On May 8, 2009, loveblossoms CA United States (Zone 8b) wrote:
I'm actually surprised with all of the positive comments ARE has received considering I would rate them as average at best. I placed an order with them via telephone several months ago when a specific rose I was looking for was out of stock at other rose vendors I buy from. I was met with a seemingly curt and indifferent sales person right from the start which should have been a good indication of what I was to expect down the road. The sales person took my order as if she were doing me a favor by answering the phone, then abruptly hung-up. The transaction took less than 2-minutes. I was a bit baffled considering I never received an order confirmation for my one rose after that even though I provided her with all of my information. It took two requests for over a week via email to finally receive an order summary. I remained optimistic about the experience considering the feedback posted here. I was excited to receive my rose. As the shipping date approached two months later, I received no updates as to its status even up to the day it was to arrive. I decided to email them to request an update. No reply for over a week. I emailed them again. Someone finally replied almost two weeks after I had originally emailed them only to tell me that my rose had just shipped. No other details were provided, not even a tracking number, so I had to email them again just to acquire it. When my rose finally arrived I was not impressed. I received a shabby 2-gallon nursery pot full of dirt and some thin canes (the foliage had been removed for the trip which I actually appreciated however). The plant appeared healthy, but I was disappointed to have paid more for what looked like a band-size seedling I could've just ordered from Heirloom Roses for less without the large pot of excess soil. Suffice it to say, the plant only produced a few leaves of new growth at the tips, then suddenly dried-out and died. I decided not to ask them to replace the plant since I wasn't eager to relive the experience I had had with their seemingly indifferent and unreliable customer service throughout the entire experience. While I'm sure other customers have had pleasant experiences and results with ARE, I would have loved to also. I think I will stick to Northland Rosarium and Heirloom as well as a couple of other rose retailers I consider much more superior in price, selection, quality and customer service.
The ARE website is exceptionally well organized in helping customers choose the roses they like for their own hardiness zone. I was very impressed to discover that one could specify the month and week of desired delivery when placing the order.
In late winter 2004, I placed an order for roses from ARE. The roses were to be planted in a new bed (not yet even created), but I wanted to ensure availability of my desired varities, so I placed the order early and specified a delivery date several weeks later. To my complete surprise, the roses arrived at my home the very next day after they were ordered (I live in Texas)! I was extremely impressed by the outstanding packing and packaging of the plants to ensure safe arrival.
I called ARE customer service and explained that my roses had been shipped too soon (before I was prepared to accept delivery). They offered to have the plants picked up, but I declined and was therefore forced to nurse the plants in their pots for two months until the new planting bed had been created.
I thought that this must have been a fluke experience, but when I again placed another order in late winter 2005 (with a requested delivery date several weeks later), once again the roses were delivered the very next day. This time I refused the delivery by UPS.
ARE customer service called the next day to ask why I had refused delivery, and I explained that my specified delivery date was not until several weeks later. The customer service agent did not seem to understand or care about this, nor did she even indicate any awareness that her company's website offered this particular feature (ability to specify delivery month/week).
(I note here that at least two other comments here on Dave's Garden website indicate similar experiences of shipping by ARE sooner than expected or desired.)
For a company with such an outstanding national reputation, I was very disappointed by the poor handling of their orders. Given my experiences, I am inclined not to order from them again.