It is said that the definition of a fool is someone who does not learn by his or her mistakes. It also says that a fool and his money are easily parted. I therefore have to put my hand up to being a fool. There have been a number times when I have done things and bought things without looking at the reviews, 3 different hotel stays instantly spring to mind, each one would have made Fawlty Towers look like the Ritz. Unfortunately, fool that I am, I did not look at the reviews for Garden Express before spending £124.93 on three very poor quality plants, oh dear!
I have three large empty ceramic pots and wanted to quickly (sic) fill them with some established, fairly mature plants before the end of the summer. Garden Express was offering £10 off orders. I spent some time doing a bit of research on their website (not looking at reviews) and was seduced by their description of the hard work of Chris Bonnett, the ‘company’, their ethos and mission statement with phrases like:
‘… the business has become a force to be reckoned with in mail order Gardening’
‘…we now ship thousands of plants every week’
‘Everything we sell is guaranteed - we don't send out anything we would not be delighted to receive ourselves’
‘…we tell you exactly how large or small they are. We were fed up of ordering expensive plants and being sent spindly twigs’
Mitigation for making the decisions I did? I don’t think so; I am old enough (but not wiser) to know better! The irony of these statements, for me personally, is brought into sharp focus when I consider the atrocious quality of the plants I received.
Here is part of the email I sent to Garden Express within hours of receiving my plants:
This is my first foray into ordering plants online and I am disappointed with the quality of the plants that I have been sent; there is little resemblance to the description on your website. I understand there have been issues due to Covid 19 and maybe to some extent the recent hot weather, but I feel that I have been sent the 'runts' of the 'carefully selected plants'. They are not of the standard I would select myself:
Hibiscus - Described as: Extra Large Tricolour 5 - 5.5 feet as you can see from the photos it is barely 4 feet 4 inches; I could have bought one this size for £29.99 from a different website! The plant does look healthy but some of the bark on the stem has been scraped off (photo) not sure if this will affect the plant.
Corkscrew Hazel - Described as: Fresh green foliage through out the year. The photos show that it is not very healthy, all the leaves are curled and yellowing some with brown edges. The pot was crumpled as it was forced in to the same box as the Korean lilac.
Dwarf Korean Lilac - Described as: with a bushy head on a stem.... covered with buds and blooms in season, second part of the season being August - September. As you can see from the photos it is straggly with not a bud in sight.
I paid a lot of money for these 3 plants; more money than I have ever paid for three plants, which makes my disappointment even greater. Based on your descriptions I expected great plants that I would be able to put straight into 3 large pots. None of the plants came with any planting or care information.
I uploaded 10 photos to support my claims.
I received an email from Garden Express that essentially said
‘This ticket is now awaiting review from our Horticultural Manager’
Five working days later I emailed Garden Express to find out where I was with a resolution. No reply, in fact I have not heard anything since. I have emailed on numerous occasions, they have now blocked my email address. Nobody answers the one phone number I can find.
It was then I read the reviews, oh dear! 48% giving 1 star and such scathing (deservedly) comments you would not believe. I am not sure how this company is still trading. The comments I have read are real expressions of the misery this company is causing to so many people.
I don’t hold out much hope for a resolution to my plight; or at least not anytime soon.
I have just seen this on the side panel of Trust Pilot feedback page:
Gardening Express is 194 out of 194 ranked companies in the category Garden centre on Trustpilot.
All of this makes an absolute mockery of the flowery (pun intended) descriptions on the their website.
Please don’t be a fool like me and buy from this company. I would urge anybody who have had poor experiences with garden Express to complete a Money Saving Expert (MSE) Resolver form and if ever the BBC bring back Watchdog then contact them with your story as I will do.