Aquabotanic.com order gone awry. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Aquabotanic.com order gone awry.

Hello,

This is an excellent community that provides great advice and has some tight nit relationships so first off I just want to say that Iím not here to slam Robert / aquabotanic.com or get anything out of him. Iíve actually spent the morning reading postings of other peopleís order experiences and I honestly think Iím in the minority here.

On Sunday March 18th I submitted an order at aquabotanic.com for one of each, Fissiden on mesh, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Riccardia chamedryfolia, and Vesicularia ferriei.

This order was small and probably insignificant compared to most Aquabotanic.com orders and was only meant as a starter for my nano cube and a test order for my 30 gallon Oceanic cube.

Per the shipping policy the package went out as promised the Monday after the following Friday and arrived on 3/31. When I opened the package I was very surprised by what I had received for $30 + $20 shipping. Especially when compared to what I had ordered.

Fissiden on mesh:
Aquabotanic.com Image
Image of received item
The photo comparison tells it all here. This moss is completely dead and hasnít grown since it was stapled between the plastic mesh. I can say this with some authority because itís brown, has absolutely no growth yet the staples are rusted so it has to have been in water for some time. I highly recommend that if Robert reads this that he specify the size for this item and an actual picture of what it will look like on his website.

Hemianthus callitrichoides:
Image of received item
This is the thing I wanted the most and it arrived in the best condition. My only complaint is that itís not even close to 2Ēx2Ē as described on Aquabotanic.com. Itís much closer to 1Ēx1Ē, 1/4th the expected size but Iím happiest with this item.

Riccardia chamedryfolia on drift wood:
Aquabotanic.com Image
Image of received item
This item came as several tiny pieces clumped into a quarter size ball with no drift wood. I ordered this in hopes that the drift wood would make excellent hardscape for my nano. What I received wasnít anything close to what was ordered on Aquabotanic.com.

Vesicularia Ferriei:
Nothing Received
The least expensive item I ordered is out of stock.

Here is the entire image if interested. 56k warning:
Entire Image

When I called Robert to discuss the order I tried my best to remain calm and collected, I wasnít irate or even overly upset. Mostly I was nervous. I wasnít even thinking of a return since shipping is so high. I was calling to see what Robert wanted me to do since every item I ordered had an issue with it but was shipped to me and billed to me anyway. I really wish I could have recorded this conversation so I could review it to see if there was something I said that caused the outcome. After talking with Robert for a few moments, describing the state of the items and listening to his explanation for their condition he explained that their return policy is a no return policy and he threatened that if I blocked my credit card he would send it to a collection agency and ruin my credit! I hadnít even brought up the idea of a return so this was very defensive. All that I had said is that these arenít at all what were described on Aquabotanic.com and I wanted to know what he wanted me to do. Robert then became irate, dropped the F-bomb on me a few times and hung up before another word could be said! I swear and promise I wasnít irate and I hadnít even raised my voice. All I wanted to do was see what his opinions where.

On Aquabotanic.com it states:
AB will work hard to settle any dispute, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the buyer to accept the risk. We do everything within our power to minimize this risk by packaging the plants in such a way to minimize any possible damage and send out only quality plants. Any charge backs or refused deliveries will be reported to all major credit agencies as an unpaid and deliquent debt

I had hardly even started a dispute when I was threatened with collection agencies, yelled at, sworn at and hung up on. Iím not the kind of person who tries to make trouble for people and this is not being posted to be vindictive. I do my best to supporting small businesses. Iím putting this out here because I know that Robert has a lot of good feedback in this community so Iím just trying to figure out what happened with me. If you've made it this far, please post a reply with comment, experience or advice.

Thanks,
Kyle
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 05:38 PM
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I think your pics say it all.

I recently ordered two Madagascar Lace plants from an online Australian site, and they sent me an email saying they wouldn't be filling my order because they sent the specimens they got back to the supplier because they were very poor. They asked me if i wanted to keep the order open until better specimens became available, to which I said yes as I was impressed by their quality control. And I wasn't disappointed with the two fine plants I received a few weeks later.

Basically what I'm saying is these people I bought from wouldn't have sent you what you received. It's bad for business and they know it.

Then again, Robert's not a big commercial entity so he's probably operating on a shoestring just to get rare plants to fellow hobbyists and so doesn't have the clout to send goods back. Basically just got to take what he gets and passes it on, hence the warning. His reaction to you was probably the culmination of other phone calls!
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 06:10 PM
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And still unexcusable. Even if the caller was irate, which I doubt, there is no excuse for treating a customer, or human being, like that.

A while back I swore never to buy anything from Robert because of how low he sunk in the way he treated/talked about me. He was setting up a good deal for people with a product and I came in late and missed it. From a business-customer standpoint, if anything I was wrong. My problem has never been with the business. It's the way Robert can get, as a human being, that worries me, name-calling, etc.

I've stuck by my decision not to buy from him and it's meant I've had to miss out on some things/look elsewhere but I will always stand by that decision because I am absolutely not going to work with someone that will degrade me/call me names/address my customer issues with a lackidazical, insulting or demeaning attitude.

As an example, instead of getting the mini diffuser from Aquabotanic, I chose to get a $20 mini diffuser from Aquaforest and also an ADA glass beetle diffuser that was over $100. I was happy to because of the service I received and how they treated me on the phone.

It's been interesting to read comments lately. Seems like there are two sides and you never know what you'll get.

It sounds like you've experienced both the personal and professional "dark side".

For me, a good price is only the tip of the iceberg when deciding who I do business with.

I'm sure people will chime in and share their good experiences as well. Obviously mileage varies from experience to experience and I'm not recommended to anyone that they should avoid Aquabotanic.com because they very well may have a wonderful experience if they do. I'm just sharing my perosnal experience here because the issue of "treatment" seems to be a common theme so I figure put them all in one place because it's a very important aspect of any business.

Seems more and more threads are popping up about customer service/treatment/attitudes lately.

It's important we communicate our issues. How else will pressure be applied to make things improve.

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awrieger
Then again, Robert's not a big commercial entity so he's probably operating on a shoestring just to get rare plants to fellow hobbyists and so doesn't have the clout to send goods back. Basically just got to take what he gets and passes it on, hence the warning. His reaction to you was probably the culmination of other phone calls!
If that is the case then maybe he shouldn't be in business. Customer service is the key to a good business, I have hear similar stories here and on other boards as well


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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 06:54 PM
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If I owned a plant/fish business, I would have been embarassed to send that package out. Did you see those pics??!!? That's a $50 order?? Bah.
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:08 PM
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We have seen other post hinting at problems with Robert and his stuff. I decided a while back never to order from him. I keep going back to Aquariumplants.com and have never been dissapointed.

JR
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:24 PM
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Charge back your card. The pictures you have and the story you're telling are enough to negate any collection activity and/or win any legal proceedings he would start. Chances are, with this type of proof he will be wise enough to do nothing. You don't have to sit back and take this sort of treatment.

And thanks for the heads up. I've been considering a decent sized order from aquabotanic with this months budget and you have potentially saved me some headache.
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:27 PM
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I just love this sort of public display... I am sorry you are unhappy with the plants. Personaly I think your pictures are misleading. Let me say for the record, I thought I made this perfectly clear, these plants were all special order plants brought in at great expense and risk from Singapore. These plants are not for the average or beginer hobbyist. They are for the collector who understands their value. I am the only person selling these plants legally in the whole country. If people are genuinly unhappy with the plants, then I will never, ever import these plants again. It is that simple

I was not happy with the Fissiden either. The Riccardia came in the size portions that they attach to wood. At the last minute they decided not to send the plant attached to wood because it would not pass thru customs. The portions were about the size of a quarter. I am told this is the normal size. On aquabid it sells for over 12 dollars per inch, so I think this is still the better deal.

The HC sells on Aquabid for 8 to 15 dollars per INCH. So before you pass judgement, please understand the situation. I had over 50 orders. This person makes the 4th person out of 50 who has a problem with it. Everybody got the same size plants and portions. So it still seems the majority of the people were satisfied, so I thought I would probably do this again this month. If I am mistaken, then you tell me. Is it worth it, or is it not. Do you want me to bring these plants in again or not? It is up to you guys. Read the comments on Aquatic Plant Central while making your desicion. It is not my intention to screw anyone. I have no control over what the plants look like. You can buy them illegally on Aquabid from hobbyists in Singapore who will mail them to you, which will cost you more and still be the same size. I offer to be the agent for you to get the plants more reliably. Thats it.

Should I order these plants again, yes or no?

It is really too bad when the same people like Random Alias always chime in with the same intention without an open mind. It is amazing what a chip on your shoulder will do. It is not my intention to screw anyone. I have people waiting in line for these plants, but if I am going to be a bad guy for doing this, then I will not do it. 50 people ordered, over 25 more on a waiting list. You guys tell me what I should do

Robert Paul Hudson

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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ðank
That's a $50 order??
Hemianthus, Riccardia, Fissiden. How rare are these plants in the USA/Europe? Delicate too? I've never heard of any of them. Never seen them available here. So in my case I assume they are extremely rare, so $50 would be a bargain even for those samples! These plants look great in their promotional pics, so I'd take a chance on resurrecting them. The Hemianthus and Riccardia specimens look like they could come good with some TLC.

If they're not so rare in the USA, then that's a totally different situation. Water is worth it's weight in gold in an Australian desert even if it's just dirty car radiator water sort of thing...

Edit: posted before I read Robert's reply above. So they are indeed rare and delicate/difficult.
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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:36 PM
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I agree with Random Alias, this was inexcusable. Yes, plants can fail to meet expectations, but the lack of customer service is what bothers me. There is never an excuse to swear at a customer. The F word has become all too common today (guess I sound like the senior citizen I am ). The simple answer to a customer complaint is always 'I'm sorry this happened, what can I do to make you happy?'. Having been in customer service for 40 years, one of the first things you have to do is let the customer know you care--that is half the battle. Personally, I have been buying plants from fellow members of this site and have gotten nothing but great, healthy plants and kind words, and all for either just shipping or very low cost.
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post #11 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:41 PM
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Sir,

As a business owner of two business myself, I would not have shipped that order in its current state. I would have informed the buyer that the specimens were not in the best of health and that if he was not happy with them that you would have refunded his shipping if he accepted the order, or given him free shipping on a future order. Granted as a business you take some risks in buying materials such as this and trying to provide them to the hobby, but you also have to understand that maybe it is better to try and grow it and make it healthy again before you sell it. Had I gotten that package above, I would have been upset my own self.


This is one of the reasons why I h ave purchased most of my plants from local shops even at a much greater expense because I know the quality and the viability of the plants I get. Buying plants over the Internet and expecting shipping can be risky for both the business and the end customer.

I wish that the two of you could have worked something out to suit the both of your needs.
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post #12 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:46 PM
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If I may point something out, from potential customer standpoint. Impressions are important, especially in this particular business. Most dedicated hobbyist with interest in roberts plants have spent a great deal of investment monetarily. We want the most for our money. Not to mention the uncertainty with shipping/condition issues. Those pictures do speak a thousand words. Its interesting to me that these plants aren't quarantined and grown out in order to give the customer best quality. I don't know the whole story, just making an observation. Robert is correct in that there are some species you just can't get here, through legal means. I plan on ordering from robert only because I'm open minded about these things. But taking constructive criticism to heart would be a good idea at this point. I would much rather wait a few more weeks for a bright healthy specimen.
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post #13 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 07:56 PM
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Its interesting to me that these plants aren't quarantined and grown out in order to give the customer best quality. I don't know the whole story, just making an observation.

If this was my business I would of course be an expert in the field and setup tanks and grow out my plants before I sold them so that I could increase my investment in bringing in these plants. Growing t hem out for a few months before offering them for sale would ensure that everything that is being sold and shipped is well worth both the businesses time and the customers time. I wish the business owner would have done such beforehand.
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post #14 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 08:00 PM
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Fair points all. But as I see it, Robert is acting as an agent not a retailer/wholesaler/supplier. He basically orders from Singapore on behalf of others and passes on whatever they send. And hence why he doesn't grow them out or propagate them to sell at a profit.

And there is the caveat warning about the risk of receiving poor specimens. If people agree to take the risk, then the simple act of ringing up about it after the fact is like saying 'okay, I took on the risk knowing it might not work out, but now I know it hasn't worked out I want to change my mind about taking the risk'.

The problem is with the supplier in Singapore. if they continue to send poor specimens, then as an agent, Robert should seek another supplier on behalf of the buyers he's handling the orders for.
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post #15 of 47 (permalink) Old 04-01-2006, 08:09 PM
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Hemianthus, Riccardia, Fissiden. How rare are these plants in the USA/Europe? Delicate too? I've never heard of any of them. Never seen them available here. So in my case I assume they are extremely rare, so $50 would be a bargain even for those samples! These plants look great in their promotional pics, so I'd take a chance on resurrecting them. The Hemianthus and Riccardia specimens look like they could come good with some TLC.

If they're not so rare in the USA, then that's a totally different situation. Water is worth it's weight in gold in an Australian desert even if it's just dirty car radiator water sort of thing...

They are rare. They are also expensive. $50 isn't a bad price for that plant list, just for the actual plants that shipped, IMO. Fissidens isn't hard enough to come by to justify that tiny bit of plant that arrived dead. Rusty staples? So this expensive and rare moss that sells for (literally) $1 a leaflet, was stapled to the mesh and rusty? Like I said, embarassing.

Prices here(States) and there(Aus) aren't very comparable. How much do rainbowfish cost around you? You'd laugh at what I've spent on 6 fish.
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