Complaint Department

On January 15 I placed an order with Farmer Seeds as I have done often before and in due time the seeds arrived and were planted. An important part of my order was Lincoln peas, a long time favorite of my family. The weather grew warm and the seeds sprouted, the vines grew, and the blossoms appeared. But in the six rows of peas I planted, the first two rows of blossoms were purple! Lincoln peas had always before had white blossoms. However, I watched and waited and eventually saw pods that were knobby looking, unlike the smooth pods of Lincoln peas. Eventually they matured and we ate some. They were not Lincoln peas.

At this point I wrote a friendly letter to the Customer Care Department at Farmer Seeds saying something seemed to be wrong. I thought they might find the situation oddly amusing as I did. But the reply, while it apologized “if there was an error” in my order, requested that I send “the original shipping label, along with a brief note detailing your request” and “a sampling, or picture of the item in question.”

Well, I had already detailed my request and was happy in the interests of science to send a sample of the non-Lincoln peas, but the original shipping label was long gone. Who keeps the original packing of a seed order for six months? I did send them their confirmation of my order which came by e-mail and said, “We suggest you save this email for any future inquiries.”

That didn’t satisfy the folks at Farmer. “We are willing,” they said, “to make a single EXCEPTION and send a replacement order if you will send us a COPY OF YOUR CANCELLED CHECK or CHARGE CARD STATEMENT as proof of purchase.” (Emphasis theirs.)

Why should I, I wondered, have to prove that I made a purchase from them? Don’t they keep records of what they sell and to whom? Yes, they said, they do keep records, but it is company policy to insist on evidence from me.

So I sent them a copy of the credit card statement. By now the cost of the correspondence (sending them sample pods and blossoms, sending them a copy of the credit card statement, etc.) was beginning to outweigh any possible refund.

And what have I received in return? An electronic transfer of funds that appeared in our account without other notice for one-third of the $6.95 I spent originally. They did not refund any part of the shipping cost, though the peas would have been the largest part of the cost. They have never even acknowledged the arrival of the samples I sent them, let alone report on what may have gone wrong or what the misfits were – though I asked more than once.

Result? The “Customer Care Department” has lost far more than $2.32. They have lost a long-standing customer and reaped some very unfavorable publicity.

I also discovered by typing “Farmer Seed” in my internet search engine that at Dave’s Garden they have a feature called Garden Watchdog that allows gardeners to report their experience with various companies. Over the past year, Farmer Seed has chalked up two positive reviews, four neutral reviews, and 24 negative reviews. So I am not alone in thinking that this is a company with problems.

Now you know.

Leave a comment

Your comment