Customer Correspondence, Shipping Policies & Looking Forward

Hi Everyone,

The email exchange posted in the previous blog post is one that I feel needs attention, as the customer posted some rather misguided information regarding my shipping policies and treatment of plant material on social media.  This is the kind of discourse that I would prefer not to engage in at all, but, because it has been brought to a public forum it is also one that I feel needs to be addressed publicly. Below are the instagram posts, which, along with the email correspondence cover the entirety of my communication with the customer mentioned.

Below are my thoughts on this exchange,

Shipping Policy

-My shipping methods are in line with the standards in the terrarium plant hobby.  This is the community I am accustomed to serving.  I have been sending plants in bags for close to ten years with excellent results.

-One of my grievances with other methods of shipping plants is the amount of plastic and styrofoam waste that goes right into the garbage.  It is counterintuitive to me, to use a gross amount of plastic, styrofoam, and otherwise environmentally damaging products which ultimately end up negatively effecting plants in their natural habitat.  Maybe a drop in the bucket, but I cannot count how many times I have filled my trash bin with packaging from plant purchases.  It leaves me feeling wasteful and embarrassed, even though I salvage all packaging that is re-usable.

-This year, all plants were shipped in 100% compostable, plant-based bags (the real compostable ones, not the thin plastic ones that take up to 100 years to break down) for all plant shipping. I trialed these bags prior to use, and spoke with the maker (Biobag) and received feedback that left me feeling they were an excellent, environmentally friendly packaging material.  Even for those without municipal compost collection, they could stick it in their backyard compost and it would degrade in a matter of weeks.  Last week, I sent hundreds of plants out.  I received email communication from about 5% of those who had ordered plants, that their plants arrived dried out and/or limp.  In 100% of those cases, I offered full replacements (if available) or full refunds.  The customer in the email exchange here received a full refund, including the cost of shipping.  

-Next season I will be going back to plastic or switching to cellophane bags. While the losses were not overwhelming with the biobags, they were significant enough to warrant a change in shipping methods.  I plan to continue to offer primarily bare root shipping.

-My shipping is a flat rate $10.  This is the lowest I have seen for terrarium plant shipping, both in the base rate, and also in that it is flat rate.  You can buy all the plants and your shipping cost will only ever be $10. I would personally rather spend money on plants than shipping, and figure that most other plant lovers feel the same way.

-USPS makes mistakes.  During COVID there have been much more than is normal. Delays of a day or two rarely causes problems, but sometimes boxes are delayed many days, and sometimes they are physically damaged by the time they reach their destination.  This is simply out of my hands.  The only thing I can do in these cases is offer you a refund or replacement on any affected plants.  If something goes wrong during shipping, please be patient, and let me know immediatly when you receive your plant what condition it is in.  If a plant arrives damaged because of issues with USPS, if I cannot send a replacement your order will be refunded in full, including the cost of shipping.

-I would like to remind first-time customers to be certain you know what you are buying.  Please make sure to read the description of the plant (how it will be shipped, how large it will be, whether it is a cutting or rooted plant), and also this resource about receiving bare root plants. For all plants offered for sale, I put a detailed and accurate description of the size and type of plant you can expect to receive.

Communication 

If you or anyone you know is dissatisfied with the condition or quality of the plants they have received, I encourage you to contact me promptly.  As a seller, it is only possible for me to resolve issues if I am included in the conversation, and made aware of any damages. I have a very liberal refund/replacement policy and stick to it 100% of the time.  My response time is usually under an hour, and I send refunds promptly, with full shipping costs included if the plant cannot be replaced.

Correspondance with Customer

In response to the spirit of the email and social media posted by the customer whose emails appear here, and whose instagram posts appear above, 

I’m not available for exchanges by email, on social media, or in-person whereby the manner of communication is hostile or belittling.  In this case, I responded as I thought and appropriate.  I sent a full refund, including shipping costs, despite refutations from the customer to “keep it”.

Also worth pointing out, it is simply not possible for me or any other seller working with many customers to be personally familiar with the growing experience of everyone purchasing plants. Going forward, any emails expressing the sentiment “don’t you know who I am” will not receive a response.  I am not here to coddle egos.

All my customers will be treated equally, regardless of professed experience or lack thereof.  If advice is offered on growing, it is offered in a genuine effort towards helping to grow the plant effectively.  It is offered with respect, consideration, and a realization that this relevant information can often lead to more successful growing and happier plant lovers.

Looking forward

The relationships that I will nurture and grow in this community will be based on mutual respect, which I believe is the only mode of relationship appropriate — and one that’s inspired by the very charges we’ve been gifted with the opportunity to nourish, which are of course, the plants themselves.

5 thoughts on “Customer Correspondence, Shipping Policies & Looking Forward

  1. The replies by the customer are ridiculous. What is their end game? To have you grovel and beg for their forgiveness? I read a lot of the same instances happening to other excellent growers. I honestly don’t know how y’all do it. Please keep on doing what you do. I enjoy all the info, your personal growing experiences, and beautiful photos you post, as well as the opportunities to acquire rare plants. I have not yet purchased any plants from you (the ones I was hoping to acquire sold out in a blink!), but this customer has certainly not convinced me not to. Can’t wait until your next plant sale. Be well!!

  2. As a business owner who has to balance most of the same concerns as you, I can’t find fault with anything you have said. It’s difficult when you try new methods trying to improve everyone’s experience but still have to deal with the learning curve. I suggest cellophane bags. The organic folks here prefer them for produce since they will break down sooner than petroleum based plastic and ,most important to plants, actually breath better without drying out the contents.
    I’ve actually had good luck shipping small plants in disposable paper coffee cups with plastic lids. Smaller plastic load and a bit of protection inside the box. You can tape the cup in place or pack paper around it to stop most of the washing machine tumbling for the plants.
    I love your up front handling of this issue.
    Best, Brian

    1. Thanks very much for your response, Brian.

      Cellophane is a material I’m very interested in trying, and just ordered some cellophane tape yesterday. Do you have any places that you would suggest for sourcing resealable cellophane bags that are truly compostable (within a reasonable time frame)? I love the selection size offered for cellophane bags, and would love to have a large variety of bag sizes to ship plants in.

  3. Hi, I’m sorry I don’t use them myself so I don’t know where the growers I buy from have gotten them. I’ll see what I might find out.

Leave a Reply