The Risks of Shipping for Horticulturists
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper has sued the owners of two companies for allegedly using false advertising to sell nursery goods.
“The state is seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants to stop these alleged unfair and deceptive practices and to provide customer refunds and other relief,” Cooper said.
According to the petition, the pair displayed photographs of healthy, viable plants. The plants shipped out by the companies arrive to customers in a dormant state, however, and some even arrived dead.
The petition also alleges that the pair failed to deliver ordered goods within promised time frames, failed to deliver complete orders and did not refund orders made by consumers who were unhappy with the products.
This story represents a risk to nurseries and garden centers that ship plants as part of their business model. Sending products to customers’ houses represents a risk for any company that does it, but there’s a greater risk for businesses shipping plants.
The difference for horticultural businesses is that the products they are sending are more likely to be damaged because they can’t be boxed while they’re in transit. Also, should they get lost in transit and arrive later than expected, the plant could have gone too long under rough conditions with no hydration and be wilted or dead on arrival.
In the story above, two companies, Autumn Ridge Nursery and Summerstone Nursery, are being sued for false advertisement because the pictures of the plants showed them being healthy and vibrant and they arrived wilted/damaged or dead.
It is highly common practice for any company to use nice looking, sharp, touched-up pictures as displays for their products in magazines or online. The simple fact of the matter is that a company who is selling flowers or trees isn’t going to post pictures of wilted flowers or dead trees on their website or magazine. The mistake made by the nurseries is that they refused refunds for plants that arrived damaged or dead.
Denying refunds for orders that were filled out wrong, shipped wrong, and arrived late is bound to catch up with any company. The nursery industry has to look out for themselves in this department more-so than others due to the nature of the products they are shipping; because rough transit travel and items getting lost and delivered late have a very detrimental impact on their products.
Keeping this heightened risk in mind and biting the bullet when necessary and resending an order could save horticulture businesses from being the target of a lawsuit for false advertisement.
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