GARDENERS warned of SCAMS threat as online store accelerates refunds and new deliveries



03.05.2020 09:00

But they must beware of being duped by scammers posting fake reviews and exploiting the troubled situation. Primrose made its pledge and warned customers of the new risks when Crusader spoke to it a couple of days ago about the chronic delivery delays, caused by Covid-19 knock-on effects.

++ If you've been affected by this issue or feel you've been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++;This means many current orders can’t be fulfilled. But the retailer, which typically sees just five per cent of items returned, says it has brought on board new nurseries, whose ]products might otherwise have been dumped because of the lockdown of garden centres. As a result stocks of bedding plants and veg are now being shipped on time and directly.While rights laws ultimately protect consumers’ payments and refunds if unreasonably long waits are involved, those coming to us also stressed how they feared missing out on the growing season, not knowing where they stood in the face of Primrose’s earlier silence.One urban gardener told how she had paid for £130 for six items, including a tray to encourage worms and seed packs, at the end of March, but had heard little since. “Only generic emails and vague promises of delivery,” she explained.

She has now been refunded. Admitting it had had to grapple with huge logistical problems, Primrose apologised about its service and the lack of information customers had received at such a key time in the gardening year.The bogus postings it had detected cropped up on reviews websites, it says, directing customers to a What’s App number and a “Mr Jack”, allegedly recommended as good at sorting out Primrose refunds.“We have since found out customers are being asked to pay for their orders again via a separate PayPal account too. We are taking action to get them removed,” says a Primrose spokeswoman.“We are providing refunds to all our customers who have cancelled orders or do not wish to wait and this is our top priority. We are ensuring no one is out of pocket while we manage this difficult situation.”

Factory closures in China holding up supplies, the massive spike in demand after UK gardening centres were forced to shut and the new social distancing rules in Primrose’s UK warehouse safeguarding staff have all combined to create the backlog.Some 80 percent of its product categories have been withdrawn for the moment. Many orders, such as those for awnings, have now arrived, but cannot be unloaded safely according to the new rules.“Gardening is proven to improve physical and mental well-being and we’re desperate to keep the plants flowing and support growers during this time of uncertainty,” said Primrose chief executive Mark Pearson when thanking customers and its staff for their patience and understanding.“We have expanded our customer services team to enable quicker responses, redeployed and retrained staff and invested in new systems and equipment in our warehouse,” he explained.“Tough decisions have been taken to protect staff, ensure customers are looked after and to secure Primrose’s future,” Primrose chairman and investor David Brock added.


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