Gourmet Seed International is now under new ownership and operation. The new owner has moved the business to his organic farm in Hollister,California. Grant Brians and the Brians' family operates Heirloom Organic Gardens, a specialty vegetable, herb and orchard farm there along with Gourmet Seed. Both businesses focus on flavor as the heart of the philosophy on the products. Shipments from the Hollister location started in July and we strive to meet all of the customers needs.
We are small, but focus on gardeners and market growers and are the exclusive importers of Bavicchi seeds from Italy as well as seeds from other sources and production by our farm of some vegetable seeds. Please reference our website or call the telephone number if you are interested in seed or need information from the business. We try to staff the phones from 8-4 Pacific time on weekdays.
This post is simply intended to let people know of the change from the previous operation in New Mexico, but the same high quality seed will continue!
Had a similar experience to the fellow below. Attempted to deal with an error on their part last season and was met with the overly aggressive Phil the manager instead. Poor, poor service...decent seed list.
Great company to do business with. Been buying from them for several years, now. Quality is good, packaging is amazing, shipping is incredibly fast. Only one glitch of an incorrect item on an order a year ago, and they were friendly and quick to fix it. Always get great results in the garden, too, and I like trying the unusual mix of varieties.
drthor Irving, TX (Zone 8a) (8 reviews) April 7, 2013
Posted on April 2, 2013, updated April 7, 2013
Posted on September 8, 2010, updated April 2, 2013
This is my favorite seed company and website.
I am from Italy and I am always looking for vegetables that remind me of growing up in Padova, Italy.
Gourmet seeds has all the vegetables I love. they came in very large quantity.
MY FAVORITE WEBSITE FOR SEEDSOn April 2nd, 2013, drthor changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
This company was my favorite until I had a horrible experience and I will NEVER order again.
I bought one package of seeds that was on sale last August for $2.50. I planted after 7 months. I had 5% germination.
I wrote the company and I received a very long email saying that they did test the seeds ... that they were good ... probably it is because I stored the seeds badly ... practically it was all my fault ... and how dare do I contact them ...
So I did sent them clear pictures of all the other companies seeds I started at the same time and had 99% germination. I also wrote that the seeds were all stored in the same way.
I received an email back telling me that he cannot see any problem in these pictures) in a very rude manner.
The next day I called the company. I really thought this person"Phil" was somebody in a calling service outside USA because he really didn't understand anything about gardening.
Guess what? Phil answered the phone and he said he was one of the owner. He couldn't stop talking ... he was aggressive and offensive and totally ruin my experience with this company. By the way he told me that if a seed is on sale and I don't plant it right away ... it is my problem.
Wouldn't that be easier that he offered to send me the package of seeds for $2.50 and ask me what it did go wrong and how could he improve his product!
This person was rude and I will NEVER order from them again.
"a life time to build your reputation - one second to destroy it"On April 7th, 2013, drthor added the following:
I am not surprise of this answer, after reading the latest reviews of this company. Still a lot of "talking" but not "taking responsibility" of their products and most of all their "bad" customer service.
I apologize to the DG members that read my first review.
This company was good until I had a problem with them ... and I am glad that it was only for $2.50 ...
Bavicchi is a wonderful company and they seriously should look for a better representative in the USA.Company representative comment on April 5, 2013: On Apr 5, 2013 8:06 AM, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
This is truly one of the more odd situations we've seen. The customer bought the seed nearly 10 months ago (June 2012) as part of an 'overstock/end of season' sale of seed packed and dated for that year. The customer recently contacted us by email regarding poor germination. We confirmed we had a refund/replacement guarantee, but also noted that the order and seed the customer had identified to us was from 2012 in order to confirm we were talking about the correct seed. As is part of normal practice for our quality control, we asked if she could provide any additional information regarding storage, growing conditions and the like so that we might be able to identify any potential issues. Although the seed packaging was now past the expiration, that particular variety normally stores well and in fact had passed a germination test shortly before it had been put on sale in June of 2012.
The customer graciously not only gave us some additional information about storage and growing conditions, but she also sent some pictures of what appear to be a pretty wonderful seed-starting setup. We wrote back that from what she had shared we certainly didn't see any problems that could have contributed to the poor germination and so the cause was still a mystery.
The customer then requested a replacement package. Although it is extremely unusual to receive a guarantee request for seed purchased so long ago and for which the packaging had since expired, since she had been so helpful with her information we agreed to do so.
We then received a phone call from the customer where she repeatedly kept saying that we were 'horrible' and that our customer service was 'horrible'. Although we made an attempt to try to clear up what we could only guess was some type of communication misunderstanding and to assure her that we were in fact sending her replacement, she kept interrupting and repeating how 'horrible' we were.
And now this rather bizarre posting.
We're still the same company that she first posted about, and take great pride in going the extra mile to give the best possible quality and service we can humanly provide, and we appreciate any construction feedback we get as we strive to serve our customers better.
yclops Highland, UT (Zone 6a) (1 review) December 22, 2012
I've ordered twice from Gourmet Seed and have been very pleased with their service and products. Lots of interesting varieties, huge packets, and very fast shipping.
The seeds I've received from them have always been among my highest germinating seeds; the Italian Red Pear tomato I ordered this last Spring had almost 100% germination (and was a huge hit...love it), and the Tuscan kale and Charantais melon seeds from 2007-08 still germinated very well in 2012. The difference in germination rates from other vendors' seeds is noticeable.
lssfishhunter Jonesville, SC (Zone 7b) (7 reviews) December 21, 2012
I ordered from them early tue and received my order of corn on fri. It shipped from NM and I live in SC. I had no problems and the shipment came in an air-tight package with the exp. date, purity, and germ. rate on the package. If I need anything else, I will not hesitate to order from them again.
the gloves would not last a week in normal garden use, and too small for a medium. if you saw these gloves at a flea market for $1 you wouldn't buy them
the pocket knife's blades were so compressed within the tang of the knife the only way to extract them was with a another tool—either that or have titanium fingernail transplants.
the original call to customer service was pleasant enough, the women said she had a knife and tried it and it worked fine and offered to send it as replacement and would send a mailing label for return of the gloves.
replacement knife arrived with exact same problem—apparently the women at customer service had a problem with truth telling.
I called and spoke to same customer service agent who was very defensive and went to her supervisor whose approach was to launch into a belligerent tirade never taking a breath and drowning out my efforts to communicate and then he hung up.
bottom line I've been making purchases online for more than a decade from businesses large and small and this without reservation the worst in terms of products and service.
on a scale of 1 to 10 this out fit is -10Company representative comment on August 17, 2012: On Aug 17, 2012 6:26 AM, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
We're sorry that this customer was not happy with his purchase. However, we take great exception in his portrayal of our products and customer service.
Although he was very belligerent and angry from his very first communication with us, we followed through on proper customer service, including a offering choice of refund on return or replacement. We did send a replacement knife along with a pre-paid return label, and in spite of his tirades we made every attempt to treat him professionally and with courtesy.
However, we will draw the line when a customer becomes abusive, and as a matter of policy to protect our employes we will cut off communication when that happens.
The customer did not like the products. That's fine, and as promised we did follow through on every effort to satisfy the customer, including refunding the purchase on return of the products.
However there is a difference between not liking a product and it being defective. These products were not defective. Goatskin is by nature more supple than calfskin, yet we can attest to the strength and durability of these gloves as they are used quite successfully by our field crews. Also, folding pocket knives should be by design to some extent stiff and difficult to open and close. This is for the safety of the user to prevent accidental closure when the blade is in use, something especially true for this particular knife as it includes a razor sharp pruning saw type blade.
This customer demanded a full refund before he would consider returning the product--including the replacement knife he had already been sent. This is something no merchant would ever do, and when he was reminded that he already had the pre-paid shipping label and that we would issue a refund on return, he became so loud and abusive we cut off communication.
We would advise any merchant to avoid doing business with this customer.
Love getting my "PRESENT" from them every year. Packaging is so colorful and fun! Seed packages are so generous--surprised at how many seeds they contained. Germination rate is always good and I had the best eggplant I ever grew last summer. Absolutely a keeper!
I've ordered from Gourmet Seed for several years. The service and germination are great, but the best part is the fantastic selection. I can always find something(s) that I find no where else and can rarely resist buying. I've found some great varieties that my garden will now never be without.
szygzy Bay Village, OH (4 reviews) January 13, 2012
First, they have a good seed list. Lots of things that are difficult to find elsewhere. However, quality control issues, such as the lettuce germination problems listed below, are common. After several years of ordering they have screwed something up every year. Usually treated seed listed as non-treated, incorrect cultivars (which they are then hostile about returning), and poor germination. This may be worth it to access difficult to find seeds and then grow out and save your own. A poorly run company representing a respected one, Bavvichi. Bavvichi needs to find a competent distributor. The last straw was this years antics, in which customer service wants to tell me I ordered treated seed while I am staring at my receipt which says otherwise. Very irritating. I advise taking your business elsewhere. Try sementi seeds, which has access to many of the same cultivars, but is well run.Company representative comment on January 13, 2012: On Jan 13, 2012 9:43 AM, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
While we appreciate constructive feedback and are always anxious to deal with any problems that may arise, we do need to clarify and correct a few of the comments posted here.
In spite of best efforts to repeatedly test and correctly store seed, on rare occasion seed that is not up to our normal standards does come up. Additionally, some claims for poor germination or performance are due to circumstances beyond the control of any seed company, such as poor weather, poor storage or handling by the customer, or some other cause. Regardless, in every case we are quick to respond to the customer's needs as is fitting the situation.
As to the current issue of treated/untreated seed, the varieties in question were all clearly listed online as treated when this customer placed their order. Additionally, the customer's packing list in fact does not list this either way. Even more so, the customer admitted to us by email that their packing list did not include this information, so what she claims in her posting that she is looking at simply does not exist.
Although this ordering error is not on our part, we have already responded to the customer by offering to arrange for its return or help in whatever other way they may need. Considering the circumstance we feel we have done everything and more possible to satisfy the customer.
In every communication this customer has been quite harsh and spiteful in their comments to us. Regardless, we have tried to be very courteous and offer solutions and resolutions, even for issues such as this that are not our fault. Our offer to help remains open.
This was my first experience with this company. I bought 15 different seeds. None of the 2 Lettuce (May Queen or Ciucca) germinated. I wrote the company and they claimed to have experienced 100% germination on these seeds but nevertheless offered to reimburse me. I said OK but never heard from them again...
Since then things hardly improved; only a few of the Bush Snap and none of the Leeks or the Onion seeds came out either.
I have grown a substantial garden over the last 25y and never had an experience like this. By the way, my 2011 garden is otherwise doing very well in spite of some challenging weather conditions, but not thanks to Gourmet Seed. Company representative comment on June 20, 2011: On Jun 20, 2011 1:36 PM, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
We did receive an email from this customer regarding a problem with the lettuce seed not germinating. After properly identifying the order and the customer's preference for a refund, a refund was issued.
This posting is the first we have been told of any other problems. The customer did order a number of other items, but since they are not mentioned here, we can only assume they are performing well.
We are truly sorry if the customer has had difficulty, and would like to continue a direct conversation to work to identify possible causes, such as the very unusual weather conditions that have existed this year, any possible shipping issues, or any other possibilities. The fact that the customer is having problems for such an odd range of varieties in the order makes this conversation particularly important.
Whenever any kind of cultivation problem is brought up, we do all we can to identify possible causes. In particular, any issues of possible germination problems are looked into quickly. This requires as much information as is possible from the customer including lot numbers, growing conditions/weather, how the customer stored the seed until it was planted, and the like. This allows us to not only investigate and retest a lot of seed, but also to investigate any and all possible causes of problems.
Ultimately, not only do we want to solve whatever the problem may have been for this customer, but where appropriate we do want to take steps to avoid similar issues for our other customers and add to our knowledge base.
We invite this customer to please continue communicating with us as we work to get to the bottom of whatever issues there may be.
Very pleased with my purchase from Gourmet Seeds. Good selection of seed.
I received my seeds about 4 days after I placed my order, which was great. I ordered onion seed, arugula, and 2 types of tomatoes. I have planted the arugula and the tomatoes, and germination rates on both have been very good.
I would definitely order from this company again.
Doug9345 Durhamville, NY (Zone 5b) (7 reviews) February 28, 2010
I was surprised and pleased with how fast I received my seeds. I placed on order with them on the evening of Saturday, February 20. They shipped the package out Monday and I received it Wednesday February 24. A very impressive time. I have not opened the individual seed packs but I expect the seed to be in very good shape as the appear to be foil envelopes. An invoice was included and the seeds where in the box in the same order that they where on the invoice which made it very easy to confirm that they where all there. Be aware that some of the envelopes are primarily labeled in Italian.
OlgaGarden Littleton, CO (8 reviews) February 9, 2010
Posted on December 5, 2009, updated February 8, 2010
Ordered my seeds on the 2nd of December, received them on the 5th, that's pretty fast!
All the seed packets I ordered were in the box, perfect!
The shipping was a tad on the high side in comparison to some other seed companies, but they make up for it by having interesting varieties of seed.
Great experience, will order again!On February 9th, 2010, OlgaGarden added the following:
Nice company, interesting varieties. It was my first time ordering and I was not dissapointed, everything I ordered was in the box safe and sound.
First time ordering from Gourmet Seed Int'l. Chose to order from them for the unique varieties being offered. Placed my order Sunday January 24th around 11pm, received confirmation Monday by email and my order arrived by priority mail on Wed January 27th. Extremely fast considering they came from New Mexico to New York. All 17 varieties ordered arrived well packed with no mistakes. Excellent service and communication. All seed pack appear high quality but the real test will be germination and growth. Will post again in several months on germination. As for variety and speed of delivery can highly recommend this company.
Hello, I recently made a negative comment on Gourmet seeds Internationally due to how I was very angry on the past company "Harvest Moon Farms". I was aware they did a merge and honestly thought they would still be in it. I did contact them and thought they wouldnt give me support due to how it might not be their problem but after contacting them
they did help me out!!!
I was able to contact the manager and he was able to help me out with my past problem and i was able to purchase some seeds from them in February and they arrived great, they are of very nice quality and I love the mini greenhouse they have for sale...it just eliminated the weak plastic ones you buy in lowes, or other nusurys(burpees, etc)
These should last a long time for me.
Thank you very much Gourmet Seeds, and Please continue giving great customer service, discounts, and gifts as well.
DennInMI Manistee, MI (Zone 4b) (5 reviews) February 7, 2009
I just placed my first order with them last week. Service was certainly excellent, received the order (about $60 worth) 5 days after submitting the order online.
I was pleasantly surprised with how generous the packages seem to be on the seed count. I haven't opened any of them, because they're all plastic, hermetically sealed packets.
I've noticed some of the comments here about about the dating on the packets -- I think a lot of the concern is just a misunderstanding by the customer of the dating system. Many of my packets came with a "packed on" as well as a "use by" date. I don't have any concern about the fact that seed might have been packed a year or so ago, as long as they're still within the "use by" date -- a lot of technology went into the hermetic packaging and special seed preparation prior to packaging to ensure freshness and viability. I used to work at a commercial greenhouse prior to changing careers, and this type of packaging has been pretty standard for commercial grower for a while now, but the retail consumer hasn't been fully educated about it yet, I guess.
So, I'm happy with my order, looking foward to spring sowing of their products, and I'm glad I found a new source of unusual varieties.
Jayryunen Sapello, NM (Zone 5b) (1 review) January 27, 2009
I ordered 'Norli' peas from this company last year, and they delivered my seeds promptly. They were the only company I could find that carried 'Norli', so I was pleased.
I was also tickled that they are right here in NM, my home state. So I was discouraged when I read of the negative experiences others have had with the company, especially as I had just placed this year's seed order with them.
Happily, my seeds arrived today (Tues) after I had ordered them Sat.! I only ordered 6 seed packets from them, but the order is correct. Two of the packets are dated for this year, the others for 2010 or beyond.
As for the remarks about the packaging... 4 of the packets were obviously packaged in Italy. They do things differently in other countries... get over it. If you're a relatively new gardener, the cultivation instructions are in Italian, so maybe this isn't where you want to start? LOL
My one disappointment with this company is... no current catalogue in the box. I haven't received this years catalogue yet, so I was ordering from last years, and I was hoping I'd get a current one in my order. GI, if you want to compete, you've got to get your catalogue out around Xmas... that's when I got Cook's Garden (you're better than they are for European seed selection)
I'll be ordering again... if I can get a catalogue! =o)
tantaw123 Lubbock, TX (2 reviews) January 20, 2009
I have had the pleasure of buying form this company for years. I must say that their seeds have been of very good quality and their customer is outstanding! I would gladly recommend this company to any gardener.
I've been searching for a "French" Tarragon plant to cook with for quite some time now. When I found Gourmetseed.com I noticed they sold the seeds I'd been looking for so I bought those and a few others to make the shipping and handling worthwhile. Well, shortly after ordering, I started reading a lot of testimony about how you can't get viable seed from a true culinary Tarragon. The appropriate variety you cook with HAS to be cloned. There are a million dissatisfied customers out there who got duped and not one good review anywhere about anyone successfully growing tasteful Tarragon from seed. When I contacted them with my concern this was their reply:
"We do have a test garden where we grow new varieties and periodically check some of our standard varieties, but we depend greatly on the community of growers we have as our customers to help us in our descriptions... To be honest, we've never been in a situation to compare this to other Tarragons."
That doesn't sound like a committed answer. It sounds to me like I just got duped by a snake-oil salesman. If you want a professional seed I would go somewhere else, seeing as the man who responded also made this statement erroneously spelling the plant's common name disrobing whatever faith I had in their knowledge before now:
"The Italian seed supplier we get the Terragon from assures us it is the type you are looking for, but..."
All the controversy and misspellings aside, this company's seeds are advertised to be kept in hermetically sealed envelopes to last longer, yet the Tarragon seed I received expires two months after I received it. Hardly professional. I shouldn't even have to ask for a fresh packet, it should have been a given. The other six packets I recieved all expire next year, which is typical despite the "extra neat-o space packaging". If you ask me, it looks like they buy bulk seed and just seal it themselves.
Further, when I asked customer service to reassure me that this is the variety I wanted (which a professional botanist informed me was the SATIVA variety) they skirted around the issue and told me that they were sure this was the one I wanted and that the nomenclature was dubious all around. What?!?! So now they're telling me that they're sure even though they just informed me that they didn't know, can't even spell it, and relied on customer feedback? Just remember, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. This may be the same species of Tarragon, but it is not the culinary variety you would expect from a distributor who goes by the moniker "Gourmet".
They told me then, that if I wanted I could ask for a refund... which I most certainly did because I wouldn't have bought ANY of the seeds from them knowing the Tarragon was the bitter, non-culinary variety. They responded daily to me emails until I asked for my money back, and now I've heard nothing.
If you buy Tarragon from seed, the merchant will tell you the typical lie that "Russian" Tarragon is labeled A. dracunculoides and theirs, A. dracunculus, is the edible kind... which is only half true. Their "edible" Tarragon, A. dracunculus, is not the tasty variety you cook with, rather the plant must be a particular strain identified as "A. dracunculus var. Sativa" to have the essential oils you are looking for!!! So now you know. Don't let it cost you $26.On December 9th, 2008, srhelmick changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
They did indeed refund my whole order with one request.Company representative comment on December 5, 2008: On Dec 4, 2008 5:09 PM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We attempted to answer the questions this customer gave us in several emails, and at every step offered a refund or replacement if the customer was not happy with their purchase. The following is a copy of our latest response where we informed the customer we were issuing a refund:
We're sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with your purchase, but as we have assured you in every communication with you, we continue to be willing to offer a refund or replacement for your purchase.
You are correct in that there does seem to be a lot of confusion on how to classify varieties, and in particular there is a lot of controversy over what truly constitutes 'Russian' or 'French' Tarragon, so that is why we attempted to assure you that although our Italian supplier classifies this product as they do, we are always open to any additional feedback we can get, and we are always willing to offer a refund or replacement if you did not receive what you thought you purchased, or if the product was not up to our normal standards of quality.
A partial answer to your question on the additional designation of 'sativa' is that it is not one the Italians apparently make. Part of the problem is that botanical classification is not uniform nor consistent, which is why so many plants have multiple aliases as botanical names. Not only do resources disagree when discussing the actual ability of Tarragon to produce seed, but they disagree on how to classify the various types, including the 'French' (such as adding the 'var. sativa').
Again, it does not do us any good to try to deceive our customers or refuse to offer a solution if they are not satisfied.
Regardless, you are obviously not happy with your purchase. Although you have not relayed any similar questions or other problems or issues with the rest of the purchase, we will issue a refund for your entire purchase.
We wish you well in your efforts.
farmingsaba Windwardside, Saba Netherlands Antilles (1 review) August 18, 2008
This is my second year ordering from Gourmet Seed and I'm pleased with both orders. I'm still using seeds from last year's order too.
Quick turnaround time as they are mailed to my US forwarding address to be airmailed to me here on Saba, Dutch Caribbean.
I like ordering seeds in bulk packaging and the prices are great too!
I would recommend this company to anyone wanting fresh seeds.
I have ordered from this company for years, (Harvest Moon Farms before?) and it is now the company I buy most of my seeds from. I buy some seeds from Native Seed Search, and sunflowers, potatoes and second crop peas elsewhere, but the rest come from here.
I've placed several orders from GSI.
Each time, something is slightly amiss such as wrong size packet/ wrong variety/ forgotten item. In each case the company has corrected the mistake in a fair way, but it's a hassle to have to deal with.
My most recent order was for one 100g packet of seeds and several hand tools (they sell nice quality no-frills tools from Italy that are a much better value that the Chinese garbage peddled by the box stores). The tools all arrived in a timely fashion, but no seeds were enclosed, and no indication of the status was provided (out of stock, back-ordered, or just plain forgotten). An e-mail to customer service was not acknowledged within 1 week, so today I made phone call to CS (again). Helpful as usual, and maybe I'll get the seeds I need for fall planting, but I'm just not sure that it's worth the hassle to have to follow through and get every order corrected...This would be a great company if they were just a little more detail oriented.
On July 21st, 2008, JJFarmer added the following:
I'm sorry to have provoked a defensive response here---as I've said, the company has good customer service. With the exception of their email response (I never got one), I don't dispute GSI's characterization of the transaction---I think this it's consistent with my comment.
This is a good company with nice products and ample customer service, but I do think it's a fair to observe that they have a pattern of not quite getting it right when it comes to order fulfillment (at least for me, but other posts also seem consistent with this).
I have no doubt this wrangling of and reshipping of orders is bad for their bottom line, it's also not a fantastic way to engender customer satisfaction. Gourmet Seed does offer a unique product line and I've been happy with all my purchases so I'll likely continue to order from them and would encourage others to do so. Just don't be surprised if it takes an iteration or two to complete your order.
I'll happily change this rating to positive as soon as I've placed an order or two that come off without a hitch...On July 24th, 2008, JJFarmer added the following:
A quick follow-up: The missing spinach seeds arrived today. To my astonishment, they are the wrong variety! No note or packing slip was enclosed, so I can't say whether this was a substitution or another mistake. Either way it's bad news since I got a bulk package of a cool weather only variety (one that I coincidently already have seeds of) when what I wanted was a slow-to-bolt variety suitable for getting a jump on the fall crop.
Is there a pattern here?
details, details, details...
For purposes of full disclosure, I've e-mailed GSI's customer service and have not yet heard back. We'll see.On July 25th, 2008, JJFarmer changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
Another update: Today I received an e-mail confirming another package has been shipped to me. A customer service rep. followed up with a phone call this evening to apologize for the error and inform me that the correct seeds were sent via priority mail (a very nice touch, that I do appreciate)
Again, very good customer service (a rare thing these days). I sincerely hope GSI can work the kinks out of their order fulfillment system. This is a good company and they sell products that can't be found elsewhere. I'll certainly continue to patronize them.
I figure I've probably spent over $100 with this company, but I'd be surprised if they turned a profit on the transactions...I'm changing my rating to positive---at least they'll earn some good feedback from me for all the trouble. Company representative comment on July 21, 2008: On Jul 21, 2008 12:26 PM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We thank this customer for his business and apologize for the error in filling his order. Here are the details of this transaction:
He placed the order on 11 July, and it was delivered to him on Thursday afternoon, 17 July. He sent us an email 9:26pm that evening. We responded to his email on Friday morning (apparently he did not receive it) telling him that we would send the missing item right away. It was shipped out that afternoon (Friday 18 July).
The customer called us this morning (Monday 21 July), and as the person answering the phone was not aware of the details, they offered to call back with any information, which they did. However, before they made the call, the customer filed this report.
We erred in filling the customer's order, and for that we are truly sorry. Not only do errors of this type not please the customer, but they cost us greatly in correcting the problem. However, as is true for any merchant, we appreciate it when any customer will give us a reasonable amount of time to respond and fix the problem.
Gourmet Seed International, LLC
Online order #05014326
The ordering was easy and the seeds arrived in about 8 days. The counts of mature seeds were good, even though there are a lot of small immature seeds in the packs.
Only one isssue here with my order. The packages were all marked "Untreated". However, the "Moon's Super Bush Beefsteak" seed had a pinkish red coating on them. I'm not real savvy on a lot of this stuff, but I have 93 other tomato seed varieties and none of them are red. So, I have to believe the package was incorrectly marked as "Untreated". Treated or untreated is not a major problem to me, because all I want are enough tomatoes to properly save the seeds from my harvest. The rest are for trading to increase the number of varieties I have to grow from and save seeds.
I'm not really into all that organic stuff, but there are others out there who DO care a great deal. So this comment is for them, plus, I don't like ANY mistakes on correctlly identifying what's inside the package. Surprises are for birthdays. Anyhow, I've already repackaged the seeds to physically fit into my inventory and storage system, and I have thrown the original packaging.
Yes, I will probably order again in the future. Company representative comment on July 17, 2008: On Jul 17, 2008 7:20 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We thank this customer for their business and their feedback, although we wish they had told us directly of the error so that we could have swiftly corrected it.
Although we make every effort to double check our work and offer quality products and services, we do depend on our customers to notify us immediately of any error on our part or any quality issues they may discover.
We do stand behind the quality of our products and services, and offer a guarantee. As such, we would like to extend an invitation to this customer to contact us for a refund or replacement, since the seed was not to their satisfaction.
Gourmet Seed International, LLC
wooddogs3 Albuquerque, NM (1 review) March 20, 2008
Last year a friend ordered seed from this company and complained that it "wasn't dated for this year" but had a "use by" date. I bought the seed from her, and nearly every seed germinated. I got good crops and was very satisfied, and ordered from them directly this year. Their selection is excellent and I like the airproof packaging, since I think it's very wasteful to throw away seed that is still in perfect condition.
I just received my first order and was I ever pleased ! I love the foil packaging . This allows for the seeds to be viable much longer then the paper envelopes most companies use. I will be buying my LONG TERM STORAGE seeds from them for sure. I got prompt replies to my questions and fast delivery of my order. TWO THUMBS UP !
seedgeek Jonesboro, AR (4 reviews) February 10, 2008
In January 2008 I ordered 11 packets of vegetable and herb seeds from Gourmet Seed International. When the order arrived, it contained 5 seed packets dated 5/2006, and one seed packet with no date at all. I emailed the company, expressed my opinion that fresh seed was my expectation and asked if they could replace the seed with fresh 2008 seed. They replied with an email talking about how seed remains viable for years after it is packed, etc. I again told them I had never been sent 2 year old seed by any other company, and asked to either have fresh seed sent, or my money refunded. They have said to return the seed and they will refund the money. This is disappointing, as it now means I must take the time to go back to the post office to send it, and must place another order and pay another shipping and handling fee for another order with another company. I think they also should refund their shipping and handling fee ( $6.29 US, the highest of the 5 companies I ordered seed from this year), as I certainly would not have even ordered from them to start with if they had posted on their web site that they send seed packed 2 years ago. And, of course, my time and energy to handle this return as well as time off work during the business day to get to the post office is not something they will reimburse. Company representative comment on February 10, 2008: On Feb 9, 2008 8:06 PM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We are sorry that this customer is unhappy with the seed that we offer, and did offer to refund their purchase price, which is normal for any company.
We did explain that although most domestic seed companies use simple paper packages which only allow for a 1 year expiration dating, much of our seed comes from some of Europe's finest seed houses packaged in long-life, hermetically-sealed packages, which allow for a 3 year expiration date. In fact, we have followed this example as it provides the customer with much fresher seed. Also, much of what is being sold as '2008' seed here in the US was packaged in 2007 from 2006 harvests. In other words, still 2006 seed.
After we offered our explanation, we did extend our offer for a refund, as it was obvious that the customer was still not happy with the seed. We did not hear anything further from the customer until they filed this complaint, and were never aware that the customer took exception to returning the seed. If the customer will contact us, we will be happy to arrange for a pickup of the seed at their convenience.
My sister living in New York has ordered on my behalf various seeds from Gourmet Seeds in December 2007(over 30 varieties) which she brought to me when she came to Turkey for Christmas.
To my suprise most of the seeds were with expiration date 2007.
My intention is to use these seeds in 2008 (some of them end of 2008).
In my view sending seeds with less than one month validity is neither fair nor correct and I think the customer is entitled to freshly packed seeds when ordering in December 2007 and not receive seeds from old stocks.
Even if Gourmetseed tells me that I will not have germination problem because their product has longer germination validity from the one indicated on the package, I still think that it is a really negative points on their behalf.
FYI, I have also ordered in the same manner from Baker Seeds. the grains I have received were with the sticker "packaged for 2008".
Taking into account past experience, their customer service, variety of seeds they have, I will still keep ordering from them.
(Because of past good experience I graded them neutral and not negative)
I strongly suggest their management to take necessary steps to prevent such situation in the future.
Company representative comment on January 22, 2008: On Jan 22, 2008 7:27 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We want to thank this customer for their business and their comments. They bring up a valid concern that we are trying to resolve that will genuinely benefit the customer.
We strive to provide 'current' season seed whenever possible to our customers, meaning that seed we are packing now was harvested in 2007. This means, however, that we are a bit later in getting this on hand, tested, and packed than many seed companies, especially since so much of our seed is sourced from overseas. In fact, some of our overseas seed is still in transit to us. To resolve this problem and to get a jump on packing seed for the upcoming season, many seed companies almost exclusively use previous season seed, which for this example would be seed harvested in 2006. This means the seed is already one year old, so although the germination dating may make the seed appear to be fresher, it simply means it was packed later. For most seed, this is not a huge problem, as most varieties, if stored properly, will handle this extra year and still pass germination testing easily. We've avoided doing this as we feel it isn't being quite upfront with the customer as to how fresh the seed really is. As to Baker Seed, we can't say what their practice is, and trust that as a quality company, they are ensuring their customers are getting quality seed.
We've struggled to balance getting the freshest seed possible to our customers, and still have it available for those early shoppers. For next year, we're working with our growers and seed sources to expedite the arrival of fresh seed, and are working to streamline our processing here to get the current season's seed on the shelf as quickly as possible. Our plan is to have a larger percentage of current year seed available for those who order early for the next go around in the winter of 2008/2009.
We welcome any comments or thoughts from our customers on this subject at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
fwfarm Lebanon, OR (Zone 7b) (18 reviews) January 19, 2008
The range of varieties is quite interesting, the seeds arrived
in a timely fashion and have been germinating reasonably.
But many of them are treated seed; which I don't use, so it
ended up being rather a big waste for me. Even one of the
packets that was clearly marked "untreated seed" is
treated - seeds aren't that color naturally. I was also not
thrilled to see the carrot seed packet marked "packed 05
expires 07" - this was in 07- I'd like to think I'll get seed that
will be good for a couple of years after I get it.Company representative comment on January 19, 2008: On Jan 19, 2008 10:00 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We want to thank this customer for their business and the feedback. With thousands of products on the shelf, it is nearly inevitable that a mistake will occur on occasion.
We would like to hear directly from this customer so that we can trace down the labeling error on the treated seed to be sure that there are no more of this variety on the shelf mislabeled. Also, since we have no idea when a customer plans on using the seed they purchase, and we have many greenhouse customers, we can only assure that the germination dating has not expired at the time of shipment. When placing an order towards the end of the year, many of our customers will let us know they need seed dated through the following year, and we will try to fulfill their needs as best as possible, depending on current availability and where we are in rotating our stock. Since we use long-life, hermetically-sealed packaging, store our seed in a climate controlled warehouse, and periodically test it as it is stored on the shelf, our germination test dates are for longer periods than the single season dating allowed by paper packaging. We were pleased to hear that in this case the germination was fine.
The bottom line is that we do stand behind the quality of the seed, and we look forward to any direct feedback we can receive from a customer, positive or negative, as this is what helps us to improve our products and service. If any customer has any issues with our products or service, we request they contact us immediately so that we can have every opportunity to make it right.
Kertesz New Prague, MN (4 reviews) January 8, 2008
This is the second year I have placed a small order with Gourmet Seeds for unusual and hard-to-find vegetables, and I am very pleased with their products and their customer service. Seeds arrived within a week of ordering, and my written request for one variety was filled even though the on-line ordering system said it was out of stock. It doesn't appear that I was charged for the extra item either, though I am quite willing to pay for it. The seed packages are often in German or Italian but I don't care, as the quality, and quantity, of the seeds surpass many American companies. It's nice to have a company that cares for small orders - and I will definitely be making larger ones after this.
paracelsus Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) (17 reviews) December 15, 2007
This is a great place to get unusual veggie seeds from Europe. For instance, they have a bunch of old-time British turnip varieties I have never seen anywhere. I really like the large and very beautiful seed packets from the Italian seed companies they carry too. The art of the seed packet has obviously not been forgotten in Italy. They also include a very generous number of seeds.
Rarely am I contacted by a company when they are out of something, but this company did. They were out of a yellow bush bean I ordered and emailed to ask me if I wanted a substitute. I said yes, and they sent me a double amount of another yellow bush bean. They also shipped priority mail, which is unusual in the seed biz.
I really like this company for European veggie varieties.
RemyO Tonawanda, NY (Zone 6b) (12 reviews) October 27, 2007
I love this company to get unusual seeds. The European seed packets in general are much larger than the usual American ones. The prices are very good if you factor in the European seed counts.(I hope the company keeps it this way!) I have no problem not being able to read the packet info. I would rather receive them in their original packets than pay more for repackaging into packets written in English. Cultural info can easily be found here and on other places on the internet.
The shipping may seem high, but seeds are delivered quickly by Priority mail.
pajaritomt Los Alamos, NM (Zone 5a) (9 reviews) October 5, 2007
I have ordered several times from this company and have enjoyed the selection of European seed which is hard if not impossible to locate in other companies in the US. The European seed packages are lots more generous than American ones as well, it seems to me.
The only problem that I have had is that their web site would not my perfectly ordinary credit card that worked everywhere else. I even called them and had the person on the phone try to enter it and she couldn't either. So, I had to mail them a paper order and a check. Bummer.
But I got great seeds from them! Company representative comment on October 5, 2007: On Oct 5, 2007 10:45 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We want to thank pajaritomt for their kind words about our product line. We continually search to find new varieties to enhance the culinary experience you can get from your garden.
As to the credit card issue, we are sorry that the card would not process, but as any online merchant will tell you, we do not have control of this nor is this type of issue normally caused by the website itself. When paying for an order online, there are several players 'behind the scenes' involved with the secure processing of that payment, and for any number of reasons a payment can fail, even ones as simple as a key server being temporarily down or the security code being incorrectly entered.
If any of our customers have difficulty processing a payment, we invite them to contact us as this customer did, and we will attempt everything we can on our end to resolve the problem. However, as we do not actually process the payment (which is similar to a regular walk-in store), we are at the mercy of the various gateways and banks involved.
Again, thanks for the kind words, and as always we will continue to strive to provide an exceptional product at a fair price with exceptional service.
Gourmet Seed International, LLC
They substituted an item without letting me know if I wanted it or not (they have my email address). I had to emailed them three times trying to ask them whether the item they sent me was the same one I ordered/paid for because the seed packet was in Italian.
They finally emailed me back on my third email to them and said that they did not have my first two emails and did not know what happened to them????
Then I got another email . . . . .from their warehouse telling me that they have already sent my order??? DUH. . ...That was not my question.
The next day got another email and this time they finally told me that they had substituted the item. Well . . . . duh. . . . .
I would not buy from them again for the lack of customer service, gave me the run around and their S/H is extremely high.On June 10th, 2007, gardenbumpkin added the following:
Here are the only two emails I received from them and still have in my file folder:
"A package was shipped to you on 06/06/2007 Via US Postal Service First Class to the following address . . . .
(from their Warehouse email)
"This is a # for the replacement seed we sent you".
There were never any mentioned of refund or replacement on either of the emails to me.
Nor were there any other emails to me that the company spokesperson had mentioned - just the two little emails above.
It is always best to tell the truth and what had actually happened during the course of this event. Everything the spokesperson had mentioned is a lie beyond reality. Company representative comment on June 10, 2007: On Jun 10, 2007 10:19 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We're sorry to see this posted, as we made every effort to respond to the customer and reply to the emails that were received.
We received only two emails to Customer Service, both of which were responded to (we keep all emails on file for at least 6 months for reference). We can only guess as to why the customer did not receive our first response, perhaps there was a problem with a spam blocker.
In any case, when we received the first email, we acknowledged that based on the information the customer had relayed to us at that time, it appeared there may have been a error in the warehouse in filling the order. We asked for more information to be sure we understood exactly what was wrong, and to ensure that we would be able to correctly solve the problem, we also asked the customer to let us know how they preferred to resolve this, whether by refund or replacement. We received no response until a later email arrived, where it seemed obvious that the customer had not received our first response.
We again responded to the customer, but since we were afraid they would again not receive our response, we went ahead and reshipped the seed in question to the customer. Meanwhile, the customer did respond to a shipment confirmation email, at which time the warehouse directly responded by confirming that a replacement was being sent.
As to our S/H rates, for domestic orders, we charge $4.95, plus 5% of the order. Our standard shipping is either USPS Priority Mail, or UPS Ground for larger and bulk orders. We normally ship within 2 business days of receipt of the order. Given that postage rates for Priority service start at $4.60, we feel we do a good job of providing exceptional service at a fair rate.
We again apologize for the inconvenience this customer experienced, and are reviewing our SOP to see what we might do in the future to minimize this type of problem.
Situations like this can be very frustrating, as emails can occasionally be unreliable. Spam blockers, while useful to reduce the junk emails we can potentially receive, can interfere with necessary business communication. Whether that was a factor here or not, we don't know, but it is important to add the names of the companies you do business with to ensure you receive all the information you need.
We stand behind the quality of the product we provide, and continually work to improve the level of service our customers receive. In spite of their perceived experience with us, we thank this customer for their business, and wish them well.
DrCochran Mammoth Spring, AR (4 reviews) February 20, 2007
I have traded with this company for a few years now and find them to be one of the best. They don't waste time with flashy catalogs like Burpee's, and their selection is unique. The seed quality is excellent, as well.
cyndiehook Central, ME (Zone 5a) (5 reviews) February 11, 2007
Received my order via Priority Mail. Was very impressed with fast delivery of order. Ordered over the weekend and received here in Maine during the week. The seeds I ordered were types that I haven't seen available in the US. These are varieties from other countries so the package won't necessarily be in English. I did find an English translation on the web. Can't wait to try some new veggies. Package quantities are much larger than packets from US companies.