Orchids forum: Disappointing/worrying ebay purchase Part 1 and 2.

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Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
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Lorli
Dec 3, 2014 3:13 PM CST
I wonder if this is going to take 2 posts....because of a recent serious illness, I've been housebound and bored, and my way of keeping myself amused has been bidding on orchids on ebay. It really is a form of gambling, isn't it? Some of the plants have been fantastic, some incredibly reasonably priced, and some both, and, until now, I've had no problems. Mind you, all of he vendors I've used have had 99% ratings or above, and I try to write a note with each purchase reminding the seller that we are having cold weather here and offering to pay for extra heat packs. To be honest, I might occasionally forget to write the note, but I would never, never, never refuse heat packs or a delay in shipping because of weather!

First problem - I received a package a few days ago containing 6 orchid plants. I had been waiting excitedly for it, as there were some interesting looking varieties among them. I found the box on the front step in 20 degree F weather and I figure it had been there for 2 hours. There was nothing on the box indicating that it contained live plants (well, live when they left Florida, anyway), no warnings about protecting from heat or cold. Or anything. Inside the box, the plants were wrapped in 1 layer of that shiny full color newsprint stuff (like the ads for stores that come with newspapers) each and there were a couple of handfuls of polystyrene packing peanuts loose in the box. There was no heat pack. I do NOT blame the postman, as he is very good and has taken packages back to the post office when I didn't get to the door in time!

Unfortunately, there is another issue, I will write about that now. Thanks in advance.
Lore

So, there is more.

I unpacked the plants and some seemed to be very loose in their pots and had poor tone, which may have been from the cold? I decided to repot them, and was not happy with the compost that I found. It was quite damp and there was white stuff on it, I've tried to photograph it. The potting mixture consisted of pieces of bark, which had most of the whit stuff, some small round balls that look like terra cotta beads except without holes, and pieces of polystyrene. I have taken some pictures of the potting medium and root system of one plant. I shook off as much of the compost as I could and felt that it had an ugly, moldy odor. I burnt it in the wood stove. I dislike polystyrene in all situations and picked it off, the plants are now all potted in Orchiata compost. I've watered a couple of times since then, but they still look droopy. Can they be saved?

I have not yet led feedback for the seller, although I know that I have to. I'm so tired of criticism, all the time. Ken, I'm sure you have heard from your brother about Press-Ganey scores, the bane of our existence. I'm trying to think of a way to leave feedback that is not destructive criticism, as it may just have been the weather. Any advice about the feedback, or about salvaging the orchids? Thank you in advance,
Lorelisa
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
[Last edited by Ursula - Dec 3, 2014 7:08 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #743692 (1)
Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Not all those who wander are lost.
Bromeliad Cactus and Succulents Orchids Foliage Fan Organic Gardener Plant and/or Seed Trader
Region: Florida Tropicals Xeriscape
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karmatree
Dec 3, 2014 6:46 PM CST
Hmm...if they were moist/moldy smelling, I wouldn't water them at all.....especially if they got a chill...water is probably the last thing they are looking for when they're in "conservation mode" from being stressed out. 2 hours at 20F might be enough to cause their bodily water molecules to freeze and lyse. I would provide a lot of warm humidity but not water, and keep the roots exposed to as much air as possible. My happiest orchids are the ones that are doing the Full Monty, roots hanging out naked as jaybirds. Of course, I say all this, without knowing what kind of orchids they are! Can you post what they are and take pictures of them?
"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy." - Rumer Godden
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Dec 3, 2014 7:20 PM CST

Moderator

I agree, pictures will surely help. It is difficult to see what exactly you are dealing with.
Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
Image
Lorli
Dec 3, 2014 9:28 PM CST
Oops, sorry, I didn't get the photos onto here ( the phone rang and I got distracted). *Blush*
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/8d2846
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/bc9797
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/439a4b
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/e5e94d
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/5560a4
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/5bedbc
Thumb of 2014-12-04/Lorli/23c2ce

The photos aren't very good so I uploaded all of them thinking that people's monitors would differ. The first two are the roots of one of the plants, not the worst looking of them, I'm sorry to say.

Do other people put polystyrene into pots for drainage or whatever? I hat the stuff, it's bad enough in the boxes for packing...and I like to have some weight in the bottom of the pot so that they won't tip over as easily.

Thank you in advance, retrospect, etc etc.
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Name: Kate
Holmes Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Not all those who wander are lost.
Bromeliad Cactus and Succulents Orchids Foliage Fan Organic Gardener Plant and/or Seed Trader
Region: Florida Tropicals Xeriscape
Image
karmatree
Dec 4, 2014 4:12 AM CST
I don't like polystyrene either, especially when there's better options out there. It's a cheap option for aeration and drainage, yes. I can't tell much from the picture really but I don't think he looks that bad! Is he a Cattleya ? I rescued a few orchids from someone's yard waste...one being a little Cat. I think, and he looked WAY worse than that. He was a shriveled up little guy with the same mealy looking roots. He was all dried up so I watered him with compost tea frequently but always let him dry out between. He looks much better now. I think if you just provide supportive care, let those roots breathe and water only with a mister, they would pull through...maybe pout for a while and not bloom but I don't think they'll die. They look kinda young; do you know how old they are? Here's a current pic of my rescued Cat that looked way worse than yours....look, there's even a new leaf popping out :)
Thumb of 2014-12-04/karmatree/74d69a

"A garden isn't meant to be useful. It's for joy." - Rumer Godden
Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
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Lorli
Dec 4, 2014 7:08 AM CST
Thank you, Kate. I know that they aren't very good photographs and that was not the worst plant, just the first one I came across that fell out of its pot easily. I am being grumpy, I know, but remember you rescued your plant in the photo ( which looks great! ) but, with these, no only did I pay for them, but I also paid for shipping! I think that they were all Cattleya hybrids, I love hybrids with Brassovola, Laelia in them.
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Dec 4, 2014 8:00 AM CST
We use to have a thread to rate sellers and it proved very helpful. Is it still around, Ursula?

Jim
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Dec 4, 2014 8:10 AM CST

Moderator

We have the Green Pages on the left side of the home page for that. Now I am not sure if that includes eBay sellers. Someone had to add them ....
If I were to buy Orchids from an eBay seller, I would surely ask if others are familiar with that one. Kathy @Boojum buys from eBay every so often I think, she might know more.
[Last edited by Ursula - Dec 4, 2014 8:13 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #744000 (8)
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 4, 2014 8:24 AM CST
Such a shame there, a case of really careless packaging, in my opinion. That's what I'd write in your review, plus recommendation of a heat pack in winter as well.

My solution to that problem is simply not to order orchids in cold weather, or hot weather either for that matter. All my plant orders and trades happen in early spring, or fall. Must admit, I've never seen anything on eBay that I couldn't live without. They show a picture of a big, healthy full-grown orchid, then in the small print they say "plant is in a 2in. pot" which means it's probably 2 years from blooming. You can do better buying online, direct from a reputable orchid grower.

The plant in your first picture looks like it will survive. As Kate said, just mist the leaves for a while until they perk up.

Lots of my orchids in bark mix have that white stuff on the bark. It does no harm to the plant.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 4, 2014 9:14 AM CST
Heat paks, by and large, are worthless when it comes to shipping plants. They don't last 3-4 days and even if they did, there is really no way to dissipate the heat throughout the box. Perhaps if someone used a special foil-lined box inside the shipping box, and several heat paks, that might work, but who does that? All my packaging has several labels that say either "DO NOT FREEZE OR REFRIGERATE" and/or "PERISHABLE". I also put large "DO NOT STACK" and/or "FRAGILE" labels. The postman and any other postal worker would have to be blind not to see my labels. Now, they might ignore them............ Sighing! I also use plenty of newspaper, but never that glossy stuff. But when I am shipping this time of year, I simply don't ship if I think the temperature is low enough to harm my plants. That cut-off temperature is generally 40 F. I know I am very conservative but I just don't risk my plants to cold damage.

Lore Lisa, please tell me that those plants did not come from me! Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 4, 2014 9:34 AM CST
Here is a picture of a couple of boxes going out today. This is typical of all the boxes (with plants) that I ship from October until it gets too cold to ship.

Thumb of 2014-12-04/drdawg/1ce3cd

drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
Image
Lorli
Dec 4, 2014 7:43 PM CST
Perish the thought, Ken! Of course not! I have several of your boxes and they could not be any more clear. It was probably an oversight, just like me forgetting to upload te photos! My postman is very sensible and does a great job. All f te delivery folks (so far) like coming here and spend a long time checking the parcels because of the new welcoming committee who checks all newcomers and usually gives them kisses (see below if I remember to upload a picture). Her name is Georgiana and I am hoping that she will help me with my burdock problem.

The ebay vendor is called Rubin in Orchids bu has a different ebay name. Like I said, I hate to be one of those whiny people. Especially as I ought to know better than to order plants through te mail in the winter. I will have to think of something else to look for on ebay! As I said above, I've been unwell and needed something to do while I was in the hospital and afterwards, and what better thing to do than look at plants with their promise of future beauty. Thanks again.

Lore Lisa
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Name: Roberta
Cherokee Village, Ark (Zone 7a)
Region: Tennessee Orchids Irises
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901Bertwood
Dec 4, 2014 9:05 PM CST
I remember that they were moving to S America! It has probaly been bought by someone else already? New owners with a new learning curve.
Bert
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Dec 4, 2014 10:32 PM CST
Don't forget you are helping other buyers when you post a comment about an eBay vendor!

You also help to keep the vendors honest, and even help them learn how to ship things properly. What seems like a negative comment can have a lot of positive benefits.

Sure hope those babies survive their chillin'.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
Image
Lorli
Dec 5, 2014 2:54 AM CST
There, I knew I'd forget to post pictures of Georgiana! This is why I'm not working now.

Thumb of 2014-12-05/Lorli/753069


Thumb of 2014-12-05/Lorli/f7e647


Thanks for the advice and info. If it is a new business, the people probably need the feedback, so I'll post some, next time I'm on ebay. I hesitated because it seems like there is so much "rating" and criticism, not always constructive, around. I have doctor friends who get very upset because of reviews on sites like vitals.com.
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
Image
Ursula
Dec 5, 2014 7:43 AM CST

Moderator

dyzzypyxxy said:Don't forget you are helping other buyers when you post a comment about an eBay vendor!

You also help to keep the vendors honest, and even help them learn how to ship things properly. What seems like a negative comment can have a lot of positive benefits.



This needs to be repeated!
Wouldn't it have been helpful if there was a review about your vendor right here on ATP BEFORE you placed your order? Nobody said you have to tear the seller apart, but honest feedback, which you did share here in a detailed post, is a helpful tool!

Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
Image
Lorli
Dec 5, 2014 8:05 AM CST
I just went to ebay and when I put in my very first rating, which was an overall " how was the transaction" type of thing, when I put in a medium rating, ebay came back with advice to contact the seller first, so I wrote a note to them. Now I'm beginning to really wish that I'd had more information before ordering. I am not trying to ruin their reputation, nor am I looking for a refund.
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 5, 2014 8:07 AM CST
I can assure you, at least for me, shipping tropical plants and particularly orchids, has been an evolution for me. I package my orchid plants for shipping completely differently than I did three years ago. Originally, I simply copied what I thought was the best I had seen that other growers did. I take more time and care now, and yes, it costs me a bit more, but for me at least, knowing my plants will arrive in better condition makes it all worth while.

The one thing that should not be forgotten in all this is the abuse the boxes get while in transit. That is something that I cannot control. I have only asked the USPS to refund my money once, when one of my boxes was practically destroyed and I had to refund the buyer. I never got a cent from the USPS (which did not and does not surprise me!).
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Dec 5, 2014 8:12 AM CST
Lore, IF your plant(s) die because of cold, you should ask for and expect a refund for that/those plants. Oddly enough, I just ordered a bunch of orchids (coming from Hawaii) and I specified the best day to ship, to take advantage of mild weather. The grower wants to ship another day (when it will be colder). I asked the grower's representative what happens if the plants are damaged or even die because of this colder shipping time. She said they would refund or replace any and all plants that were damage or died. I have to trust her on this.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lore Lisa
Central New York State (Zone 4b)
Image
Lorli
Dec 5, 2014 5:57 PM CST
I'm beginning to think that it might be helpful to have a guide to the best and worst ebay vendors, like the ratings on the Green Pages. I have never had any problems with plants being damaged by weather. I remember that, a few years ago, we had a period of terrible weather which would have delayed the shipment in frigid weather...I had placed an order from the folks at Marble Branch Farms and they very apologetically emailed me that they didn't feel that they could send the plants until the weather improved. Of course it was fine with me, and they also included several bonus plants and a kind thank you note. Now that is customer service!

A lot of times, you can order from reputable nurseries, as someone wrote above. Once in a while though, I don't know where to find certain plants. For example, there are some listings on eBay right now from someone in Louisiana (I think it's called LaJohn or something similar) for some really interesting looking orchids, I had never heard of some of the genera! I am trying to decide whether to order or wait.

I'm trying to find out if I can forward the reply I received from the vendor to this forum. If not, I will write again and paraphrase.

Thanks again, everyone.
Lore Lisa

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

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