalie.