Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is saving "heirloom" (handed-down) garden seeds from extinction, with a focus on heirloom varieties brought to North America by gardeners and farmers when they immigrated, as well as traditional varieties grown by Native Americans, Mennonites and Amish.
Founded in 1975, SSE's members grow and distribute heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains. In addition to obtaining seeds through membership, SSE produces a color catalog that is available for orders from both members and nonmembers.
leecounty West Salem, WI (3 reviews) November 29, 2013
I really am pleased with the products we received from Seed Savers Exchange this year. I have had seeds from them before, but usually it was a couple packets of seed along with seed from a bunch of other companies. However, 2013 marked my first gardening season in the Western Wisconsin area (versus SE WI) and I made a 'pilgrimage' to Decorah, IA, instead of Randolph, WI.
I had been to Heritage Farm once before on a tour, so this was my first real visit without a company rep making it an awesome experience. Everyone that was working in the store on the Saturday we visited was friendly and helpful. It was a busy day, but all of the seed racks were well-stocked and there was a man stocking things as they went empty. Despite the fact that there were seeds and soil and 'dirty' stuff, the store was nice and clean. Diane Whaley was there and was so very nice -- I could have talked to her all day about gardening. It really made my heart happy to find a new seed 'home' near where I lived, because I love to go and buy my seeds in person rather than ordering from a catalog if I can.
All of the seeds that I bought (50+ varieties including tomatoes, peppers, dry beans, greens, melons, squash, cole crops, herbs, and a few flowers) came up really well. I had no problems with damping off or mutant shaped seedlings from improper drying/harvest equipment or anything at all wrong with them. Throughout their indoor time, the seedlings from SSE were great! As the year progressed and the fruits of the labor began to get harvested, I was pleased with how each and every variety was true to type -- not like some of the seeds I grew from other companies (see other reviews).
However, as much as I was pleased with my seeds, I was even more impressed with the potatoes we got from SSE. It was my first time ever buying seed that was not WI certified. From SSE, we had Desiree, Yellow Finn, Kennebec, and German Butterball. From Jay-Mar in Stevens Point, WI, we had Russet Burbank, Violetta Rose, and Yukon Gold. All were grown in the same garden plot and we had 25 or more hills of each variety. Being that it was our first year in a garden that was lawn in spring... well, let's say conditions could get a bit grassy at times. We had few Colorado Potato Beetles, but tons of Blister Beetles and then the grasshoppers finished them off in August. When it came to harvest time, I was sick to see the potatoes from Jay-Mar. They were pathetic -- small and very few potatoes per plant. The varieties we had from SSE were all nice and large and had lots of potatoes per plant. To me, that proves that the quality of SSE's potatoes are going to hold up a lot better in my garden no matter what the gardening conditions are. If they could do that well this year, it makes me excited for future years when we have things amended and going well.
In all, I highly recommend Seed Savers Exchange. They might not have some flashy new hybrid that everyone *has* to have, but they carry the tried-and-true varieties that will bear well no matter what the season brings and no matter what the gardener growing them does. For a family, that dependability goes a LONG way!
itserich Des Moines, IA (2 reviews) October 18, 2013
I am a novice gardener and bought 6 seed packets for a fall garden, mostly lettuce greens. They were shipped within a few days.
Some germinated quickly, others planted in another bed a few feet away took longer to germinate. My point is, same seeds, slightly different microclimate, different results.
Very glad places like Seed Savers Exchange exist and glad to support their mission in a very small way.
This is my second order this year and both times I was extremely pleased. The second order I placed was on August 22nd, and the seeds arrived on August 26th (The shipping was quite fast), just on time for fall planting. The shipment included a free seed pack.
The order I made in the Spring included peppers and tomatoes, and both types had 100% germination.
The selection that the SSE offers is excellent and the quality of seeds is unparalleled! I plan on ordering more in the future.
magnaastra Charleston, IL (Zone 6a) (41 reviews) April 24, 2013
Opened box upon delivery; of six plants, five were floating loose, and one was completely missing (pot was there, but where's Waldo?). This is the second year in a row I've had exactly the same experience. Sucked it up and went on in 2012, but not this year. No more. I've had enough. Will never order again; shame, they're probably doing great things for the plant world but if this is how Seed Savers chooses to represent itself in the public, retail sector...well, there's a problem. Learn how to pack, people! I'm only one state away, for heaven's sake! I've had several plants shipped to Illinois from HAWAII that made it in perfect condition!!!Company representative comment on April 25, 2013: On Apr 25, 2013 9:30 AM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
We are sorry to hear of the poor condition your plants were in upon receipt. Customer satisfaction is guaranteed, so please call and we will be happy to send replacement plants or a refund right away. We do take great care to ensure plants are properly packaged before they leave Seed Savers. The packaging itself is really pretty simple, and usually effective. A collar over the soil/stem holds the soil in place, a sleeve fits over the entire plant, with tabs that extend to hold the pot/collar in place, and many box sizes in increments of six which prevent movement inside the box (illustration on order page at http://www.seedsavers.org/onlinestore/Transplants/). However, we know that the shipping process itself is not always forgiving and even our best preparations cannot prevent the destruction you have observed. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you. Tom Wahlberg, Seed House Manager
linzelu100 HUDDLESTON, VA (5 reviews) April 22, 2013
Posted on April 18, 2013, updated April 22, 2013
I like the mission of Seed Savers and that they have preserved so many varieties for gardeners, for that alone I won't rate it a negative experience. I have never traded seeds at SSE so can't speak as a member. I bought seeds in 2012 and had the poorest germination rates I have ever had. Some of the vegetables didn't germinate at all. To be fair, I contacted SSE, and they sent out duplicate packs of seeds to replace the poor germination seeds (but keep in mind, it was too late to plant most of them that year). Now I have planted the replacements and one of the packets has had no germination either. One of them germinated beautifully. I don't know how they are saving seeds and why it is so inconsistant, but I don't make big orders from them anymore for this reason. I want to. The catalogue is so interesting and I love the family stories they take time to document. It's just most of the time the seeds give me real problems. On April 22nd, 2013, linzelu100 changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
I wrote the above Neutral experience to help other gardeners; this site helps me so much to choose where to shop. I didn't expect anything further from SSE and was really taken back when in the mail I had complete duplicate seed order waiting for me, with a very sincere apologetic response from my post. The company even sent me germination results from this seed batch. After this sincere response, I am concluding that what happened was a strange fluke of bad seed. Since the company has been so sincere about correcting my order, I feel very comfortable ordering from them again. Which I am VERY happy about, because I love their seed selection and stories. Thank you Seed Savers Exchange for the great customer service!
Quite possibly the worst customer service experience I've been unfortunate enough to encounter.
Became a member to receive a Yearbook as well as purchase a large amount of seed for our CSA (we're very interested in becoming part of the seed exchange/saving community and providing our local community with Heirloom fruits and vegetables through a small CSA), and placed our first order of nearly $1000. Long story short, we were never shipped our yearbook (which we needed to select flowers and herbs for our CSA--obviously time sensitive) after multiple phone calls. Each time we called, we were assured that it had shipped or it would ship ASAP or told that our concern would be forwarded to the person who manages memberships. A month and a half later, we have still yet to receive our yearbook.
After growing concerned that our seeds would ship with the same level of expediency as the yearbook, and a number of days passing with our order still in "Not Fulfilled Status", I decided to call and ask to change my shipping to overnight (seeds really need to get started ASAP to make CSA deadlines, etc.). I was not asking that SSE pay for the additional shipping charges, just that I be given the opportunity to upgrade which I figured wouldn't be such a big deal since it no action had been taken on my order relative to shipping before I called. I was wrong--the customer service rep was notably unwilling to do anything besides saying she'd email the shipping department, then proceeded to neglect returning my calls twice. A number of hours later (shipping cut off was noon), I checked the status of my order and it was being processed as UPS ground. Additionally, my partner had called that morning before me and was told that it had already shipped that morning, which was obviously not the truth. SSE's customer service appears to display an unacceptable culture of deferment and apathy.
I'm sure SSE is great for the hobby gardener who has an interest in saving seeds and preserving heirloom varieties (and doesn't mind if it takes until July to get a seed catalog), however their exceptionally poor customer service eliminates them as a reliable source for larger operations that have important timelines and commitments to customers.
We'll be cancelling our large seed potato order and will look elsewhere for flower and herb seeds. Company representative comment on April 1, 2013: On Apr 1, 2013 8:02 AM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
We appreciate that you allowed Seed Savers Exchange to be a source of seeds for your CSA, and we hope to be able to be there for you in the future, if you will allow us the opportunity. We are sorry this situation turned out negatively; that is not how we pride ourselves in helping people. During the busy spring season, we allow a 7-10 day turnaround time for order fulfillment, and we hope that this deadline was met for you. We do care about all of our customers, and strive to offer the most positive experience we can.
hemagloben Estes Park, CO (Zone 4a) (3 reviews) December 18, 2012
I've ordered from SSE for over 5 years now and I've probably experienced around a 90% germination rate, which I'm sure is the norm for any high quality seed company out there.
SSE has an incredible selection of heirloom veggie, herb and flower seeds. I've also ordered their garlic and potatoes and have had great success.
I love Seed Savers Exchange and I would never hesitate to recommend these guardians of heirloom seeds!
I think it’s probably just human nature that we tend to post comments about vendors when we have a problem with them. I certainly have done so here in the past. But when I put together my list of recommended seed suppliers for a Senior Gardening posting this year, I realized that I should make a positive comment here about each of our suppliers that have performed so well over the years.
We’ve been a “listed member” in the Seed Savers Exchange annual yearbook off and on for years. When SSE began direct sales, we began finding items we’d stopped growing (for whatever reason) such as America spinach. We’ve also used them for tall pea varieties, which we prefer over the dwarfed varieties, as they’re easier for old folks to pick.
Several years ago, we started growing and processing our own ground paprika. We were able to combine two SSE offered, open pollinated varieties (Alma and Feher Ozon) with our Paprika Supreme variety to make an excellent ground paprika.
We still list and purchase seed through the SSE annual yearbook, but really enjoy the illustrated listings online and in the print catalog.
I garden in containers and have many years' experience. I usually buy another seed brand but made two separate purchases this fall of Seed Saver's seeds, impulse buys at different gardening stores. Expiry date stamp on both was 2013.
Of the entire packet of Bloomsdale spinach sown, just one seed germinated and flourished. I also tried red romaine. To date, not a single germination. This is extraordinary.
Meanwhile I continue to sow fall crops from my usual brand, and every seed seems to germinate.
While I support the principles of Seed Savers strongly I could never recommend these seeds to anyone based on my experiences with them.Company representative comment on October 15, 2012: On Oct 15, 2012 2:50 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
Thank you for your feedback. I want to assure you that we do test every lot of seed every nine months, and do not pack anything that does not exceed the Federal germination standards. A quick review of the 2 items you had purchased indicates the current lot of both items germinating above 85%, but that can certainly be affected negatively depending on storage conditions once it leaves our facility. Please contact our office directly, and we will re-ship your purchase, or credit your account for these packets, and hope that you will give Seed Savers another chance. Thank you.
I ordered garlic bulbs from this company and decided since I was placing an order to also order a packet of kale seeds. After entering my info on line I got to the shipping part and there were several choiced. The $3.00 shipping was automatically checked by the web site and I decided to go with that. My kale seeds arrived and there was the $3.00 S&H charge on the invoice. About a week later the garlic arrived and that had a S&H charge of $8.50. I called the company and told them I was not happy paying $3 to have one $2.75 seed packet sent to me that weighed about an ounce. There was nothing obvious on the web sit when ordering that said they would be sent separately. I told the girl I talked to that the $3 S&H was automatically checked and she told me she would let there computer people know that it was confusing. That was the extent of their help. I was not happy and will not be ordering from this company again.Company representative comment on September 11, 2012: On Sep 11, 2012 1:41 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
We appreciate your point of view. Due to the fact that these items ship separately, there are separate shipping/handling costs associated. When placing an order online, the total charges, including shipping and handling, are shown before an order is submitted, at which time an order can be edited or cancelled. We are sorry that this was not communicated clearly enough. We are looking forward to moving to a new system late this fall that will charge actual shipping/handling to alleviate these misunderstandings in the future."
I am extremely pleased with Seed Saver's Exchange. 95 to 100% germination rates on tomatoes (ordered seven or eight varieties) this year. I recently ordered lettuce, spinach, and Bok Choy for a Fall garden and they included two packets of tomatoes to try. What a nice surprise to find, after I received exactly what I wanted after I ordered. I will be ordering from SSE again soon. Also, my tomatoes are now 7 feet tall, when almost everyone else in my area has lost their tomatoes. Had good production rates in another tough year for growing.
src84 Santa Maria, CA (Zone 9a) (4 reviews) August 12, 2012
this was my first time ordering from this company and my first time starting seeds..
i got everything i ordered really fast even tho i sent a money order via snail mail..the shipping was a lil high..but after reading about this company and what they do..i had to support them...
i also joined the flower and herb exchage and im looking forward to that..my flowers from the SSE are beautiful and i would order from this company again.
Posted on June 12, 2012, updated June 12, 2012
Posted on June 8, 2012, updated June 12, 2012
Recently, I requested a catalog from SSE. I loved it and the idea of connecting with SSE Member's through the yearbook, I decided to join. At no point upon ordering the catalog did I get any sort of password so when I went to join SSE, I was told I had an account. Instead of a working lost password button, you get an onscreen message saying you have to call the company. Fastforward to new account (which I need to have corrected, but not part of my negative concern with SSE), I opted to join as a member under the reduced/fixed income as I am a 100% disabled vet ($25) and the flower/herb option ($10). I reviewed the order and placed it for $35.00 while knowing that I STILL have to call to order the yearbook since that isn't an option (another frustration) when purchasing membership. Upon checking my bank account for pending charges, it shows $50.00 to SSE. I try to call and have to leave a message for a call back on Monday to try and sort this out. So far, I am not happy with the web site ordering process, incorrect charges or having to set up a "second" account when I didn't sign up for a first one. Based on my experiences, not having a customer service rep available on weekends is outside the norm these days and only leads to further frustration. So far, I am a very unhappy consumer and considering foregoing any membership with them.On June 12th, 2012, Waldeburg added the following:
Update as of 12 June 12, I have yet to hear back from anyone at SSE and the charge on my credit card has turned from pending to charged.On June 12th, 2012, Waldeburg changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Updating this to neutral based on my having to reach out to SSE a second time to resolve the matter and the difficulties with the website. I was able to get my account sorted and the charges corrected on the membership fees. SSE even stated they would provide both 2012 yearbooks without charging shipping. I did place an additional order for some seeds today. I am sure that will pan out fine.Company representative comment on June 12, 2012: On Jun 12, 2012 1:45 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
We value your feedback as a customer and appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns. I’m very sorry to hear of your negative experience with us. We did get your message over the weekend and were happy to be able to speak with you today to resolve the situation. Thank you for contacting us directly, we appreciate being able to make things right.
Calalily Deep South Coastal, TX (Zone 10a) (40 reviews) June 12, 2012
I bought only melons, several varieties, but the germination from each variety was less than 10%. They are as bad as Johnny's.
This is a very good option. I have NEVER had and problem with germination (around 99%). The young (leaf crop) plants all emerge early (2 - 4 days, usually) and have a very healthy appearance --- not sickly and skinny.
Posted on May 10, 2012, updated May 14, 2012
I ordered 6 transplants - 5 tomato and 1 pepper for shipment April 30 to MD. Shipping costs $12. Items were shipped on time but badly packed and arrived damaged. No pepper plant at all in pot and 4 plants dead. Most ID tags and soil were out of pots, so no way to really identify which one survived. Immediately notified company and they said they would reship. They have reshipped according to e-mail on May 7, but shipped via post office. Should be interesting to see when these plants arrive and what shape they are in. On May 14th, 2012, phaase changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
The new plants arrived May 10th as promised, they were packaged correctly this time and all pots contained a plant.
They look a hundred percent better than the first package.
oceanart Cranberry Isles, ME (5 reviews) March 27, 2012
The short version for people just looking for a reputable seed company.
I have ordered from the following companies for years
they all have good prices, customer service and good germination rate.
Johnny's, Kitazawa Seed, Rohrer seeds, Territorial Seed Comp, and Seed Savers Exchange.
I've gotten seeds from Seed Savers every year since 2007. I have the BEST luck growing their tomatoes from seed. I get the Czech bush tomato seeds and they've converted me from a tomato tolerator to a tomato lover! I've had great luck with butternut squash, chard, and lettuce seeds as well. On the herb front, the borage seeds do really well where I live (Virginia) and help draw bees to my garden. In terms of flowers, I've only ever gotten the purple coneflowers and those are easy to grow, too. I'm looking forward to another good garden year.
This is the second or third year I've ordered from them and my order arrived ridiculously quickly (not that it took long last year). I've been really impressed with the quality of seeds and the germination has been exactly what's stated or better. I noticed the dill I ordered this year has triple the seeds due to germination problems and they were kind enough to note that right on the packet, have to wait and see if it does ok or not. Always have been pleased with the heirloom selection, website seems quite up-to-date, and ordering was really easy. Only reason I'm bummed out is that I didn't order garlic quick enough and they're sold out of 'Music.' Next year, perhaps.
We attempted to purchase one (1) pack of expensive small seeds from this 'nonprofit' company through their checkout & the shipping costs came to be $18! We called them & asked why such a high cost of shipping/handling when the envelope could weigh no more then 1oz. & they said it is calculated according to the amount of money the order is not by weight. For us it was $185 for one pack of 250 small seeds. They said they would adjust the shipping down to $9 for this one time exception. We reluctantly still followed through with the order. The seeds arrived nicely packaged, that we will give credit for but the postage they paid on the envelope was $1.56, still a far cry from the $9 they charged us & they should be embarrassed to call themselves a NONPROFIT if they normally will charge anyone $18 shipping on this ONE pack of seeds. They really need to fix that...but 2 phone calls later, neither time did they seem concerned at all. Reason why we are leaving a negative is because they said the shipping 'discount' we did receive was a one time offer, & if we wanted to purchase again in the future we would be charged the $18!Company representative comment on November 28, 2011: On Nov 28, 2011 4:23 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
Thank you for placing an order with Seed Savers Exchange. To provide a bit of explanation, our shipping costs are 10% of the total charge when the order subtotal exceeds $100. The 10% is to cover not only the shipment, but also the handling/packaging. Since the Snail Flower is a difficult seed to harvest, they are higher priced. In your case, it does create an astronomical shipping total for a small package of seeds. I recall Sarah (your CS rep) pointing this out to me, and recall making adjustments to this order. I don't remember looking at the particular seed that was ordered, therefore the total (cost) of the order didn't reflect the 'size' of the order... and I apologize for not paying closer attention to that. We are in the process of moving to a new ordering software that will allow us to charge actual shipping with a fractional packaging/handling fee to avoid this situation. We try to be fair, and I appreciate you pointing this out, and would be happy to refund your total shipping cost for the inconvenience.
bella_trix Montgomery County, PA (Zone 6b) (4 reviews) November 10, 2011
I order from Seed Savers Exchange every year and have been very happy with my orders. The seeds germinate well, they ship quickly and the varieties are wonderful. They are more expensive than some of the seed companies that I use, but the incredibly beautiful catalog (and great varieties) make up for it. I definitely recommend them.
groovydude Denton, TX (2 reviews) February 28, 2011
I just received my order and I received the order in one week, which to me is acceptable since that is about how long it takes to receive an order from the two other online companies I have dealt with recently. I have called them for assistance with my order and found the person to be very friendly and easy to deal with. I would order from them again because of lack of issues with my order and ease of receiving answers to questions.
I ordered seeds from this company last year as a surprise birthday gift for my brother. That order was processed fine, no complaints. This year I ordered a bunch of seeds for myself. The company morphed my mailing and billing addresses into one undeliverable address. Since I filled out 2 separate boxes on the form, I don't see how that happened. When I contacted them about it, it took them 5 days to respond and the response was "well the computer did it". No apology, just sort of a shoulder shrug after they charged my credit card and made up an address. No concern over the delay or possibility of never seeing what I paid for. No "gee, we are sorry for OUR mistake". I won't order from them again. I wanted to really like this company but the response time was too long and now the way they handled their mistake is completely unacceptable.
I was very pleased with my order of seeds. I thought the shipping was a bit high for seeds, they don't weight much, but no complaints other than that. Near 100% germination rate on some tomatoes, not so high on some peppers, but it's hasn't yet been the full two weeks. Love the full color beautiful catalog and easy to order online. Packets are very informative.
Suggestions on the packaging: germination temp and daylight hours requirement. I use grow lights and that would be helpful.
sb14syd Minneapolis, KS (1 review) January 31, 2011
I have ordered over $300 worth of seeds from SSE. Orders have always arrived quickly and the staff has answered questions I have (mostly dumb ones) courteously. They are my seed supplier of choice.
I had a large order of seeds, a full order form full. It took about 10 days or maybe a little longer, at the time they were snowed in bad in Iowa and the surrounding area so that was most likely the short delay, i don't need the seeds until spring so I wasn't expecting them in 3-4 days anyway. All seeds arrived in great condition, only one item was back ordered[ bunte forellenschluss lettuce. I love SSE, I visited their farm on labor day weekend 2010, a way positive experience, I bought a lot of things in the visitors center, staff and clerks were very friendly and helpful. I will order from them again anytime.
1SickPuppy Waukesha, WI (12 reviews) August 18, 2010
Posted on August 16, 2010, updated August 18, 2010
Posted on May 4, 2010, updated August 16, 2010
Posted on April 20, 2010, updated May 4, 2010
Posted on March 18, 2009, updated April 20, 2010
A great place to buy seeds.
A wide selection of heirloom vegetables and herbs. The germination rate has always been as stated on the seed packet, and my potatoes have always produced many large and tasty tubers.
Tara in customer service is always quick with a response to your questions and concern's.
I highly recommend them.On April 20th, 2010, 1SickPuppy changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
Let me start out by saying I waited 3 business days for a response to my complaint before I wrote this review.
I ordered and received a 25# bag of Caribe seed potatoes along with another 25# bag of Yukon Gold. For the most part the Yukons fall within the acceptable range for seed potatoes but the Caribe's were almost an entire loss. They were moldy, scared, punctured and rotten for the most part. This besides the fact that they were so large that I could have sold them as baked potatoes at the fair. The problem didn't happen during the shipping but you can see that they have been bad for quite a while. There are even cuts in some of them from harvesting.
I now have to find another local source for my spuds because my garden is ready to go and I am leaving town for a couple of weeks
I will continue to order seeds from SSE but I will not be buying anymore potatoes from them and I suggest others think twice before going through them.
Shame on you SSE!On May 4th, 2010, 1SickPuppy added the following:
I cannot believe that SSE has lowered itself to become one of the companies listed on this site that don't respond to their customers concerns.
As the "Company Representative" requested I contacted the customer service rep's and got the same response I received prior to my posting................NONE.
Here is what I wrote:
I just received my potato order from you Invoice Number: XXXXXXX and a large portion of the order of Caribe Potatoes were moldy and unusable (8# are bad). I ordered a 25# bag of these potatoes along with 25# of Yukon Gold and I am not happy with the product at all. The mold and juices from the rotten potatoes has contaminated some of the Yukons and most of the Caribes.
I have ordered potatoes from your site in the past and have received beautiful potatoes. These Caribe's are "huge, moldy and I'm afraid to even plant them.
Since this email I have left negative feedback on Daves Garden website. This seems to have drawn the attention of "a company representative" in your organization.
They wanted me to get back to someone and straighten this situation out although what was suggested would not be workable for me at this time. Since I did not receive a response to my previous email complaint I went out and purchased some seed potatoes locally so my crop would be in the ground before I had to go out of town, so replacement potatoes at this point would be a waste of time and money. It turns out that the spoiled product was worse than I originally thought and the damaged potatoes actually weighted in at 11lbs 14oz.
What I think would work for me at this time would either be for either my credit card being adjusted to reflect the lost product (plus shipping & handling) or a credit for further purchases.
If this is acceptable to you I will remove the negative rating from the website.
This whole situation could have been taken care of in a more personable manner and the whole world wouldn't have had to know about it if you would have contacted me within a reasonable amount of time to explain the situation.
In the future I hope to receive the product and services I have become accustomed to from your organization.
As of this date............no response.
On August 16th, 2010, 1SickPuppy added the following:
Well.......After reading the reply from the "company representative" I again contacted SSE. I was ignored just as I was previously. This is a great example of a company becoming too big to care about it's customers. It's lost it's focus and now it seems to be just about profits.
Against my better judgment I planted what I could salvage from the Caribe Seed Potatoes and go exactly what I feared. The potatoes where ugly, scared and misshapen. The other potatoes I planted in the same bed where great and had no scars whatsoever. They looked "normal".
Since SSE has left me no other recourse I have decided to contact the USDA, and the Department of Agriculture for the State of Iowa and Wisconsin. There was something wrong with the seed potatoes that were sent to me and I am hoping that they investigate my complaint. I have pictures of the seed potatoes sent to me and I am willing to have my crop and soil tested to see if I was sent diseased seeds. I still have a file of the emails I sent to SSE which included pics of the potatoes.
Again I can't emphasis this enough............buy your seed potatoes elsewhere! There are distributors out there who still care.
On August 18th, 2010, 1SickPuppy changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
I want to thank customer service at SSE for resolving this issue. I don't know why my earlier emails were not answered but in the end I am more than satisfied with the outcome.
Thank You.Company representative comment on August 16, 2010: On Apr 27, 2010 3:33 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
Seed Savers Exchange will be happy to provide replacements for potato varieties you found to be unacceptable. The Caribe is a very large, good eating potato, but is not a very good keeper. In fact we struggled again this year to sort through our supply to have enough "acceptable" potatoes to meet committed orders, and quit taking new orders in mid-February as a result. We furthermore have decided not to offer the Caribe next year, and are growing a number of varieties this year to decide on a replacement. Thank you for your feedback and we hope you will try potatoes from Seed Savers again in the future.
On Aug 16, 2010 2:22 PM, Seed Savers Exchange added:
Please understand how very frustrating this situation is for us here at Seed Savers Exchange. The problem is that we have not received any emails from you, therefore it is impossible for us to help you when we do not know who you are. We have even gone through our entire list of customers with an address in Waukesha, WI and could not find anyone who had ordered Caribe potatoes and have found no emails regarding this potato variety.
The Seed Savers Exchange staff would never ignore emails or voice mails from any customer. We respond to everyone who contacts us in a timely manner. Please help us so we can help you by contacting us at email@example.com and also send all your previous emails concerning your order to this email address. Also, call us at 563-382-5990 and ask for Tom, Laura or Kathy so we can check to see if your email has been received. Our business hours are 8:30-5:00 CDT. You will be issued a complete refund.
Let us hear from you so we can correct this situation. We want to help you just as we help any other customer who is not completely satisfied with their purchase. We never expect any customer to accept a product they are not satisfied with. The Caribe potato we got from our supplier this year was a great disappointment for us and as soon as we were aware of the situation we stopped taking orders for that variety. Thank you.
I've ordered from SSE several times and every order has been just fine. I never ordered seed potatoes, so I can't comment about that. But all in all I'd recommend them to a friend. I intend to order again in the future.
Great response, received my seeds in just a few days. I like growing peppers, carrots, & tomatoes primarily. I'm trying out both of their paprika pepper varieties, the hottest pepper variety they offer (Fatalii), and the Paris Market carrot. I recommend Seed Savers to everyone, and will be a repeat customer.
connoisseur Indianapolis, IN (17 reviews) June 14, 2010
The problem with this company is that it doesn't tell you it is out of something until you receive your order. Surprise! You open the package and discover the item you really wanted (the rest you had just ordered as filler), the company is out of. Oh, the company didn't bother to tell you after you placed the order that the item was no longer available. It just added the note to the shipment box. How about some organization and communication!Company representative comment on June 17, 2010: On Jun 17, 2010 10:32 AM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
We apologize for the inconvenience with this order. This is a rare problem and one we take several precautions to prevent. Occasionally we run out of seed or are otherwise unable to fill catalog offerings. In these instances the item is flagged in our system as backordered or sold out. While we are not sure how Connoisseur placed the order, here is the usual protocol.
Phone Orders: We alert the customer on the phone when an item is not available.
Web Orders: Items flagged as unavailable cannot be purchased online.
Mail/Fax Orders: When an item is unavailable as listed in the catalog and the customer prefers not to accept a substitute, we contact the person. If we do not hear anything back from the customer, whether via email or phone, we process the order as it is. We would rather have them receive what is available and work out the details on the remainder of the order later. Unfortunately in this specific case it did not turn out very well. We encourage customers to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work out all the details.
We will respond also through Dmail to learn the name/address of Connoisseur and research the audit trail to make sure that we took the steps we needed for this person. We apologize for this breakdown of communication, but welcome the feedback.
What happened to the Seed Savers Exchange I once loved. There has been a total lack of communication between customers and customer service. I sent 3 emails to 2 different representatives and received no reply.
It seems I am not the only one who had bought the Caribe potatoes and received useless garbage. They obviously don't want to give the money back. My problem is not related to storage......it's bad suppliers. These potatoes should have been thrown into the compost heap in the fall and should have never made it to the warehouse. These were not even close to being seed potatoes.
GO ELSEWHERE for your spuds!
VAgardener2 Richmond , VA (Zone 7b) (10 reviews) April 30, 2010
Posted on April 13, 2010, updated April 30, 2010
I joined the SSE this year and ordered some seeds as well as transplants from them. The seeds arrived promptly. Had germination issues with one of the seed packets, e-mailed them and got a replacement packet.
Waiting on the transplants next week. Will give an update after they arrive.
I recommend this company and their products and support their non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds.On April 30th, 2010, VAgardener2 added the following:
I wanted to give an update on the transplants. They arrived on time, were very well packaged, and although looked a little stressed (3 days in the UPS truck), perked up quickly after being watered. They look very nice in the garden now a week later.
I would definitely recommend ordering transplants from SSE.
Login and creating a new account were ridiculously difficult and took a tediously long amount of time.
Trying to purchase seeds was unsuccessful at first attempt as the website claimed I had a previous membership which is impossible because I only discovered Seed Savers a few months ago. I requested a "new" password but nothing was sent to the email address they indicated they had on file.
I really wanted to order some seeds so I went ahead and set up a new account. It's an email address I rarely give out because I don't want to be slammed with spam and I'm hoping SSE doesn't sell it.
Another gripe is that the SSE search function isn't reliable. When I first discovered SSE, I asked it to find several unusual seeds that I wanted to find, that came back negative so I found and purchased them elsewhere. Then I found them in the catalog, and they were not only available from SSE, but at $2.75 were a lot less expensive. Later I went back and used the search function again because I didn't want to plow through an entire product line to get to the ones I wanted. I got a couple of false negatives for things I know are sold there.
This next is a minor point but shipping & handling charges are based on a $10 order, though almost all seeds sold by this company are $2.75. They probably should tie s&h charges to the number of packets. I misread the information and had 4 packets picked out so I dropped one to come in under the cutoff.
I really don't think it should be necessary to join SSE to buy seeds. I'm annoyed at the length of time it took me this afternoon to even be able to buy my seeds. I should have been able to jump on, call up the seeds I wanted and type in my order without jumping through hoops.
On the positive side, I'm impressed with the quality and variety of the SSE catalog. And every single plant image I've seen on the site is at least beautiful eye candy, and some of them are are stunning.
Another positive observation is the excellent variety of unusual and heirloom seeds. And if my income tax refund had arrived by now, I'd probably have purchased several others from SSE.
In short, my ordering experience this afternoon was ridiculously time and process consuming to buy just three seed packs from this company. And I resent having to join to make the purchase. I get nothing for my trouble unless I actually take out a paid membership and that's not going to happen.
Dyson Rocky Mount, VA (Zone 7a) (2 reviews) March 15, 2010
Posted on December 25, 2009, updated March 15, 2010
Started ordering seed for the 2010 season two weeks ago. All of the 2009 garden was done with nursery transplants and I wanted to try (once again) starting my own plants from seed.
Found the SSE website from an article in Mother Earth News.
Downloaded their catalog (.pdf). The photography is excellent. Ordered Stevia seed. It arrived promptly and well packaged.
Ordered Tomato seed with the same results. Only problem is to figure out what to order next.On March 15th, 2010, Dyson added the following:
Update 3-15-2010 - Ordered many more vegetable seed have started onion, peas and cauliflower and I am extremely pleased with the near 100% germination rate of everything started so far.
I have ordered seeds from SSE for at least two years. Germination has been better than any other company I have received seeds from. Shipping is fast. And as other posters have mentioned the website is easy to use and their catalog is among the best.
Bad_Seed Loma Linda, CA (3 reviews) January 20, 2010
I was impressed with the tremendous selection, and the mission of SSE so I called them regarding an order I wanted to place. I let them know it was important that I receive the seeds quickly, since they were for our annual garden tour, for a display garden to be grown from seeds. I was assured the seeds would be shipped quickly, so I placed the order, asking that the seeds be sent to a friend who would germinate them. Several weeks later, I learned the seeds had not arrived at my friend's house. When I called SSE, I learned that the seeds had not been shipped due to a minor error. I reminded them about our earlier conversation, and asked if they would expedite shipping. The person I spoke to was apologetic and polite, and she did offer to personally make sure the seeds were sent out that day, but did not agree to ship by an expedited method. Under the circumstances, I thought they should have done so. I'll follow up this feedback when the seeds arrive.
I have never had a bad experience with anything I have ordered. My husband and I pour over the catalogues when they come. They are so interesting with all of the things we have never seen before even if they aren't something we have room to plant. The membership is so worth it. I wish I could visit there in person.