I've ordered from Swallowtail three times and had no trouble with shipping. I garden in a full-sun 2000 square foot lot in Brooklyn with crappy alkaline industrial soil and scant irrigation. I've had tremendous success with their seed planted in these conditions and didn't always follow the detailed and useful instructions to a T. When the lot was severely flooded with saltwater during storm Sandy much of the topsoil was displaced so there will be serious depletion of both self and fall sown seed this season. This garden is large, watered by rain water cistern, and all the plants are donated otherwise it would be too costly to maintain. With the storm the losses may be significant and also a learning. Because of the storm related costs, this year there is no budget even for seeds. As I've ordered from Swallowtail in the past and was so looking forward to seeing those flowers come up again this year, I reached out to them to see if they'd be willing to donate some wildflower seeds. Granted I was asking a favor but the response I got from Ben at Swallowtail was sufficient to keep me from ordering from this company again. I can fully appreciate that a small company cannot afford to donate their product. It was simply that the officiousness of his tone took the joy out of my association to this company. I felt I was speaking to a bank representative who was justifying a policy rather than a human being who sold seeds for growing things. A loss for me as I had had such success with their seed and now I will research other companies and hope that they communicate with more courtesy - it matters.
On Mar 20, 2013, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
We can certainly appreciate this customer's desire to make something beautiful after the devastation of Sandy. At the end of the season, what little seed we have left over is donated to our local school gardening programs. We are sorry this customer was offended by her conversation with Ben. He can be formal at times but we have received nothing but positive feedback about his dealings with customers.
Rest assured that here at Swallowtail Garden Seeds customer service is still number one. We proudly provide excellent service to our customers AND support our community. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how we do both.
On Jun 22, 2012, AuntieFlo Philadelphia, PA wrote:
Posted on June 13, 2012, updated June 22, 2012
Posted on March 6, 2012, updated June 13, 2012
I recently placed a small order for 6 or 7 packages of seeds. The seeds were well packed in a padded envelope and the order was correct. The order came in about 5 days. I'm trying (for the first time) a method of starting perennial seeds outside in plastic milk jugs. I saw instructions in the January issue of Garden Gate. I have planted my seeds and am awaiting signs of growth.
On June 13th, 2012, AuntieFlo changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
Shortly after I got my first order of seeds, a secord (duplicate) order came. I tried to call but could never get through. I emailed to inquire about sending the duplicate order back. The email response I got stated that I placed 2 orders. It's odd that I only got one email, not 2 emails, thanking me for my order and confirming what I ordered and when I might expect it. My order was $18-$19. It was not worth the hassle of trying to get in touch with them to get this resolved. They didn't respond to my second email. They might have sent me a second order that I really DIDN'T order so they got some extra business from me this one time. However, I will NEVER order from them again. They lost a customer forever. On June 22nd, 2012, AuntieFlo changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
A representative from Swallowtail called me after changed my review from positive to negative. She apologized and said that they often get intentional duplicate orders. She gave me a credit for both orders. I may try them again but won't order online, I'll try to call, fax or email an order.
Ordered multiple seed sets from them and had varying luck with germination rates. Some were notoriously difficult plants to germinate, so I'm not overly surprised at my low success. My only issue was that my tomatoes seeds where subbed, Russian black for Cherokee Purple. On the west coast that may not matter, but in the south you gotta get a heat tolerant variety.
The customer service was helpful and friendly so they get a neutral.
I would like to inform you that you are one of only two companies I used my credit card with to make a purchase during this month. While not accusing anyone, I would like you to know my card number was picked up very recently, and used fraudulently, causing myself a lot of anguish, and other associated difficulties.
Consequently --- after thorough research to prevent this problem in the future I have since learned the only safe 'firewall' to order on-line is with PayPal (where the only payment information and funds a vendor receives for the order is directly from PayPal, nothing the customer uses with PayPal to satisfy the financial obligation is shared with the vendor)
This means no customer credit card information would be accessible to any of an on-line vendor's employees thereby absolving them of any suspicion of an employee maliciously using a customer's card number.
Because of this problem, I will no longer be ordering from any company that requires my credit card and does not have PayPal as an option for payment for the purchase ... Sorry, but it is simply too much of a problem for this customer when someone obtains card information and uses it maliciously.
On Sep 17, 2010, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
We at Swallowtail Garden Seeds have been doing business for 11 years online without even one incident of a customer's credit card being compromised in any way. To suggest (even with a good heart) the way we collect credit card information is not a best practice, or could be unsafe is not accurate and not fair.
We hire top industry consultants to secure our shopping cart and our shopping cart is certified as safe by GoDaddy.com. Other sites that use GoDaddy.com to review their safety include Eddie Bauer, Jenny Craig and Cold Stone.
I know this customer has their heart in the right place and is attempting to pass on useful information. But the comments read (unintentionally I am certain) like a PayPal advertisement. PayPal is an option, perhaps a welcome choice for some people. But it is not the only safe method of purchasing over the internet. The way we secure our shopping cart, and your personal information once it is in our hands, has been, remains (and because of our dedication to your safety), will always be impeccable.
Posted on June 1, 2010, updated June 1, 2010
I am absolutely furious. While I did receive my order within a week, half of my order was wrong. I emailed 3x, called and left a message for them to please correct the order - nothing, no response, nada. I really needed those seeds for a wedding. I can understand a mistake, but ignoring requests for customer service - NOT acceptable.
Thanks for nothing - I'll be broadcasting the word about this everywhere I can - I am THAT mad
On June 1st, 2010, omedusa changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Changing this to Neutral. The company contacted me within minutes after posting here and said that it refunded me the money. On Jun 1, 2010, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
This customer placed an order with us on Friday, May 21st which we shipped on Monday May 24th. There were two items on the order. One that was out of stock, having sold-out earlier in the day and one that was in stock. The order we sent was not incorrect, we simply did not have the product for one of the two items.
For the out of stock item she ordered 5 packets. What we did was to give her 5 FREE packets of similar item (she ordered the color white, we gave her free cream colored flowers). We made this as clear as we possibly could on the invoice. However the customer seems to have thought we made an error, sending cream instead of white, and that we were unwilling to fix it. That was not the case, we did not have the white and we gave her as a gift the closest possible product we had to the color white.
For 12 years we have routinely given free substitutions for out of stock items. Although surely there must be some, we are not aware of another company (seed or otherwise) that gives their customers free merchandise when an item is not in stock.
We are certainly sorry this customer is upset. And we appreciate that the negative rating was changed to neutral. We are not sure whether our email to the customer and the refund of the entire order came before or after the customer's post here. I can tell you that no one at our company was aware of this post at the time the full refund was given.
We tried to do a good thing. The fact that we have this kind of attitude toward our business is what has kept us going these past 12 years. We love what we do, we care about our customers, and we feel it is precisely the kind of action we took with this order that best communicates these deep feelings.
We regret it didn't work out better for the customer, but we also want to let this customer know and every member of Dave's Garden know that each day we go to work with the mission of making people's days, lives and yards brighter. Far more often than not we succeed, but when we don't it is never from a lack of trying. WE CARE
Posted on February 11, 2010, updated March 2, 2010
Swallowtail has no clue what customer service means. The website was not working properly so I did not trust its "secure" claim; as such I faxed the order in and mailed a check for my seeds. I requested confirmation of my order in the fax and in follow-up e-mails and phone messages. 2 weeks after placing the order I still have not received any response whatsoever from them. At this point I'm ready to cancel the order and hope I get a refund. It is amazing they operate this way!
On March 3rd, 2010, Lilyfan1 added the following:
Changing from negative to NEUTRAL. It took many calls and multiple e-mails to get a respnse and I finally spoke to someone who was very courteous and told me the order was sent that same day. The order was shipped and received by me. They still have a lot to learn about customer service and communication but I got what I ordered so for that I'm grateful.On Mar 3, 2010, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
This is the peak of the season and it may well be true the order took 2 weeks to process. However, our shopping cart is secure, being monitored by GoDaddy.com and certified by Security Metrics.
We let our customers know on the "How to Order" page on our web site that for time sensitive inquiries, they will want to use our phone number to contact us.
Everything we do is guaranteed . Any and all customers of Swallowtail Garden Seeds who do not feel good about their experience with us, are encouraged to contact us using our toll free phone number, 877-489-SEED (7333).
During this time of year many of our employees routinely work 12+ hours per day, 7 days a week. We do this because we care about what we do and how we do it. If we somehow come up short--we pledge to fix it--always. By giving us a call you will give us the opportunity to turn a frustrating experience into a positive exchange.
On Aug 26, 2009, Jazznart New York City, NY (Zone 7b) wrote:
Ordering was easy. Delivery was slow. Communication was TERRIBLE. I have not yet received my order but was today advised via e-mail that my seed order had just now been placed in the mails (after three weeks). You would think that the hectic spring business had ended by today - the end of August - and they would be keen to take care of business. In the meanwhile I had (1) e-mailed them about my order, (2 )e-mailed further with some questions concerning those seeds and (3) left them an irate telephone message about their lack of response. I got no reply to any of those three communications.
Given the poor quality of the service I'm a bit concerned about the quality of the seeds. We'll see.
On Jul 12, 2009, lemurianne Ida Grove, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
I placed a big seed order this Spring and had very mixed results. Some packets of seeds had VERY poor germination -- with Magestic Giant Pansies and Pin Up Rose Begonia for example I got only two plants out of the whole packet! But other seeds did very well, and my windowboxes are overflowing with Regatta Rose Lobelia, which could not be more beautiful! Other issues: I ordered some Black Velvet Rose Geranium seeds, which had 100% germination, but turned out to be another, non black seed geranium :( One of the packets of petunia seeds I ordered also had a fantastic germination rate but were not the petunias they were labeled to be. In general, my feeling is that this company is too hit or miss. For the price you might have better luck elsewhere. Also, the shipping was EXTREMELY slow. I may reorder the seeds that did well for me, but I'll be very cautious about trying new things, which is too bad because they have a fantastic selection!
On Jun 1, 2009, Centaurea Amsterdam Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:
I purchased a fair number of seeds from this company. They came very well packaged and I liked that they used little baggies for the seeds inside the paper packs. That's exactly what I do when I open a regular paper pack is immediately put the seeds into a baggie. A fair number of the seeds did germinate and appear to be true to type - but a fair number did not.
On many (guesstimate 1/3-1/2) of the seeds I purchased and have planted from Swallowtail I have either 0% germination or very poor stands (with some I have others purchased from other companies growing right next to, same conditions, just fine with the appropriate percentage of germination and appropriate seedling vigor for my conditions). Although I am new to having my very own garden (hence my large order, to fill new beds!) I have been in horticulture for years so I am well aware what it takes to germinate and grow on seedlings, and aware that not all seeds have excellent germination naturally and some lines are less vigorous than others, and that my one-size-fits-all growing room results in some not doing as well as they would in their individual optimum conditions, but I expect better than what I got.
All that said, I might even be okay with - if the company would answer my emails and address my concerns, ideally with troubleshooting assistance and/or replacement packets if needed - I did pay for them after all and got no plants out of many of the packets I paid for! With the poor germination on many and almost total lack of communication (they did in fact reply ONCE when I sent a positive e-mail to them about one particular variety which came up well), I don't believe I got my money's worth this time.
On Dec 24, 2008, peonyflower Glen Ellyn, IL wrote:
I placed a small order by mail back in November.I have called them twice and each time they seemed they were sincere about what happened to my order. The first time they said they had mailed it the past week, the second time they said they would track the order since it shipped two weeks before. I gave them my e-mail and phone number.I never recieved either one as to what happened to the order. I was looking forward to these seeds.I'm giving them a nuetral rating in hopes they will deliver. If I recieve them,I will surely write another review.
On December 28th, 2008, peonyflower added the following:
I finally recieved my seeds. Apparently they were sent to a non-existing city in Illinois. It took a while, but they delivered.
I hope they look at the addresses more carefully before they ship seeds out.
On Feb 28, 2006, kqcrna Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
I placed an order on 2/22. I really wanted to plant some of those seeds nowbefore spring. I contacted the company by phone yesterday (2/27) to see when I could expect to receive them. They couldn't tell me, only that it usually takes 2 weeks. My order has not shipped yet. I don't think that's very efficient service for a few seed packs at the charge of $2.95.
Karen, zone 6, Ohio
On March 1st, 2006, kqcrna added the following:
I guess I missed that message on the shopping cart; I would have ordered the aquilegia and poppy elsewhere. (I plan to wintersow those and want to get them outside ASAP). By comparison I ordered seeds several times from the Pumpkin Nook (seeds always half price) and received the order promptly; in one case they arrived the next day! The only other place I ordered from where delivery took this long was valueseed.com. For seeds at 49 to 89 cents/pk and 99 cents shipping, that's OK with me. But I think a company selling seeds for $2 to $3 a pk plus $2.95 shipping, I still think 2 weeks is a long turnaround for an order. Notice, I did not rate Swallowtail as neg, only neutral so far. If the seeds germinate and bloom beautifully I will be happy. Does it seem odd that a company who is so busy it is backlogged this far for shipping orders can manage to respond within hours to a neutral review on gardenwatchdog?
KarenOn Feb 28, 2006, Swallowtail Garden Seeds responded with:
On Feb 28, 2006 4:54 PM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:
We post the ship date for every customer on the first page of our shopping cart (and that date for this customer has not yet arrived as of 2/28) so it is our sincere regret that our attempted communication failed in this instance.
For others using the site, be sure to look for the ship date on the first page of the shopping cart, it is in red letters. This is the peak of the season and shipments are taking longer than than they have in previous years to ship (although virtually all orders arrive within two weeks of the order date, and usually somewhat sooner.) And as the season begins to slow, we will return to our regular 2-3 day shipping.
It is ironic that all the nice comments both here and in the convential press about our selection, quality and fast shipping have actually caused us to ship a few days slower during this peak time. We are currently growing at nearly a 40 percent rate; and as exciting as that is, as affirming as that is, it does present challenges when it comes to getting orders out fast.
Our selection and quality however has not changed and the fast shipping we have been known for will return-- and in the mean time we will always disclose to you on the shopping cart the the day your package will ship, so you can make the decision to wait or not.
We thank you all sincerely for your continued support and for sales that make this truly a year to remember. Thank you so much....
On Mar 1, 2006 8:06 AM, Swallowtail Garden Seeds added:
We respond to everyone who expresses disappointment with any aspect of our business, whether it is through Garden Watchdog or through our web site, and we do it promptly at all times."
I have ordered from this company over the past three years and their seeds have always germinated extremely well and have always been true to type. Customer service has been very courteous and always willing to help in providing further information beyond what their website supplies. They also select certain seeds and give them a highly recommended rating. I have found this to be very helpful in deciding what plants to grow. I hope they continue this practice and even expand it wherever possible. They use this practice on, for example, Benary's Giant Zinnias, where their prices are lower than any I have been able to find elsewhere. Add free shipping to reasonable prices on seeds and you have an outstanding bargain!
On January 3rd, 2006, marcop changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
There is now a $2.95 shipping charge!On April 15th, 2006, marcop changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
I am changing my rating to neutral. My original complaint was that the company does not provide the extensive cultural information of ,for example, Johnny's Selected Seeds.