So, don’t get carried away—as I did—and keep your wits about you when shopping on eBay! There are bargains and there are items you can find nowhere else. For instance, another seller happened to have the diascia I had been looking everywhere for. This seller was someone I had dealt with before, someone fair and reliable but not cheap. I bought my diascia and moved on, even though he had many other tantalizing plants.
Back to my two stories. The first one I am almost embarassed to share. It’s a typical tale of getting carried away. It may have happened to you at some time. I started with petunias—they were so pretty! But somebody else won them, so I gave up and went on to somet other chore. Then in my e-mail box I got a notice: YOU HAVE RECEIVED A SECOND CHANCE OFFER! CLICK HERE TO BUY. I wasn’t expecting that! I usually bid ridiculously low prices so on the off chance that I win something, I won’t mind. Well, once I clicked, it meant I had to pay the $8 shipping fee but she would ship each additional purchase for only $1. She had a lot of other nice stuff, and prices that were really low! For every auction I lost, she would send me a Second Chance Offer! I couldn’t go wrong! She and I developed a rhythm, it seemed, where I would express an interest in a plant and next thing I knew, it was offered to me for $2, either as a private B.I.N. or as a Second Chance. The total damage was well under $50, but I’ll admit, over $25, although I really hadn’t planned to spend that much, especially with a seller I knew nothing about. When I settled my total at the end of April by PayPal, she announced the plants would be shipped within 10 business days, which sounded like two weeks to me. So I forgot about them, for the time being. There was a lot going on.
You want to find out how long the seller has been selling on eBay, because you don’t want to be the test case!
Now, right this minute, admit it, you’re asking yourself, with all these options open to her, right here on DG, why would Carrie sink so low as to buy on eBay? The answer is simple: the variety of annuals! There are only a few vendors on the Marketplace selling live annuals, and they usually wind up being way more costly than a trip to the local garden center or Big Box store would be. But in April, it was still too cold and rainy for me to leave the warmth of my house to search nurseries for early annuals. On eBay, in April, when I went on my last big binge, there were dozens of colors and varieties of petunias and impatiens, snapdragons and coleus, verbena and zinnias which were not even available up here in any color. Buy 2, get 2 free! Buy 3, get 3 free. Choose your own plugs from this huge list and I’ll have them on your doorstep in 8 weeks, maybe less! If you want coleus instead of ornamental cabbage, I can send it to you tomorrow! (To which I was forced to reply, if you send it to me tomorrow, it will wilt and freeze.)
The first recourse is always to contact the seller, which I did. She answered in the middle of June about how hard she had been working to fill everybody’s orders, she was sorry for the delay, my order had been shipped and she hoped I would shop with her again soon. (Not likely.) When they did arrive in the middle of June, the pansy/viola season was over, the plants were hastily wrapped in Saran Wrap or baggies and the “buy 3, get 3 free. ” looked like she had maybe put 6 seeds in one little pot but never pricked them apart.
EBay has a buyer protection program which will refund your money if you can’t get resolution from the seller, but it must be begun within 45 days, and my lousy memory combined with the lousy seller had just passed the 45 day point. The aspect that made me the maddest was that so many of the plants I had ordered from her were early summer kind of plants, like torenia and browellia. Luckily we were having our typical cold, wet spring/summer when early spring plants thrive and late summer ones never seem to get the weather they like.
For one thing, I had come across a most attractive offer. 576 plugs of my choosing for $149! And best of all, a DG friend of mine in Texas reported that she had already had her 576 plugs delivered and said they were terrific, the seller was a good guy, etc. She recommended him without hesitation. So I started poring over his list of annuals and vegetables for the perfect 4 plants (144 per tray) to have a lot of. One definite must was Lobelia erinus; I’ve never had any luck sowing that myself in time for blooms up here, though I have tried. Another no brainer was white alyssum to tuck in everywhere, yummy sweet-smelling annual alyssum. But what about the other two? I thought about portulaca but that one I can winter sow. So I
You want to find out as much as you can about a seller, whether from eBay reviews or just gossip here on DG. Many of us sell on eBay under a different name, or buy under a different name, but I get a lot of eBay tip-offs from my DG friends.
We all know people who made a killing on eBay. They decorated their house with eBay purchases (and it shows). We know people who are nearly addicted to the bidding process, for whom the chase is more important than the actual item. Then there are the sad cases of folks planning to put their child through college by buying undervalued designer purses at yard sales and reselling them on eBay. But what about plants? Is it wise to purchase them on eBay, especially when we have our own Marketplace right here?
We all know people who made a killing on eBay. They decorated their house with eBay purchases (and it shows). We know people who are nearly addicted to the bidding process, for whom the chase is mo…
Indeed–I even sell plants on eBay, either specimens from my own collection, or as a representative of the University of California (Davis) Botanical Conservatory. I certainly think that I’m reliable! (Look for me selling under the sneaky eBay name of BarryARice.)
Q: Should I buy carnivorous plants from eBay?
But then you run into people who are selling crap at outrageous prices, or are folks who live in carnivorous plant territory, and who are selling (probably) poached plants. They may have pulled them out of the ground (legally or otherwise). They may be willing to sell you plants across international borders without proper paperwork (in which case, the legal officials will visit YOU because as importer the responsibility rests with you to have everything in order!). Avoid such sellers, I counsel you.
There are many types of sellers. Some are people just selling a few extra plants from their collections. There are bigger operations–essentially e-stores–run by folks who are selling plants on a larger scale–they might for example represent an on-line face of a nursery. Both of these sellers are usually quite reliable.
A: Usually the most reliable ways to get carnivorous plants are through dedicated carnivorous plant nurseries, in purchases from societal seedbanks, or by trade from other growers. And then there is eBay.
Are the plants being sold on various eBay auctions field collected? Look carefully at the claims. I would not want to buy Sarracenia from a grower in Florida, but would not mind buying Pinguicula from a grower in Tucson. Do you really believe the claims that the Sarracenia were snatched from the ground just before the bulldozers came? Maybe they were, but you just don’t know.
The Carnivorous Plant FAQ.