Buyers’ stamp of disapproval

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If you’re among the unlucky people who order their plants by post and have received dead or dying plants, battered bulbs and dried-out specimens, help is at hand.

Which? Gardening, the Consumers’ Association magazine, has just launched a “Better Plants By Post” campaign to make people aware of their rights and encourage retailers to improve their services. This followed a survey it carried out among customers where more than a third said they had experienced a problem when buying plants online.

The survey also asked customers to rate the service they had received from 26 retailers, with David Austin Roses, Bloms Bulbs, Crocus and Sarah Raven came out top for customer satisfaction, while Garden Bargains, Spalding Bulbs and Bakker were at the bottom. If you receive a plant you think is dead, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 says that you are entitled to a refund as long as you have notified the retailer of the problem within “a reasonable time”. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances, but is typically three to four weeks, or less, from when the goods are received. Contact the seller as soon as you know there’s a problem. Similarly, if a plant is diseased, you can ask for your money back, or a replacement.

It makes no difference if the plants were damaged before they were sent or in transit, it’s the seller’s responsibility, so you can ask for your money back within a reasonable time, or a replacement. If you’re worried you haven’t received the plant you ordered, but won’t know until it flowers or fruits, you can ask for a refund or a replacement, sent at the seller’s expense. Raise your concern with the seller as soon as you suspect they’ve sent you the wrong plant.

If you ordered a plant but by the time it was delivered the window for planting it or potting it up had passed and a specific date had been given for delivery, you could argue that time was of the essence in the contract and that by failing to deliver by that date, the seller breached the contract. .

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