Buyer Beware -Part 2

Rodger Whitlock
Sat, 13 Sep 2003 06:15:39 PDT
On 10 Sep 03 at 9:45, James Waddick wrote:

>  Yesterday's mail brought the catalog for Peter DeJager Bulb 
> Co....

> Being a bit of a Lycoris nut...I went to those pictures to see if
> they were actually selling L. chinensis or L. aurea... looking more
> closely the color of L. squamigera seemed far too pink. Then it
> Struck me - GASP!!!
>  The three different species were actually THE SAME PHOTO- two
> mirror images and 'Photoshop'-colored to fit the name: Red L.
> radiata, Bright pink , reversed L. squamigera and Yellow L. aurea
> reversed back!! Absolutely identical pictures, totally computer
> manipulated. Then I wasn't sure that any were actually the species
> they named.
>  This sure got me thinking. If the company would be so 
> outrageous to foist doctored pictures in the catalog, what would
> they send?

Nearly anything.

> This is a very misleading and disturbing practice. I got
> to looking at more pictures and although none jumped out as
> similarly doctored, I then thought hard if I even wanted to place an
> order.

If your local garden centre carries bulbs in boxes with a big, pretty 
color picture on the front, look closely. Some of them are clearly 
not true to life. Typically, blue flowered forms have had the 
picture doctored to make it look much bluer than in real life.
>  I hear rumors about practices of wanton substitution and use 
> of incorrect names since American bulb buyers are not as 
> discriminating or complain less than others.  Well I plan on 
> complaining and will not order. I can't relate any info on the
> quality or identity of bulbs they actually sell, but I sure do not
> like this practice one bit. Enough to tell others Buyer Beware!

The Dutch bulb industry has been the target of complaints about 
mislabelled bulbs since at least 1950. Somewhere in the AGS Bulletin 
around then, I think, you can find a brief rant by E. B. Anderson on 
the subject.

Perhaps this is the most important point to be made for newbies: 
don't for a minute trust the labels. When your new bulbs bloom, check 
them against reliable information (the web is very good these days if 
you are selective in your choice of sites).

>  Still fuming

Don't fume. It isn't good for your heart. There are two things you
can do when you find that a bulb is not true to name: one, return it
to the seller with a request for a refund; two, complain to whoever
enforces advertising and trade standards in your state/province/
country -- in the US, probably the FTC.

I once ordered a white oriental poppy cultivar from the now-defunct 
Cruickshank's, in Toronto (whose catalog featured the exact same 
cultivars as "new introductions" for decades, or so it seemed). Said 
poppy came up flaming orange. I dug it up and shipped it back, roots, 
leaves, flowers, dirt, and all. Got a refund too.

The FTC might be very interested in your comments on the DeJager 
catalogue pictures. Your complaint might be the very pebble that 
starts an avalanche. Also remember that somewhere along the line, 
imported bulbs had their names written down on phytosanitary 
certificates and such, and some authorities might not be amused to 
find that the lists were sprinkled with little lies.

However: the sellers, though legally responsible for selling you 
misnamed bulbs, are actually at the mercy of the wholesalers and 
brokers further down (up?) the food chain. But the more people who 
put pressure on the bulb industry from below, the greater the 
likelihood that there may be some reduction in these disgusting 

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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