Well that's your opinion Dogfish, but it is rather harsh. Most online sellers only do substitutes as a last resort, and if the customer makes a stink about it after the fact, most will refund the substituted plants.
The truth is most of their customers do not care. The bulk of their customers do not know one plant from another and are happy with whatever they get. That is why plant assortment packages out sell the sales of individual plants. Many customers ask the online seller to pick out the plants for them.
Specifying "no substitutes" when ordering is an easy solution, but then some people get extremely upset if they do not get a plant they ordered even if no substitution is made. "The whole reason I placed the order in the first place was just to get THAT plant". Another common occurrence is people do not recognize or properly identify the plants they receive and think a substitution was made, "because it doesn't look like the pictures", or because it doesn't look like someone elses plants, or its too big or too small.
There is nothing sleezy about it. It is not a grand conspiracy. Sometimes it is even done by accident.
Online sellers of any significant size have a huge number of plants to choose from, and at the most 10% of the time you MIGHT get a substitution of ONE plant... not half an order, not even 25% of an order.
I'm new to this hobby, and can still share Complexity's opinion. I've gotten far, far better service from private sellers here on TPT than any of the retail places I've bought plants from.
Maybe you have nothing to compare it to... I have found in many cases hobbyists sell plants for 3 or 4 times the price of online stores, (or even greater) and at a fraction of the size as compared to online stores. Stem plants in particular. A single 2 inch stem for 8 to 20 dollars from a hobbyist vs. ten 6 to 10 inch long stems sold as one bunch for 2 or 3 dollars total from an online dealer.
If you call them to figure out what they did send, they won't even tell you. They act as if they have no idea what you're talking about.
I greatly prefer buying plants from other hobbyists.
Its not always that simple Vick. Companies like aquariumplants.com ship over 100 orders a day. Its impossible to remember every single order. Could you? I couldn't, and trying to figure out what someone received by their description is near impossible as well. Mega companies like Drs Foster and Smith ship out several hundred orders a day.
Then, she promptly shipped out my order but with one plant she replaced without telling me. She sent me some Baby Tears instead of some grass swords I ordered. The Baby Tears weren't in good health and I had no luck with them!!!
My point exactly. One plant out of a whole order. Some people would think thats no big deal, for others its a deal breaker. BTW, Baby tears grows like a weed for me, even if its half dead on arrival.