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To Anyone concerned,


The following is my official detailed response to a very nasty, and I feel unfounded, Yelp negative review that was posted in July of 2021 but not noticed by me until early December of the same year.  Shows you how much I am concerend with the messaging on this exceptionally flawed mud slinging platform.  Normally I would just not respond to such things but this posting struck a nerve and requires a response to defend my good name.  Sorry if it's long and tedious but I wanted to fully convey the whole point.  Happy Reading

The Response:

This is a most curious review.  Truthfully, I don't even look at this Yelp page for sometimes over a year.  I really don't believe in the authenticity of Yelp as a source of absolute truth.  It is too easily manipulated.  We do not beg customers to leave positive reviews nor do we post fake ones- both practices having been deployed by some of my competitors, proof of which I possess.  And although the system very much allows it and it would be very easy to achieve, we would never have a negative review posted against a competitor for our gain.  I’m not saying that is the case here, but when you read the post, it does make you wonder.  The last thing we will not do is get down on our knees and incentivize a customer, assuming they really were one to begin with, to remove a negative review when we find it unfounded and unjust.  Unlike other companies that seem to often acquiesce to these pressures, we have no way of knowing if the posters in question are legitimate or not.  And in this case, I have no recollection of this interaction having just discovered this review this morning nearly 5 months after it was written.  Of course, it was over 5 months ago and much water has passed under the bridge since, as my grandpa used to say.  

I received an email this morning of 12/3/21claiming some company can remove bad reviews if we pay them referencing a specific negative review.  Thinking I just received a bad review I jumped onto our Yelp page this morning after not looking at it for a very long time.  Truthfully, we’ve just been too busy to even think about it.  And there is a reason we are so busy. We are very good at what we do.  I have been in this business for my entire working career starting to install gardens in my teens- over 40 years ago.  Specifically, subtropical gardens adapted to the Bay Area.  It’s my lifelong obsession.  That kind of deep seated experience and knowledge base is truly unique in our region and of course very valuable.

So it turns out that we did not receive a fresh negative review, the aforementioned marketing was just baiting me in to hire their services to somehow remove or bury bad reviews which I will not on principle.  Just the fact that you can hire a company like this to somehow wipe bad reviews makes you question the authenticity of this platform altogether.  Yelp itself often calls me to offer the same services.  "Pay us and we can improve your reviews" is the implicit message.  So since I jumped on the platform this morning, I decided to look at our reviews of course being naturally drawn to reading the negatives and I found this one and another that appears even more insidious that I should likewise respond to when I have the time to do so thoroughly.  

The review author makes many claims I will respond to individually, but one claim is particularly peculiar, egregious, and insidious.  And that is the overriding theme of her message that argues that we go out of our way to actively try to not sell to females.  This notion is absurd.  And for it to accurately be made at all would require results from a massive bonafide scientific based blind conducted experiment with a very large control group. Does she have this?  Of course not.  But I guess the tactic makes sense since it is in vogue these days for many to vindictively push cancel culture with an assertion that is impossible to defend such as this baffling notion that we are somehow economically and commercially sexist.  Why would we discourage sales to anyone???  If we were to adhere to this bizarre accusation, we would have long ago ceased to exist for lack of sales to even keep our doors open.  Believe me, if you are female, we welcome you to our beloved nursery and will gladly do anything in our power to sell our product to you. And that additionally holds if you are any color, creed, orientation etc.

The next claim was that we "rudely drive a forklift around”.  My only answer to that is our nursery is not Neiman Marcus.  It is a huge working nursery and we use our equipment on a daily basis but obviously in a safe and professional manner.  If you come to our nursery, please expect to see tractors in operation much like at a lumber yard etc.  Need I even say there may even be a bit of dust to endure.  Gardening is a Dirty Job, but in a really good way.

The review author also notes that "The prettiest part is the outdoor furniture , which seemed like it was maybe separate from the nursery, cause it was displayed so professionally , compared to the demeanor these two exhibit”.  We have devoted a very large portion of our nursery to by far the largest demonstration garden I know of within a nursery featuring subtropical plants blended into living spaces to demonstrate the magic of this type of botany integrated into your life.  This experience is impossible to capture in a pure nursery setting and lends a broader perspective of how to integrate these plants into garden settings and how these plants can relate to and complement each other.  Some local nurseries are smaller than the size of our demonstration gardens alone. We generally do not sell the furniture in these gardens as it is displayed for demonstration purposes only and for the use and relaxation of our customers to soak in the wonderful and soothing warm vibes of the foliage.  And the review author tries to imply that these gorgeous spaces have been designed by others but this can’t be further from the truth.  I personally designed and installed this entire space myself with the help of our staff and all are invited to enjoy it like a public park whether or not you purchase anything or not.  Ask me to show you the original scribble plan for this area which I proudly keep in the office for proof that yours truly is responsible for it.

Lastly, on the topic of charging for consultation time.  This we do when appropriate, and yes, it is certainly legal as well as ethical and rather commonplace.  Having so much broad experience in this arena, my time is sought after like you can not believe.  I get inquiries from all over the world on botany information and many would talk to me all day if they could.  It is ALWAYS free to come into the nursery in person and utilize the knowledge of our sales staff as much as you like to obtain information on our plants.  We owe this to the customer who has taken the effort to drive down to our nursery.  But for email and phone inquiries and advice directed at me personally, I do not hesitate to state that I set a limit of how much time I can devote to any individual customer at no cost.  Once that limit has been reached- which will admittedly be quicker during the height of our busy season from March through November, or even in any given very busy week or day, I then offer my time on a paid consultation basis.  And I can assure you that this will be the case no matter what sex you are.

Finally, I must question the ethics and motives of the review poster for the reason that she went so far out of her way to find plants to photograph that look less than retail quality to varying degree to imply that ALL of our product ALWAYS appears less than ideal as well as recommended another competitor within the review with an especially aggressive sales job, reminiscent of a used car lot salesperson, to steal some of her words. It does make you question the motives of the review.  I am of the mindset of using Yelp personally for only positive reviews of businesses, but in a few cases of egregious circumstance, I have posted just less than a handful of negative reviews but my ethics dictate that I would never go so far as to sell the services of another competitor within a negative review.  And as for the pictures of the plants, we are a 3 acre growing nursery meaning we take plants from various stages of development and grow them up to salable size and quality.  We additionally often rescue trees from the landscape that would otherwise be cut down and bring them into the nursery to grow and sell later.  When these trees are transplanted and rescued they are subjected to immense stress which causes them to brown out to varying degree until they recover.  Will you be able to find plants in our nursery with brown tips that look less than retail ready?  Certainly.  Will you find palms and other distinctive plants of all sizes and denominations in gorgeous condition that will blow your mind?  Absolutely.  

My closing would be that I am sorry the reviewer had a negative experience and I apologize if any of our actions may have caused her to feel as she does that only she could know from her unique perspective. However, I do question the validity of this most malicious posting as mentioned above.  I do not adhere to the principle that “The customer is always right” and when attacked in such a vicious and seemingly vindictive manner, one must resist the temptation to get on their knees and beg forgiveness against questionable at best and arguably dubious claims and rather defend themself and their principles, or otherwise lose their soul.

Gary Gragg, President

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