It took me a long time to decide to post a review of Eastern Leaf, but I need to tell this cautionary tale. Eastern Leaf has been sort of a Jekyll and Hyde experience for me. I had been purchasing from them for quite a few months and always felt I was treated well, the tools offered were comprehensive in need as well as the level of the customer. They responded quickly when I asked questions. And so, I thought I would take the plunge and purchase a tree.
I purchased a Limited Time Chinese Elm: "Chinese Elm bonsai tree, aged 6-8 years old, currently arrives in a 8" brown rectangular pot and measures 12"- 15" tall potted. Includes decorative stone. Care information included. Elm bonsai tree shape may vary from shown. Pot may vary depending on availability."
Now when you purchase a tree like this, you don't expect to get one that looks exactly like the picture. I'm sure they pick the best to portray what they have to offer. You do expect an expertly grown bonsai. What I got was something very different. FYI, when they say 12"-15" tall potted, that includes the height (3") of the pot. I didn't know that, but my bad. The problem was that MY tree was only "almost" 11" potted. an inch too short. In fact, the poor little thing appeared dwarfed in the 8" pot.
It was also potted at a 45 degree angle and must have been that way for a long time because the ONLY branch from the back was running parallel to the bottom of the "S" which was sending it to the side of the tree. Now, we all know that a bonsai tree should look good 360 degrees around. It has a best side one chooses as the front. I ended up wiring the branch so that I would have at least one branch in the back of the tree. A buyer can excuse such a thing if that buyer is purchasing a pre-bonsai, but this should never have happened.
The packaging was amazingly good. It made it from Chino, Calif. to Atco, NJ with little problems even though it was shipped ground.
I also purchased a "Starter Kit" to re-pot my 34 y/o Ficus Retusa. Everything was fine in the starter kit except the "bonsai" soil. The "bonsai" soil included in the kit 90% peat moss with a scant handful of aggregate tossed in. There might also be a bit of bark, hard to tell. Dry peat takes forever to absorb water and one would have to mix it with water to begin the draw even before use. If I could send an image, I would. I now use it when I need a bit of peat moss. Needless to say, I then purchased their organic mix and love it. I still need to add some extra pumice to insure good drainage, but I think that's more of a personal preference and depends on the tree.
When I finally contacted Eastern Leaf, first they wanted to know which tree I was talking about (I'd only purchased one). And then told me that the "30 day guarantee", wasn't a "100% customer satisfaction" guarantee, and actually (read the fine print) if you want to return a tree, you must contact them and do so within 7 days of ordering the tree. This is what I was told. I even repeated what she said. Since it took 10 days to arrive, I don't quite know what they expect.
I finally had to re-pot the tree. The soil was too heavy and the plant was apparently grown from an air layering. The point left at the bottom of the air layer wasn't carved and because the soil was so heavy, there were hardly any roots. Making radial surface roots on this tree is going to require some surgery and a trip to the training pot for a couple of years. It is doing much better now that the roots don't have to fight so hard to grow and it might make it through winter.
When I chatted with a representative before purchasing the tree, I told her I wanted an easy tree that will thrive indoors. It was to be a gift. They suggested the Chinese Elm. Now, I know these trees aren't, or shouldn't be horribly difficult to grow, but there are easier tropicals. The only thing is, Eastern Leaf doesn't sell them? Who knows.
When I finally reviewed the experience on their web site, I gave it a "one-leaf" rating and a review explaining (I was not rude). It was NEVER posted, nor was it averaged into the ratings, so now I can't trust them at all. It makes me sad.
From now on I will only purchase bonsai from sellers who show in the photo the exact tree I will be getting. There are some and not all of them are Master Trees at massive prices. I will be reviewing a couple of these sellers later.
I don't get it. How can this company be so impressive in many ways, and so desperately wanting in both primary product and customer satisfaction? I use to be a fan.
Posted on August 13, 2015, updated September 8, 2015
I wish I read reviews online, before ordering from this place. It was a total nightmare. Ordered a Red Maple Tree and a Spruce Tress Gift Kit for a total of 108$, including shipping and handling. First of all, Red Maple Bonsai had leaf burn, was green (not red) and lost 90% of its leaves within first week. The spruce kit, came with Tiny (cheapest possible tree with a broken branch). Now, I did not order and pay for product that looked 100% on the site to be delivered looking at \"D\" at most, and to be told that now I must nurse it back to life. So, I immediately initiated credit card dispute, and would suggest to everybody who gets into similar situation with them - do not wait for 30 days, replacement, etc. They are crooks. We corresponded for a while and we heard everything from \"not everybody has a green thumb\", in fact I do; Red Maple changes color and leaf burn is normal, etc. When they offered us substitutions it was other types of trees that would be send in some plastic trays, etc. In the end, we were stuck with a) back and forth shipping and handling fees b) awful customer service that only makes sure their financial interests are guarded c) complete dissatisfaction d) money loss. So, to make a long story short - file a credit card dispute on day 1, at least you will get your money back.On September 8th, 2015, FacebookUser added the following:
Today is September 8, 2015. After we shipped this company their "disastrous order", it cost us 23$ to ship it a month ago, it came back as - REFUSED. This business seems to practice some "bullying" and "crooked" ways of handling customers. We took photos, kept all postal receipts and intend to submit those to our credit card company, as well as to Better Business Bureau. This is by far, the worst experience we had when dealing with online service so far.
Posted on June 27, 2012, updated July 24, 2012
I ordered a Ginkgo bonsai tree from this company. When the tree arrived it came with the top cut off, and lots of rust spots on the leaves. After several excuses/reasons via email why the tree looked that way, I returned the tree. I went to look at a couple of large Ginkgo trees in my neighborhood, none of them had rust spots from being in the sun. That was one of the reasons they gave me. The return shipment cost me almost as much as the tree (I should have just thrown it out). Well, at least they will refund the cost of the tree, but I won't ever order from this company again. I took several pictures of the tree, sent them a copy, but kept the negatives.On July 24th, 2012, combien added the following:
Eastern Leaf is an incredible bad and cheap people to deal with. I was charged $39.45 for the original order for some really bad Ginkgo bonsai tree and when I returned it (which cost me $15.36), they only credited me $31.50. I hope people will see this comment and remember never to order from them. If they need to return the product they better just throw it out or it will cost them a lot more than what it was worth.Company representative comment on June 29, 2012: On Jun 29, 2012 8:25 AM, Eastern Leaf responded with:
We take pride in sending out well maintained and care for plants which is why we inspect and prepare them carefully in fulfilling each order. This does mean from time to time we must trim or prune some items just as we water and fertilize them before they leave our care. We try our best to provide many options to rectify the situation in a rare occasion that the customer was unsatisfied. We allow for returns within our policy time-frame as well as offer a 30 day replacement on most our products; in addition we have customer service and a wealth of knowledge via books and internet on our site. We do believe these many options provide an accommodation to every situation as well as allow us to stay within company policies.
Suebob Eau Claire, WI (Zone 4a) (1 review) April 27, 2012
My bonsai arrived in perfect condition and was exactly as pictured.Company representative comment on June 28, 2012: On Jun 28, 2012 11:38 AM, Eastern Leaf responded with:
We wanted to thank you for your business and hope to see you again.
Posted on May 7, 2011, updated May 9, 2011
I ordered, thru Amazon marketplace, 1 pot and a 3 oz. bag of bonsai fertilizer on 4/28. On 5/5 I received 1 well packed pot, which is quite nice, but no fertilizer. I contacted them thru Amazon email. I also called (yay for a toll free customer service number). When I called, after some checking they said they would send the fertillizer the next day. I haven't received it yet...nor was I given a tracking number. I will update this review if it arrives or if it doesn't. Eastern Leaf's bonsai plants, pots and accessories are beautiful with reasonable prices. Their website is quite nice and user friendly. You can view several items on a page and read or leave a product review. If an item is not in stock the site won't allow you to add it to your cart. I'd recommend Eastern Leaf if I get my full order.On May 9th, 2011, Mage973 changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
I received the fertilizer today (USPS). It and the pot are as described. I am ready to order again! I would definitely recommend Eastern Leaf for your bonsai needs. Good products, prices and customer service!