We will be rolling out several small fixes mid-day today (Jan 29.) We do not anticipate any disruptions or problems, but f you spot any unexpected issues after 12 noon (PST), please report them in the designated thread in the DG Site Updates forum.
On Nov 30, 2013, Jonelles WARNER SPRINGS, CA wrote:
I placed an order from Sandhill for 7 Dorking chicks and 18 Asst Heavies. My first shipment contained 4 Dorking chicks, and 20 Assorted. They arrived right on time, and although they were all alive at time of receipt, many looked weak and ill. I immediately got them into the brooder and added some vitamins and electrolytes to their water, as well as sugar for energy - thinking they were probably stressed from shipping. I notified Sandhill right away by email. By that evening, over half the chicks were dead, and by the next morning, almost all of them were. I filled out Sandhill's shipping form that day and sent it in, requesting a replacement shipment.
A few weeks later I received my replacement shipment of 21 chicks ( which, according to Sandhill themselves is not enough to keep them warm during shipment ). This time, 2 were dead on arrival, and the rest were weak and stumbly. Again, I notified Sandhill by email immediately. I added antibiotics to their water this time. By the next morning, many more had died. I filled out Sandhills form again, and also emailed again to inform them of the deaths.
I wound up with 12 live chicks out of both shipments, only 3 Dorkings. I've emailed numerous times, and either get no answer to my email, or a return email asking who I am ( even though my order number has been on every email, as well as my name ). I've tried to be very pleasant, and even suggested they either just give a credit for the dead birds towards an order next summer, or replace the credit amount with seeds of some sort, if they think that there is a problem with shipping chicks out to California. I've received no answer to my request.
I have to add that during the same time period as these shipments from Sandhill, I also received 2 shipments from Welp Hatchery and had no problems with those ( lost 1 chick out of almost 100 ). Again, different breeds and some even shipped from the same state. They were all raised in the same type of brooder system, with the same feed and water ( although the last order from Sandhill were raised in my back bedroom so I could watch them closer ).
I understand that it may be a problem with shipping, or that the chicks were chilled during shipment. Both are out of my control, and I understand that Sandhill can't control all aspects of shipping either. However, I notified them of the problems right away, filled out and mailed in their shipping report form immediately, and emailed them many times- with all the information possible- asking them to resolve this, and I've been completely ignored. This isn't the way to treat customers, if you want them to remain customers. I understand they are a small operation, but if you are selling to customers you ARE a business and need to handle problems as they arise, not just ignore them.
I have never been so unhappy with a gardening company. I have been trying to order sweet potatoes from them for 3 years. You have to place your next year order the year before, to have a chance of receiving your order. In that year you have no idea of knowing if you will receive your order or not, no email saying your order will be sent or anything saying that it wont. You just have to wait till your check is returned to you in the mail, or if you get your sweet potatoes. The woman that handles the customer service dept. is the most unfriendly, unhelpful person I have ever had to deal with. You absolutely hate calling there. I understand that this is a small company and they give excuses why they have such poor customer service, but enough is enough. If you could order on line, then they could cut off the ordering when they are out of potatoes, but because they only take orders by mail, they have no way of controling how many orders they accept. So they just accept all the orders and make you wait till planting time to find out it you actually get your order or not. And then it's too late to get them from another nursery. They also don't give you planting instructions. Save your time and order from someone else.
On Jul 30, 2013, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Aug 4, 2013 8:50 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are sorry that this person is so upset. It has always been our wishes that each and every person that orders from us takes the time to read our introduction page and what we are capable of doing. We are very upfront and open with outlining our limitations and what we can and cannot do. First, we are not set up as a business with a customer service department as we are set up for the primary purpose of genetic preservation. We do not operate as a business where sales of a particular variety dictate its continued place in our catalog. We operate with the principle that if after we have grown and evaluate a variety and it makes it to our catalog then it is worthy to stay there until someone out there sees its worth. I will reference all things in this rebuttal to sweet potatoes as that seems to be the main concern. We started offering sweet potatoes as the collection grew back in 1993. At first the only interest was in the 10 or so common commercially available ones. We started offering assortments and including what we thought were worthy varieties for free. We hoped to educate about and perpetuate the varieties as well. Times have changed and so have the demands. Varieties that were looked at with disdain and disgust in 1993 such as Korean Purple, Frazier White and Ivis White Cream are now heavily sought after and, we are also grateful to see, starting to be picked up and sold by other sources. It was and still is not our intent to be the sole source for all of the varieties we maintain. We wanted to expand the locations that can grow decent good tasting varieties and we have accomplished that as we have heard success stories from nearly every state - many from gardeners who had been told by their extension service that they should not waste their time as they would not grow in their location. We have many pictures and testimonials of their successes when they followed our instructions and tried some of these less common varieties.
We currently maintain 226 varieties of sweet potatoes which we grow out in the field each summer and in addition maintain a plant in a pot in a greenhouse to act as a backup incase of field losses. Each of these varieties has its own unique qualities as to any one of the number of the following things such as flesh color, skin color, soil preference, time before roots start forming, flesh dryness or moistness, insect tolerance, and many other factors too numerous to mention here. The big problem is they are not all the same and the majority of folks today have trouble understanding that each one acts and does things differently. Taking orders online would not solve this problem . I will explain this later. Each variety sprouts and grows differently and if we were set up as a true business where our goals were profit and customer satisfaction then we would easily eliminate over 200 of these from out list and focus on the ones we know will constantly be the same and produce a huge amount of slips to make sure we get to each and every customer ASAP. I most certainly do not fault the large commercial outlets that focus on the top 10 common commercial types for these reasons. I fully understand while over the years they were excited to introduce such varieties as Carolina Ruby, Hernandez and Travis only to yank them a few years later. All of these and many others that have disappeared over the years are great for many reasons but all are tough to get a reliable slip crop from to meet the demands of today’s anxious society. This person’s negative comments clearly show the most logical business minded thing we could do is simply stop selling sweet potato slips or limit it to the ones we could guarantee will always be there ASAP. Please take the time to read our goals and mission and see that that is not how we operate. We clearly state our purposes and do not intend to give false hope to anyone about what we can and are able to do.
Here are some simple facts about just a few variables in this collection we maintain. First example. Camote Morado: same number of roots to start slips from this year as last. Last year that amount of roots under the same conditions produced over 400 slips, many more than this variety had requests for. This year we barely got 15 slips, from the same amount of roots in the same conditions. I keep intense records and would have thought we would have had the same number of slips and even if we took orders online how could we have stopped the process when the roots are not started until the last week in April and we could have easily passed the 15 slips we got months before. Example two: We have learned some varieties are heavy slip producers and some are not. Myanmar Purple for example is a very late sprouter. It takes a long time to get it to break dormancy and start producing slips, then it only sends up slips from the starting roots once and promptly rots. Ginseng Red on the other hand breaks dormancy easily and constantly produces slips that can be harvested every few days over a 3 month period of time. Each root on Myanmar Purple produces about 5 -6 slips. Ginseng Red roots of the same size produce 50-100 over their life time and maybe more. Okinawan, another popular variety, will barely produce 2-3 slips per root for me. I realize it is adapted to a much milder climate.
I simply do not know how to explain the challenges with offering so much material with all of the variables involved. We desperately try our hardest to reach each and everyone but we cannot control everything and it is surely not like seeds where you can weigh or count your starting amount and clearly know when you are sold out. We cannot predict in March exactly to a number how many of each slip we will have and suddenly stop the whole process. It also greatly depends upon what a person orders. An order that comes in May 25 might get sent out way before an order that comes in January 1 if the May 25 order had varieties that no one else ordered and they are sprouting. Our order filling process is, has been and always will be to start with the first order received in the office and work down through the numbers as the varieties have sprouted. We do not bump orders because they are too large or too small. We treat everyone the same and work with the slips that are available that day.
There is really nothing more we can do differently and still maintain our collection. We have taken on this venture to preserve this material because the USDA does not maintain an active field grown collection. It is all in tubes and when the tubes get contaminated the variety is discarded. The Seed Savers Exchange has been lukewarm and passive on maintaining the collection as there is a lot of work and expense involved and it does not fit in with their facilities. We are trying to back up our collection with Duck Creek Farms to make sure this material is still available in the future.
We do not advertize to try to promote and take on more than we can do. We do not produce a glossy catalog with flowery words to entice you to order. We simple state the pluses and minuses when we can and stick to scientific facts or results of our experiments. We do not get involved in the flavor issue . My wife and I have opposite tastes in sweet potatoes so one she gives an A, I might give a C and vice versa. The simplest and most logical “business” decision we could make would be to stop offering sweet potato slips altogether. It is very frustrating for us to try and get this material out there and made more accessible and then to constantly be yelled at and told how incompetent we are. We clearly state that our slips are all started here in our field in Iowa, grown from roots from our farm here in Iowa and we cannot start shipping them any sooner than May 25 and when you start getting yelled at as early as March 18 (yes, I was home from my teaching job because of an ice storm) when I answered the phone to obscenities about why the person had not yet received their slips. They had not read any of the information we provide and thought they needed to plant them at the same time they planted their regular potatoes and they always did that Saint Patrick’s Day.
Our idea of Customer Service is not to be on the receiving end of screaming and yelling because someone has not understood the limitations we have clearly spelled out. We are dealing with living material that is totally dependent upon the weather more so than many in today’s world realize. Our idea of customer service is to provide an information filled catalog and website and enclose proper instructions with the order and then help those who have further questions that are unique to their situation. We enjoy helping people and spend many hours doing such. Unfortunately in today’s world the idea of customer service is to allow the customer to yell, intimidate and threaten you and then you give them anything they want. We, however, strive to help customers that have had issues with shipping or variety choices or crop growing issues as the season progresses, but we do not respond positively when we are yelled at, called stupid and incompetent because it is May 26 and the person feels they are being wronged because they have yet to get their plants.
Our goals have been, are and will continue to be to provide the serious person access to rare and unique genetic material and continue to preserve the rare germplasm for future generations. We have become fully aware there are some who will not read anything we print about what we can and cannot do and become frustrated at “our lack of customer service”. We feel the problem lies in the fact that these people have not completely read and understood all of the information given in our catalog and website. We will continue to do what we do to the best of our ability and will continue to help people with their questions as best we can.
Bad customer service. No confirmation of order receipt. Just got word my check is being returned today, no explanation of why in response to email I sent a week ago. I understand they're running a farm but people do that and manage to at least contact their customers. Wish I'd known earlier - now I need to find somewhere else to get sweet potato slips. Won't be ordering here again.
My experience is pretty much the same as a lot of the other negative feedbacks regarding sweet potato orders with condescending customer service and last minute notification that they cannot fill the order.
In March I could not get a return email when inquiring about two varities of potatoes. Early April I placed my order. May 26 I receive my confirmation letter stating my order would be shipped by June 25. The problem here is they do not state in the catalog or in this letter that you could be out of luck if there is a crop failure, and that didn't occur to me. I assumed with this letter we were good to go and my slips would be on the way, so I did not order with anyone else.
June 29th I got my check back with a letter saying they can't fill the order because the demand was tremendous and that they were already sold out in early April.
I called and left a message about ordering something else but did not get a call back. I sent an email July 21st about being unhappy with their lack of customer service and asked if they were already sold out, why did they not return my check immediately so I could order with someone else. NOW I get a response with a nasty and sarcastic email from Mr. Drowns telling me that "he's sorry I don't understand they are not super human and cannot just snap their fingers or turn a crank and produce more of a product." They had crop death with some of the old standbys and they were not aware of this before the letters went out.
Yikes! The letter I received with my return check said nothing about crop failure, but rather the demand was tremendous and that early April they were sold out of the regular season slips. There is nothing in the catalog about receiving a confirmation letter does not necessarily mean you're going to get your order, so you might have a back up plan.
However, after saying that he's tried very hard to explain to me how things work and I still seem to think they can just make plants appear, he is offering to send me my 2012 order for free in 2013.
On Jul 27, 2011, Janna Mahwah, NJ (Zone 6a) wrote:
I placed an order with this company in February and was so excited about my new sweet potato collection! The company offers many varieties and I was really looking forward to it. In mid-May the order never showed up, so I called and was re-assured that the order will ship soon after a small delay. The woman was not very friendly on the phone, she blamed the delays on the bad weather. I agreed to wait and did not order my potatoes elsewhere (what a mistake!). Then I called again few weeks later, and this time a long recording was re-assuring people that their orders will ship no later than "next week." After July 4th I got the sinking feeling that I am not getting anything from this company. In a week or so I received a letter saying that my order will not be fulfilled and my check was returned.
Well, thanks! So I will not grow sweet potatoes this year at all because of Sand Hill Preservation Company's procrastination practices. I would appreciate if you at least let me know earlier that you can't ship the potatoes, at least I would have had a chance to order elsewhere. Now what?
Why businesses do this?? Please have respect for your customers and be honest with them upfront instead of holding their money and making false promises that you can't fulfill.
I am very disappointed, and what a shame, since they have such a large collection. I almost recommended your company to my gardening friends, now I certainly won't.
On Jul 27, 2011, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Jul 28, 2011 9:22 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are sorry for your disappointment, but as we clearly state in our catalog and on our website, our slips are started here in Iowa, in the field. Therefore, we are totally dependant upon the weather as to whether we will get a crop. As an avid weather observer for over 40 years, I felt that the cold spell would not linger as long as it did and delay the slips' growth. All indications from previous years, with the heat building in the Southwestern United States that it would eventually spread northward and we would finally have normal growing conditions. We had enough roots bedded had we had normal weather to produce enough slips. When we did not get normal weather by the middle of June, it became a crisis situation for us. We attempted to keep people updated with messages on the "News and Updates" section of our website and via messages on our voice mail. We did all that we humanly could to try to reach every person, but we realized that we would not be able to please everyone. What this person recognizes is the fact that we do have a huge collection, of which it is our goal and mission to spread as many varieties around the United States to as many people who have never had the opportunity to grow sweet potatoes but can with some of the unique varieties that we have. There is a reason why the large scale producers only offer a few varieties, because those are the ones that are predictable sprouters and produce large numbers of slips so that they can guarantee a crop. We try not to focus on those varieties, but instead, focus on ones with unique characteristics and genetic diversity. The unfortunate situation is many of these are not predictable sprouters and in some cases produce very few sprouts. We never ever advertise or try to convince people to rely totally on us for their sweet potato crop. We, instead, prefer to stick to our mission as being a source of genetic diversity for those who are adventurous enough and patient enough to deal with the uniqueness of some of the ones in our collection. We wish this person well on the search for sweet potatoes for 2012."
I placed an order for sweet potatoes very early this year along with a seed order. There should have been plenty of time for the company to get the sweet potatoes sent in a timely manner, at least in time for planting in my area. I recieved a letter stating that the rest of my shipment would be sent ( the sweet potaotes). I waited and waited, the optimal time for planting passed, I emailed and got no response, I called their number and the message there stated that "if you had not gotten a confirmation letter you probley would not get your order', I asked at that time ( left a message, as they do not actually answer their phone or email you back) for my order to be cancelled and requested a refund. I did not recieve my refund as requested and will chalk up my experience with Sandhill preservation center as a waste of money, time and aggrivation. A lot of us work regular jobs and do lots of activities on the side. I imagine that a lot of us would be able to find time to respond to others that had sent us their hard earned money for products we were selling.
If they would have called or emailed me and let me know I would have obtained my slips else where.
Will not be ordering from them again.
On Jul 18, 2011, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Jul 28, 2011 9:07 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are very sorry for this customer's disappointment over the sweet potato situation. It is extremely difficult for many individuals to understand that our sweet potato slips are grown here in Iowa in the field (not in a greenhouse) and are not drop shipped from the southern states. This is the reason that we are able to offer well over 100 varieties --- because we grow them ourselves. We grow the roots one year and make our starting beds to produce the slips the following April. This year was an exceptionally cold Spring and we were not able to get the slip beds started until the first week-end in May. We did not have very many warm, sweet potato favorable days in the month of May and the cold stretch extended into June. To help explain the process of how sweet potato slips are produced, you place the roots on the ground in 2" x 4" frames and then cover with peat moss. We then soak that down with water and cover with plastic for a couple of weeks until the slips start to show. In normal weather, you can harvest the slips every two to three days and a new crop keeps coming on. Normal sweet potato slip weather is highs in the 80's and lows in the 60's. The perfect temperature seems to be about 90 in the daytime and 70 at night as well as very humid. Sweet potatoes produce very little growth with temperatures below 70 during the day. We had one full week in June when it rarely reached 70 during the daytime and was close to 50 at night and they simply did not produce slips. We indicate in four places what our normal shipping season is - - - in our catalog, on our website, on the order blank, and on the confirmation that is sent when we receive the order. Our normal shipping season is May 25 to June 25. We in no way attempt to deceive the customer that we are able to provide them earlier than that. We, ourselves, here plant ours when our normal shipping season of June 25 is over and before we start shipping the "Season Closeout" specials. This person's order number was in the 400's and was for some varieties that were slower to sprout this year. These varieties were also extremely popular and there were many orders ahead of hers. Her slips were shipped on June 22 and the only communication that we can find from her was a telephone call on June 23 cancelling the order. I attempted to contact her and was told by the person who answered the phone that she did, in fact, receive the slips but not when she wanted them. I am not sure what we can do further when we clearly indicate what our limitations as far as shipping times are."
On Jul 6, 2011, DarkBrownEggs Macclenny, FL wrote:
*************** The Nightmare from Hell!
I ordered 15 Golden Cascade ducks last year so to make sure I got in on a early hatch and early delivery and was told I would get a conformation and possible delivery date by the first week of January, never heard from them.
March I contacted them asking about the order and when I could expect the ducks and was told the order hadn't been paid for yet (these were a gift from a person that lost her flock to a bob cat inwhich I was supposed to get)
Finally got a hatch date of May 17th and on that day got a call telling me they were shipped, box arrived on May 19th with 5 dead and the smell was like something had been dead for a week which my locale PO can verify. They come
home and are put in a warm brooder and with in 24 hours 6 more drop dead (total 11) so I called and left a message
and the following Tuesday May 23rd I get a call back saying I would get a full replacement but being other orders need to be filled they didn't know when I would get my replacement ducks so I wrote a very pleasant email and sent a hand written insurance form saying I would gladly take substitutes and gave them 2 other breeds, also said I would take a mixed order of left over ducks after other orders were filled so not to put someone else out of their order and have never to this date heard back about my request for substitutes.
I have called every 2 weeks and sent emails asking about a possible mixed shipment and that I did not want to be brooding baby ducks late in the year, actually didn't want to do this twice being they are so messy...never heard back from them until finally after me writing and telling them how horrible they were about customer relations and to send me something so I can be done with them and I promissed to never bother them again with any future orders...I even asked for chicks as a substitute just to be done with this nightmare and finally got a reply saying "There are NO Golden Cascades to send" and thats it... so I replied asking about a substitute and again was ignored again. I sent a very unpleasant email July 1st and get a reply from Glen saying "I haven't read any of your emails but my wife said" blah blah blah and that I have not asked for any substitures or they would have been sent and goes on and one about looking at the stars and smelling the roses and I can't be pleased and lies out of both sides of his mouth just like he has done in his replies here to others that have given them a negative feedback here and I will bet he will do the same after mine but I have every email I sent begging them to please respond and with the same substitute info on every message and nothing. Glen tends to place the blame onto his customers
when he is at total faught.
Every one I know that has bought from SandHill has had the same experience with waiting on orders and no responce from Linda or Glen.
I was ignored by Linda, lied about from Linda and then was told by Glen I was about to get my replacement order but he changed his mind because of the way I wrote them asking for someone there to respond. again, more lies from Glen
and Linda....I was told I would have a check by the end of this week July8th, I am willing to bet thats another "checks in the mail LIE" I will NEVER deal with them in any way other then report them to better business and possibly call every state agency to report the sick animals they are sending out to customers....I have since lost another duckling, one was a runt and never grew an inch in over 6 weeks and finally died...
As stated I can prove I have sent emails after email asking for mixed or substitutes to take care of getting my replacement. and I have the finale response from Glen saying he never read my emails but: blah blah blah
and I expect him to do the same here...How about the truth Glen, for once.
On Jul 6, 2011, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Jul 28, 2011 8:50 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We have waited to respond to this posting until we received verification that Mr Higginbotham not only received our check for a total refund, but had actually cashed the check. Now that that has occurred, we are going to present our side of the story with facts and minimal emotion. On December 13, 2010, we received an order from a long time customer of ours for 15 ducklings to be shipped to the above individual. No money was enclosed with this order and, not knowing if it was a surprise gift, we sent the confirmation on January 3, 2011, to the individual that placed the order indicating that we would need payment by January 20 if the order was o.k. as confirmed. On that confirmation, we indicated the first possible ship date of May 17. In the rush of the Spring season, we did not realize that we had not received payment for this order until March 13 when Mr. Higginbotham called wanting to know where his ducks were. We indicated to him at that time that we had not received payment for his order yet. We did receive payment for this order on March 21. On May 17, we shipped him 17 ducklings. On May 19 he received them and 5 were dead. He called the next day and indicated that 11 total had died. At that time when he called we indicated to him that we were very booked up on the breed of ducks he needed replaced and that we would work him in for a reshipment just as soon as we possibly could. With our odd Spring weather that we had, duck fertility did not hold up well and when we were running behind, it became more apparent from his e-mails that he wasn't patient but that he also kept changing the breeds and species that he wanted us to send as replacements. Therefore, on July 2, I sent him an e-mail indicating that I would send him a total refund including postage and indicated that I would pray that he would be able to come to peace with this situation. I then went out to do chores and, over the course of the next 1 to 2 hours he sent 4 e-mails and 3 telephone messages that were filled with filthy language and violent threats against our personhood. The things that he mentioned that he would do to us personally should not be placed in a public forum where children might have access to them. As far as his reference to us as being a nightmare, it is us who has the nightmares wondering if he will show up to carry out those violent acts. We have contacted our County Sheriff's office to alert them of this possibility and were told to call immediately if anything devloped. He has received a complete refund. He was not sent diseased birds. Our flocks are inspected twice a year by a certified veterinarian and we comply with all the rules, testing and guidelines of the NPIP. Therefore, he should have nothing more to say about this issue."
On Jun 21, 2010, MotherGoose2 Lobelville, TN wrote:
Posted on June 21, 2010, updated June 21, 2010
I ordered a "Fancy Goose Assortment" in early March- they arrived on June 19th. One was dead, and I recieved 2 White Chinese goslings. No, there's nothing inherently wrong with White Chinese, but they are hardly considered "Fancy", and are not listed as one of the breeds I might possibly get. I'll have to say that I'm more than a little dissappointed with this order- and I will most likely not deal with them again.
On June 21st, 2010, MotherGoose2 added the following:
I was contacted later in the day with a message saying that they intended to send me a partial refund since they didn't send me the breeds I had ordered. He was rather short and accused me of hanging up on him twice- please! In any case, we'll see what kind of refund I get. It will be only established poultry houses from now on- rest assured.
I have ordered from this company for the past 3 years and while I admire the mission, I have grown less impressed with the customer service over time. I ordered sweet potatoes the first year and those came packed well and performed well. The seeds have also been fine and I really do enjoy the rare varieties they offer. My sweet potato order 2 years ago was not filled due to weather/flooding (understandable), and last year I ordered an assortment package that did not get filled.
While both those circumstances were understandable, my concern is that I find the customer service to be very unprofessional. The website has a bunch of bold, somewhat condescending statements about what not to expect from them. Meanwhile the ordering process is more labor intensive and lacking in communication/updates about orders. Today I pulled them up on the web with my list in hand and after being reminded of their negative tone, I concluded I will shop elsewhere this year.
On Oct 27, 2009, containergarden Los Angeles, CA wrote:
We had a very poor experience with Sand Hill Preservation Center sweet potatoes as well as with the staff. We are both Master Gardeners and have successfully grown sweet potatoes before from slips we produced at home from supermarket sweet potatoes. This year we decided to branch out and order a variety of slips from Sand Hill for ourselves and our fellow community farmers. So we put in a reasonably large order with Sand Hill. As a back-up, we bought an organic Whole Foods sweet potato to make slips ourselves. Needless to say, the Whole Food slips produced heavily. However, Sand Hill took more orders than it could reasonably fill, and failed to respond to a series of messages I left concerning the order I had already paid for. When a woman finally responded, she was unpleasant, seeming to blame me for her failure to respond or to satisfy the order. Nevertheless, she petulantly promised to satisfy my order. Although the slips spent no more than two days in the mail, many of the Sand Hill Preservation Center slips were dead on arrival and had to be discarded. We planted those with any sign of life in them, but got only meager harvests from them. Some of the stunted potatoes were clearly diseased, even though sweet potatoes are normally disease-free in southern California, ideal growing country. So we can only assume that the slips themselves were diseased. The way Sand Hill seems to fill orders is to start collecting slips and then wait until they have the full order, which may take a long time. The result is that the earlier collected slips are dead and only the later collected slips are remotely viable. In short, a regrettable expenditure of about $50 for a useless product. Fortunately, we have since located a reliable, responsible, and friendly California supplier of a wide variety of sweet potato slips.
On Oct 27, 2009, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Nov 4, 2009 9:08 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are very sorry to hear of the poor experience this customer had. This posting on Garden Watchdog is the first that we have heard of this customer's problems with our product. Had they contacted us directly at the time of receipt of the order, we would have immediately sent replacements for what was damaged in shipping. It has been four months since the sweet potato slips were shipped out and this is the first we have heard that there was a problem. As we start our slips in the field here in Iowa, we are at the mercy of the weather and we indicate that both in our catalog and in the "News and Updates" section of our website. We indicated on the website in April that we were all sold out for the season. We attempted to keep people updated on the website with the progress of the slip production. We kept anticipating that warm weather would be forthcoming, but we never had an extended warm period which is needed for the roots to sprout and form slips.
We have never had a case of disease on the slips here at our farm. We do not collect slips and hold them. An order is all pulled at once, carefully labeled, wrapped and packaged for shipping within minutes. We start pulling orders each morning once the dew has evaporated and they are mailed out that same day. Nothing is held once it is pulled.
We regret that this customer did not contact us directly to allow us to make things right with them. Our goal is to spread the diversity of the sweet potato world across the country. As our name indicates, we are a preservation center and therefore are trying to preserve these varieties not send out inferior slips that will not produce. We have many heirloom, regionally adapted varieties that have allowed folks in areas otherwise thought to be non-sweet potato growing regions to harvest many diverse and tasty roots. It is important that folks realize that not all sweet potato varieties will grow the same in all soils. Some like heavy, clay soils. Others like loose sand.
We hope that in the future that others who have problems, concerns or questions about their orders will contact us directly and that we won't have to try to search our records and figure out who has "anonymously" posted here on Garden Watchdog. We can't help someone who will not contact us to discuss their problem.
Glenn and Linda Drowns
Sand Hill Preservation Center"
Unlike Most of the people here, I have had a horrible experience with Sand Hill Preservation. First I ordered seeds and a lot of them failed to germinate, They advertise they send more seeds than the 15 they quote, but the pack of okra they sent me had 14 seeds and not a single one germinated, they sent a free pack of flowers and again not a single one germinated.
I ordered Sweet Potatoes in early march and got a confirmation number. Since we have been going through a horrific heat wave I E-Mailed them on June 22 asking when my sweet potatoes would arrive and letting them know if they were not at my residence by the 25th of June it would do me no good to plant them in this High Heat and to cancel the order and refund my money. I received one of the most unprofessional e-mails I have ever received in my life.
I can say this I will never order anything from this company again.I believe they should take a course in customer relations. I guess they think it is ethical to keep my money for three months and not send my order.
On July 10th, 2009, cityfarmer066 added the following:
The people at Sandhill Preservation are whiners, and groaners,. They whine all through their catalog, they set up their rules and regulations for the people who might consider ordering something from them, then they do not abide by the rules and regulations they set up. It's like the old adage "don't do as I do, do as I say" They blame every one and every thing for why they can't keep their word. They do not have the professionalism to deal with the people who are unfortunate enough to order anything from them. They moan and whine about the weather constantly. From my dealings with them they are very negative people. If you order anything from Sandhill Preservation be prepared to be disappointed.On Jun 27, 2009, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
"On Jun 27, 2009 10:03 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
Upon reading this posting, we were immediately very concerned and started searching our records for someone in Addison, IL. We place all orders once they are filled into files by state and in zip code order. This allows us quick access when a customer calls about an order for any reason. Sometimes they call because they want to know what variety they ordered in a previous year because it did well for them and they didn't keep track of what it was. Because we have such a diversity of material, this allows us to give our customers a little extra help if they forget (for example) which one of the over 600 varieties of tomatoes it was that they ordered. We searched the Illinois state file and found no customer in Addison, IL. The comment also indicated a sweet potato order, which we also checked our sweet potato order list and found no order at all from Addison, IL. We then checked our mailing list to see if we had sent a catalog out and found no listing in Addison, IL. We have no idea who this person is as we have sent no seeds, sweet potatoes, or catalogs to anyone in Addison, IL. In addition, we received no e-mail from anyone in Addision, IL concerning a sweet potato order. That concern being addressed, we must assume that this person lives somewhere else so we will address the concerns that they had.
The first was a shortage of seed in one packet of okra. Our business has grown some to where it is not just the two of us filling packets anymore. We have several very responsible people that help us during the busy season. Since our policy is to only fill five packets of a variety at a time (we do this to keep the seed in proper storage for as long as possible), it is entirely possible that one of our packet fillers accidentally grabbed the wrong measuring spoon when filling that packet. Had the customer contacted us, we would have certainly sent them a new packet of seed plus something complimentary for their trouble. We were not contacted about this situation so, therefore, could not remedy it.
The next concern this person expressed was that a lot of the varieties of seed that they got from us failed to germinate. Seed germination is extremely important to us because we maintain so many varieties that are not available elsewhere. If the germination fails on those, then, in many cases they would be lost to the world. Again, we were not contacted that there were any germination problems, so, therefore, could not help this person.
The sweet potatoes this year have been a challenge. The interest in ordering slips has been three times greater than the previous year. We set orders up with a number as they come in with the explanation (in the catalog itself, in the online catalog, and on the order form) that the slips are not shipped until between May 25 and June 25. Our sweet potato slips are all started here on our farm in Iowa from sweet potatoes grown on our farm here in Iowa. We are totally dependant upon Iowa weather to get these slips sent out to the customers as quickly as possible. We cannot set up our starting beds before the end of April or first of May because it is too cold. Many of the varieties that we maintain require several days of consistently 80+ deg. F weather before they will break dormancy and sprout. The first 16 days of June this year we never reached 80 deg. F. No one could have been more frustrated than we were with day after day of cloudy, cool weather. We are thrilled that we got as many to sprout as we did in that cool weather and are very disappointed that we never got the heat in time to get all of the orders filled within our established dates.
We are in the process now of sending refunds to all those people who didn't get anything with our humblest apologies. We have no intentions of keeping anyone's money when we were not able to supply a product to them. Unfortunately, it does take quite a bit of time to process and mail out all of these refunds. We posted weekly updates on the website (as we indicated in our printed catalog that we would do) to keep our customers informed about the status of the sweet potato orders. It is simply impossible for us to contact each and every customer who places a sweet potato order to let them know the status of their individual order. We did indicate on the "News and Updates" page of our website that confirmations were not sent out after April 1 because of the uncertainty as to whether we would be able to produce enough slips to fill all of the orders. We also indicated that the customers could telephone our office to inquire as to whether we had received their order and to get their confirmation number by telephone.
One or two days of very warm weather speeds up the process just as one or two very cool days slows down the ability to ship out slips. It is impossible for us to give an exact day that an order will ship out just as it is impossible to predict what the exact temperature will be a month from now.
We are very sorry that this customer has so many complaints about their order, but we have not had anyone from Addison, IL contact us either to place an order or about problems with their order.
We would encourage each and every one of our customers to please contact us if they have problems with any seed germination or number of seeds in a packet. We are very concerned about having satisfied customers and will do everything we can to work with each person.
Sincerely, Glenn & Linda Drowns
Sand Hill Preservation Center"
Unfortunatlely, unlike most of the other folks who have posted to this site my experience has not been a positive one. I placed an order in May for poultry and received a confirmation letter dated July first. I understand that they are busy and I did not expect any contact with them until either the delivery date that I was given of July 20 or failing that, the backup date of August 17. Well, it is now the 25th of August and despite effort on my part to contact them I have not heard anything. Frankly I am at a loss as to what to do. My sons where anxiously waiting for their new ducks, but they have started back to school and there isn't anyone I can have sit around our house for the first three days each week on the outside chance our order may be delivered. All that aside, I would have been content if they had just let me know that they were even aware that they had missed the backup delivery date.