I was looking for some Agave cactus to place in planters on a south-facing deck and found The Cactus King site. Clicked on the 'agave' link and sure enough, found a large variety of agave cacti noted as 5 gal., 1 gal, 2 gal., etc. All the pictures showed the cactus potted in nursery pots and nowhere in any plant description did it say that these cactus were shipped 'bare root'. On May 22nd, I purchased 4, 5 gal. and 2 1 gal. plants and checked out using Paypal. I nearly gagged at the shipping costs ($97.50), but assumed that was because of the size/weight of potted plants. The Cactus king received my payment immediately and that was noted on the web site. Then, 5 days go by and I'm logging on to the site for a status update on the order, i.e., shipping information - anything. No updates were posted. I sent 2 emails over 2 days with no response. I finally called The Cactus King a week after ordering and the owner said they would ship out the next day (Friday). Still no updated info on the web site but on 6/2, one beat-up, obviously used box arrived with a hand-written address label and a USPS label saying that they had shipped a week earlier on 5/27 (2 days prior to my call when I was told they would ship on 5/30. The shipping label stated that he had paid $22.08 for shipping. Upon opening the box, I found limp (literally) cactus shoved into the box with wadded up newspaper. They were undersized, unlabeled, not in pots and covered in brown spots. Talk about horrified and disappointed. I wasn't prepared to go scrounging around for 5 gal pots and the special potting soil (including trying to find perlite) to plant these things, and even if I got them planted, it looked to me like they didn't have much chance of surviving given their condition about being in a hot truck for a week.
I went back to the web site, pulled up the description on each plant, and could find no indication that these shipped bare root. There was a tab at the top of the site that said 'Planting Instructions', but I never looked at it when I was ordering because a 5 gallon plant (accompanied by a picture of a cactus that was potted) told me that these came as pictured. What does 5 gal. mean if you're getting bare root plants? Okay, my bad. Lesson learned. However, how dare he charge $97.50 in shipping for something that cost $22.08?
Knowing that this guy simply does not respond to email, I decided to call him and let him know about the condition of the plants and that he needed to be more specific about the fact that they were shipped bare root, find a better way to ship (and better packing materials and labeling)so they weren't so damaged upon arrival.
When I got this guy on the phone, I told him I was calling about an order I had just received and got a "yeah, what". Yikes! Well, I said that I just wanted to let him know that these cactus were really not as pictured, they arrived in a clearly used box stuffed with newspaper and they were limp and had brown spots on them. Well, that was about the last word I got in. This guy launched on me and started screaming at me about how rude I was being and how dare I and if the box was damaged I should put in a claim with the shipper, and the fact that they shipped bare root was 'all over the web site'. The screaming continued by him telling me I was stupid and if I just put them in some dirt they would be fine, etc.,etc., etc. This went on for a full 2 minutes while I was just trying to get a word in. I finally asked if he was finished and he launch again. I said I had not been rude had not raised my voice - that he was the one screaming and being abusive and off he went again. When I could finally speak again I told him that if he'd give me 3 seconds I would explain what I wanted from him. I took responsibility for not knowing the plants shipped bare root, he clearly doesn't accept returns or give refunds, but the one thing I wanted him to do was refund the $75 difference between what he paid in shipping and what he charged me. Screaming started up again and he told me he 'didn't even know who I was'. I told him he'd never even given me an opportunity to give him my order number or name and did he want my order number? Yeah - what is it - he barks. I gave him the order number and he proceeded to tell me that he personally pulled and packed all those plants and they were perfect when they left. What??? I said, again, I'm just asking you to refund the massive shipping overcharges and he started screaming again about how he had packaging costs and time (standing in line at the post office?) and he would look into it and determine what, if anything, he would be willing to refund - but it definitely would not be $75. I said, well, when you decide what that refund amount will be, can you email me with the amount. Wow - you would have thought I'd just killed his puppy. He screamed that he absolutely would not email me with anything I could just 'keep checking your credit card statements to see what I decided to do.' With that he just slammed the phone down and hung up on me.
Okay, this is a guy who shouldn't even be in business at all. I was willing to just accept a refund on shipping charges, but at that point - faced with many minutes of abuse and screaming and blaming everyone - but taking no responsibility for anything - I decided I would put in a dispute for the entire amount to Paypal, then called my credit card company and told them about the entire episode and told them I had put in a dispute with Paypal and asked them to also reverse the charges and work with Paypal (which they were happy to do). They agreed that at the very least, the shipping charges were a clear ripoff and understood why I had decided to dispute the entire amount - given the treatment I got from 'Mr. Charming'. Never, repeat, never purchase anything on line from this guy. Perhaps his actual physical store is okay, but he should not be doing business online. Period.
We ordered two 5 gallon size agave plants. The first arrived and was in decent condition. We paid $50.00 for this one. The only issue we had was with the cost of postage. We were charged $25.00 but the actual cost was $12.72, an excessive markup in our opinion. However, when the second plant arrived it was barely a 1 gallon size. In fact it was nothing more than an offshoot, commonly called a “pup”, with damaged leaves and only a very few roots. We paid $75.00 for this. We called the Cactus King company and were told it was because they had been having cold weather. If that had been the case then the first plant would have exhibited the same deficiencies. That pitiful example of a plant should never have been shipped. In addition, we were once more charged $25.00 for postage but the actual cost was only $5.17, an even more excessive markup. The difference in postage costs alone demonstrates the difference in the sizes of the two plants. We have photographs that show both the dramatic difference between the plants as well as the deplorable condition of the second plant.
marley972 Houston, TX (1 review) September 11, 2013
I've both ordered plants online and been up to his place and walked around. The place in person is tremendous! Tons of variety to choose from! As for online, I have noticed that the last few months everything has been running a lot smoother. I think he said he has someone running his online experience now. More and more plants seem to keep getting added. I know from experience that ordering plants online can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes, in person is much better...you actually get to touch, smell, see your product in person. I also know people are more likely to post negative messages than positive ones. So here is a positive one for one of the best Cactus Nurseries around!!
Minime8484 Chandler, AZ (Zone 9b) (20 reviews) April 18, 2013
Posted on March 3, 2013, updated April 18, 2013
DO NOT EVER ORDER FROM THIS "BUSINESS"!!
I ordered 7 plants through their online process (paid via PayPal), and I received a box 4 days later.
The box contained only 5 plants (unlabeled and unwrapped...just loose in styrfoam peanuts); they clearly used the PayPal invoice to check off the plants included (the PP invoice has a character limit, so cut off the last 2 plants). Additionally, 3 of the 5 plants were only cuttings. Nowhere on the site do they state they will send cuttings...the site does say, "all plants shipped bare root", which implies of course there ARE roots.
Also, plants are available in various sizes, and I ordered the second smallest on one plant - "1 gallon" (all others I ordered were the smallest size quoted, "4 inches").
However, that one 'larger' plant was almost exactly 4" long (was also one of the cuttings).
I immediately NICELY emailed them back explaining the issues and asked for replacements for the cuttings, and the 2 additional plants; or, a refund of the cuttings and the 2 not received.
I heard nothing from them, so called and left a message on their answering machine. I also called each day for a week - either no one answered or a worker answered that said the owner would be 'back tomorrow.'
After almost 2 weeks, I finally got a hold of the owner - he was unapologetic, rude, crass, and vulgar. He claimed the website clearly stated they could substitute cuttings, but was unable to tell me where such verbiage existed on the site (I would NOT have ordered cuttings of these species).
Finally, after realizing the owner had no intention of doing a thing, I opened up a PayPal dispute through PayPal.
PayPal found in my favor and refunded the money to me immediately.
Stay clear of this so-called business completely!!! On April 18th, 2013, Minime8484 added the following:
Have since found out that the one cactus species I received with roots from this so-called business wasn't even the correct species! They advertise (and still do) they have Arthrocereus melanurus 'Estevesei' - however, the plant has flowered and it is definitely a dirt-cheap, common Cleistocactus winteri (Hildewinteria aureispina)!! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER order from this crook!
drdug San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) (5 reviews) March 11, 2012
They were out of some plants and have not refunded or credited me. Emails do no good. Buyer beware.
Posted on February 4, 2011, updated October 29, 2011
Posted on October 26, 2010, updated February 4, 2011
My experience with Cactus King, Houston over the last 5 months:
Why I ordered from them is a long story. Europeans found out CK offers Backebergia militaris and asked me to order and forward the plants to them. When I checked their web site I saw CK is also offering "2 gallon-pot size Micropuntia barkleyana " for $ 22.-. So I ordered in June thinking $ 25.- shipping is much but for a 2 gallon Micropuntia and Priority Mail I can except it and paid by PayPal. After several reminders there finally arrived this parcel:
in this link are the photos: http://www.cactiguide.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=176073#17607...
No Micropuntia in it and dehydrated and hardly -if at all- rooted Backebergia(?) cuttings. I complained and was told after a while that cuttings usually dehydrate during the rooting process and Micropuntia is out and can be mailed end of August. I gave in and said ok. Nothing happened end of August, after reminding and threatening, end of September (when I was in Europe) the allegedly Micropuntia arrived by COD of $ 16.50 (paid by friends). The plant seems to be Grusonia vilis, i.e. kind of a noxious weed.
Because there is no reaction to my complaint I decided to make this public in several sites.
On February 4th, 2011, CactusJordi added the following:
They are still offering Micropuntia barkleyana on their hp without having it, that is deliberate and repeated fraud!
JordiOn October 29th, 2011, CactusJordi added the following:
They still claim to be able to sell you Micropuntia barkleyana, but what they have and would send you is only Grusonia vilis, for which they even show a photo now! Jordi