FlytrapCare Carnivorous Plant Forums

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Places to buy Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plants.

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By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
#101746
I was thinking about the variety of problems one may encounter when choosing to buy online; I've decided to write up a few notes on things that we should all take into consideration when ordering plants online and some tips for those who are dissatisfied with the plants they ordered, or if the wrong plants are received. This information should be taken with a pinch of salt; I am not a professional when it comes to sales and am simply offering advice based on experience.

These notes are divided into two sections, one section relates to things we should consider, and the other is what to do if a mistake is made and you receive the wrong plants, or if they are in lousy condition upon delivery. These notes also apply when purchasing plants via eBay.

Things to Consider When Buying Online
Payment Methods
Wherever possible, I highly suggest paying for your carnivorous plant orders via PayPal or Credit Cards. Using debit cards or personal checks may leave your money at risk if you find a problem with your order. Most commonly known retailers are very reliable, however there are some shady characters out there who may try to steal your money. If the unthinkable happens, you can contact your credit card issuer and see if they have a fraud protection service which may save your money. From what I have seen, most online retailers use PayPal for their transactions.

Delivery Time & Its Effects
This is a really important thing you need to take into consideration; in fact it may be one of the most important things we all need to remind ourselves of once in a while. Delivery may take its toll on a plant's health and so delivery times are key. If you can get fast delivery times, your plants will likely be happier when they arrive. I respect we all have budgets, but please remember when ordering online that delivery will only be as fast as the mailmen/mailwomen, courier and air mail services (if ordering from abroad) allows. If for some reason there is a delay, remember that the box you are eagerly awaiting contains a living organism, and that organism needs light and water. Imagine being plucked from your bed, wrapped in wet tissue paper and packed up tightly in a box with no food, light or air for a few days: how would you feel? Obviously, if your plants arrive in good time and lousy condition you have every right to be upset.

Seasons
There has been the odd question here or there relating to what season is best to order carnivorous plants online in. It's all down to personal preference: would you sooner buy dormant plants and watch them burst into life during the growing season? Would you like to buy plants that are already out of dormancy? In my opinion it can be beneficial buying a dormant plant so you can learn how quickly or slowly it comes out of dormancy and so it can adjust to new growing conditions after coming out of dormancy, instead of having its growth temporarily slowed due to acclimatising during the peak growth season. I do know of those who prefer non-dormant plants, too. The following information is relating to the state of plants during the different growing seasons.

- Spring (start of the growing season): Non-tropical carnivorous plants (dionaea, sarracenia, darlingtonia and some drosera) are starting to come out of dormancy
- Summer (peak of the growing season): All plants are enjoying the growing season and repotting now may slow down growth for a brief period
- Autumn (growing season coming to a close): Some plants will gradually start going dormant as autumn progresses
- Winter (dormant season): Many non-tropical carnivorous plants should or will soon be dormant

It also pays to consider what species of carnivorous plant you are ordering when deciding what season to purchase it in. Take highland nepenthes, for example: they grow year-round and require high levels of light to thrive. If you have artificial lighting at home that is sufficient you can order a nepenthes any time of the year with confidence, but if you do not have artificial lighting for the winter or a substitute yet, it may be better to wait until light levels increase in spring or summer.

Remember that dormant or semi-dormant plants (except mexican pinguicula) may appear smaller than advertised with little to no new growth. This is one of the downsides of ordering dormant plants: you cannot tell if they are dormant or in bad health until the spring.

Temperatures
As with seasons, temperatures should be considered when ordering carnivorous plants online. Tropical species of plants (nepenthes and heliamphora for example) do not have a dormancy period and so long periods of exposure to cold temperatures may damage them; the same goes for plants who prefer to stay cool (darlingtonia are a good example, they like having cool roots). If you choose to order a tropical species during the colder months of the year, see if you can get a heat pack with shipping; if you are ordering plants during the warmer months and are worried they may over-heat, prepare lots of water and a cool environment for them for when they arrive.

Permits
When ordering from one country/union to another, permits are required. I wrote a brief article regarding permits that can be found here; many users on the forums have also donated information so we may all better understand this complex system. Now, regardless of what a store may say (this goes doubly for eBuyer sellers) you will require a permit by law if:

- Plants are being sent from the US to any other country
- Plants are being sent from the EU (European Union) to any other country
- Plants are being sent from any country outside the US or EU to any other country, including the US and all EU countries

If plants are sent from one country to another without permits (if required) the plants may be confiscated and even destroyed. This would mean you lose money. If someone claims they can send plants from one country (or union) to another without permits, double and triple check online – the person may be trying to scam you.

Seeds
Seed orders are generally easy to make and manage; they do not require import permits, however some species may be considered illegal in certain countries, so you need to do your homework before buying species from abroad. It's also important to highlight that when shipping seeds abroad, a declaration on the package that describes the contents may be required (this is usually the case when sending seeds from the states to the UK, for example). There are a few other things that need to be remembered when making seed orders online.

- Viability: Seeds are only viable (if seeds are viable it basically means they will germinate) for an amount of time. The amount of time they remain viable varies depending on the species of carnivorous plant seed you order and a variety of other factors (how they were stored, for example). When purchasing from an online store, seed viability may be guaranteed and stores will usually stock fresh seed (or seed from the previous growing season).

An important point I feel I need to make is regarding purchasing carnivorous plant seeds via eBay sellers: some eBay sellers are actually carnivorous plant retailers (such as Matt & Steve) and choose to sell some stock on eBay; other sellers may be carnivorous plant enthusiasts who are not retailers, but have acquired some seed they wish to sell. When it comes to buying seeds from eBay from sellers you cannot guarantee their viability (except from trusted retailers) so caution should be taken. I say this because I have read of users who have received seed that simply did not germinate and although this could be due to all sorts of different reasons, I wanted to raise this point.

It’s recommended that you check the date of which the seeds were harvested before dedicating yourself to purchasing seeds online; with most online stores I have visited the harvest date (or year) is openly displayed, usually eBay users will also display a rough date of when the seed was harvested but if you cannot find a date then it may be wise to email the seller or retailer and ask when the seed was harvested before committing to anything, this may help you get the most of out your seeds. The fresher the seeds, the more viable they are.

Unfortunately, it seems that sometimes a seller may advertise carnivorous plant seed but in fact send you something non-carnivorous. I'm not saying this is always the case or that it is intentional, but it pays to research the appearance of the seed you are buying prior to the purchase so that you know exactly what to look for when the seed arrives.

One of the most important things to remember about seeds is that every carnivorous plant that grows from seed will be genetically unique. You may buy some seeds labelled as B52 seeds, but the plantlets that grow will not be "pure B52" plants, although they may share some traits (such as large traps). The only way to get a true B52 is via tissue culture and/or propagation of leaves, root cuttings etc. In theory it's the same as you and me: we come from an adult but are not genetically the same, but if the adult had an arm removed and stuck in "human tissue culture" the eventual product would be genetically identical. Please note this is valid for all species of carnivorous plants, I am simply using the B52 venus fly trap as an example.
Grey, Grey, Grey and 7 others liked this
By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
#101747
First & Foremost!
Keep ALL emails and invoices relating to your carnivorous plant order (whether ordered via an online store or eBay). I cannot stress this enough; without these documents you may find yourself unable to claim replacement plants or refunds! Keep these valuable documents until you receive your order and do not dispose of or delete them until you are certain your plants are as advertised.

You see, these documents are your evidence. They prove you made a purchase with the store you have a quarrel with and will help you claim back what is rightfully yours. If you receive the incorrect plants or they are damaged you do not have to settle with them. You have every right to request a replacement or refund and do not need to feel intimidated by an online retailer, regardless of reputation.

When you start a refund or replacement claim, keep all emails to and from the retailer until the issue is resolved. There have been cases where emails have been lost by a retailer (and sometimes a customer) so by keeping yours and the retailer’s emails, you will not have to restart your claim from the beginning should a mistake or error be made in an emailing service, or if an email is unintentionally deleted and not recovered.

Also, do not repot any plants you receive until you are sure they are the correct ones you ordered and double check their health. If your plants arrive bare-root, make sure their tissue paper is kept moist (to prevent dehydration) and keep them in an appropriate environment while you prepare your claim.

Research Your Rights
Before ordering carnivorous plants online it may be a smart move to check the returns policy of the store you are ordering from. This will tell you what you need to do in case your order is damaged, lost or if the wrong plants are received.

If ordering from eBay, make sure you pay directly via their Paypal Payment System so that if you have any issues with your order, you can claim a refund through eBay’s Buyer Protection scheme. I suggest reading the buyer protection documents before making any live-plant purchases so you know your rights in the rare event that there is a mistake.

Lower on this page there is a quote from Steve regarding the refund policies and protocol for FlyTrapStore; I requested this to help all of you understand refunds from a retailer's point of view and hope it will be enlightening.

Satisfaction Guaranteed?
If you receive your carnivorous plants and are not entirely satisfied, there are several things you can do to claim the correct plants or a refund. By not satisfied I mean the plants are damaged, not as advertised or the wrong plants have been received. I am also going to cover what you can do if you do not receive your plants at all.

I will say that despite how long this post is, claiming a refund can be very easy. I am simply going in-depth to provide all of you with as much information as I possibly can. There are a small handful of retailers who will be adamant that you are wrong and they are right – however this is nothing to worry about if you have enough evidence.

Starting a Claim
If you find a problem with your carnivorous plant delivery and decide to request a refund or replacement plant(s), the first step is to send an email to the store you ordered from explaining the situation. This email should be calm, cool and collected and not filled with profanities and flaring tempers. You may find if you become angry and start throwing abuse at the store sales staff that you are simply ignored.

In your email, explain what the problem is: Did you receive the wrong plants? Were they damaged? Include the date you made the order and the date it was delivered, also include the order number (you should be given one when you first made your purchase). Don’t forget to leave your name. You may find that the store you contacted will request evidence that you 1) made the purchase 2) received the plant(s) and 3) received the wrong plants or they were damaged. I will now cover what kinds of evidence you can provide to support your claim. If you received your plants bare-root and do not believe they will survive the claim (as these things take time), highlight this in your email or phone the retailer.

If you have multiple email addresses, I strongly suggest you email the retailer from the email used in your purchase or the email used for your PayPal account (if you paid via PayPal).

Photographic Evidence
If you are asked for photographic evidence (which is quite common), it simply means you need to take a few photos of the offending plant(s) and email them to the retailer.

Taking photographs of the offending plant(s) is all well and good though, but you need to prove that they are plants that have been ordered from the store you are claiming from. To do this, make sure the delivery invoice is next to the plant in the photograph. An invoice is a document containing your basic order information that should be included with your plants upon delivery, it may be inside the box or folded up behind the address written on the box. You can also take close-up photographs of the invoice, blanking out any noticeable bank details (if there are any).

Document Evidence
You may be asked to email any and all documents relating to your order to the retailer. The documents that will provide the most information are invoices (received upon making an order), shipment details, confirmation of shipment (some retailers send an email to let you know your plants have been shipped) and any other emails to and from the retailer (before you started the claim). You can always forward these emails to the retailer; this can be achieved by opening the emails using your preferred emailing service and clicking on the “Forward” icon. Remember to blank out any bank details!

If you choose to forward your emails, it may spam the retailer’s inbox so another method you can try is to take screenshots of all the emails (by pressing the “Prt Sc” button on your keyboard, or an equivalent), pasting the screenshots into a paint program and then editing out any bank details; then you can save the screenshots and compile all of these into one email, which is more efficient. If you really cannot find the “Prt Sc” button you can even take photographs of your computer screen and email these instead.

Claiming Replacement Plants
You have all the evidence you need to get a refund, but if you wish to claim replacement plants you need to consider how you can prove the plants are in either poor health or are not what you ordered.

If your plants are in poor health upon arrival and arrived swiftly, you need to start your claim as soon as possible. Plants that look sickly take time to do so, and by starting your claim sooner rather than later you can help to prove that the plants were in a bad state upon arrival and not due to your care. Take photos of the damaged or sick plants: close up shots are great. Try to include the delivery invoice in your photographs, just to be safe. If your plants look sickly and arrived after an extended period of time (usually 7 days+) then I do not know if you will successfully claim replacements: remember delivery will take its toll on a plants health, I highlighted this in the above post.

If you received the incorrect plants you may find photographic evidence is enough as I’d assume many retailers know what individual varieties of carnivorous plants look like and would easily recognise a mistake; it may help, however, if you provide a link to the plant you originally purchased so the retailer can compare the photographs to what you actually ordered.

Receiving Infested Plants
One of the more difficult things to identify and claim refunds/replacements for is plants that are infested with bugs. I have seen a case on the forums where a member ordered a plant and had not recognized the issue until it was too late to claim a refund/replacement.

Pests can occur at any time and prevention is the best cure. If you receive a plant that is obviously infested with some form of bug or mite (or scale) then, as with sickly plants, start your claim as soon as possible. Make it very clear that the infested plant is one you ordered from the retailer and that it has not been around any other plants (except any others you may have ordered that were in the same delivery box). By doing this, the retailer can rule out that the pests came from another of your plants.

Now I am not sure how well a claim regarding pests will go, but if you can keep a decent fungicide on hand, you can be prepared for any pest-related situation. It is unfortunate but we, as customers, may have to be responsible for rectifying a situation with pests, even if the retailer is at fault.

Sending Orders Back
If you are successful in claiming a refund or replacement plants, you may be asked to send the “faulty” plants back. In such a case you may find yourself having to pay courier fees however some retailers will accept the fault as their own and will pay for a courier themselves.

Plants Lost/Not Received
I have never encountered a situation where a person has not received their carnivorous plant order, whether it was lost or otherwise. For such a case, I would suggest starting a refund claim and highlighting that you have not received your plants. As for proving it, I can only suggest sending the invoice orders to the retailer (if requested). If the option is available, it may be worth buying delivery insurance for larger carnivorous plant orders; this insurance should cover the cost of deliveries if they are lost or stolen.

It does pay to be patient, so if you have waited for the full estimated delivery times and have not received your plants, email the retailer to inform them but tell them you will gladly wait for another two days. I know it is frustrating, but if you can show a little patience it may help you in the future if your plants unfortunately do not arrive. Patience is a virtue! Obviously, this is entirely optional.

Double-Orders
I have been in a situation where I have made an order and received it promptly, however to my dismay I received the exact same order a week later. If you find yourself in a situation like this, I would recommend not emailing the retailer but instead phoning them so the plants can be returned as soon as possible. In my case, the retailer sent out a courier to pick up the box; all you may need to do is give the plants some water so they do not dehydrate in transport back to their rightful owner.

No Response?
Unfortunately there have been and will continue to be a tiny group of retailers (or one-time sellers on sites such as eBay) who will ignore any and all emails you send them. In such a case you can either phone them (if a phone number is available) or accept the loss. Now, with eBay if you paid for a plant via eBay’s automated PayPal Payment System, you can report the seller if they do not respond and email eBay explaining the situation.

If you need to email eBay, make sure you let them know the date you bid on the carnivorous plant, the date you won and also tell them that you have all the emails from eBay confirming your purchase (as long as you kept them). Calmly explain the situation and tell them you have not received an email response from the seller. I do believe eBay keeps all bidding and purchase records for a limited period of time so make sure you start your claim as soon as possible – but allow time for the seller to respond, especially if they are in a different time zone.

I am currently putting together some more information so please bear with me.
Grey, Grey, Grey liked this
By frog
Posts:  254
Joined:  Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:44 pm
#101778
Thanks for a much needed report. Good job.
By jamez
Posts:  702
Joined:  Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:26 am
#101978
With seeds, it's harder. The seller could say "Maybe you didn't care for them correctly". No matter how long the conversation goes between you and the seller they can still blame you. You can prove it with plants, of course. The only way to get a true B52 is not through tissue culture. Leaf pullings and other vegetative propagation works.
By RogerMcAllen
Posts:  66
Joined:  Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:29 pm
#101981
Might I suggest, "Always use a credit card for extra protection".

If a seller refuses to take cards, suggest a Paypal transaction where you will take the hit and pay the additional 3% fee. If anything goes wrong with the transaction, you can call the 800 number on the back of the card and contact the fraud prevention department. Your account should instantly be credited. At that point the scammer is not messing with your money, they are messing with the credit card company's money. Credit card companies hate it when people mess with their money, and have whole teams of professionals dedicated to getting their money back by any means necessary. If you you use a debit card or worse personal check/back account your funds can be frozen while the dispute is worked out.
By jamez
Posts:  702
Joined:  Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:26 am
#101983
RogerMcAllen wrote:Might I suggest, "Always use a credit card for extra protection".

If a seller refuses to take cards, suggest a Paypal transaction where you will take the hit and pay the additional 3% fee. If anything goes wrong with the transaction, you can call the 800 number on the back of the card and contact the fraud prevention department. Your account should instantly be credited. At that point the scammer is not messing with your money, they are messing with the credit card company's money. Credit card companies hate it when people mess with their money, and have whole teams of professionals dedicated to getting their money back by any means necessary. If you you use a debit card or worse personal check/back account your funds can be frozen while the dispute is worked out.
Well of course they don't like it when you mess with their money. IDK why but that statement made me laugh. They do that to help you so you keep their money. They wouldn't ALLOW the scammer to mess with their money.
By frog
Posts:  254
Joined:  Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:44 pm
#102000
Thanks for the update to the second post to include information regarding refunds. This is the part I was waiting for
By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
#102044
jamez wrote:With seeds, it's harder. The seller could say "Maybe you didn't care for them correctly". No matter how long the conversation goes between you and the seller they can still blame you. You can prove it with plants, of course. The only way to get a true B52 is not through tissue culture. Leaf pullings and other vegetative propagation works.
Edited the post to include propagation, though the B52 was only an example.
RogerMcAllen wrote:Might I suggest, "Always use a credit card for extra protection".

If a seller refuses to take cards, suggest a Paypal transaction where you will take the hit and pay the additional 3% fee. If anything goes wrong with the transaction, you can call the 800 number on the back of the card and contact the fraud prevention department. Your account should instantly be credited. At that point the scammer is not messing with your money, they are messing with the credit card company's money. Credit card companies hate it when people mess with their money, and have whole teams of professionals dedicated to getting their money back by any means necessary. If you you use a debit card or worse personal check/back account your funds can be frozen while the dispute is worked out.
Added it to the first post; can't comment on the 800 number as I've not seen this on my own credit card and am not sure if it is limited to the US. Did mention contacting fraud support though.

Thank you everyone.
By Grey
Posts:  3255
Joined:  Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm
#102774
I was going to add some information regarding FlyTrapStore's return policy to the "Claiming Refunds" post, however it is long enough as-is and so I am posting it here. I would like to give Steve a HUGE thanks for typing this up for me, and another thanks to Matt for backing up what Steve said; I'd also like to thank them both for allowing me to post this.
Regarding refunds or replacement, first we make it clear in our terms (if people care to read them), that we are responsible for plants only up to the time of delivery. At that time, it is the customer's responsibility to ensure the plants' continued health. Almost all problems for which a customer may request a refund are caused by the customer themselves. These include leaving the delivered package outside in blistering sun or freezing cold, keeping the plants in the container for too long before planting, and without reading the instructions on what to do if they can't be planted immediately, or planting in an inappropriate growing medium or not using pure water with no dissolved minerals.

In such cases, we correspond with the person asking for a refund or replacement to try to determine exactly what happened, and we'll request photos by email so that we can diagnose any problems and make suggestions as to how to save the plant (many people erroneously regard the plant as a loss if it loses a few leaves and grows slowly, both of which are perfectly normal after transplanting).

Often by conversing with the customer we can let them know the cause of any damage, and when the customer realizes that it is either natural recovery from transplanting or damage caused by themselves they withdraw the request for a refund. For those that stubbornly want a refund anyway, we direct them to the conditions of sale posted at the website, in which we claim no responsibility for any damage to the plants that occurs after they have been delivered, because we have no control over what the plants experience after that point and it is then the customer's responsibility at that time to ensure the plants' continued survival and health.

We once received a demand for a refund from a couple who bought a Venus Flytrap for their son. After corresponding with them and receiving a photo, we were shocked to find that they had completely ignored the growing instructions included with the plant and had placed it in a porous red clay pot that had previously been used for other plants, in "good dirt" from their garden, and watered it with "good water" from a well. They assured us that they were good gardeners, and they appeared to be angry with us and the plant for not responding well to the same care they gave to garden vegetables. The soil was dense and clay-like (evident from the photo) and compacted like a brick. The Venus Flytrap was obviously suffering, but it was of course not our fault. We suggested they immediately unpot the plant, soak it for a day or so, then repot it into appropriate growing medium and use only pure water such as distilled or rainwater. They were simply angry, but we held our ground and patiently but firmly explained the situation. In light of that, they dropped their insistence upon a refund.

At other times we are empathetic to some misfortune that happens, we know of some circumstances where the plant may receive damage and it is not the customer’s fault, and at those times we issue a refund or replacement. With regard to seeds, we must trust the customer because there is no way to gather proof that they were lost, stolen or misdelivered without a tracking number, and shipping by a method that includes a tracking number is relatively expensive. Fortunately, only rarely do we receive a request for refund or replacement for seeds, and although we disclaim any responsibility for packages lost or stolen in the mail, we do usually replace a seed order even though there may be the rare case in which someone is simply trying to get seed without paying for it.
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