Thursday, March 7, 2013

A little miffed at AeroGrow, but all is forgiven: Day 67

So, it's been a while since I posted my latest update, and that's mainly because I've been a little miffed at AeroGrow customer service. Although I have to admit in retrospect the story is amusing, and AeroGrow did make good, so I thought I'd share with you.

So, I never got a response to my first email, so I sent another one. With this one I got a response back pretty quickly. It was obviously copied and pasted from some master list they have somewhere, but the advice was pretty good.

About the basil dying at the stem:

You are describing “damping off” in your basil. This  is a fungal infection that attacks plants at the junction between stem and roots and kills off the cells that form the transport system that carries nutrients up the stem.  It will appear to be a brown ring, and then you will observe weakness, and ultimately the plant will die because no nutrition is flowing up to the leaf canopy and the plant cannot photosynthesize.

 The solution for damping off would be to apply an organic fungicide, which you could purchase at your local garden retailer.  We use “Serenade” in the lab.  If you push the stem downwards, which pushes the peat sponge downward, and airspace is formed between the top of the root mass and the label.  This seems to help with controlling mold and fungal growths.

About the white fuzz growing inside the Aerogarden seed pod:

Mold is not generally fatal to a germinating seed.  The mold spores build a colony of fibers on the sponge itself, and do not adhere to the seed. We have observed many small little green sprouts growing right up through a mold colony.    It can be unsightly and you should try to remove it.  Here is the entry from our customer service website regarding mold:

If you observe mold on the cover of the pod after the seed has germinated:

·         There needs to be at least ½” of air space between the top of the peat and the bottom of the label.  Use a toothpick or pencil and push the peat down a little bit.

·         use a Q-tip  and swirl it around to remove the fibers

If you observe mold down in the peat prior to germination:
·         There needs to be at least ½” of air space between the top of the peat and the bottom of the label.  Use a toothpick or pencil and push the peat down a little bit.

·         Remove dome to allow air circulation

Both pretty good answers which I was satisfied with.

I went on to ask about the Seed Pod Guarantee, to which the customer service person responded that she wouldn't replace the basils or the cilantro because they were past 3 weeks old, and evidently their guarantee officially states that they'll only replace a seed pod if it never germinates, NOT if it grows and then dies. In all honesty, in the past they've replaced seed pods for me no questions asked, so I'm not sure if this is a new rule or that they've just started enforcing it.

I wrote back to saying I understood the policy, but since the plants died so soon after planting that I never even got a chance to harvest them, if she could extend me the courtesy of sending me the four seed pods, even though technically I was only "entitled" to one of them. I sent her the link to the pictures on the blog to show her "proof" that I never got to harvest the herbs. I also slipped in a good-natured line (complete with smiley face) that I'd be happy to put in a good word for them if they could do this for me.

A few minutes later I saw this message in my Inbox:

Summary of the following:
He planted in Nov.
He is thinly veiling a threat to blog if he doesn’t get his way
Most of his issues are growth not germination

Do we knuckle under and give him what he wants, or hold the no replacements for growth issues line?

It took me a little while to realize that I'd accidentally been copied on an internal email. Now as someone who's done this in the past, I definitely understand the horror that must have been going through this person's mind after she pressed the "send" button.

But admittedly, I was a bit taken aback. This blog gets hundreds of readers a day, so over the years I've given AeroGrow tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, of free publicity. I know that companies like AeroGrow routinely give out a lot of free stuff to bloggers to get them to write about their stuff, but from day one I've never asked them for anything.

In this case, I wasn't even asking the question as a blogger--it was as a very loyal customer who has purchased five Aerogarden units and who knows how many grow lights, seed kits, replacement motors, replacement arms, not to mention things like cutting boards and Herb N Serve bottles and cookbooks and a whole bunch of other stuff over the years. I didn't think asking for a few pennies worth of replacement seed pods was all that unreasonable.

To her credit, she emailed me as soon as she realized what she'd done, with an apology, and offered to send me a full seed kit as an apology. I responded to her that I'd be perfectly fine if she sent the four seed pods I'd originally asked for. I did slip in a little note just reminding her to not be so cynical in the future, and that sometimes extending little courtesies to their most loyal customers and advocates can go a long way.

In any case, a couple of you were asking me about the replacement pods, so I figured I'd give you the whole story. I'll be popping in the parsley soon, so hopefully I'll be able to harvest that soon. The sage and thyme are both looking great, so in a few days, I may be writing about this!


Limo Hire said...

I have always wondered about the aero gardens - they look great! And you got what you wanted in the end - your right though - your always promoting there product without a 2nd thought. I've been in the young ladies shoes too - i was lucky it was also an internal email - to a college about a client - lucky it was very sarcastic - and the customer never mentioned it..

Unknown said...

Bahahaha! I've been working my way through your blog (as you may have guessed by now) and at one point, I was going to ask either a) is this an infomercial or b) is this blog sponsored by Aerogarden?

Silly corporate America. They forgot where their executive's bonuses come from!