Shipping live plants can be a tricky business. Not only must extra care be taken with packing, but all kinds of things can happen in transit. After that, unwitting gardeners and Mother Nature can both bring on the demise of originally healthy plants, but that doesn’t mean the customer won’t blame you.
What’s a company to do?
We just reviewed guarantee policies posted on the websites of the Garden Watchdog Top 30 companies. Of the 24 companies that sell plants and bulbs (the rest sell seed), here’s what we found:
• 3 companies offer unconditional lifetime guarantees. Kudos to them! Surprisingly, only one mentioned it on their home page, and not prominently.
• 3 companies didn’t say a word about a guarantee. Do they think people won’t notice?
The rest stated that their plants would arrive healthy (or, in one case would ship healthy – they put the onus on the customer to know when it was too cold to order) but their liability was limited by disclaimers. Five required notification within a week, while another five offered a 2 to 6 month window for refunds or replacements. Another eight didn’t mention a specific time period.
While a limited guarantee is certainly reasonable for live plants, how that guarantee is expressed can make a big difference. The limited guarantees ranged from 64 to 748 words, and in general, the longer the guarantee, the more uncomfortable you felt about ordering.
Next week, we’ll follow up with some specific examples on what to do and what not to in your guarantee.