May 06, 2012

When plants come with warning labels

Buyer beware at a Toronto garden center

Maybe this is a start of new trend among garden plant retailers but I saw this notice at a big box store recently (actual location cropped to protect the innocent, me!):

no warranty sign on plants at big box store paul jung toronto ecological organic gardening services
Yer pays yer money and takes yer chances!

At first I thought this applied only to those evergreens which were profiled in my last blog entitled "The March of the Emerald Cedars"  since many are returned for refund at this time of the year; however, after I purchased at this same store some "Serenade" Japanese Anemones this week, I found the same wording on my receipt.


I guess this new stance is Crappy Tire's (this location anyway) reflects a new philosophy: Our bottom line for garden center operations is so lousy due to returns that you, the gardening public, are on your own when it comes to choosing and caring for that specimen euonymus (not!) or mom's geraniums ("whaddya mean, they don't come back every spring?")

I rarely, if ever, defend a Big Box Store (especially its garden center) but I can see this policy from their viewpoint (a first for this blog!) I am quibbling about the wording on warning label. It should be like this, verbatim:

"Our once generous plant warranty (which used to be two years, then one year, then 90 days, now zero) reflects a re-positioning of  the BBS plant care pact with you, our dear customer: 

If  we exert the minimum energy to throw some water on our valuable inventory during a heatwave or drown the poor things when rain is forecasted tomorrow or hide the roses in a shady nook by the patio pavers, then the very least you can do is research and execute: a)  what "full sun" and "part shade" mean  b) what "plant at the original depth of the container" is interpreted as and c) what "water deeply" for the first year represents. (For more information about what "fundamental care" means, look it up. That's what the internet's for!)

Recently, you haven't lived up to your end of the pact as we get bum-rushed with half-living or scorched plants at customer service. Naughty you!  

Starting today, you're SOL if  the plants you bought from us actually don't make it through a harsh winter, less a harsh summer. Not enough due diligence on your end, buddy.

Oh, by the way, don't bother talking to our minimum-wage staff who don't know and don't care about your soil's pH or pruning grandma's heirloom climbing rose. Remember that old nugget about getting what you paid for?"

I find the language on the warning label actually very honest (apart from the disingenuous "thank you for understanding" corporate add-on) since it now forces the horticultural newbie and old-fart like moi to do some research. (This, of course, is nearly impossible when a plant is in full bloom as those garden center managers know so well!)

I believe, in all sincerity (right!) that this new hardball stance is win-win for everyone. It will reduce the lineup at returns at this BBS location (no more jostling between very dead yews and possibly dead power washers), drive business to local mom and pop garden centers (don't know about their return policies but anything above zero is a bonus), and force responsibility on the homeowner to ask questions before plunking that beauty into the ground.

I'm such a Pollyanna about these things... 

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