So I wrote post about the houseplant seed scams out there recently and I wanted to follow up with some simple steps to identify a scam so that firstly, you don’t get scammed because that’s no fun, and then so you’re not supporting the dishonest business owners out there.
A lot of the scams I mentioned before just exist on Ebay, Etsy and those kinds of sites. However I’ve recently heard that they’ve been advertising on Facebook and Google, which is worse. The reason I say that is, well obviously they’re getting more of a reach, but also I think a lot of people assume that if something is being advertised prettily that it’s more likely to be credible. So now that I’m hearing of people getting scammed from purchasing some seeds off of Facebook or by clicking on a Google ad, I’ve decided to write this article to help give you all some pointers on what to look for so you don’t get scammed.
Before I do, I just want to address a question, why are houseplant seed scams such a big deal as opposed to people that just sell actual plants? First off, seeds are a very new market, they’ve really only been available for commercial purposes until recently when suddenly demand spiked because of the houseplant trend. So, there aren’t really any established credible business-to-consumer providers, and having competition tends to lead to better quality products. In other words, there’s no “Burpee of Houseplant seeds” (Burpee is a brand that I see sell a lot of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds) It doesn’t help also that it’s such a new market, so supplies are extremely low which makes it difficult for anyone to start a business selling them. On top of that, the way reviews happen for seeds is very different than for plants. The vast majority of positive reviews are from people who are just happy to receive the seeds or that the seeds sprouted without verification that the seeds are from the correct plant. That’s more complex than seeing whether or not a plant arrived healthy, and it means scammers are able to get away with more because the review system kind of fails.
So hopefully that clarifies the type of landscape we’re dealing with here. The conclusion from that is, the chances that the people advertising houseplant seeds are scammers are way higher compared to some other industries.
But there are legitimate sellers out there(like me!), so how do you distinguish them? I’ve got 6 different things you can quickly check for when you’re interested in making a purchase:
1) Price Point:
Remember how I said supplies are low in this industry? So how credible do you think it is for 100 variegated Monstera seeds to be available for $2? Just for reference, I started out selling 10 Monstera seeds for $9 and I’ve since had to increase the price recently to $14 because I’m running out so fast, and these are regular Monstera seeds!! Regardless of whether or not a store is based in China, that price is wayyy too low for a plant that’s so high in demand.
Do they actually have photos of the seedlings(in other words, proof that they grow from seed themselves), and care sheets for the plants? The scammers I dealt with certainly didn’t, and I found that out too late. They do, however, have photos of the seeds. Do a quick google search and see if you can find some photos of the legitimate seeds, unfortunately you won’t always find them, but for some like Monstera Deliciosa seeds you’ll find some photos.
3) Presentation & brand
Do they actually have a brand? Check their profile, is it something recognizeable? Scammers don’t want to be identified. In my case, however, all of my sales are under the name “Plantflix” so I kinda don’t want that name to be tarnished, so you can bet I’m going to do my best to make sure all my customers are happy.
What kinds of reviews do they have? Do the positive reviews just say “I got the seeds” or are you able to find some that actually show photos of the seedlings? If reviews aren’t accessible, ask the seller to see if they can send you some(I don’t have reviews sorted on my website yet, I’m working on that, but I can send you my Etsy and Ebay reviews!!).
Do they state where they’re sourcing the seeds? They may not want to disclose the name of the provider, but at the very least describe the vicinity, conditions that the seeds are produced and if they’re tested for validity.
If you reach out to the seller, do they respond? Are they actually helpful and do they actually seem to care? Are they willing to refund you if there’s a mistake? My scammer friends responded to me that they have no information and no photos of the seedlings and please wait to message them before posting a bad review…which is a little sketchy and if I’d thought to ask them that before making the purchase maybe I wouldn’t have bought their “peperomia” seeds.
So that’s it, hopefully you found this helpful :) Have you had experiences with scammers before or have you maybe been thinking about purchasing some seeds but were worried about getting scammed? Let me know!
And if you’re looking to get some legitimate houseplants seeds, you can find them here!
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