A Seller’s Perspective
We are happy to welcome new enthusiasts to the dahlia world. The dahlia addiction is real! Last winter (2020-2021), like many other commercial growers, we had the unexpected experience of witnessing the outcome of supply vs. demand.
Many growers experienced problems with their online web stores due to heavy traffic. This can cause systems to be ‘glitchy’ at times causing significant processing delays that result in frustrated and disappointed customers. Although we are a commercial grower, we are buyers as well and had the same purchasing experience as our customers.
A resolve to this issue would be to invest in more expensive software and higher bandwidth. However, unlike million-dollar corporations, we, like a lot of growers, cannot justify that type of expense and, do not want to pass on higher prices to our customers due to additional overhead cost. It is our hope that future buying experiences become an easy and positive one for our customers.
Preparing to Purchase
On our Facebook and web pages, we try to provide photo postings of not only blooms, but of our tubers, plants, and growing processes. We suggest you take the time, previous to the store opening, to get familiar with web pages that include terms and conditions. Read the variety description so you are educated to the bloom and plant size, color, and any misc. info. Make notes if needed with regard to whether or not a seller offers combined shipping or, refund vs. replace tubers and, under what conditions. Hopefully, this will help you feel more educated and lessen the burden of feeling rushed during the selection and check out process.
Quality and Reputation
Research different growers and choose the ones that make you feel the most comfortable regarding:
• Obtaining tubers that are healthy and true to name.
• Minimal shipping errors (receiving the tuber as ordered).
• Acceptable, timely, and clear communication by the grower/seller.
Are they a commercial or a backyard grower? Sometimes, you can find great deals from the backyard grower although you may or may not have enough information about the quality of their product or service. We have bought tubers from both which has been an educational experience on what works best for our business.
Are they a distribution provider?
• A U.S. shipping source with tubers grown elsewhere such as the U.K.
• A U.S. grower/seller that has contracted/partnered with other sources within their area to grow their Dahlias.
Most sites have pages that include ‘About Us’ as well as their terms/policies, and growing practices. If you have questions, you may choose to call the grower. A voice on the other end of the line can sometimes give you a better perspective of their integrity vs. trying to get a sense of personality through emails or social media postings.
Outsourcing defined: Obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source.
Does the grower outsource to fill orders and if so, to what percentage?
When outsourcing, which suppliers are chosen? U.S. only?
Question to self: If a grower can’t provide a tuber I ordered, would I prefer a refund/replacement or accept outsourcing?
Would I want to be informed of potential outsourcing and have the option to choose?
Are the viewed product photos of the plants/blooms grown by the seller?
Are they borrowed photos from the garden of other growers or downloaded from the world wide web?
Am I reading the product description, or only looking at the photo?
Am I able to view more than one photo of the bloom?
Does the photo include foliage/plant views?
Social media can be a wonderful source of education and support that provides a place for friends to socialize and obtain event, personal, or business information.
Some things to consider when reviewing or commenting:
• Be nice to each other – You never know what may be happening in someone’s personal life whether it be a happy or sad time for them due to a stressful or traumatic experience.
• Be respectful – We do not have to all agree, all the time. Most people won’t ‘hear’ your message or, may be offended by negative comments. Be mindful of how your postings are worded and how they may be perceived by a diverse group of followers.
• Feedback comments – Before offering feedback, consider the statements or provided info you’re commenting on. Remember the definition of opinion: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Keep in mind some people are followers, and some are leaders.
• Asking for garden advice – When receiving feedback, consider the source, all info provided, and decide what sounds like acceptable advice for your situation. Research and consider more than one source. Most people want to be helpful however, their advice may be based on their experience which may be reputable and extensive or, you may be receiving info from a less experienced gardener which can be insightful, but not always necessarily accurate. They are in the beginning stages of their learning curve. Some may have spent time on extensive research, and others may jump right in offering advice based on assumptions. Info may be given by someone that has never grown dahlias but is providing info based on what someone else told them. They may simply have a different interpretation or belief system on how dahlias should be grown. Advice may be given based on the location where they live, their weather conditions, soil, planting, disinfecting, and maintenance practices which may be completely different from yours. Determine what you feel works the best for you. Then, just when you think you have it figured out, there is always a new season presenting new challenges, a continued learning curve, and always room to take advantage of reconsidered improvement opportunities.
We occasionally read comments such as what a buyer ‘did not know’ prior to making a purchase and, if they had known, they would not have purchased from that grower. These types of comments haven’t been directed towards our business but I felt that it would be a good reminder about where, I believe, the responsibility lies.
In our experience, we find that most info is clearly written on a grower’s site. After some research, we came to the conclusion that more than 50% of customers do not read the information about the grower or their guarantee/policies. I have been guilty of just clicking on the little box that confirms I have read the terms. Some policies are 10+ pages of complex reading (somewhat like this page, ugh! LOL). Some customers make quick decisions based solely on the pretty picture. They can end up remorseful for uninformed, impulsive, and over budgeted purchases.
I feel that part of the reason for failing to read policies are based on their concern of not processing their order fast enough in order to obtain all the items on their wish list. It’s like a Dahlia Black Friday sale! Camp out, set alarms, refresh, then ready-set-go! Whose has the fastest strategy?
Avoid Potential Legal Hassles – Did you know?
1. Most photos have copyrights which means that you are not allowed to download or post a photo that is not yours.
Copyright defined: the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
For some photographers, they do not mind if you use their photos. Others, require written permission mostly because their photos may be used for the purpose of selling commercial products (calendars, coffee mugs, etc.). Most times, you will find the info posted somewhere on their website. If you notice the copyright notations in the bottom of the website (usually in or below the footer area) that means that you are not allowed to copy/post ‘anything’ from their website without permission. I suggest when asking permission that you always get it in writing (such as an email).
2. Posting negative feedback.
Your feedback is always important so that a business owner can consider any revisions they may choose to make so that they can provide their customers with a better shopping experience.
While it is a common, welcome, and acceptable practice to post customer reviews, please keep in mind it can make a difference on how you word your feedback so you can protect yourself from potential legal action. Feedback is an intended tool to help make informed decisions for any welcomed improvements.
Defamation defined: the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel. Defamation, sometimes referred to as defamation of character, occurs when an individual’s character or reputation is tarnished as a result of a fraudulent statement or action of another individual. Defamation can be broken down into two types: spoken, which is called slander, and written, which is called libel.
5 Star Reviews – How trustworthy are they?
Sometimes I read between the lines and ask myself the following questions before making a determination as to whether or not I feel comfortable purchasing from the seller.
What are the number of posts vs. the level of rating? Are there 4 positive ratings out of 5 or, 4 negative ratings out of 5?
Whether it be positive or negative, are the posts from family, friends, employees or, do the reviews seem to be from genuine customer experiences?
Negative ratings. The person that posts a negative review typically is posting based on how they feel about their experience. The post may or may not include the whole story (be one-sided). We never know at what level of emotional upset they are feeling at the time of the post. Some posts include detail and some are vague. Some posts are honest personal experiences, while others are simply meant to be a retaliation because the customer was not able to get a positive resolve that met their expectations.
I do read reviews which I feel are helpful when considering my next purchase. Based on the review, I may feel very comfortable or, that I am willing to take a risk with a minimal purchase or, not at all. I try to remain open-minded.
A Final Note
We hope that the information provided on this page has given you some insight or reminders to consider when making your next dahlia tuber purchase and utilizing all that social media has to offer. We have been fortunate to have experienced a positive and supportive customer base during our years in business and look forward to another colorful season of gardening.
Article written by Tina Davidson 8/29/2021