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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!