Green Culture - Deceptive Business PracticesRead the fine print before you do business with GREENCulture, Inc.
This company is an online seller of furniture and household goods marketed to the environmentally conscious consumer. Their mission statement has the following sentence: "We will never further our goals of making these products widely used in the mainstream by offering products which are not aesthetically appealing or well priced." Note that "well priced" in this context is a euphemism for competitively priced.
In May 2009 I purchased what appeared to be a unique light fixture from GREENCulture - a Shoji Light Bar - priced at $589, a 30% mark down. (As a frequent web shopper, I searched for competitive online pricing, but could find none.) The light arrived quickly from a company called Cherry Tree Designs with a packing slip for a Horizon Bath Bar.
With the correct product name I was able to price compare and, much to my dismay, found the same light on sale for as low as $180. The manufacturer's retail store priced the light at $250.
Note: GREENculture does not allow returns of any type.
Over the course of the next month I requested a partial refund numerous times. I explained to both GREENCulture customer service and the company President that although I was happy to pay a fair retail markup, I felt their price was excessive and their marketing practices deceptive. I also contacted the product manufacturer with my story. She too was upset and contacted GREENCulture. A recent search reveals that GREENCulture has now dropped the price on this item to $525.
Here are a couple excerpts from my communications with GREENCulture:
Customer Service: "As for your pricing inquiry, I already brought to your attention that there are several factors as to why our price may be higher than any other website's price - for example, you will not be able to find one and the same car at the same (low) price with any two retailers in the country. Each retailer has its reasons as to why it came to that very specific retail price it is selling the merchandise for - so in this very case, too. I understand that you are upset, but unfortunately, we do not price match. I understand that online retail has a certain "aura" to it, which lets the majority of people conclude that there are no or very little costs for an online retailer. Unfortunately, this is not the case - we incur many costs in order to get our products on the net, get the proper exposure for them, do marketing, and also keep the staff that we have in these hard times."
Company President: "Our higher prices and service are the reason why our company is still operating now when others are going bankrupt. As a consumer, I completely understand that you are not happy because you feel you overpaid because other websites are selling similar items for a lower cost...We are a great company trying to do great things for the planet as you can see by our watersavers.com and composters.com websites. Your purchases help us to stay in business and keep the green movement moving forward. We appreciate your help and support and please know that your support of our organization will help us to continue our work in the green movement."
Here's my interpretation of GREENCulture's position:
1. We do not value you as a potential repeat customer; nor do we value our reputation enough to negotiate a fair settlement to your complaint.
2. We charge excessively high prices and use deceptive merchandising practices to subsidize the part of our organization that does not charge revenue.
3. You're not compassionate toward businesses.
4. You're naive about Internet shopping.
These are the facts of my transaction with GREENCulture.
Does GREENculture live up to their mission? No. Are they taking advantage of our natural desire to protect the Earth to make a buck? Yes. Do they liken themselves to car salesmen? Yes.
You decide. Do you really want to do business with GREENCulture?