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I was excited to find this company, and ordered 6 varieties of tomatoes in 2012. Of those 6 varieties, 3 had poor germination, not terrible, but 20%. Of the 7 companies I ordered from, and the 60 varieties I grew, only Cherrygal had an equally abysmal germination. I germinated Sow Organic tomato seeds from 2006 in the same tray.
After the biggest healthiest seedlings of each variety were planted, 2 varieties created fruit that was niether close to the description, nor similar to the same variety purchased from Baker, Territorial, Totally Tomato, or TomatoFest. I did not contact the company, as it isn't worth the time at that point in the season, and it could be that their varieties are more authentic then the same varieties I get from the other companies.
But, I don't care for surprises. I want the plants to produce canners when I plant canners and have red fruit when I plant a red fruited tomato, not yellow. And to have only 2 seedlings to choose from, out of 10 is dicey. So, I am dropping them this year. To be fair, I only tried them the one year, along with tomatofest, but Tomatofest was great, so I am dumping JL. I also wanted to post so others with similar outcomes would not think it was "just them". Still a neat sounding company, just not something I have time for now, nor would I recommend to gardeners that are tight for space and time, and are depending on every plant.
On Jan 6, 2013, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman responded with:
We are trying to track down your order for tomato seeds that you referenced in your rating of us, but we can find no one in your town who ordered 6 packets of tomato seed in 2012. The only person we can find in your town only ordered 3 packets of tomato seed. Please let us know your name and address, so that we can track down your order. We need this so that we can check the specific varieties you ordered, so that if there is a problem with any of them, we can prevent others from being disappointed. By federal law, vegetable seed must be tested for germination on a regular basis, and all of the tomato seeds we distribute have been tested, and are above the federal standard of 75%. Thanks!"
I placed an order from J. L. Hudson's print catalogue. On the order form, I had to mark whether, for out-of-stock seeds, I wanted substitute seeds or a voucher. I didn't really see an option to request a refund. So, I marked "voucher." My order arrived with a voucher for several seeds that were apparently out of stock. I immediately placed another replacement order and used the voucher. On the order form, I once again marked "voucher" for out-of-stock seeds. When my order arrived, once again some seeds were out of stock, and I got another voucher. But at this point, I realized something. Every time I placed an order to replace the out-of-stock seeds from my last order, I was repaying the shipping and handling charge. If I had gotten all the seeds I'd ordered the first time, I wouldn't have had to pay shipping and handling again and again. And why were so many seeds out of stock? I placed three orders, and in every single order, some seeds were unavailable. Either I was *very* unlucky, or J. L. Hudson lists a lot of seeds in its print catalogue that aren't really available. So, I emailed J. L. Hudson to say that I wasn't overly happy with this situation. Given the high ratings here, I fully expected to get a nice email back and maybe even a refund for some of the shipping and handling charges that I had paid. It wasn't *that* much money, so I wasn't set on a refund. I mostly just wanted to hear from J. L. Hudson that they appreciate my business and sympathize with my feelings. Instead, I got an extremely snotty message that essentially told me never to order from J. L. Hudson again. The message basically said that I was the idiot who marked "voucher" on the order form and didn't check the website for availability of seeds, so I got what I deserved. Clearly, J. L. Hudson doesn't appreciate my business or sympathize with my feelings at all. J. L. Hudson's email went on and on and on too, such that I began to think, "The lady doth protest too much." I laughed out loud when I got to the part of the message where I was told that J. L. Hudson sells only the finest seed after meticulously testing its germination rate (as if I had complained in any way about their seed's quality). And I can't help but note that every negative rating here has a very long, defensive diatribe from J. L. Hudson accompanying it. In every case, it seems, if someone is dissatisfied with J. L. Hudson, the dissatisfaction can't possibly be J. L. Hudson's fault in any way; the dissatisfaction is the result of the complainer's being an idiot or a liar or a baby. I don't like defensive, arrogant people, so why on earth would I do business with a defensive, arrogant company? There are too many good businesses out there to waste my time on J. L. Hudson. For those of you who have positive experiences with J. L. Hudson, I hope you never have reason to complain about anything in any way, because if you ever do, you'll probably see a very different side of J. L. Hudson.
On July 31st, 2007, gsteinbe added the following:
I want to thank J. L. Hudson for posting the partial scans of my order forms. Now I remember why I had the impression that there wasn't a refund option on the form. The form says, "REFUND (Small Amounts in Stamps)." Now, I'm a college English professor, so maybe I read too much into things, but I was a little unsure what "Small Amounts in Stamps" meant. Did it mean that one could only get a refund if the amount to be refunded was small (and it would come in stamps)? Did it mean that one could get a refund for any amount, but if the amount was small (as determined by J. L. Hudson), one would get it in stamps? How small is small? What kind of stamps? Postage stamps, food stamps, grocery stamps, what? I thought marking "CREDIT MEMO" was at least less fraught with uncertainty. And besides, I didn't expect a lot of things to be out of stock, since I was ordering in January 2007 from a January 2007 catalogue. Only after I had gotten two or three credit memos did it occur to me that, each time I redeemed a credit memo, I was paying postage all over again (as was J. L. Hudson, of course, when sending my orders to me). But the real problem here wasn't the order form, the credit memos, the postage, or any of that. The real problem was that J. L. Hudson was (is?) snotty and holier-than-thou: "We filled both of your requests for seed promptly, accurately, and followed your instructions to the letter." That phrase "to the letter" there seems to sum it all up. I admit it openly. J. L. Hudson was technically, according to the letter, proper in all that they did in their dealings with me, and they apparently take *tremendous* pride in that fact. As another dissatisfied customer posted here, J. L. Hudson is "clearly more committed to being right than they are to customer service." To quote J. L. Hudson again, "I'm sorry if I do not apologise to people for filling their orders exactly as they instruct." Who *asked* you to apologize for that? Are you not sorry at all that I found the process of ordering from you frustrating because of the number of out-of-stock seeds listed in your print catalogue and the ambiguity of your order form's "REFUND (Small Amounts in Stamps)"? I wanted to hear that you were sorry about that kind of thing; I never expected or wanted or asked you to apologize for filling my order "to the letter." But you seem too busy justifying yourself to empathize with your customers. If I were an elderly person or a child who filled out the order form wrong and got charged for a bunch of seed that I didn't want, that'd be just what I deserved, right? As long as you filled my order "to the letter," you wouldn't care if I ended up with a bunch of seed that I didn't want for a bunch of money I didn't intend to spend? Hey, you filled my order exactly as I instructed. You did nothing wrong. If I'm too lazy and stupid (OR too old and senile OR too young and innocent) to get the order form right, that's *my* problem, right? Good luck with that attitude.On August 1st, 2007, gsteinbe added the following:
One last note (which I forgot in my last posting): J. L. Hudson suggested that every negative rating they've received here was libellous and that their responses are just "set[ting] the record straight," but I find interesting the fact that, so far, I've posted two negative, two neutral, and four positive ratings on this website. Of those, no one but J. L. Hudson felt obliged "to set the record straight," and in fact, Burpee, to whom I gave a neutral rating, emailed me privately to apologize for the way I was treated by their customer service people -- even though the incident I mentioned in my rating happened more than a year ago and they only have my word that it happened at all. Interesting how people's attitudes can be so different from one another, isn't it?On Jul 18, 2007, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman responded with:
On Jul 26, 2007 6:37 PM, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman added:
Here we go again!
Mr. Steinberg wrote:
"I placed an order from J. L. Hudson's print catalogue. On the order form, I had to mark whether, for out-of-stock seeds, I wanted substitute seeds or a voucher. I didn't really see an option to request a refund. So, I marked "voucher."
In fact, in his email to us dated February 8, 2007 he stated:
"I would say that this was all my own fault for checking "CREDIT MEMO" on my order forms instead of "REFUND," but I didn't really expect to have so much trouble with out-of-stock items when I ordered from a January 2007 catalog *in* January 2007."
Go to http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/Steinberg.htm to see scans of his order forms - you can see that the "REFUND" option is quite visible right below the "CREDIT MEMO" option he clearly marked - there is ABSOLUTELY no way he could not have seen a refund option, and besides that, he admits in his email to us that he could have checked "Refund".
Yet now he claims "I didn't really see an option to request a refund." This is very interesting.
Mr. Steinberg wrote:
"I placed three orders, and in every single order, some seeds were unavailable."
Incorrect - on his order dated July 14th 2006, which was mailed to him July 18th - nothing was out of stock.
There were out-of-stock items on his two subsequent orders:
He ordered Jan 16 2007, it was mailed Jan 19th - 1 packet of Rosa eglanteria and 1 oz Allium tuberosum were out of stock - he asked for credit, we sent credit of $8.45 - $8 for seed, 45c for the postage he paid for the ounce. You can clearly see in the scans of his order forms that he checked the "Credit" option, and that we credited him the postage on the out-of-stock ounce.
He ordered Jan 26, it was mailed Jan 30 - he returned his credit memo plus a check for $4.50 - 1 oz Elaeagnus multiflora out of stock. Again he asked for credit, we credited $6.45 - $6 for the seed, plus 45c for the postage he paid for he ounce.
He states that: "But at this point, I realized something. Every time I placed an order to replace the out-of-stock seeds from my last order, I was repaying the shipping and handling charge."
Again, you can see from the scans that we credited him every cent of the postage he paid for the out-of-stock ounces he ordered. He did have to pay for the postage on the packets he ordered, and which he received - why we should have to refund him postage and packing which we already spent on mailing his seeds, I do not know. Our policy is to refund or credit any postage paid for bulk quantities when those are out of stock, and refund or credit any excess postage paid. However, we do not give free postage on orders returning a credit memo. Our postage rates are at cost as it is -- unlike some companies, we do not make money on postage charges.
Mr. Steinberg wrote:
"I placed three orders, and in every single order, some seeds were unavailable. Either I was *very* unlucky, or J. L. Hudson lists a lot of seeds in its print catalogue that aren't really available."
He has implied that we have no refund option, and further that we list a lot of items we do not in fact carry - the implication is that we gain money by not having to refund for a bunch of things that we don't carry.
Actually, the costs of printing and mailing a catalog are such that we do everything possible to minimize out-of-stock items - why spend money on printing the descriptions and mailing a catalog of things we do not carry? In fact our TOTAL for out of stock items in 2006 was a mere 2.8%. The 2007 total out of stock is running about 2%.
He wrote: "Instead, I got an extremely snotty message that essentially told me never to order from J. L. Hudson again. The message basically said that I was the idiot who marked "voucher" on the order form and didn't check the website for availability of seeds, so I got what I deserved."
What I replied was:
"I am very surprised to hear that you are 'annoyed at the service I have received this year.' We filled both of your requests for seed promptly, accurately, and followed your instructions to the letter ('Credit Memo for out-of-stock items')."
Strange that he thinks this is "extremely snotty". At no time did I ever call him an "idiot", or say that "he got what he deserved".
And to answer his question about why there are out-of-stock items in January, ("Why are you advertising so many items that are already out of stock in the very month that you published your catalog?") I replied:
"As for having so many items out of stock the first month the catalog goes out - first, we have to get the catalog final format to the printer in late November (it takes some weeks to print), and we don't always have confirmations of what our collectors/growers will not be able to supply. Some species inevitably come in late, so are out of stock the first few weeks of the year. Then there may be a few items that come in, but our germination test shows the seed to be inadequate, so we do not distribute that seed, and have to try and hunt down another source of supply (if any)."
My reply, simply trying to explain why there may be out of stock seeds at any time of year, even though they are listed in our print catalog, seemed to make him even more angry. Also, we do provide continuously updated sold out information on our website - anyone with internet access who wishes to avoid ordering out-of-stock items can check the website. We can't do this in the print catalog for obvious reasons.
"I laughed out loud when I got to the part of the message where I was told that J. L. Hudson sells only the finest seed after meticulously testing its germination rate (as if I had complained in any way about their seed's quality)."
As you can see from my reply, I merely mentioned that sometimes things are out of stock because if germination is low, we do not distribute them. I certainly did not use the phrase "the finest seed after meticulously testing its germination rate" as he claims.
As for telling him "never to order from J. L. Hudson again", I explained:
"We are a seed bank, not a commercial enterprise... We invite you to obtain the seeds you need from a commercial enterprise, and hope you find a source of supply that meets your satisfaction."
He states in his rating of us:
"And I can't help but note that every negative rating here has a very long, defensive diatribe from J. L. Hudson accompanying it. In every case, it seems, if someone is dissatisfied with J. L. Hudson, the dissatisfaction can't possibly be J. L. Hudson's fault in any way; the dissatisfaction is the result of the complainer's being an idiot or a liar or a baby. I don't like defensive, arrogant people, so why on earth would I do business with a defensive, arrogant company?"
This is actually kind of a neat trick - if we take the time to try to set the record straight after being libeled online, we are posting a "very long, defensive diatribe". If we show that the problem was not actually our fault, but because of customer error [they gave us the wrong address (Heimler and Lamb Abbey), the seed that failed actually tested out with high germination (Shirer), or this guy, who checked "Credit" and got credit] then we are "defensive and arrogant". Neat trick - if we respond in any way other than apologizing to people for their own mistakes, we are bad guys.
This guy just won't take any responsibility. Check his neutral review of Logee's - one of the most respected nurseries in the country - and his complaint that their plants don't live long. I guess it must be their fault that plants in his care do not live a long time - it can't have anything to do with him.
He states: "For those of you who have positive experiences with J. L. Hudson, I hope you never have reason to complain about anything in any way, because if you ever do, you'll probably see a very different side of J. L. Hudson."
Again, untrue. We absolutely will admit it whenever we make a mistake. If we make a mistake, we always "own up" to it and correct the problem - check these ratings of us:
Windy (March 26 2005 - on next page of reviews) - we sent the wrong packet on an order, and immediately replaced it.
airren (20 July 2003) - "... one packet was missed in shipping - customer service answered my email immediately and sent the missing packet."
corbus (Nov 24 2006) - he describes getting zero germination from a packet and our helpful response - "The one time (years ago) we had zero germination we wrote for advice, and received a reply with detailed instructions as well as a free packet of seed."
As for being "snotty" or arrogant:
dirtdiver (23 Feb 2005) - "fast and polite".
As for overcharging for postage and packing:
Audrey (Jan 20 2007) - "Their charge for shipping is the lowest I've seen, which allows me to get even more seeds."
We stand by our high reputation, and would urge readers of Garden Watchdog to look over the many positive ratings we have received. And do check out the negative reviews we have received, and our replies - judge for yourself whether they are "diatribes" or whether they are honest explanations of the facts.
I'm sorry if I do not apologise to people for filling their orders exactly as they instruct."
I had such high hopes with these folks. They've got a really interesting selection of seeds and I very much like their philosophy. My recent experience with them however was deplorable. I ordered 2 ounces of Amaranth seeds from them, paid for the order via Paypal (an option they strongly urge people to use), and provided to them within my Paypal transaction the specifics of the seed request in lucid detail, including the item ordered, qty, cost, shipping address, etc. I shortly thereafter received a quick e-mail that my order had shipped. All good stuff. Weeks later I learned that they never bothered to read the confirmation e-mail that Paypal had provided to them with all of my order information and that my order was simply shipped to a name, city and state (no street address) that was part of a signature file in a subsequent e-mail I'd sent to them after processing my Paypal payment. Most people who use Paypal, not to mention vendors who urge their customers to use it, know that a Paypal transaction is set up to relay all of the information that they may need to process your order. JL Hudson never bothered to read the Paypal e-mail sent to them with my payment. They apparently saw an incomplete address in a follow up e-mail I'd sent to them and figured "oh, what the hell. . . let's mail it to this black hole. . . .it'll get there eventually."
A company committed to good service wouldn't have this slipshod attitude. One, they'd have read the Paypal confirmation and noticed the full address and order details provided to them there. Two, if they'd not bothered reading the Paypal confirmation, they'd at least have noticed the lack of a complete address in the customers follow-up e-mail and would've contacted the customer asking for clarification. Moreover, upon having a disappointed customer point out their oversight which caused the order to be shipped to an erroneous address, they'd have resisted the urge to send off a histrionic e-mail to the customer attempting to make them wrong for their own poor service, lack of attention to detail, and sloppy business practices.
The money for the order has been refunded and I shall not be doing business with JL Hudson again. It's such a shame to stumble across a business clearly more committed to being right than they are to customer service. Any business that understands the true concept of service would've taken ownership for the oversight and focused on what they could've done to end up with a satisfied customer.
Unfortunately, these same folks eventually will read this feedback and expend 10 times the effort responding to it than they actually spent on my order. That's what's really sad.
J A Gasbarre
On Jul 5, 2007, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman responded with:
On Jul 10, 2007 7:25 PM, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman added:
Sigh. This guy is so completely wrong.
Reviewing his emails, from the very first he approached us with an attitude - a chip on his shoulder. Absolutely nothing we could ever do could possibly satisfy him, he was just looking for a fight.
He requested seed, and gave us the wrong address - simple as that. We filled his seed request exactly as he wrote it, and mailed it to exactly the shipping address he gave us. He claims he followed our instructions for requesting seed - he did exactly the OPPOSITE. We sent him a FULL REFUND, because he claimed it was now too late to plant. What else could we do?
In the "histrionic" email I supposedly sent him, I simply pointed out to him the three places on our "How to request seeds online" page where we ask people to give their mailing address in the seed request e-mail (NOT in the PayPal payment).
Also, there are two places where we tell people specifically NOT to put their seed request and address in the PayPal payment, but in a separate e-mail, so of course he buried his correct address only in his PayPal payment, and gave an incorrect shipping address in his seed request.
We patiently complied with all of his demands for special treatment (confirming in-stock, confirming that we would notify him when mailed, etc.)
Unfortunately, his e-mails became ever more rude and demanding, no matter what we did to try to please him. Finally, I sent the e-mail pointing out that he had refused to follow our clear, simple instructions for requesting seed, and in fact he had placed his request in exactly the opposite way we instruct. I mentioned that I did not appreciate his rudeness, and that I thought he would be happier ordering seed from a corporate seed company that caters to "consumers", rather than requesting seed from a seed bank, and that we would not be supplying him with seeds in the future.
This of course triggered his shrill negative review above, in which he refuses to acknowledge any responsibility for giving us the wrong shipping address - it's just all our fault, no matter what.
One percent of the public consumes 95% of the customer-service resources of any organization. Every day we patiently answer questions that could easily be answered by looking at our website. We advise people on gardening problems, we refer people to other sources, we may end up answering a half-dozen e-mails for someone, and get a one-packet seed request for our pains. We are glad to do this - it is part of our public service.
We will bend over backwards for our clients, but there are limits.
Contrary to Mr. Gasbarre, this response is actually only one-tenth the effort we put into trying to make him happy.
We stand by our reputation - if anyone takes this shrill, accusitory review seriously, just read the many positive reviews below to get an idea of the quality of our customer service, and how we readily own up to any genuine mistake we may make and correct it.
they don't have the seeds listed they said they did.
On May 29, 2006, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman responded with:
On Feb 20, 2007 8:08 PM, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman added:
??????? I have no idea what this is about - I've checked our email files going back three years, and our client database back to 1989, and this person has never ordered seed from us or ever emailed us. I can find no record at all that this person has ever contacted us in any way. We post a list of out-of-stock items on the website, and every out-of-stock item is also marked "Out of Stock" right next to the price. Only 2% is currently out of stock. I have no idea what this person's complaint is about - perhaps they have confused us with someone else? Or perhaps they were directed to our website by someone with an out-of-date catalog, or a search engine that was out of date. Or maybe she ordered under another name? If she would contact us, maybe we could find out what she wasn't happy about, and fix the problem - we try to do a good job!"
On Mar 16, 2006, RichardHeimler Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:
Sometime last fall (during the off season) I placed an order for a few seed packets. After about 3 weeks when nothing arrived I sent an e-mail and got no response. After 4 weeks I sent another e-mail, received a reply with with no apology and received the packets 2 days later. 30 days total waiting time with no explanation.
Last week I ordered one packet of seeds (great turnaround time) which the catalog states I would receive 25-50 seeds. (Christmas Lima Bean). Figuring on the average I would get at least 35 seeds I received 18.
Can't figure out how they feel anybody could be satisfied with this result. I guess seed amounts can vary at any time although this seems a lttle too much without some kind of notification. Maybe this was such a small seed order it was not that important
On Mar 16, 2006, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman responded with:
On Mar 16, 2006 6:16 PM, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman added:
I'm sorry Mr. Heimler is not satisfied. The situation is not exactly as he has claimed. We take pride in our service, and take all complaints seriously. Sometimes we do make mistakes, but always rectify them. I hope everyone who is concerned by his rating will take the time to review the following correspondence which shows what actually happened.
Here is a record of our correspondence with him concerning his orders (his street address is XXXed out to preserve his privacy):
Monday 25 July 2005 18:04 he wrote:
> I orderd with you just one packet of "blue lake" peas around the 14
> of July and have not received them. Enclosed was a check of $3.
> Thank You.
> Richard Heimler
> XXXXXXXXX Rd. #205
> Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360
We Replied on July 25th:
We received your order July 19th, and the seeds were mailed by first class mail on July 22nd. You should get them sometime between today through Wednesday. Except I see you are at #205, and unfortunately you did not give this number on your order form, just "XXXXXXX Road". Your mail carrier may get it to you anyway, but if it is returned to us, we will re-mail it when it gets back to us. Please let us know if you receive it!
-- J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
On Tuesday 27 September 2005 16:52, he wrote:
> I sent you a check of $7 September 10 for several packs of seeds and have
> not received them. Seeds ordered include one package each of ;
> China Rose radish
> Round Black Spanish radish
> White Tipped Scarlet Turnip radish
> White Egg turnip
> Yellow Globe turnip
> Florida Broadleaf mustard
> Richard Heimler
> XXXXXXXX Road #205 Thousand Oaks, CA 91360 email@example.com
Then on Monday 03 October 2005 12:32 he wrote:
> Please excuse me. I sent you an e-mail about a week ago concerning a $7
> order for 6 seed packets I did not receive. The check was dated Sept. 10
> and had not posted as of Sept. 30. Therefore, either the postman or I must
> of misplaced/lost the order.
We replied on October 5th:
Dear Mr. Heimier,
I'm sorry for the delay in replying to you, but we have been out of town for 2 weeks on a seed collecting trip. I will check on your order tomorrow, and let you know what happened to the order.
-- J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
We replied later the same day (October 5th):
Dear Mr. Heimler,
I found your order, it was received here on Sept 16, and was mailed out to you on Sept 20th. It was only Sept 27th when you sent your email asking about it, so I am wondering if you did receive it by now after all? Please let us know if it did arrive. Otherwise, we ask our customers to wait one full month from the date the order was mailed, before we will replace it. Sometimes the mails are just slow!
Also, the order we have was for Turnips White Egg & Yellow Globe, and for Radishes China Rose, Round Black Spanish, Long White Icicle and White Tipped Scarlet Turnip. There is no Florida Mustard on the order, but you did note a substitue of Beet Lutz Winter Keeper. If we do need to replace the order on Oct 20, should we replace the Long White Icicle Radish, or do you want the Fl. Mustard instead?
-- J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
He claimed that "After about 3 weeks when nothing arrived I sent an email and got no response. After 4 weeks I sent another email, received a reply with no apology and received the packets 2 days later. 30 days total waiting time with no explanation." As you can see, the actual longest delay he experienced waiting for a reply was September 27th to October 5th, or just 8 days (while we were out of town). The delay on his order back in July was caused by his providing an insufficient address on his order. I think we did in fact explain and apologize to him each time.
Every order we have received from him has been mailed within 4 days of receipt.
Concerning the shortage of seeds in the packet of Christmas Lima, now and then during a packeting run, a packet gets fewer seeds in it by mistake - mistakes happen to the best of us, and we have already packed up a replacement packet to him in response to his email to us earlier in the day, and it will be mailed tomorrow. I would have appreciated it if he had waited for our response before making a negative rating.
I hope everyone can see that we have gone the extra mile for him, and we hope he finds everything satisfactory now."