ABP Nursery, A Surf & Sierra LLC Co. (formerly A Better Plant Grower)

Beneficial Insects, Butterflies & Moths, Tropical Fruit Trees View Their Product Listing

134 Davis Street
Santa Paula, California 93060 (United States)
(805) 525-0207

Editor's Comment:

Closed Per a note from the owner, this business is closed.


Surf and Sierra Wholesale Nusery went out of business April of 2009 as it could not continue operations after extremely large credit card sale dispute on Chris Gilcrest's merchant. While aspects of that dispute are now proceeding in Superior Court of California the SSN business is done and out. Any order processed after that was through Olive Trees Nursery, and that was not owned by Chris Gilcrest. If you are due a refund and since the owner is not cooperating with refunds please email me or write me and I will assist you in getting a refund. This process may required a small claims court process taking about 90 days from the time you send me the paper work.

ABP Wholesale, (Applied Bio Pest but not used due too conflicting claims over the name) was absorbed into the Growquest web site many years ago.

Thank you
Chris Gilcrest
[email protected]

posted on February 8, 2010



Displaying the 48 most recent reviews

On Jul 20, 2010, AmberUnit (2 reviews) from Derwood, MD

Long story, that starts over 5 years ago and is still ongoing, but I'll try to hit the highlights to keep it short... Ordered 2 olive trees after speaking directly with Chris about their immediate availability in 2006. Prepaid for my order and s/h by check (because they were not able to take credit cards...first red flag) in the amount of over $320. After a full year of no trees and being blown off every time I tried to call/email, I canceled my order and asked for a refund. After another full year of no refund, I filed in small claims court in San Diego County. Chris was a no show and I was "awarded" my refund. Chris blatantly ignored the ruling, never paying up. A writ of execution was sent to his bank with no luck. Today, 5 years 4 months after my initial contact with Chris Gilcrest I receive a Notice of Dismissal from the US Bankruptcy Court, informing me that he filed Chapter 7. Chris Gilcrest really is an awful business man, and I can't believe that #1 he is still in business and #2 there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to put him out of business. If he offers you something that seems to good to be true... it is. Do yourself a favor and spend your money elsewhere.

On May 17, 2010, randy1101 (1 reviews) from Austin, TX

Total scam. Ordered several roses from them and never could get the product or my money back. Eventually I disputed this through my credit card company and was reimbursed. Warning- they keep changing thier name too!

On Jan 25, 2010, lossargazos (1 reviews) from Inglewood, CA

I have contacted Chris for trees and Roses, I received the quote and also a detailed invoice with charges right o way. I paid US$1,803.66 including delivery back on March 8, 2008 today January 25, 2010 NO products and Chris doesn't answer any e-mail or phone call. I hope that the DA of Santa Paula will do something about it.

On Nov 15, 2009, LorraineNJ1 (1 reviews) from Bradley Beach, NJ

I ordered 100.00 worth of ladybugs and food from this fraudulent and non-operational business advertising as Growquest in June 2009 and paid by check after visiting the BBB of California and finding no negative reports. I have to date received nothing from them or a representative of them after numerous calls and emails. They do not respond, refund, or send any products. I reported them to [email protected] , the email address of the DA of Ventura County. Their websites are still posted, they are still not on the BBB as fraudulent. I am complaining to the DA Ventura County and the California BBB for failure to protect the consumer public and pull these websites and any other operation by Chris Gilcrest, if that's his real name. I recommend that you all do the same and keep hammering the California BBB. Inexcusable!!!

On Aug 10, 2009, lelamarie (3 reviews) from Novato, CA

I can't believe people are still buying from this company. I just found my order and payment receipt, from over a 1 year ago. I ordered over $50 of roses from him. I emailed and emailed.. finally there was no email address... then called and called but no answer. Finally I got another phone number due to this site. I called and finally reached a person. He apologized and guaranteed he would locate the roses and send them very soon. after that I could no longer get through to him again and of course there has been no shipment of roses. I finally have given up. I don't know why this company has been allowed to continue to advertise or remain open. And I really can't believe that he has a positive listing at this time. This must be from someone he knows or his GF.... why would he sale to one person and not to anyone else. Doesn't make any sense.

On Jun 30, 2009, coveteran (1 reviews) from Byers, CO

I too, wish that I had seen these posts. This company is definately a FRAUD. Do not order from them for any reason. I placed my order in DECEMBER 2008 and it is now JUNE 29, 2009! No product. They sure took my $140! They won't answer emails or their phones. I have tried multiple numbers most are disconnected. STAY AWAY at all cost! What a mess!

On Jun 9, 2009, goldenfarmer (1 reviews) from San Francisco, CA

Complete Fraud. Never shipped item. After I complained to my credit card company he said he would ship right away plus a free tree. Still never shipped anything. Complained again and he said he would refund the money and never did. Look at his track record..... He's a crook.

On May 11, 2009, plantluva123 (1 reviews) from Oxnard, CA

what an amzing company! not only did i order my plant on such a short notice but i got it there quick with a discount! this guys been through a lot!

On Oct 31, 2008, angry_gardener (1 reviews) from Joshua, TX

I have been in the service industry for many years, and cannot believe this company. Yelled at repeatedly by "Rose" for not having every iota of sales transaction to repeat time and again the her after months go by with no roses delivered. No offer of refend when we are clearly not getting our merchandise. When we finally get a callback from "Chris" I am told they are, with many apologies, shipping next week, and it was the warm weather preventing their shipment, I took a break from being hostile to this company. It is 3 weeks later, their phones don't work, and needless to say, we still have empty flower beds. It is November tomorrow. We ordered August 2nd. At this point, I just want our money back.

On Sep 29, 2008, paniolo (3 reviews) from Cambria, CA

BE AWARE Don't believe what this guy (Chris ) says, how he writes about how he has changed and will resolve his past screw ups. This guy is a total rip off & rude man. We got screwed for the amount of about $60.00. Not much for some people ,but I work hard for my money. He has been arrested before and he is a scam artist. If your even lucky enough to even get your order delivered, the plant material is pathic. You must stay away from this company, you will be sorry. Not to mention the most ruddest person I've ever encountered. Contact the BBB or better yet the DA if you've had trouble as he already has numerous complaints and he needs to be shut down before he steals more money from people.

Company representative comment on September 29, 2008:

On Sep 29, 2008 12:16 PM, ABP Nursery, A Surf & Sierra LLC Co. (formerly A Better Plant Grower) added:

Inquiry made to person posting comment.
Thank you, Chris Gilcrest 9/29/08 12:20p

On Sep 23, 2008, egbear (1 reviews) from Sacramento, CA

In March 2008 I paid for a SirPrize avocado tree, a Lil cado, and some passion fruit plants..It took months to finally get the Lil Cado and a few weeks to get the passion fruit plants. I then ordered some banana plants which came in a few weeks but instead of my SirPrize avocado I received two more passion fruits! I called and emailed constantly about my SirPrize and in August I was told that it would still be a few months before receiving the tree--that would be 8 months after they took my money! I called and said that I would just take a Mexicola instead and they said they could do that and would send me a new invoice but it has been three weeks and I have called and left messages every day and still have not been sent the new invoice or the tree..They now have had my money for 7 months without sending me what I paid for! As a business wouldn't you think that you would want to take care of a customer within a SEVEN MONTH period? I am truly stunned...

On Aug 30, 2008, jamessigus (1 reviews) from San Bernardino, CA

I ordered a Lil Cado avocado just after my burned down house was rebuilt in 2005 in San Bernardino, Ca. and was very pleased with my dealings with Chris... I did try to contact Chris re the non-setting of fruit on the tree, but was unaware of all the turmoil he was going through. I too had a sick wife for the last 10 years of her life and until you go through that, you just don't know..... My wife died in 1996 and it was from acute diabetes. I am amazed at all the whiners who did not do what I did and go on internet and find his new location.. I am very happy that his life is moving on and I wish him and his new squeeze a very happy prosperous life. And as the ole Injun usta say, "Until you walk in other guy's moccasins, get a life" Here it is 2008 and Augusto and I was unaware of all the turmoil the poor guy was going through.....thank gawd that he has a website....

On Aug 28, 2008, sjennings (2 reviews) from Estacada, OR

Well they scammed me too ordered ladybugs and paid for the priority mail well nothing yet cant get ahold of anyone no one answers the phone wish i would of read these first would of NEVER ordered after reading all this please dont burn yourself find another company to buy from

On Aug 26, 2008, hjboury (1 reviews) from Philadelphia, PA

I only wish I had read your 26 negative responses sooner. Surf & Siera is clearly using 'bait & switch' tactics, down to their shipping! We paid for overnight, express to our office, and it was received a week later, delivered to the post office a mile away, Priority. When trying to find out what happened to our order, we were told that the owner would have to respond (no response). When we emailed, the owner, Chris, did respond, saying that, 'he new shipping better' and that there was no difference between 'Express' and 'Priority' USPS shipping (the guys at the US Post office got a good laugh out of that one!). What should have been an overnight delivery turned into a week with nothing but rudeness and hang-ups from the company. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NEVER USING THIS COMPANY. We shall see if they ever credit our account for the Express shipping that we paid for.

On Jul 21, 2008, hazey999 (1 reviews) from Methuen, MA

Like many others here, I wish I had seen these comments before ordering. Many experiences are worse than mine, but the sad truth is, my experience was still pretty bad...no reply to numerous phone messages asking about the status of my order, a couple of "I'll let the owner know about this problem" email responses, but I waited for over a month until finally lodging a dispute through PayPal. My message to the grower was "please refund my payment if you do not intend to ship my Avocado tree by July 22" (5 days away). The response was "Your order is scheduled to ship July 22"?!! and my money was refunded. What kind of game is this? If my order was truly scheduled to ship, why not ship it? This guy is a crackpot, or just a really lousy businessman. I've read the whole expose on his personal life, and really have little sympathy. We all have problems, but taking people's money and not delivering the goods is just bad business. I think he's trying to run a stockless business, where he acts as a broker, never actually has what he sells, takes your money, and then goes around looking for whatever you have paid for, at the lowest price, so he can then ship it to you. A nursery?? I don't think so. Avoid this guy.

On May 15, 2008, enursad2 (1 reviews) from Oklahoma City, OK

I sent a money order with the invoice for a rose on 4-16-08. I have left a phone message and have emailed the company but have had no response and no rose delivered thus far. A month is a long time to wait when they can cash a money order immediately. It is still cool enough to plant in Oklahoma but after reading the other postings on this site I guess I am the most recent victim posting with you.

On Apr 29, 2008, BILLDURHAM995 (2 reviews) from Lebanon, KY


On Mar 2, 2008, mark_dunkle (1 reviews) from Campbell, CA

I am another victim of this vendor. I ordered a 5x1 peach tree and 2 blueberry bushes on 2/2/08. They were very fast to take my money through Paypal. I got an email from Summer saying that my order would ship soon and that she would send me a tracking number when my order shipped. On 2/27/08 I received 2 olive trees. Imagine my surprise! I have sent multiple emails and made a dozen phone calls to these guys, but no one answer the damn phone. Finally, I got Chris's phone number off this website and left him a vm, but still nothing. I sure wish I had found this website before I placed my order. I started a claim today with Paypal to get my money back.

On Nov 26, 2007, icandy (1 reviews) from Jefferson City, MO

I ordered a Lisbon Lemon dwarf tree on March 29, 2005, and am still waiting for its arrival. I've called and emailed many, many times, and was always told by Chris that "it will be sent next week". In case he reads this my online order number is 01008217. I'm out $39.98. Hey, Chris, I'd love to get my tree.

On Oct 6, 2007, red4758 (1 reviews) from Shreveport, LA

I ordered a fruit tree and mailed a check several months ago. They did cash the check right away, but never sent my order. ABP emailed me that they had moved and that's why the orders had been delayed but they would be sending it soon. Today I finally got enough time to do some more thorough checking. I called the phone number on the email, and there was no such number. I called the phone number on the Growquest web site, and got a recorded message with a very young-sounding, unprofessional sounding female voice. I checked the ABP web site, and it actually disclaims responsibility for sending orders!! It is obviously a scam business. I see from the comments below Chris has been arrested before. Obviously, he is still in business.

On Oct 4, 2007, alex_investor (1 reviews) from Lake Worth, FL

This company is a disgrace. That summarizes it well. I have a story similar to most others here. I've initiated a chargeback for the olive tree I ordered, and I'm pretty confident of a refund as I'm a long-term card customer and this company's reputation is an ABOMINATION. Want proof? Check this out: //www.cencal.bbb.org/commonreport.html?bid=71251186&language=1 107 complaints logged in 36 months! Every ten days someone filed a complaint. Bet they annoyed lots of folks every day. They're no better now that they've moved to Ventura. Bet they needed to get away from the wrath of those they ripped off in Visalia. But the problem here isn't some family crisis -- it's trashy business practices by shady people. Moving won't fix that! I've done my part by starting the complaint process with BBB in Ventura County. Maybe I can prevail on the local prosecutor to throw Chris in the slammer. In any case, I'll be sending a letter to the DA. This is a fraudulent business. Likewise I'm taking up the matter with Paypal. With any luck I can get Growquest shut down there, too. I'll refer Paypal here. Just you folks keep posting about this fraud Growquest. Probably wouldn't hurt if you sent a complaint to Paypal, if you paid through them. This is not going away. Hey! Geniuses of Growquest! Why do you take people's money if you can't fill their orders? Personal problems?? Then why do you take the money? You're just stealing from people and trying to get out of it with a sob story. Not gonna work!

On October 4th, 2007, alex_investor added the following: I almost forgot! Besides checks and Paypal, Growquest takes Amex payments. Guess which credit card company is going to get a fraud complaint regarding Growquest? Take away these guys' ability to collect money. That ought to be good for business.

On Sep 27, 2007, abc95129 (1 reviews) from San Jose, CA

I ordered 4 roses bushes in middle of August. I had to call 8-10 times and send numerous emails. After a while my phone calls where going to an answering machine. Granted the response is polite but geez I paid money for a product and I wanted it delivered! The last interesting excuse was "The weather is hot and we do not ship when it is hot". I actually bought this bogus argument. When the weather cooled dramatically, I asked again. After a week or more got a response apologizing and saying item was on it's way. More delay tactics. I should point out I did receive 1 rose bush. It wasn't in the best of shape but I think it will survive. I do not expect to get any more. I have just filed a dispute with paypal. It is very unfortunate this happened. Let's see if I get my money back. If I don't I will file fraud charges and a police report.

On October 1st, 2007, abc95129 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following: Sept 30, 2005 - Received a full refund via PayPal. I am glad about that. I don't know what problems Chris and Co are having but hope the solve them.

On Sep 18, 2007, jillpenne (2 reviews) from Hobart, WA

I too wish I had read all the feedback about this company before ordering from them. The middle of July 2007 I ordered and paid for ladybugs and shipping charges, and now I have to report, no ladybugs and no payment for a refund. The one thing I cannot understand is HOW CAN THIS PERSON STILL BE IN BUSINESS????? This is a scam and I assumed an unlawful "business" operation, so why hasn't California legal system put a stop to this person that takes money for nothing. I am disabled and every penny counts, but I guess both the busness owner and the State really do not seem interest in that. Jill

On Sep 5, 2007, Debbins (1 reviews)

I ordered and paid for (through PayPal) a lemon tree on May 22. It is now Sept. 4 and I still have no tree. I have sent numerous emails to Chris and have not had satisfactory responses. According to the emails he has gone through 3 phone companies, various employees, health problems and a move. I have requested a refund, but have received no response. I tried to go through PayPal to resolve this issue, but my claim was too late--I was trying to be understanding and patient.

On Jul 30, 2007, lindavf150 (1 reviews) from Burbank, CA

I wish I had seen these posts before I ordered on-line! I ordered 7/1 two rose bushes because this was the only nursery in the country who had then in-stock (I saw a post where someone said "In-stock at ABP means they take your money and you don't get the plant) After several phone calls they managed to charge my credit card. At least I cancelled one of the roses before that so they only charged $40.00 and it is on my AMEX so I can call AMEX and have it reversed. I'm still hoping to get the one rose since no one else has it so I keep calling but now this morning it says the number is no longer valid! This is so crazy that his girl friend has posted this defensive rant about how the owner takes care of business and we are all spinless wimps for posting here but I have made about 5 phone calls and sent 2 e-mails and I'm getting no response at all.... not to mention that I have had to call the number throughout the day just to get someone to answer the phone. I've left messages which are not returned and when I do finally get through there is a teenage sounding girl who says "oh yes that rose is in stock and your order is in line for shipping"..... meanwhile it has been a month since i placed the order........... I will post more when I get a resolution. I don't know how these people can keep a website up when they are obviously not shipping the product.

On August 1st, 2007, lindavf150 added the following: got an e-mail today from "staff" at APB saying they are in the middle of moving so things are hectic. They gave me Chris' cell phone and the phone number of their new location to call. I e-mailed back and said I have made enough phone calls - send me a tracking number or refund my AMEX They e-mailed back and said Chris would be contacting me but I responded and said there is nothing to discuss either they ship my order today or refund my money today...........
On August 6th, 2007, lindavf150 added the following: Well of course I have not heard back from ABP.... no refund and no tracking number...... I cancelled my order off their website and have asked American Express to investigate and credit back my card. I'm really annoyed that they have my $40.00 and will for at least 30 days (or more) as it seems that is how they keep afloat. (charging peoples cards so they have the funds and then not shipping) I don't understand how they can keep an American Express merchant account it they have a lot of fraud claims I would think American Express would close their account.

On Jun 18, 2007, Bo_man (1 reviews) from Phoenix, AZ

Well if he is in that big of a hole, he could not move product if he wanted to because more than likely he cannot find a shipping company he does not owe money too. This happens all to often.

On Jun 5, 2007, elizar (1 reviews) from New York, NY

At the end of a long rope - and don't know exactly what to do I ordered 2 olive trees, 2 fig trees, 1 lemon,1kumquat after a couple of long conversations with Chris was told that he would ship fedex ground following week as trees were starting to bud. I was charged 2000+ a week later and after a month and no trees tried emailing. Didn't hear back - after a few more emails I was told that upon MY request he was waiting until the trees were FLOWERING and in good condition to ship. WHy on earth would I request shipping trees that are blooming - the dialogue we had was centered around shipping trees immediately because they were starting to bud. I received the 2 fig trees - with broken branches - but I will attribute that to shipping - but the packing was so very very poor it's a wonder the whole tree didn't snap in half/ I cancelled the balance of the order - got an email confirming the cancellation and two weeks later got a call from a freight forwarder stating that my trees were here and they have a note saying "bill Elizabeth" for 700+. Shipping was paid when the order was paid - it was all included. BUT I cancelled the order and someone over at that poor excuse of a company confirmed the cancellation. I refused the trees - and need some advise. What recourse do I have - I'm so frustrated with the total lack of professionalism I could scream. Not to mention being out 2k+ for almost 3 monthsn with very limited feedback. It's as if the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. And since when do companies bill before shipping???? Anyone have a good suggestion - or know who to contact that could help me?? many thanks to any and all feedback

On Apr 24, 2007, snowflake2781 (1 reviews) from San Jose, CA

I confronted with exactly the same situation as a member names FruitTreeGrower had with Growquest.com. I placed an order for Holiday Avocado on March 15th, 2007, and I paid the same day through Paypal. I didn't hear anything from them after 2 weeks of my payment. I sent email to them to see what happened. I received replies saying that "we have been behind shipping," and then "I want to apologize for getting behind on my orders. I have been dealing with some very difficult issues surrounding the schooling and care of my children. They have been living with their mom for about 12 months, 3 hours away from the farm. Serious and urgent issues regarding their care and school have taken me away from getting my orders out as timely as possible. I believe that by Friday and going into Monday these problems will be "under control."" I waited for another week but nothing shipped out. I emailed again and I received "I am sorry we will not be able to ship your order out by this week, we will be able to ship it out next week as we are getting more avocados, Would you like to wait, it really will not be that much longer?" I thought that I already waited for a few weeks, I shoud wait for one more week. One week went by and I received a tracking number for the shipment. However, the seller only made an electronic shipping label at Fedex website and had not shipped the item out. I waited, waited, and waited... to the time that I should take an action before I couldn't (Paypal rule is within 45 days of payment). I told them that I will open a dispute in resolution at Paypal site. That's scare the crap out of the seller. Then the seller responded "we dont want pay pal to be involved" and refunded my money right away. I found there are a few sources where you can buy Holiday Avocado, such as Ebay, Amazon, and Central Wholesale Nursery (San Jose, CA). Last time I visited the Central Wholesale Nursery, I saw they had one in a 15-gallon container. You can place a special order for the one in 5-gallon container like I did. Here is their contact information 1670 McKinley Ave San Jose, CA 95126 (408) 280-1131

On Apr 15, 2007, FruitTreeGrower (1 reviews) from Fremont, CA

I tried twice with this man, Chris Gilcrest, of Growquest.com at ordering avocado trees. First attempt was 12/28/05 with the company called "A Better Plant" and the website I ordered from looked legitamite and real. Come Jan, Feb and March 2006 after numerous phone calls and questions and promises of delivery, I finally gave up by April 2006, to receiving any trees. I figured there were problems with the owner and business, and because I wasn't charged, I let it go. Come December 2006 and I still want avocado trees. On 12/29/06 I placed an order for 2 Holiday Avocado trees. This so-called nursery, "www.growquest.com" took my order but never fulfilled it. I left a CC# but they wanted a check which I sent on 1/4/07. It was cashed and debited to my account on 1/12/07. Today is 4/15/07 and I've still not received my trees. I called at least 12 times and am always promised "delivery next week." "Wait until the frost is over... Wait until it stops raining... I'm sorry but we're backlogged on orders.." The excuses are ridiculous. The latest: "I'm sorry, I know you've been promised different delivery dates but I've been going through some personal problems..." I called today (this morning) in fact, and spoke to Chris and he said this Thursday or Friday as he makes a delivery up to Danville, CA. He said the same thing at least 4 other times. I'm taking these losers to court and am wondering how can the State of CA and county let them stay in business?! Why isn't this guy locked up? He's a fraud and crook. I have lost countless hours following this up. Please, ANYONE, HELP me get this schiester jailed and SHUT DOWN!!! I am fed up beyond belief. Sincerely, Denise

On Aug 18, 2006, ValleyViewRtrt (4 reviews) from Bland, VA

Hi I am writing because I feel my experience with Growquest and the owner Chris has been very different from what a lot of others are posting. I ordered two Lisbon Lemon Trees from Growquest......One was delivered in very bad shape due to the mishandling by the carrier. It had apparently been turned upside down and even with the VERY SECURE packing by Growquest it was broken in two places on the main branches......one branch fell off entirely and the other I patched up as well as I could. I emailed Chris and told him about the damage and I DID NOT request another tree as it was certainly not his fault that the tree was damaged....The tree did survive and looks a little lopsided, but I am sure in time with pruning it will be fine.... Anyway Lo and behold today I received another BEAUTIFUL Lemon Tree Replacement from Chris and I very much appreciate that!!! This is not the actions of a man that is a supposed "crook". He had no obligation to send this replacemant to me. I feel that perhaps a lot of mistakes were made by the company due to growing pains and personal issues, but I see that he is working very hard to rectify past problems.....This is a tough business to be in and he DOES offer great products....perhaps some of the people should lighten up a little on the man....he is after all only human and admits to his mistakes......I wish him only the best and hope he will come back strong and build his company onto the great asset it can be to the gardening world out there. Most of all I would like to remind everyone out there that personal judgement should be left to God...we will all be forgiven as we forgive others....so keep that in mind before you attck people....perhaps judge the business but certainly not the man.... I will definitely use this company again for any trees I may need in the future.Thanks and Happy Gardening to all!!!! Kenneth W. Prosch, Bland, Virgina

On Jul 17, 2006, oak_nj (1 reviews) from Newton, NJ

I purchased a Meyers lemon plant as a Christmas gift on 12/24/05. I knew that it would not be shipped/delivered until Feb/March, due to the cold weather. So I gave my family member the card with information of her gift that was coming. Well, March came around and no plant was sent. I contacted the company and I was assured it was on its way. I spoke to Chris himself. April came around and no plant. At that time, I insisted on a refund. Chris told me to contact my credit card company. When I did, I was told that I needed to contact them within 30 days of the transaction and that I had to get the refund from the company. I continued to call and Email him. I was told to send a letter requesting a refund with appropriate information. I sent the letter at the end of April and have not received a response. I continue calling, etc. and there is no response. I spoke w/ Chris personally again in June and he said that the checks were being put together but no refund. After reading all of these letters about the criminal dealings that Chris and his company has been doing, I cannot believe that he is out and about and not in jail. I cannot believe that his website seems to be still up and running with whatever new name he has attached to it. I don't know if I will ever get the money that he stole from me back, but prospective buyers beware that this guy must be a crook and a loser, too. I could care less what personal problems that he professes to have. He has stolen from me and I hope he gets what is coming to him. I don't think he wil, though, because I have read this forum and discovered that there was an investigation back in January, but he is still on the loose as I just recently spoke to him and I don't think he was in jail answering the phone. I'm disgusted. Normally people that work with plants have some ethics and are generally good people.

On May 19, 2006, lindenhof (1 reviews) from Augusta, MO

On April 22th, 2006 I placed an online order for 3 citrus trees. ON April 28th, I received an invoice for $178.68 and I promptly sent a check for the amount of $178.68 made out to ABP Wholesale Growers. My check was cashed on 05-08-2006 with a signature "ABP" on the back. I have not heard anything since. I have sent three emails and attempted to make phone calls to see where my shipment might be. The phone message says they will return emails within 24 hours. I have yet to hear, so I did a little internet investigation of ABP Growers, and surprise! I found all this very interesting stuff about this place. I have contacted the District Attorneys office and will be lodging a formal complaint. I hope to retrieve my money, but I won't hold my breath, and hope the DA will take action to shut down these internet sales sites.

On Apr 27, 2006, cbiscuit38 (1 reviews) from Weirton, WV

I ordered a rose, Black Baccara, earlier this month and received a tracking number from Fed-Ex. When I contact Fed-Ex, they stated they never received this shipment and that it was still with the seller. I tried contacting the seller and have never received a response and the voice mail is a garbled inaudible joke! I want my rose or my money back so I can purchase from a reputable nursery. (His girlfriends bleeding heart response to the situation was at most pitiful and laughable). Blaming family for your ineptitude is horrendous! I hope prison life finds you well. Bend over and grab your ankles!!!! THIEF!!!!!!

On Mar 6, 2006, ilovegardening2 (4 reviews) from Oceanside, CA

How interesting that he blames his ex-wife on his A Better Plant website, a business that was started after Growquest shut down and his "family crisis". How interesting that customers from his new business complain about being charged for merchandise and not receiving it. How interesting that he excuses all of his business problems with Growquest by his own descriptions of the beginning, middle, and end of his family crisis, yet the same type of complaints go back several years, and then continued with A Better Plant customers. Isn't there a consistent pattern that is present here? The reason why Chris is complained about by so many customers is because he is the one these customers had personal contact with. He is the one that personally made so many false promises. Yet, it's always somebody else's fault. One of the excuses given by Chris to customers on here a while back, was not being able to get good help in the area. One of the charges from his arrest was hiring employees without paying employee taxes and insurance. Well, he was right. It is difficult to hire good help when you are offering to pay workers illegally. Most "good" workers want to work for an honest employer. But I bet he would claim that was somebody else's fault too. There is something to be said for what goes around comes around. And you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. And, you made your bed now lye in it.

On Mar 1, 2006, pgoeltz (2 reviews) from San Jose, CA

Made order, sent e-mails, called, read the site, got a refund from CC company very plain to see this is a thief.......................... His new girlfriend might be also.

On Feb 28, 2006, morokko65 (1 reviews) from San Ramon, CA

Ordered some citrus trees in January and waited. I only saw the website update yesterday. The site claims that trees will still be shipped. Has anyone received a shipment in the last 2-3 weeks? Willing to take the "letter to customers" on the website at face value and see if I get my order within a few weeks. It would be helpful to know what type of timeframe should be expected. If they are out of plants or not shipping, just let us know Thanks

On Feb 28, 2006, Talinan (2 reviews) from Flagstaff, AZ

I placed an order for 1500 live lady bugs to help control the aphids in my garden. The order was placed back on 1/28/06. Three days later I find that the business site I ordered from (www.abetterplant.com) had been taken down. The site only displayed an expired domain notice stating that the company is no longer in business. I immediately used the displayed company contact info to inquire about my order. I was contacted by abetterplant.com on 2/4/06 and was told that my order was out for shipping already and that the business was closing down over personal issues/ divorce. I contacted the business again on 2/16/06 to get a confirmation number since it was 2/16/06 and my order was still not in my possession. I never got a response to my email. I reported the business (ABetterPlant.com) to ripoffreprt.com today and then began doing my own research. A search on google (//www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&q=%22Chris+Gilcrest%22&btnG=Search) brings up a whole slew of commentary and people's experiences with the guy. As it turns out the business owner Mr.Chris Gilcrest was arrested prior to 1/27 for fraudulent business practices and other charges (source: //www.visaliatimesdelta.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060127/NEWS01/601270309/1002). I am just shocked and can't really believe all that is unfolding. My point in posting this was to warn everyone about the site growquest.com. Chris Gilcrest also owns and operates this business and still doing business. I was trying to order ladybugs from a different company since abetterplant.com was not shipping my order and I discovered both companies were owned by the same person. I am not sure why the site is still up an operating after all the fraud and other charges but don't order from them!!

On Feb 16, 2006, DeltaDog2 (2 reviews) from Carmichael, CA

For information only - Growquest appears to be back in business as of 2/11/06: //growquest.com/growquest%20refunds.htm

On Feb 9, 2006, grumpy1952 (2 reviews) from sugar land, TX (Zone 9a)

I admit that I have not had any dealings with A Better Plant, but with Growquest. Still, I feel a need to comment here anyway. I have just spoken to the Tulare County D.A. about my problems with Mr. Gilcrest. I was told that A Better Plant and Growquest are owned and operated by the same person, contrary to the notice posted on the abetterplant.com website. Tulare County, the BBB and the FBI are all involved in the investigation of these companies. Their computers have been confiscated. The D.A. has just interviewed Mrs. Gilcrest just before I spoke with him. I did not ask him about any health problems that she may have had, but it seems she divorced him BECAUSE of his fraudulent dealings in the operation of these companies. It was NOT the divorce taking a toll on the business, but his business dealings that caused the divorce. One last comment, either Ms. Karyn is totally blinded by love or is just a new chapter in a VERY crooked book. The serving of warants and confiscation of computers and business records should be a clue to her that something "could" be amiss. Her comment that he spends every night on the PC working to build the business back up - "What computer?"

On Feb 9, 2006, carolynprior (1 reviews) from Costa Mesa, CA (Zone 10a)

I ordered 2 avocado plants in Dec. 2005......(mid-Dec)..... my credit card was charged immediately, but every time I checked the website, it said that my order was "in progress" or something along those lines. Around Christmas time, I received a card from them saying that they were not shipping at present due to concerns about cold weather and possibly freezing the plants ( I live in Southern California, so I thought that was a little weird)....at the end of December, I started trying to contact them.... no reply via e-mail...... voice mail was a garbled, barely understandable message, so I asked someone to please call......lo and behold, someone did. They sounded nice and assured me that they would ship soon. Weeks later, I received an e-mail from Chris stating that he would ship "pronto" next week. Still nothing. So, recently , I found this website and read all the postings, and the whole thing is becoming clear !! I recently received an e-mail from them saying to send a message regarding whether you still wanted the plant or wanted a refund...... I have sent several messages asking for a refund, but no response whatsoever, and no refund. He sounded like a nice guy, but I have to think he is just a crook at this point !! I have made many, many purches via the web, and have had excellent results, but I guess there are always a few who take advantage of the trust of others. He will send flowery messages about how he is having a hard time with this or that, but he just cannot seem to get the job done !! So I say either do what you say you are going to do, or just shut up !! Your flowery messages of woe become nauseating after awhile !! Spend your time and energy on following through on your promises, and quit with the giant BS !!

On February 9th, 2006, carolynprior added the following: PS - In regard to Karyn's message about everyone just sitting back and bitching..... I have tried and tried to call you guys..... every phone number that I can find that is associated with either business goes to voicemail, and the voicemail boxes are so full that you cannot leave a message. I have sent numerous emails..... they are never answered in a satisfactory manner (in other words, there have been a few promises, but nothing ever happens)...... and it takes days or weeks for someone to even respond to said messages. So I think your stand about how he is working his butt off to fix things is a little lame. It is nearly impossible to contact a real human being. It seems it is impossible to really get anything done. Any comments ????
On February 22nd, 2006, carolynprior added the following: Freak'in unbelievable that he would start to do business again after what he has done to so many !!! He never, ever responded to my messages to refund my $$$$.... luckily, I was able to file a dispute for goods never received with my credit card company (thankyou, Citibank !!), so I received a refund from them, and they will go after him...... I also contacted the Tulare Co. DA's office, and filed a complaint about his business practices (who charges you as soon as you order, when they do not even have the items available to ship ???!!!)....that should be warning #1.

On Jan 27, 2006, MrsRoadhawg (1 reviews) from Grand Rapids, MI (Zone 5a)

About darn time Chris was arrested...maybe there is justice after all for all the theft he accomplished with Growquest/A Better Plant Grower.

On Jan 27, 2006, brianfuchs (3 reviews) from Newbury Park, CA

Looks like I am the first to report this press release today from the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office: PHILLIP J. CLINE District Attorney & Public Administrator DISTRICT ATTORNEY County of Tulare County Civic Center 221 S. Mooney Blvd., Rm 224 Visalia, California 93291 4593 (559) 733 6411 FAX (559) 730 2658 Press Release On 01-26-06, Investigators of the Tulare County District Attorney ’s Office in cooperation with the Central California Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission served search warrants at the residence and business of a Visalia resident, Christopher Morgan Gilcrest, age 41. As a result of a six-month investigation, investigators discovered over 100 consumer complaints against the Internet businesses known as; “Growquest”, “ABP Growquest”, and “A Better Plant Grower,” for theft and fraud. It was learned that a warehouse, located at 446 W. Prosperity, and a residence located in the 1000 block of S. Kent Ct. were the computer bases of this operation. Investigators contacted consumers and businesses across the nation and discovered that the suspect, Gilcrest, and his business staff would take credit card orders of roses, ladybugs, and citrus trees and fail to provide the products to the consumers. Businesses with losses to Grow Quest were identified as rose growers and distributors. Investigators discovered that Gilcrest ordered large amounts of rose plant products from distributors and did not pay for those materials. Dave Austin Roses LTD, England, Performance Nursery, Redondo Beach, Weeks Roses, Upland, California, and locally, Luis Nursery, were among the affected parties. During this investigation, it was discovered that Gilcrest employed individuals to assist in manual labor and other services without providing workers compensation insurance or tax withholdings for his employees. During the service of the Search Warrants, Gilcrest was arrested for Grand Theft, False Pretenses, and failure to provide insurance. During the search, Investigators seized five computers and components, bank records, business records, ledgers and documented the existence of numerous plant materials in Gilcrest’s possession. Investigators attempted to assist the injured businesses by allowing victims to view the unpaid for roses. As a result, investigators were able to return, to Performance Nursery, approximately 400 plants, valued at $8,000.00. Gilcrest was transported and booked into Tulare County Jail this afternoon for the listed charges. Bail has been set at $25,000.00. Any business representative or consumer, who has not been previously contacted about this business, is asked to submit your complaint to the Special Investigations Bureau at the telephone number of (559) 733-6600. For additional information, Tulare County District Attorney’s Office Contact: ADA Don Gallian- (559) 733 6411.

On Jan 25, 2006, johngaltnh (5 reviews)

At the beginning of last summer I ordered parasitic nematodes from this company. Months passed and they didn't arrive - so I called and talked to Chris. Chris said he'd send them out as soon as the weather was suitable for sending them. Months again passed - so I called him again. He explained the gist of his circumstance, apologized profusely, and volunteered to refund my money if I could produce a receipt. I don't know this guy and maybe I'm naive, but it is clear to me that he wasn't running from his responsibilities and had every intention of putting things right. So much time had passed that I had misplaced my receipt and I wasn't about to move heaven and earth to get a $28 refund - but I have no doubt that, had I found it, I would have received a refund. I will admit that I'll be waiting to see a positive customer commentary before I order again, though.

On Jan 23, 2006, dmcgavin (1 reviews) from New Market, MD

I ordered two rose bushes in June of 2005 and have received nothing. I have tried to contact this company at least 10 times since then via phone, fax and email, asking for the status of the order, and have received no reply. I tried to dispute the payment with my bank, but was told I waited too long. I've now filed a complaint against the company with the Maryland Attorney General. Never have I seen such disregard for customers...as far as I'm concerned, this company has stolen. $46.57 from me.

On February 10th, 2006, dmcgavin added the following: After posting this and sending my complaint to the MD Attorney General, I also sent an email to Chris telling him he'd been reported, and that is the first time he replied. He denied having received any other emails or calls from me and was very angry that this posting was negative. He told me I had no proof that I had contacted him before, and I replied that I didn't need proof...just that fact that he hadn't sent me what I had ordered was enough. He then proceeded to threaten me and "put me on notice" that I had 30 days to remove my negative posting, and that I would have my order in 10 days (even though he denied he was affiliated with the company I placed my order with). I never received the order, but this was just a few days before he was arrested. Couldn't happen to a "nicer" guy.

On Jan 13, 2006, Silphion (3 reviews) from Portland, OR (Zone 8b)

I ordered 1000 ladybugs from this business and recieved them a few days after the order. I admit to feeling a little bit of panic when I read these unfavorable reviews (I usually check with dave's G.W.D. before makeing an order with a new company but this time my pest infestation caused need of haste) however my only possible complaint is that I could never get past the answering machine message when I called. The status check on the website works just fine for tracking orders and though I may have been shorted 1 or 2 ladybugs out of the thousand (just a joke, as if any fool would try to count a writhing mass of living insects) there were more than enough to make me feel that I had recieved the service that I asked for.

On Jan 12, 2006, aymamibrockway (5 reviews) from Metairie, LA

I had a difficult time deciding whether to post a positive or a neutral feedback since my experience was both good and bad. I would say this is a marginally neutral feedback. I found the owner, Chris, to be concerned about providing good customer service (positive) but, in the end, he was unresponsive (negative). I ordered a tree from this company about six weeks ago. One problem I had was that my credit card was charged before the company ever acquired the plant from the grower. My card was not supposed to be charged until after the tree was boxed and ready for shipment. I was told shipment was delayed due to cold weather, but now it appears that the tree was never in his possession to send. Now I'm not saying he even could have sent the tree if he did have it, because I do believe the weather was a prohibitive factor. The problem I had was that my card was charged prematurely. On the positive side, when I asked for a refund, I got one immediately. In my opinion, and I may be wrong, the owner is overwhelmed with personal problems that are affecting the way he runs his business. I feel for him, I have been through the tough times too. But that's not what this review is about. It is supposed to reflect my business experience with this company. I was not pleased with the outcome, I would love to have received the tree, but at least I did not lose any money, just a lot of time. As far as communications with the owner, he was always polite and courteous. He always answered my emails and he even sent me his cell phone number so that I could reach him more easily. He seemed genuinely concerned about treating me as a valuable customer. Unfortunately he just did not come through with the tree in the end.

On Jan 5, 2006, Windchyme (7 reviews) from Stockton, CA

This is a derivative of Growquest and I have had dealings with Chris Gilcrest of this company- very bad dealings. I was even threatened at one point to intimidate me to back down (like THAT worked- NOT) Growquest broke federal law regarding the regulation of pesticides in their dealings with me. This man at one time claimed his wife was ill in the hospital as the reason he could not conduct business appropriately, now he claims that his wife and he are divorcing as the reason he could not complete business. The fact is he is a scam artist and a crook and is under investigation of law enforcement and was long before he ever knew about it. He lies incessantly, he takes peoples money and gives them nothing in return but broken promises. He has just shifted faces again to continue with his fraud. WARNING- before you do business with this company you need to read the comments about Growquest. If you still want to do business with this individual you'd be better off finding a local thug and handing them the money, why send it across country along with your address, phone number, and FINANCIAL INFORMATION.

On January 31st, 2006, Windchyme added the following: Since you addressed me directly I am addressing you back directly. What was that Karyn about slanderous lies (hand cupped to ear)? I suppose the District Attorney there is lying as well? If enough ppl had the same thing to say that the DA got involved and RAIDED and ARRESTED Chris Gilcrest then perhaps you should consider that it is not all of us that is the problem, it is your new boyfriend. Perhaps you should reconsider your choices regarding the men that you allow into your life. The best advice I can give you is RUN!!! as far and as fast as you can from Chris Gilcrest if he hasn't already dragged you into his criminal and legal problems.

On Jan 1, 2006, djccastles (2 reviews) from Somers, CT

My concern centers on the OWNER of BOTH these companies and my experience WITH HIM IN HIS BUSINESS CAPACITY. Last winter I ordered a hard to find plant. I was billed but it didn't arrive. Sold out? Understandable. Then he offered to personally look to see if any had been moved to the wrong spot and really were available. That's more than I expected. I thanked him. Then no response. Another long-distance call. He offered to get one from another source if I located one and sent a reminder via email. Wow,. I thanked him again.and dutifully sent off the email. No response. More emails (explaining the situation in case an employee who dIdn't know the situation should get it). No response. Finally I got ahold of him. He said he would send someone to get it that weekend. None came. This time he promised to see to it and got somewhat short, complaining he had to run the business ON HIS OWN as his wife was "SERIOUSLY ILL AND IN THE HOSPITAL" and he had been at her bedside so the business had slipped. I responded that I understood family comes first and that I hoped he and his family were well and asked what the current situation was with the order, expecting a refund. More promises. I would have thought a simple refund would have been in order so he could see to the family crisis and extricate himself from a business obligation he clearly wasn't able to handle. But SINCE HE OFFERED I FIGURED THE FAMILY PROBLEM MUST HAVE BEEN RESOLVED, and figured I would give him the opportunity to resolve the order now that it had been. I thanked him for his continued effort and wished his family well. No plant arrived. I got a refund. I was lucky. I didn't lose money. MY PROBLEM IS THIS: He clearly wasn't meeting his promises and instead of a simply refund he continued to make promises. I wondered if I was being strung along but kept hoping he would come through. I understand family comes first but you'd think a company this size would have an employee capable of doing a simple refund or pick up instead of having this drag on for months. If he had told me he wasn't able to fill the order in the first place or even later when it became apparent to him that he was having business and/or family crises I would have been disappointed but would have felt I had been fairly and professionally treated. The string of promises and what I believe may have been lies were unnecessary and only made the experience much more negative in the long (and I mean LONG) run. When I went online and learned that he and his wife decided IN OCTOBER to divorce but he has already found a "new love" I have to tell you I wondered if the claim of ilness and dutifull attendance to his wife were lies and he had been spending the time he should have spent on his family and business committments out there "finding" his 'new love". I don't say this in a nasty way. It just reinforces my lack of onfidence in this business owner. While we were both polite- indeed I thanked him repeatedly for his continued efforts (which he clearly wasn't really putting forth for whatever reason) the end result is this: He either was not able to handle that business' growth and/or has poor judgment when it comes to dealing with simple customer orders. Whichever the case, I will not be doing business with Mr Gilcrest. Consider looking at the Growquest customers' comments before making your choice.

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