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Happy Herbalist / ...where the customer comes last

1 417 Laurent StSanta Cruz, CA, United States Review updated:
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Rarely have I ever encountered such poor customer service and rudeness. What makes it so surprising is that it is coming directly from the owner of a business who is supposedly here to help people (alternative health care and products).

I placed a fairly large order near the end of 2007 in order to begin brewing kombucha. One of those items was a 2.5 gallon glass beverage dispenser. Within a short amount of time, I noticed some hairline cracks developing near the spigot. They developed slowly, so it was hard to notice their progress. But in early April, I had to empty and clean out the glass and then noticed the extent of the cracking. So I contacted the owner, Ed.

Ed had answered some questions for me over the preceding months, always in an unemotional, detached way, and I just chalked it up to that being his personality. He responded in the same way this time, in addition to taking no responsibility for the product quality and, in fact, pushed everything back on me to remedy the situation. He suggested I use bigger washers around the spigot to cover the cracks, to buy special glue to repair it, and made it sound as if I had done something wrong to make these cracks.

At this point, I had no confidence that this glass would hold the kombucha, as the cracks continued growing. And it was obvious Ed had no intention of standing behind his product and replacing it for me. So I asked if he would at least SELL me a replacement glass at a discount. He agreed to this. However, it took three more weeks before I got the replacement because he forgot to send it. When I e-mailed to inquire as to where it was, I got no reply, but the package showed up a few days later. This kind of communication sends a message to customers loud and clear that you just don't care whether they're customers or not.

Anyway, when the replacement glass showed up and I took it out of the box, it had a crack in it. I immediately e-mailed Ed with pictures and then he started to show his true colors. This was his e-mail reply:

"Those are bubbles in the glass and not "cracks". We have used units "worse" that that for years with no problems.

This was a replacement sent to you for your original purchase made in Dec 07. We can not do better that that.

If you want to return it we will refund your money."

That was on May 16. I e-mailed him back the same day saying that I know what a bubble vs. a crack looks like and this is a crack. I just wanted what I paid for and didn't feel I should have to pay to ship it back. As it was, I was already out the full amount for the original glass (which I felt should have been replaced for free), plus the replacement glass. Now I had to pay for shipping back?

Well, I didn't hear back from him. So by May 22, I e-mailed again. Still no reply. I e-mailed again on the 27th. In the mean time, I took the glass to a local brewing supply store to get their opinion and they said it's definitely a crack and that the original problem I was having with my first glass was probably due to drilling too quickly to make a spigot hole.

So at this point, with two defective glass containers, an unresponsive seller, and someone who is blaming me and putting all the responsibility back on me, I decided I no longer even wanted another replacement from this guy, but I still didn't think it was my responsibility to send it back on my dime. This isn't eBay, it's a real retailer.

Finally on May 28, he wrote back:

"if you believe that the crack may have been caused in shipment then go ahead and notify UPS for their determination (its insured) If you like we will contact them. If you believe it is a manufacture defect, then return it to us and upon their determination a refund will be given. If you are simply not satisfied with the product and wish to return it you may do so and refund will be issued to you once we get the product back. it is your responsibility to return the item to us. "

So you see, he is again putting everything back on me. Why should I have to contact UPS? How would i know if the crack happened in shipping or is a manufacturer's defect? And even if it was a defect, why should I have to pay for shipping back? Either way the crack happened, it wasn't my fault, but he consistently tried to put everything back on me.

Given his unresponsiveness, I decided to just go ahead and contact UPS myself. But I soon found out it would take me a significant amount of time to make a claim, plus they recommended that the shipper do all that. So I wrote back to Ed telling him that I wasn't able to do it on my end and that he should.

Two weeks later, the package was still just sitting by my door, waiting for UPS because he had never followed up and contacted them. So I ended up doing that myself after all. I don't know how they go about refunding my money, but I'm not leaving it up to Ed and am contacting my credit card company.

It's pretty much been a terrible experience working with this guy. The only reason I did was because he had the only 2.5 gallon glass kombucha bottle with a spigot out there. But recently, I've found one at and it's way better made than the junk Ed sells. Plus, I can guarantee Target's customer service will be better. For that matter, just about anyone's would.

There are other kombucha suppliers online. Go with them and stay way clear of HappyHerbalist (which, based on his demeanor and service, is the biggest joke of a name out there)


More Happy Herbalist Complaints & Reviews

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  • Ri
      26th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    I have delt with the happy herbalist on a few occasions with no problems. I also bought a 2-1/2 gallon glass jug it came in fine. It did crack after a year of use. I figure that its not normally made to be drilled into, this probally weakens the glass. The next one I will buy will be a ceramic jug. The one you bought from target is made with lead so be carfull the lead could offset the good affects of the tea.

  • Ca
      2nd of Jan, 2010
    0 Votes

    I'm glad that you've posted this complaint regarding Happy Herbalist. I wanted to purchase quite a substantial amount of products from Ed about a couple of years ago but decided not to when I wrote a query about Kefir Grains and Kombucha, and true enough he responded with an unemotional detached manner just as you've describe and instead of helping with the query, his email had an irritated tone and even suggested I do more research instead. I'm glad I've not purchase from Happy Herbalist since I live in Australia, can you imagine the debacle I would have gone through? PPheeewww...

  • Le
      18th of Apr, 2010
    0 Votes

    Unemotinal!! You are buying product online HEALTH products that they are no approved by the FDA, what kind of emotional respond you need from an email!?
    I bought items from them and I am pretty happy, you want to make sure your bottle has not crack buy in your local stores and not online!

  • Me
      28th of Sep, 2010
    +1 Votes

    I bought a SCOBY from Happy Herbalist. It arrived fine - but i was worried that it was shipped in plastic. I wrote him a few emails with questions and he was irritable in reply. My last email he didn't answer at all.Now I want to buy a heating pad - he says cloth isn't good and I'm not sure what else is possible; i don't want plastic fumes in my house. I want to get one soon, before winter sets in, to use with sourdough and yogurt too. Anybody have any ideas? Happy Herbalist didn't answer my query about this either.

  • Ha
      20th of May, 2011
    +1 Votes

    I have brought a scopy from both Happy Herbalist and others - they have always come in plastic packaged with tea and double baged. His arrived no different than that from others.

  • Ca
      23rd of Jan, 2012
    0 Votes

    The tone and manner of one's attitude can come across through written words and since it is usually not a viable solution for individuals to make international calls to the buyer, they rely on the written word and therefore it must be made with effort and sincerity regardless if the product is FDA approved or not, the whole point of this complaint is mostly the lack of customer service from Happy Herbalist.

  • Ro
      21st of Aug, 2012
    +1 Votes

    Hi; I Have ordered from Ed, mushrooms, water distiller (over 10 years ago, and just now reordering a new one from him . I've been on a group with Ed for making Kombucha years ago . My scoby's have been great and I just have a new one that made a great tea . Ed offered to give your money back, but you just wanted to give him a hard time . rosebud01922

  • Ja
      22nd of Aug, 2012
    -1 Votes

    hello everyone, i did not plan to buy from ed at this point but i was interested in doing the fat-burning diet. has anyone any input for me on that? any suggestions

  • Ja
      22nd of Aug, 2012
    0 Votes

    anytime a customer is not satisfied with a product it should be rectified immediately.

  • Sh
      12th of Aug, 2016
    +1 Votes

    Ed is a great guy! I have ordered kombucha and many things from him over the years and have even recommend him to my friends. He may have been that way in the past but not anymore. He is kind and is very helpful. I think you should look at it from his perspective. His products are great and my friends think so, too. I have been ordering from him for quite a while now.

  • Ki
      12th of Aug, 2016
    +1 Votes

    I also ordered a 2.5 gallon glass beverage dispenser and it arrived a few days later. I love his booklet that comes with every (I think) purchase because it explains a lot and has really helped me. I am a person who asks a ton of questions and Ed was patient enough to spend almost 2 hours on the phone answering my husband and I's questions. The glass dispenser came perfectly, no cracks. It worked perfectly. You need to think about how Ed was telling you things to do with the dispenser because it was "your fault" but helping you to fix it IF you thought it could leak or something.

  • Me
      12th of Aug, 2016
    +1 Votes

    It really just sounds like you are trying to give Ed a hard time. Sounds like he was just trying to help. He's nothing but kind and you really just sound lazy for not wanting to do anything yourself.

  • Gi
      14th of Dec, 2017
    0 Votes

    Out of the four orders I placed with Ed, only one was complete. Two orders had items left out, a third never arrived. Communication ceased once I requested a refund for missing items. I got my money back only because I filed complaints through paypal. Paypal was great to make sure this was rectified, highly recommend purchases made through them whenever possible.

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