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Comments regarding Seed Savers Exchange

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  Feedback History and Summary  
102 positives
4 neutrals
11 negatives


Negative magnaastra
(49 reviews)
On Apr 24, 2013, magnaastra Charleston, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

Opened box upon delivery; of six plants, five were floating loose, and one was completely missing (pot was there, but where's Waldo?). This is the second year in a row I've had exactly the same experience. Sucked it up and went on in 2012, but not this year. No more. I've had enough. Will never order again; shame, they're probably doing great things for the plant world but if this is how Seed Savers chooses to represent itself in the public, retail sector...well, there's a problem. Learn how to pack, people! I'm only one state away, for heaven's sake! I've had several plants shipped to Illinois from HAWAII that made it in perfect condition!!!

On Apr 24, 2013, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

"On Apr 25, 2013 9:30 AM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

We are sorry to hear of the poor condition your plants were in upon receipt. Customer satisfaction is guaranteed, so please call and we will be happy to send replacement plants or a refund right away. We do take great care to ensure plants are properly packaged before they leave Seed Savers. The packaging itself is really pretty simple, and usually effective. A collar over the soil/stem holds the soil in place, a sleeve fits over the entire plant, with tabs that extend to hold the pot/collar in place, and many box sizes in increments of six which prevent movement inside the box (illustration on order page at However, we know that the shipping process itself is not always forgiving and even our best preparations cannot prevent the destruction you have observed. We hope to hear from you soon. Thank you. Tom Wahlberg, Seed House Manager"

Negative ADowst
(1 review)
On Mar 18, 2013, ADowst wrote:

Quite possibly the worst customer service experience I've been unfortunate enough to encounter.

Became a member to receive a Yearbook as well as purchase a large amount of seed for our CSA (we're very interested in becoming part of the seed exchange/saving community and providing our local community with Heirloom fruits and vegetables through a small CSA), and placed our first order of nearly $1000. Long story short, we were never shipped our yearbook (which we needed to select flowers and herbs for our CSA--obviously time sensitive) after multiple phone calls. Each time we called, we were assured that it had shipped or it would ship ASAP or told that our concern would be forwarded to the person who manages memberships. A month and a half later, we have still yet to receive our yearbook.

After growing concerned that our seeds would ship with the same level of expediency as the yearbook, and a number of days passing with our order still in "Not Fulfilled Status", I decided to call and ask to change my shipping to overnight (seeds really need to get started ASAP to make CSA deadlines, etc.). I was not asking that SSE pay for the additional shipping charges, just that I be given the opportunity to upgrade which I figured wouldn't be such a big deal since it no action had been taken on my order relative to shipping before I called. I was wrong--the customer service rep was notably unwilling to do anything besides saying she'd email the shipping department, then proceeded to neglect returning my calls twice. A number of hours later (shipping cut off was noon), I checked the status of my order and it was being processed as UPS ground. Additionally, my partner had called that morning before me and was told that it had already shipped that morning, which was obviously not the truth. SSE's customer service appears to display an unacceptable culture of deferment and apathy.

I'm sure SSE is great for the hobby gardener who has an interest in saving seeds and preserving heirloom varieties (and doesn't mind if it takes until July to get a seed catalog), however their exceptionally poor customer service eliminates them as a reliable source for larger operations that have important timelines and commitments to customers.

We'll be cancelling our large seed potato order and will look elsewhere for flower and herb seeds.

On Mar 18, 2013, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

"On Apr 1, 2013 8:02 AM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

We appreciate that you allowed Seed Savers Exchange to be a source of seeds for your CSA, and we hope to be able to be there for you in the future, if you will allow us the opportunity. We are sorry this situation turned out negatively; that is not how we pride ourselves in helping people. During the busy spring season, we allow a 7-10 day turnaround time for order fulfillment, and we hope that this deadline was met for you. We do care about all of our customers, and strive to offer the most positive experience we can."

Negative 66squarefeet
(2 reviews)
On Oct 15, 2012, 66squarefeet New York, NY wrote:

I garden in containers and have many years' experience. I usually buy another seed brand but made two separate purchases this fall of Seed Saver's seeds, impulse buys at different gardening stores. Expiry date stamp on both was 2013.

Of the entire packet of Bloomsdale spinach sown, just one seed germinated and flourished. I also tried red romaine. To date, not a single germination. This is extraordinary.

Meanwhile I continue to sow fall crops from my usual brand, and every seed seems to germinate.

While I support the principles of Seed Savers strongly I could never recommend these seeds to anyone based on my experiences with them.

On Oct 15, 2012, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

"On Oct 15, 2012 2:50 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

Thank you for your feedback. I want to assure you that we do test every lot of seed every nine months, and do not pack anything that does not exceed the Federal germination standards. A quick review of the 2 items you had purchased indicates the current lot of both items germinating above 85%, but that can certainly be affected negatively depending on storage conditions once it leaves our facility. Please contact our office directly, and we will re-ship your purchase, or credit your account for these packets, and hope that you will give Seed Savers another chance. Thank you."

Negative Forestnymph4
(1 review)
On Sep 7, 2012, Forestnymph4 Richmond, KY wrote:

I ordered garlic bulbs from this company and decided since I was placing an order to also order a packet of kale seeds. After entering my info on line I got to the shipping part and there were several choiced. The $3.00 shipping was automatically checked by the web site and I decided to go with that. My kale seeds arrived and there was the $3.00 S&H charge on the invoice. About a week later the garlic arrived and that had a S&H charge of $8.50. I called the company and told them I was not happy paying $3 to have one $2.75 seed packet sent to me that weighed about an ounce. There was nothing obvious on the web sit when ordering that said they would be sent separately. I told the girl I talked to that the $3 S&H was automatically checked and she told me she would let there computer people know that it was confusing. That was the extent of their help. I was not happy and will not be ordering from this company again.

On Sep 7, 2012, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

"On Sep 11, 2012 1:41 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

We appreciate your point of view. Due to the fact that these items ship separately, there are separate shipping/handling costs associated. When placing an order online, the total charges, including shipping and handling, are shown before an order is submitted, at which time an order can be edited or cancelled. We are sorry that this was not communicated clearly enough. We are looking forward to moving to a new system late this fall that will charge actual shipping/handling to alleviate these misunderstandings in the future.""

Negative Calalily
(40 reviews)
On Jun 12, 2012, Calalily Deep South Coastal, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I bought only melons, several varieties, but the germination from each variety was less than 10%. They are as bad as Johnny's.

Negative jayjaybuddy
(2 reviews)
On Nov 18, 2011, jayjaybuddy Venice, FL wrote:

We attempted to purchase one (1) pack of expensive small seeds from this 'nonprofit' company through their checkout & the shipping costs came to be $18! We called them & asked why such a high cost of shipping/handling when the envelope could weigh no more then 1oz. & they said it is calculated according to the amount of money the order is not by weight. For us it was $185 for one pack of 250 small seeds. They said they would adjust the shipping down to $9 for this one time exception. We reluctantly still followed through with the order. The seeds arrived nicely packaged, that we will give credit for but the postage they paid on the envelope was $1.56, still a far cry from the $9 they charged us & they should be embarrassed to call themselves a NONPROFIT if they normally will charge anyone $18 shipping on this ONE pack of seeds. They really need to fix that...but 2 phone calls later, neither time did they seem concerned at all. Reason why we are leaving a negative is because they said the shipping 'discount' we did receive was a one time offer, & if we wanted to purchase again in the future we would be charged the $18!

On Nov 18, 2011, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

"On Nov 28, 2011 4:23 PM, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:

Thank you for placing an order with Seed Savers Exchange. To provide a bit of explanation, our shipping costs are 10% of the total charge when the order subtotal exceeds $100. The 10% is to cover not only the shipment, but also the handling/packaging. Since the Snail Flower is a difficult seed to harvest, they are higher priced. In your case, it does create an astronomical shipping total for a small package of seeds. I recall Sarah (your CS rep) pointing this out to me, and recall making adjustments to this order. I don't remember looking at the particular seed that was ordered, therefore the total (cost) of the order didn't reflect the 'size' of the order... and I apologize for not paying closer attention to that. We are in the process of moving to a new ordering software that will allow us to charge actual shipping with a fractional packaging/handling fee to avoid this situation. We try to be fair, and I appreciate you pointing this out, and would be happy to refund your total shipping cost for the inconvenience. "

Negative flagulfcoast
(2 reviews)
On Feb 28, 2011, flagulfcoast Bradenton, FL wrote:

I ordered seeds from this company last year as a surprise birthday gift for my brother. That order was processed fine, no complaints. This year I ordered a bunch of seeds for myself. The company morphed my mailing and billing addresses into one undeliverable address. Since I filled out 2 separate boxes on the form, I don't see how that happened. When I contacted them about it, it took them 5 days to respond and the response was "well the computer did it". No apology, just sort of a shoulder shrug after they charged my credit card and made up an address. No concern over the delay or possibility of never seeing what I paid for. No "gee, we are sorry for OUR mistake". I won't order from them again. I wanted to really like this company but the response time was too long and now the way they handled their mistake is completely unacceptable.

Negative yhetti
(1 review)
On May 22, 2010, yhetti Medford, MA wrote:

What happened to the Seed Savers Exchange I once loved. There has been a total lack of communication between customers and customer service. I sent 3 emails to 2 different representatives and received no reply.
It seems I am not the only one who had bought the Caribe potatoes and received useless garbage. They obviously don't want to give the money back. My problem is not related to's bad suppliers. These potatoes should have been thrown into the compost heap in the fall and should have never made it to the warehouse. These were not even close to being seed potatoes.
Buyer beware.................
GO ELSEWHERE for your spuds!

Negative BoJack
(1 review)
On Apr 24, 2010, BoJack Tooele, UT wrote:

Login and creating a new account were ridiculously difficult and took a tediously long amount of time.

Trying to purchase seeds was unsuccessful at first attempt as the website claimed I had a previous membership which is impossible because I only discovered Seed Savers a few months ago. I requested a "new" password but nothing was sent to the email address they indicated they had on file.

I really wanted to order some seeds so I went ahead and set up a new account. It's an email address I rarely give out because I don't want to be slammed with spam and I'm hoping SSE doesn't sell it.

Another gripe is that the SSE search function isn't reliable. When I first discovered SSE, I asked it to find several unusual seeds that I wanted to find, that came back negative so I found and purchased them elsewhere. Then I found them in the catalog, and they were not only available from SSE, but at $2.75 were a lot less expensive. Later I went back and used the search function again because I didn't want to plow through an entire product line to get to the ones I wanted. I got a couple of false negatives for things I know are sold there.

This next is a minor point but shipping & handling charges are based on a $10 order, though almost all seeds sold by this company are $2.75. They probably should tie s&h charges to the number of packets. I misread the information and had 4 packets picked out so I dropped one to come in under the cutoff.

I really don't think it should be necessary to join SSE to buy seeds. I'm annoyed at the length of time it took me this afternoon to even be able to buy my seeds. I should have been able to jump on, call up the seeds I wanted and type in my order without jumping through hoops.

On the positive side, I'm impressed with the quality and variety of the SSE catalog. And every single plant image I've seen on the site is at least beautiful eye candy, and some of them are are stunning.

Another positive observation is the excellent variety of unusual and heirloom seeds. And if my income tax refund had arrived by now, I'd probably have purchased several others from SSE.

In short, my ordering experience this afternoon was ridiculously time and process consuming to buy just three seed packs from this company. And I resent having to join to make the purchase. I get nothing for my trouble unless I actually take out a paid membership and that's not going to happen.

Negative sunhill
(1 review)
On Apr 4, 2009, sunhill Pateros, WA wrote:

I ordered seed potatoes this spring - 5 different varieties. When my shipment arrived, there were only 4 - beautiful!!! However the 5th variety was missing, I looked at the invoice expecting that they were sold out (even though I had ordered last fall) but the invoice showed that I had been charged for these non received potatoes. I have called and left 2 messages and sent 2 emails, but no response. I have been very happy with previous orders and this company's mission, but am greatly disappointed at this situation.

Negative mikejan
(24 reviews)
On May 26, 2006, mikejan Staten Island, NY wrote:

First, I have been very disappointed with the poor germination rate of their seeds. Second I ordered prairie plants from them and was told today that they would not arrive until the middle of next week, meaning they would sit in a UPS truck over a hot, 3-day weekend. Thier rationale is that being prairie plants they are tough enough to handle anything as they should be dormant. I don't understand how any plants, much less prairie plants can be dormant at this stage of the growing season.

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