On May 7, 2013, jerry_lavoie Crawfordsville, IN wrote:
I am UTTERLY DISAPPONTED with the plants I received this year from Laurel. Last year more than half of the plants I got died very soon after planting because they had arrived so stressed. I blamed our Mississippi Hot Sun and did not bother Laurel with it. So this year I had the plants arrive sooner, so they would not be received in the 100+ degree heat. I was not home the day the plants arrived (Saturday), so when I got home on Monday night and the poor plants were all nearly dead... it was not hot out at all... in fact it was cool and had been cloudy and rainy for two days prior to my opening the box. The PLANTS ALL DIED now, a week later. Laurel maintains that this is all my fault, and will not even offer a discount or anything to help ease my pain. I WAY OVERPAID for these plants to begin with, but I was intrigued with the heirloom varieties.... not worth it if what is received is a box of death.
For better service and much healthier plants, I recommend tomatobabycompany.com. Alainia is much more responsive and concerned for her customer's happiness than Laurel is... Laurel saw my situation as an opportunity to bilk me for another order of overpriced plants! I should have never stopped buying my plants from Alainia at tomatobabycompany.com... she did a great job with the packing and she was very pleasant and cares about her 'babies'.
In short: avoid Laurel's unconcerned posh California overpriced plants that arrive dead and go with a nice country gal who will send you the best tomato starts you've ever seen.
And just to let you know, I did give Laurel an opportunity to settle this situation with me and told her I would probably leave a scorching review for her on Dave's Garden... but she simply DOES NOT CARE!
Spend big $$$ for DEATH-IN-A-BOX if you want to... you have been warned.
On May 7, 2013, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
I understand your frustration. It’s very sad that the plants sat in their box at your house for 3 days before you got home. Live plants need air and sunshine right away on the day they arrive.
But I am puzzled to find you blaming me. Had you been home Saturday when they arrived, they would have come out of the box healthy and beautiful just like the plants we’ve sent you for the past few years.
As you know, we shipped on Wed. You told me, when I called you yesterday, that you got the email confirming the Wednesday shipment, knew the plants were on the way to arrive Friday or Saturday and knew you wouldn’t be home until Monday night.
I don't see how I could have helped.
They arrived quickly and safely—but there was no one home to open the box. What could I have done from Los Angeles to get that box open in Mississippi where it sat, sealed tight, at your house all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday? They needed to be in the fresh air and sunshine right away. They should have come out of the box on Saturday; of course they did not survive.
Had the mistake been mine, if I had mis-addressed the package or made another error, I would have happily sent replacements immediately at no cost. I have, 3 or 4 times in the past 12 years, made a mistake like that and reshipped at no cost.
But I did not make any mistake with your plants. The plants would have been fine had they been taken out of the box on Saturday when they arrived rather than Monday night when you got home. Yet you wanted me to resend the entire order for free after your mistake.
You threatened that if I didn't send free plants you would trash me at Dave's Garden. And here we are.
With each order confirmation this phrase is included in 2 separate 'very easy to see' areas:
"Your shipping cost is an estimate. If the difference is more than $2.00 either way, we will refund or charge the difference."
This customers plants were more than 15" tall, requiring a larger carton, thus the PO charges us more to ship and we charge the customer for the difference. All of this information is covered in great detail at our website on the payment and shipping info page and as I noted, on the customer's receipt.
We also refund any over payment when actual shipping is less than our estimate.
On Apr 11, 2011, GenevaMorgan Los Angeles, CA wrote:
Posted on April 6, 2011, updated April 11, 2011
This is the second year that I have ordered plants from Laurel the RUDE Tomato Lady.
I was a first time customer and spent $136 on tomato starts with out shipping! I had called and emailed the first year but she kept changing when I could pick up the plants. I wanted to get my garden going and could not wait any longer.
Laurel was so rude the first year because I went there on the wrong day. I would hope that Laurel would be polite enough to give me my plants and explain her schedule. Instead she snapped at her mother (she works with Laurel) when her mom offered to help me, then she fairly threw the plants and me and hustled me to my car. And it was not the full order! Wow, what a trip. All of this abuse, just for some tomato starts.
After that encounter I wrote her an email to say that I thought that she was overworked, maybe was having a bad day. She wrote back to say that was the case and she was going to slow down a little. OK.
I tried it again...I made an order in November 2010 for pick up in spring of 2011. I ordered and paid in advance. ($88 bucks for tomatoes!) Along with the tomato starts (6-4" plants) I ordered boxes of fertilizer and a cloth pots. She emailed me and told me approx. time when I could pick up the plants.
The problem is-
1) The pick up times are useless, because you must wait for confirmation from her to proceed. And even if you go on the correct day your plants may not be ready. Calling her requires repeated calls because he phone messages are full. And it takes days to get a response from your email queries.
2) Laurel ships to the whole country so she has to consider all zones for planting. This is her issue. I don't care to line up according to her other orders. Especially since I (over) paid for them so far in advance! I'm in LA so our planting time is in late March early April. This is my issue, I just want my plants when the earth is ready for them.
Cut to- I call her in the morning, I email her. No response. This is Los Angeles, we have passed our cold snap and I would like to start my garden. So I make the trek out to Lomita. She is even ruder than the year before, if that is possible.
I tell her that I called and emailed. But she is very brusque and slams the door in my face abruptly cutting off my response to her snarky remark about the being the wrong day and that she is very busy. She then barks at the poor girl that works for her to pull my order and tries to tell the girl not to give me a chair while I wait... And again I do not get my full order, Double Wow!!
Bottom line she is churlish and unbelievably rude to paying customers, her staff and family members. I (over) paid in advance and tried to make it work. Sorry that my schedule does not synch up to hers. I can only work on my garden in fits and spurts. Gardening is a hobby that should be fun. I cannot wait at Laurels leisure or be concerned with her business schedule protocol.
So I set out to find another source for heirloom tomato starts in the Los Angeles area. The LA County Arboretum Gift Shop (626-447-8751) has an heirloom tomato (4" starts $2.50 a piece) sale every March. I went April 4th and they still had a good selection. They have a wide variety of heirloom tomato plants, locally grown, with manager Mark Hall leading a knowledgeable staff. You can buy plants and organic fertilizer without going on the grounds so you don't have to pay to get in (unless you would like to donate).
I will be posting more information regarding Heirloom Tomato resources in the Southern California.
I'm sure that Laurel will try to rebut this comment.
So Laurel, please try to understand that everyone cannot be on your schedule, sorry. A customer paying almost 4 times the amount for a tomato start is plenty reason to be polite. When Mother Nature is ready for planting she is not concerned with your business schedule protocol. I will try to save the seeds this year in an effort NOT to do business with you and I am actively looking for other sources of heirloom tomato starts in Los Angeles. I will prove that you are not the only Tomato game in town.
On April 11th, 2011, GenevaMorgan added the following:
Gentle Readers and Garden Folk,
It is unfortunate that Laurel the Rude Tomato Lady feels the need to lie.
I guess rude is what rude does. Notice that she did not rebut the issues. Just a weak red herring salvo... not even the truth.
In fact she did not ask me to leave. Her beleaguered helper gave me my plants sans the fertilizer that was ordered 4 months before. And I left on my own accord because my order had been (partially) filled.
Here are the facts: Laurel is unpleasant and overworked and this is why she has such slipshod service. But a new day is dawning, because now she is not the only game in town.
Laurel, website is lovely and your product is strong and healthy. As I said to you, I love your tomatoes.
The universe does not like ugly and the truth will set you free.
PS, as promised, here is another Los Angeles southland source of heirloom tomato starts:
Sunset Boulevard Nursery Inc
4368 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Neighborhood: Silver Lake
(323) 661-1642 http://www.sunsetblvdnursery.com
They have lots of 4" heirloom tomato starts, strong and healthy. Knowledgeable staff and a full service garden center. In the last few years Sunset Nursery have brought in more heirloom veggies including the tomatoes. Check them out! On Apr 11, 2011, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
Laurel's site came up today when I did a google search. I see that she still refers to early ordering to reserve shipping window and varieties. My experience leads me to believe that my early order was meaningless in reserving my varieties. About three years ago I ordered between Christmas and New Years for a late, Northern Minnesota shipping date.
I got a call after Memorial Day from Laurel encouraging me to cancel my order. She mentioned heavy losses from a real bad spring and rang off some of the varieties I ordered that she didn't have. I asked about the two types that were the primary reason I let her charge my card for upward of $200 five months previously. She said that she had plenty of those types. I said to go ahead and ship those. I then agreed, on her request, to let her fill in whatever else she had to make volume. There was then this long silence followed by an evasive, "it will take three weeks to get them packed, you won't want them that late". I told her that I had a small greenhouse and could bring the pollinated plants in to finish ripening. The conversation cordially ended and I waited for weeks with no further communication. I never got a shipment, but finally a check at the end of July.
The spring in SoCal was bad that year but this did not provide adequate alibi for why a very early order for her final shipping window couldn't be met when she said she had the plants. Early shipping date plants may have been lost, but my late shipping date plants should have been started late enough to escape the weather. Did those who ordered later with an earlier shipping date end up with my plants? Did she have customers whose importance preceded my early, paid for reservation?
I requested in e-mails for her into reserve plants for me on subsequent years without charging my card until shipment. This seemed fair since she sat on money for 7 months and never shipped varieties she admitted to having in stock. I was refused this request. Laurel seems like a very nice person who gets overextended and doesn't handle the situations forthrightly.
On Jan 16, 2009, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
On Jan 16, 2009 6:25 PM, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants added:
Yes, 2006 was a tough year.
It was not a weather problem. We lost some plants to some weird bacterial disease we had never seen before or since, and I could not send plants to some of our customers that season.
I called each one personally and offered a full refund or lots of free plants the following year. All refunds were made timely, as promised, and many customers were thrilled in 2007 to get 12 plants instead of the 6 they had paid for in 2006. (Of course, we hold all prepaid monies from our customers in a trust account.)
I would never promise plants knowing they may not have produced fruit in a small hobby greenhouse after being completely hardened off here in California, so I expect I told this customer a refund would be the best way to go. Never a 'long silence' or 'evasive'. Not my way.
We would not have refused to take an order without pre-payment. Some folks may not want to pay in advance and that's okay and understandable. It only means we may not have the exact plants they want at shipping time.
Looks like we didn't make this customer happy 3 years ago
It really is difficult to glean the facts when we do not know who they are, making it impossible to find any information.
We have moved on since that difficult year and have thousands of very happy customers. This customer has not ordered since 2006. We sent a full and timely refund as promised so it's challenging to understand why he or she is still upset 3 years later.
I cannot imagine staying mad all this time after a full timely refund and heartfelt apology. I remember those calls I had to make. It was very difficult for everyone.
Every customer is important to me! Life is short, we must try to enjoy it!
Happy Gardening in 2009,
Owner, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants
Los Angeles, California
310 534 8611
This is the second time I have ordered tomatoes from Laurel. The first time was a generally satisfactory experience though 1 of 4 plants wasn't available and the plants did not ship until the 10th day of the 10 day shipping window.
This year however, 2 of 6 plants weren't available and the 10 day shipping window was changed (without warning) to a 14 day shipping window. This was presumably so that the plants could be shipped at 12 days from the requested shipping date without breaking any promises. I understand that sometimes plants/products aren't available when we want them but this seems to be a recurrent problem with Laurel. Most annoyingly, the receipt enclosed with my plants did not explain why 2 were missing from the shipment nor was the total price reflective of fewer plants. After several emails I finally have my refund, one month later!
Laurel encourages early ordering/payment so that the customer can choose the shipping date they prefer. In my experience it does very little good to order early, especially for those of us in more northerly climates who plant later in the season. By being forced to choose a later shipping date, many plants it seems, are already sold out. Though I ordered (and paid for) my plants in March, 1/3 of them failed to ship and they didn't arrive until 4 June, though the shipping window was 19 May.
I am also not pleased at having to spend $21.85 to ship 4 plants by the USPS. When shipping is added to the cost of the plant, plus its custom packaging, the total cost is approximately $11.50/plant. This significantly higher than Laurels' website explains.
Overall, my second experience ordering tomatoes from Laurel was not a satisfactory one. Gardening should be fun - this was definitely more trouble than it was worth.
On Jul 2, 2008, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
As noted on you receipt, the plants ship within a 10 to 14 day shipping period or 'when they are big enough to travel'. We note this specifically on the receipt we send when you place your order so that you know we are taking care of the plants and not shipping plants too small to survive the trip.
Your Northern Lights and Peacevine plants were just too small to travel and we did not want to risk them being damaged. At the time you ordered, you did request we refund your cost if any of you plants were too small at shipping time.
(As noted in our email exchanges, our acct. dept issues any refunds or price adjustments at the end of each month. You told me it would be okay with you.)
Regarding shipping costs, the Post Office-- who has hired UPS to transport their priority mail packages -- is now using UPS prices so that any box even an inch taller than 12" x 12" x 12" can be an additional $10.00. So, the post office is now charging for package dimension along with package weight--since your plants were quite large, the cost was higher. Your actual shipping as I recall was $19.85 and we did refund the shipping amount you overpaid along with plant and packaging costs within 30 days per our website.
I realize shipping costs are high but we don't set those costs, it's not our idea and all that cost goes to the Post Office.
If it were up to me shipping would be free! Wouldn't that be wonderful.
I called you about the 2 plants being too small and that you would receive a refund-- which you did-- within less than 30 days of that call.
We do hope your 4 plants, Paul Robeson, Green Zebra, Sun Gold and Super Snow White are doing well in your garden and that you have a wonderful harvest.
Again, we wish we could have made you happy; we sure tried!
I too have not had any response from Laurel. In previous years I had no trouble getting my plants so I had no need to email her. This year I still have not received my plants and I have emailed her twice with no response. It's disappointing to say the least.
On Jun 6, 2008, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
After my initial purchase of tomato plants from Laurel, I have had difficulty communicating with her company. I have sent several emails in the past 6 months and have received no response. Not one! I believe that her company is quite busy, especially seasonally, but if she makes it impossible to communicate, I can no longer be a customer. I wonder if they are no longer shipping tomato plants by mail order?
On Mar 22, 2008, Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants responded with:
Well, you bet we're shipping and very busy! 12 months out of the year and sending thousands of plants.
We cannot seem to find a record of this gardener anywhere in our files, no record of a purchase, but we did get one email to which I responded some months ago. Could not locate anyone in our files with the first name signed on the email or any similar name.
We received only one email to which we responded.
I have tried to contact this gentleman via Dave's Garden here with no response, it's rather challenging to reach someone without knowing their last name. Perhaps he ordered from a different company as we have not sent plants to anyone with his first name and city (noted in his profile at Dave's Garden) during the last year.
We sure did our best to find him and see what we could do to make him happy!