Happy Herbalist / ...where the customer comes last
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 target.com 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)