Buying plants online or by mail order gives you access to a wide range of different plants, but deliveries aren’t always rosy. So we’ve come up with 10 best-practice criteria that we want all retailers to adopt.
When I first wrote a Conversation about buying plants online and by mail order back in July last year, I was surprised at the amount of responses it received.
The comments were mostly from people who had experienced problems when buying plants by post: dead plants, diseased plants or the wrong plant altogether were common problems, not to mention issues with packaging and delivery.
So we decided to decided to investigate further at Which? Gardening. We did a survey of 2,726 Which? members to see their experiences of buying plants by post, and asked them to rate the retailers they had used. The results are now in.
Plants by post problems
While eight in 10 of them said they were broadly satisfied with their experience of buying plants by post, more than a third (36%) said they had suffered problems when buying plants this way.
The problems included:
- Problems with the quality of plants/bulbs provided (41%).
- Package left on the doorstep while I was out/away (20%).
- Package damaged/broken/thrown around by the courier/postal service (17%).
As far as the retailers offering to post plants, there was a big split between those who that were rated well and those that performed poorly. David Austin Roses came top of the retailers with a customer score of 84%, closely followed by Bloms Bulbs (81%) and Crocus (81%). Garden Bargains came bottom of the pile (46%) behind Spalding Bulbs (47%) and Bakker (49%).
Our Better Plants by Post campaign
So, thanks to this survey and your comments here on Which? Conversation, we have come up with 10 best practice criteria that we would like to see all retailers adopt. These include:
- Accurate and detailed plant descriptions on websites or in catalogues.
- Strict quality control before plants are sent out.
- Secure packaging to completely protect the plant in transit.
- Plans should be clearly labelled with instructions for planting.
- Be clear about estimated dispatch dates and keep customers informed about any delays.
Nine companies have already pledged their support, including Garden Bargains, which is very keen to improve its performance.
We’re really pleased with the response we’ve received from retailers so far, and are meeting with several to discuss our findings. While we appreciate that plants are living things and less simple to send by post than, say, a book, we think some companies could be doing better. Have you experienced problems buying plants online or by mail order?