Friday, April 17, 2009

Dear Customer Service


I received my order yesterday, and would like to provide some feedback and request assistance resolving a problem with the forsythia. When I received the box, it looked fine and undamaged. When I opened it I was disappointed with what I saw.

I was surprised by the small size of the root balls, (ok, the forsythia was in a larger pot and had more substantial roots than the witch hazel,) and both shrubs were at the bottom of the 6' - 12" range in their descriptions on your website. I've attached photos so you can see what I found when I removed the plants from the box.
The witch hazel's pot was cracked. The broken piece wasn't in the bag the plant was enclosed in, nor was I able to find it sifting through the straw after both plants had been removed from the box. This would seem to indicate the little pot was already broken before it was put in the plastic sleeve and into the box. (forgot to add an important detail - the soil was dry and the roots were exposed.)
Most of the tiny forsythia was broken off inside it's bag. I'm sure it wasn't me who broke it. Since the box was undamaged and it was well-protected by the straw, it seems unlikely it was broken during shipping. I assume it was either also broken before packing, or was handled too roughly during packing.

As a garden blogger I've been reading a lot about witch hazels on blogs across the country this winter and early spring, and was happy to find an online nursery (where I could order a small one since they are pricey shrubs,) even if it was small and knowing they're slow growers. I was happy to see the large variety of shrubs you offer, as my garden is large and young and I'm only beginning to focus on adding more shrubs.

I'm disappointed with my first experience with Girard Nurseries. The witch hazel, although smaller than I'd hoped, especially the root ball, in spite of the broken pot appears healthy and undamaged. It was fun to see that it's started blooming as well. (hopefully the dry soil and roots won't cause it to die, and of course it's been well-watered now.)The forsythia though, is a disappointment with most of the woody portion arriving broken off the tiny plant. Please consider sending me a undamaged forsythia to replace the one I received.
Thank you,

Signed, me

Anyone else ever order from this nursery? If so what was your experience? I looked them up at Dave's Garden and the reviews were mixed, though mostly positive. Although the size of the plants was a bit of a disappointment, they were within the range claimed on the website. (barely, but they were.) The sizes of the plants and the root balls are mentioned in both negative and positive reviews.

I'll let you know if they offer to replace the forsythia. (Since I killed the one I planted last year (too wet where I put it,) I figured I'd try again with a lower-priced model! ;)
Update Saturday, May 18th: I spent the day downtown with Monica, Mr.Brown Thumb, and On the Shores of Lake Chicago seeing Macy's garden show again, Millennium Park, and Grant Park. When I got home, I'd received an response to my customer service email, and I'm happy to report I'll be receiving replacement shrubs!
Here is their response:

Dear Linda,

Sorry to hear of your disappointment and I can assure you that is a rare incident. Our reputation since 1946 has been of the highest quality. We most definitely replace your order at no charge and they will be shipped next week. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.



Girard Nurseries

I'm happy I brought my problem to their attention and they acted so quickly to correct it. Any company can have an occasional issue like this, and their quick and satisfactory response means I won't rule out a future order. It must be a challenge shipping live plants - so many things can go wrong in the process. I still think they have a nice selection of shrubs, and I don't mind starting small with some of the shrubs I plan to add to our garden.


  1. Linda .. what a disappointment girl ! I would be very put out about it and they SHOULD replace those poor things that are supposed to be decent shrubs.
    So far I have been lucky with nursery orders .. the companies replace plants that fail in my garden within the year of ordering.
    We are a bit luckier in Canada with stricter regulations maybe ?
    Good luck with getting some positive results on this .. I'll be very cuurious to see what happens : )

  2. Hi Linda, that is pitiful, on both counts. I am hoping they will offer or just send you replacements for both. I don't know this company, but can suggest Forestfarm as an alternative. Their selection is unequaled and the packing is so secure that I can barely get the stuff out of the box. They usually offer tube sizes that are cheaper, and these have grown nicely for me. I would be sure and let them know you have the ear of many other gardeners too. Also, keep looking for the shrubs you want at nurseries where you can see what you are getting. I am trying to swear off mail order anymore, so disappointed with the shipping costs and size of what is sent. Good luck!

  3. Good morning Joy, so far no response from them, but I'll give them another day or two before trying again.

    I thought it was pitiful too Frances! I'll check out Forestfarm! I don't usually mail-order shrubs, but have had good luck in the past with mail-ordered shrubs. They're always smaller than what I can find locally, but often easier than going from nursery to nursery looking for something specific that's hard to find. Forsythias are a dime a dozen around here, but witch hazel is hard to find and very pricey.

    I prefer the larger stock available locally, and often a gallon pot at a local nursery costs the same or less than a 3" pot mail ordered. (Sometimes it's tough digging a big enough planting hole for a gallon size in our maple-root riddled garden!)

  4. Great letter, Linda...I'm sure you will get good undamaged plants. I've never been good at following up when my mail-order items are not up to par..just don't order from them again! Keep us posted. I really love your bloom collage!

  5. That is a shame. I bet they'll replace it no problem. Never even heard of this nursery so can't help you there.

  6. Dear Linda,
    I'm sorry. You have reached the wrong number. This is the Garden Faerie, not Girad Nurseries. Please hang up and try your call again. Beep!

    Oh, hi! Forsythias are very fast growers, and apparently my dry clay soil is what they prefer!! I need to move both of mine after they bloom (both have grown to large for their original locations). If it weren't way too heavy to take on the bus, I'd happily bring you one of mine!! See you tomorrow (!).

  7. Thanks Lynn, I hope so.

    I'm too frugal and have too much garden space left to fill.

    I generally have very good experiences with mail order plants and garden supplies, and haven't had a problem getting the rare issue resolved. I expect they'll respond appropriately even it takes more than one email to assure it.

    Tina, I think so too. I have mostly positive experiences with online nurseries, and the rare exceptions are always resolved amicably so far.

  8. Anonymous9:05 AM

    What a disappointment indeed Linda. I've never ordered from that particular nursery but had great success with perennials & shrubs from Bluestone & Springhill nurseries from several years now. If they have good customer service they should definitely replace it no questions asked. Keep us informed. :)

  9. Ha! Hi Monica! I order stuff online so much - I hate to shop, although shopping nurseries is the notable exception.

    I order so much garden stuff online I might do recurring "Dear Customer Service" posts! I recently had a great experience for example, and my order was even free. I plan to post on that too.

    I knew it was chancy where I planted the forsythia, and I even saw it suffering and failed to move it before it was too late. I did finally move it, and the replacement will go in that spot - not a lot of clay there, but well-draining. I think it will be happy there, and hopeful grow fast!

    I'm looking forward to hanging out with you tomorrow. Three cheers for spontaneity!

  10. I've never tried Bluestone or Spring Hill Racquel, but I've seen their catalogs and gone to their websites.

    I've seen some positive blogger reviews of plants from both those nurseries, I think I remember a post from you recently about the nice plants you received from one of them.

    Thanks for the tip - I'll give their websites another look!

  11. I've never ordered from that nursery. I would be very disappointed to receive plants looking like that. Good luck with getting the forsythia replaced.

  12. It's too bad my favorite mailorder nursery for shrubs closed. I've had good experiences with another one in particular as far as receiving a good sized, healthy plant, but it was the wrong variety & I didn't discover it until it had been in the ground a couple of years. I hope you get satisfaction.

  13. I've started to order plants I don't know how many times. After all, I order most everything else online. But for the reasons you stated, that's why I don't. Too afraid of what I'll end up with!

  14. Thanks Kim and Victoria! Disappointed is exactly how I felt.

    Thanks MMD. I emailed them yesterday, haven't heard anything back yet. I'll be making a pest of myself if I have to!

    Hi Brenda, I've had pretty good luck with mail-order plants, but I can see I'll need to be more discriminating on who I buy from next time!

  15. Dear Linda, To quote the vernacular of time past...Bummer! How disappointing. They ought to replace both shrubs. If it were affordable I would send you forsythia~ I have a lot to share, too...have you seen the hedge? gail

  16. Hi Gail, it was a dissapointment, and I'm happy they agreed the shrubs should be replaced!

    I just updated this post with the good news I received after spending a nice afternoon with a few garden bloggers in downtown Chicago.

  17. I'm glad to hear they have replaced your shrubs! I have never dealt with this nursery, but others I have ordered from--some pretty "cheap" and others not--have always been good about replacing any plants that died or were damaged in transit. Michigan Bulbs, which is one of the cheaper companies, even replaced an order of ferns a year later because they never came up!

    This just shows it does pay to let a company know you're dissatisfied!

  18. Yay! At first I thought it was weird for the compnay to sign with kisses (all those XXXs), but then it clicked that you were using XXX instead of the person's name, not as their signoff! Yep, sometimes the brain is slow. I've also been meaning to tell you there's aplace online to record your experience with plant mail order companies... and I finally found where I'd bookmarked the URL only to find the site no longer exists. Dave's Garden has a similar site now though:

    Yesterday was so fun! I slept until 9:30 this morning, which is verrrry late for me! Am working on downloading photos and IDing that one plant at Lurie.

  19. Thanks Rose! I agree it's good to let a company know when there's a problem and give them an opportunity to correct it. I'm glad I did, and it's good to know they responded so well. I'll feel more confident ordering from them again in the future.

    I also often provide positive feedback when I'm pleased with the products and services I receive.

    Good morning Monica, yep, good guess!

    I like the reviews at Dave's Garden, and had checked there. Maybe I'll add some feedback there too.

    It can still be a challenge figuring out what to do after reading reviews. I usually check reviews for local businesses I haven't tried, sometimes check reviews on old favorites too. It's amazing how opinions and experiences can vary with the same company! I've found ravers and detractors for just about every company, whether local or mailorder, and restaurants too.

    Glad you had fun Saturday! I did too. It was great to see you again! (We must have been a sight crouched down in the grass taking pictures of lettuce and flowers in the median strip near Michigan Avenue! Only another gardener would understand what the heck we were doing and why we were so interested!)

  20. Hi Linda, hope you had a wonderful weekend! Glorious weather here in NJ but I lost a whole day on Sat. for a college open house. 10 bags of topsoil spreaded and most of my plants in the ground..yay! I did not hear from the Macy's connection from the NY end but my schedule did not work out anyway..oh well, next year! Rain today..which makes spending the day in the office bearable...have a great one!

  21. It's great to see that there still is such a thing as customer service. I get rather small plants to begin with too. They're less expensive that way and we have more time to get to know them. Smaller plants tend to be a bit less finicky anyway.

  22. Just happened upon your blog.All I can say is,"Yea you!!" for sticking to your guns and not taking it.
    So nice to hear customer service is still alive and well.How many people would have just let it go?and glad they responded so well,too.

  23. Hi Lynn, last Saturday was beautiful, glad I got out and enjoyed it, since we've had cold and rain every day since!

    Hope you get to see the flower show next year!

    Hi Cinj, I was very glad they responded so well, and am looking forward to receiving the replacements!

    Hi Chris and Jon, thanks for visiting! I'm glad I didn't let it go, and it's nice to know they were willing to replace both plants.


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