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To complain or not?


There is a great Garden Centre up the M5 which I use frequently. Their plant displays are wonderful and they’re reliable – usually!

It all started a few weeks ago when I was admiring my Olearia ‘Master Michael’ in the garden.

One of my Helianthemums had died of old age, and left a large gap. Ha! A planting opportunity! Off I went, hoping for another ‘Master Michael’ which would go in nicely. They did have some, but they also had a white version, so after some humming and hawing, I brought it home and planted it.

Olearia x scilloniensis

I do like it, but not nearly as much as dear ‘Master Michael’, so as I had another ‘gap’ in the wall border, I decided to trek up the M5 again. Yes, they still had some in stock, so I planted it in its allotted space. But – what’s this?

Are my eyes deceiving me? No – it’s PINK!! I’d had one of these Olearias before, so I knew it was the one with the long name – Olearia phlogopppa ’Comber’s Pink’. My previous plant had succumbed to the winter – be warned, Olearias aren’t all that hardy!

Anyway, on my next visit to said GC, I looked at the rest of their stock – and sure enough, every so-called ‘Master Michael’ wasn’t, if you follow me. I spoke to one of the assistants, who tutted a bit and looked at the label to see which Nursery had supplied them…no clues there. However, she wasn’t all that bothered, so on the way home I thought about it. This wasn’t right – people might well buy the pretty pink Olearia without knowing what it was, how to care for it, and so on.

I wrote a letter to the GC manager, and looked for the label to enclose. Where had I put it?

Imagine the scene – turning the house and greenhouse upside down, searching everywhere…until there it was…still on the pot. Duh! Off winged the letter complete with photos and label.

I waited and waited and had almost forgotten about my ‘complaining’ letter, but yesterday morning a reply arrived. They had actually taken action, had contacted the Nursery who supplied the plants, got new labels, and me? I can have a refund on the Olearia that wasn’t Master Michael.

I am British – we rarely complain, do we, but it seems to have been worth it this time.

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Well done , I complain more now than I ever did when younger, possibly have more time.
I am disturbed by the lack of knowledge of some sales people surely they should have a basic knowledge of there products.
I am fairly sure I know the garden centre you refer to, some years ago I purchased a flowering Cherry potted and netted only to find that it was a bare root plant potted for selling at a premium price, I had my money back but a sharp practice and rarely visit these days.

11 May, 2014


Good on you spritz. Poor plant labelling does my head in. I don't know that much about the plants yet and rely on accurate labels to get it right.

Perhaps we should complain more often in the hopes they start labelling plants more accurately.

11 May, 2014


I agree with everyone, and I am very lazy at this. LAst year every one of my 'white' digitalis was a white garden. Grrrr....I dug them up, took them to the castle and vowed not to buy any more digitalis unless I was positive they had been correctly labelled. I.e. They would need to be in flower. I didn't complain, but I really should have. Thanks for doing the right thing B!

11 May, 2014


I ALWAYS complain ! I want what I want.
Everyone should complain or plants will get so mixed up that eventually nobody will know what's what.

I'm pleased about the outcome of your complaint, and I hope you'll be able to get the plant you want soon ...

11 May, 2014


If its important I always complain.....and complement too or how do they know?

\0/ well done!

11 May, 2014


good for you! you knew the difference, but a newbie wouldn't have, and would have bought the wrong plant if going solely by the label. you may have saved a lot of people problems in the future.

complaining can be positive, if it's done politely - too many people seem to think that "hqving a go" will work, so alienatiting the person or company.

11 May, 2014


Good on you B I always talk up now and have had manŷ a replacement to refund.

It happens to often with labels.

11 May, 2014


I'm a coward and admit would never complain in such circumstances even though probably very disappointed but actually pleased you did, we allow so many things to pass us by when it comes to plants/shrubs etc and yet we wouldn't with a different purchase. Good for you Spritz....

11 May, 2014


Love all your olearias Barbara. What a great outcome too. It pays to be tenacious, now what are you going to spend the refund on? I would like to see your olearias in full, in situ if possible:-)

11 May, 2014


Yes I too would have complained. I get cross when people don't bother labelling plants for the HPS sales. Or the put a name with a ? after it. we'd much prefer they just put the genus name or ask other members.

So have you been allowed to keep the pink one or do they want it back?

11 May, 2014


Well done Spritz. I always complain but in a constructive fashion. No point in alienating staff if you want to use them again. I'm disappointed to hear they have not sent a refund so you can buy elsewhere if they are no longer stocking the one you want. I cannot imagine why they would offer a refund on a plant which was wrongly labelled and which has already been planted in the garden. Will the returned plant be offered for sale as fresh stock? If they are part of a chain I would complain to their head office. I do believe we get the service we deserve.
Linclass do not think of it as complaining but rather a way of helping the GC or whatever to keep their customers happy and informed.

11 May, 2014


I think Barbara is allowed to keep her shrub:-)

11 May, 2014


I opened a packet of wild flower seed, to find it empty.
Didnt take it back as I had torn the packet.
How would they know I was telling the truth ?
Then opened a packet of Sweet Pea seed to find
only 2 seeds in it.
So that is going back.
Has anyone else had this experience ?

12 May, 2014


Scotsgran, refunding under these circumstances was the sensible approach. Technically the GC had committed an criminal offence by offering for sale a plant that was incorrectly labelled. Even if you couldn't prove the offence (and from where I'm sitting that doesn't seem too problematic) they are still in breach of contract for selling something that is incorrectly described. Either way spritz was standing on pretty firm ground.

Blimey Diane that's bad. I've wondered a few times over the number of seeds in a pack, but not on this level. I'd take it back. I know you say you can't prove it was empty but they can't prove it was full either. If you don't ask the answer is always no, as they saying goes.

12 May, 2014


I was very polite in my letter, and praised the GC. I also mentioned the Trades Description Act! I can keep the pink Olearia as Ba says, and I get my money back as well, so it was worth complaining. (I didn't do it for reward, by the way, it was the principle.) It's actually a very good GC!

12 May, 2014


Win win all round. That is good news. It sounds like an honest mistake and your approach was obviously appreciated. All of our members who feel embarrassed to complain please take note of how to get results.

12 May, 2014


that's the prob, Diane - you have to open it to know that there's something wrong, then how can you prove that there was something wrong *before* you opened it?

It's like CDs, DVDs and PC software; they won't refund if the packaging has been removed, but how can you know that thre's a prob if you never remove the packaging and open the case? Of course, some people will copy the contents and then claim a prob and get a refund, which makes it hard for those of us who are genuine.

I'd have complained anyway, pointing out that a few seeds wouldn't be enough for me to make up a story about.

12 May, 2014


On Saturday we were at the nursery who grew your plant....Garden Beauty (Lowaters Nursery) Hants....buying our bargain plants, they have a website....if you ever want to contact them is a huge place, where they specialise in Hebes, and lots of very unusual plants...
Good for you, I would have done the same, as I get older I complain more, have turned into a grumpy old woman.....

12 May, 2014


Oh Dottydaisy are you saying Spritz et al are grumpy old women or men. We are only giving of our acquired knowledge to help the youngsters. LOL. Diane do tell the GC about your empty packet. I wonder if they had a blip on a seed filling machine because I bought two packets of seeds last October and put them in a safe place. By the time I found them and discovered they were empty I had lost the receipt. I bought new seeds and mentioned that the packets I had bought earlier were seedless. I was immediately refunded without any proof of purchase. I do find shops are generally helpful.
Samjp, your first port of call should always be the vendor. As you say they did the sensible thing in offering a refund. I think hauling sellers off to court and getting them convicted of a criminal offence should always be tempered by the question of who would benefit from doing that. It's a good back up in extreme cases but unlikely to help in cases like this.

12 May, 2014


I always complain too. So much so that I know within a few seconds if I need to "kick off"!

If it's wrong then it needs sorting.
No matter whose fault it ultimately is, your contract is with the vendor. It's not their job to sort it out with their supplier on your behalf, they sort you out first and then sort it out with their supplier on behalf of themselves.

12 May, 2014


Too right Meanie...

12 May, 2014


How did you know it was Lowaters? Was it the ticket, Dd? I'd never heard of them before. I think, given the circumstances, the GC acted honourably and I was happy with the outcome. I don't think I'm a G-o-W, I just thought they should be aware of the error for everyone's sake, buyers and the GC.

13 May, 2014


If I have a problem that isn't solved satisfactorily I write to the highest person I can find.

I ordered some plug plants 'click and collect' from a large gc chain. You had a choice of dates, I chose late april as I was away and didn't want them home alone......
a whole month before the due date I got an email to say I was to collect them from the local gc!
I rand the number on the email an was put through to a call centre.....I made my point that I couldn't take them as I couldn't look after them.....the answer was that they were ready so I had to!
I said no and tried to explain that these were alive and needed tending, they were not inanimate objects!
"Well if you don't want them we will cancell the order"
hadn't understood a word I said!

so I wrote to the manager of the local store
he know nothing about it at all as they just get the goods sent weekly with a list of names

he was so nice, gave my friend and I a free meal in the cafe and came and chatted to us.
was grateful to know what the system was really like and sent the letter and one from him to the head office.

13 May, 2014


I tried to sort out a problem at a branch of a well known GC where I buy a members card which entitles me to a free coffee or tea every month. After two hours I gave up came home and emailed customer services. I was assured the problem would be fully investigated and sorted. It was and I got £25 in gift vouchers to spend on plants in any branch. Like Spritz I was not looking for a reward just a solution to my problem. It is always worth asking for an explanation which is slightly different to complaining. The English language is a broad church.

13 May, 2014


Done in the right way as you say Scotsgran it can actually help, well those who care about the business.......
its nice when they respond well isn't it.

13 May, 2014


I've had shops try to fob me off with "nothing to do wiht us, contact the manufacturer" - my reply (correct in law so far as I know, but I stand ready to be educated!) is along the lines of: "I bought it from you, not from them; therefore my contract is with you, not with them. YOUR contract is with them. YOU contact them - but in the meantime, it's YOUR legal duty to replace the item or refund me for it."

just tried some checking:
and they should know!

13 May, 2014


That's the way to do it spritzhenry, If nobody complains when its wrong how do these gc's know its wrong and that customers aren't happy, Good on you.

13 May, 2014


It is Pamg. It helps you to have confidence in them.

13 May, 2014


Yes, I took the Sweet Pea packet back when I went to the
GC. Check out asst took it into the Manager's office.
Came back said the date on the packet was 2013 which
I hadnt noticed, they would replace it, which they wouldnt normally do.
Thought afterwards. Seed with hard shells keep for 4
years, peas, beans, sweet peas etc.
So a customer is quite entitled to keep a packet of Sweet Pea seed for 4 years before opening it.
The date on the packet is irrevelent.
In future I will pay for the seeds, then open the packet
to check the seeds are in it before I leave the check out.

14 May, 2014


I went to the GC yesterday and they refunded the cost of the 'wrong' plant with no problem at all. I did sneak a look at their stock of Olearias, and the labels have all been changed, but the sticky ones on the actual pots are still wrong. Ah well - win some, lose some.

14 May, 2014


Sort of a good result then......

14 May, 2014


Yes, just enough to satisfy me. I suppose they could have stuck new labels on the pots, but still...

15 May, 2014


Fran your spot on your contract is with the seller and therefore any issues (including manufacturing faults) are there responsibility. If you went to the manufacturer first they may tell you to go away (and would be acting within their rights - although it's not generally good for their reputation)

Scotsgran, before takin any criminal case to court the prosecutor has to satisfy the public interest test. 99 times out of 100 with these types of cases it's likely to be a mistake and one the seller/grower will want to put right. But occasionally you will get a right so and so who will tell everyone to swivel (including law enforcement). You may also get someone who deliberately mislabeled a plant in order to demand a higher price for it (seems an unlikely scenario mind), in which case having the back up of criminal law can be handy. You'd be surprised how many retailers (not necessarily GCs) will refuse to help until law enforcement step in with a potential criminal action (which could just be a caution).

Diane I'm really pleased they swapped the seeds for you. That's really good, hope you get good results from them.

Spritz sounds like you've got a reasonable GC there glad they sorted it out so quickly for you.

16 May, 2014


Yes, I was pleased. :-))

17 May, 2014


If something is wrong with a plant I usually take it back and usually it is exchanged or refunded with no argument. Recently I bought trousers from a mature lady emporium and attempted to promptly take them back as the waist too high. I was not allowed to exchange or a refund as the waist band label no longer in situ. I argued but the person fled mid sentence. I have worn them for gardening since, waist turned up. The roses have plucked threads out but I have had good wear out of them. The trouble is they are the only ones who sell 25 inch length....I am no good at shortening, I still have to shop there.

18 May, 2014


I once bought trousers that wree too long (didn't know that they sold different lengths). Iron-on Wunda-Web came to the rescue - easy to put on, and lasts well - six inch hems!

18 May, 2014

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