Updated May 1, 2020
The Tree Center Grade: C+
Overall rating: 79
Location: Davidsonville, MD
Why do we list location? This is so you can know, in most cases, where the evergreen shrubs you buy are coming from.
Breakdown of scores from each of the 10 factors we evaluate. You can read details on what each category means and how we score it here.
|Years site Active||7|
|Range of sizes||9|
The Tree Center Plant Supply Company Review:
TheTreeCenter.com rating came in at an 79 this month, a one point decline from last months which drops their grade at a C+.
Tree Center Makes More Changes
The Tree Center updated their logo, slogan and made a few site upgrades late last year. Turns out they weren’t done.
They debuted a new color scheme and a pretty big change to the design & layout of many of the site elements at the end of February. The colors are dark. Black and a kind of burnt orange.
They also removed their latest slogan; “Lowest Prices Online Guaranteed! Show us a lower price and we’ll match it!”
Although the page is still live, the slogan seems to be one of the casualties of their latest changes. That’s not terribly surprising. They weren’t offering price matches. That had to be problematic. At best, you would get a gift card. It was a bit cheesy, even for me.
You can really tell it’s a couple of men leading the charge, especially when their email sign up at the bottom of the site references getting 6-pack abs?!?!
Just our opinion but they may be over-thinking things. Some changes are smart. Others, in our opinion, not so much. Considering some of the recent tweaks, we’re guessing they’re realizing that not all the changes have helped.
We also saw some pretty high prices. They have a 5-gallon flowering evergreen shrub at $139.50!
If nothing else, they have always come across as very savvy marketing people. I’m sure they will get it all figured out and optimized.
Their drop this month was because of usability. The site is less intuitive than before.
One of our biggest questions was whether The Tree Center shipped plants from their own field(s). They seem to try to keep their location private. The address in their promotional emails & other communications lists a P.O. box as their address. The street view Google maps shows seems to be a firehouse. We even tried to contact them once via email with no response.
We ordered 2 bushes and 2 evergreen ground covers (Bowles Periwinkle). All 4 plants came from the same address in Maryland. In fact, they all came in one box. They were impressively packed, which we show & describe in our review. From searching the address on the shipping label, they do have their own field but it does appear to be someone’s relatively large back yard.
We traded a few emails with someone in customer service at The Tree Center after we took delivery, Their replies were prompt and they were very supportive.
We’ve also recently traded a few emails with the owner. He comes across as very genuine, sincere business man who has a good knowledge of website marketing and plants.
Our opinion of The Tree Center has increased since we received good quality plants delivered in a timely manner from their own field. It’s still a little concerning that they show a firehouse (post office?) as their location on Google.
Dueling Arrive Alive Claims.
Fast Growing Trees & The Tree Center have very similar plant guarantees. ’30 Day Alive & Thrive Guarantee’ for fast-growing-trees.com and the Tree Center uses ‘Arrive & Thrive Guarantee’.
Also similar to Fast Growing Trees, The Tree Center is now boasting next business day shipping.
The Tree Center plant guarantee is spelled out in pretty simple language. The Tree Center Terms of Service, however, is still a beast. One of the longest we have seen for an online nursery.
Like other online nurseries, The Tree Center offers an optional 1 year extended warranty for an extra cost. Everyone else we have seen charges 10% of the product cost. The Tree Center charges 15%. And, like all the others, you only qualify for a replacement. And, you have to pay for shipping to have the replacement sent to you. 15% is a lot. These extended warranties, in our opinion, are not worth the added cost.
One of the new changes that I’m really not a fan of is that you have to give them an email and create an account to be able to checkout. At least we could not find a way to checkout as a guest. That’s not cool.
The Tree Center seems to have a lot of inventory at decent prices. They seem to have added quite a few more plants as they get ready for spring.
They are located in Maryland, not sure how bad the winters can be where they are located. If you’re in the south and see something you want to order at the thetreecenter.com, I would call them first. Ask if they are shipping now or waiting until it gets a little warmer.
In April of 2019 there were 18 The Tree Center Google customer reviews with a 2.4 average rating. Then they disappeared. Gone. In early September, 2019 a new listing showed up with 1 review for, of course, 5 stars. As of April 30, 2020 it is at 13 reviews with a 3.5 rating. That’s down from a 3.8 rating last month. It’s trending in the wrong direction.
The Better Business Bureau gives The Tree Center a B-. You can read the complaints here. This is despie the fact there are 31 complaints on report at the BBB.
They do use a third party review service called Shopper Approved that has a lot of reviews. Over 10,000 total. They have also made a push recently to add user content with a lot of specific product questions.
The Tree Center is a bit of an enigma for us. Despite some concerns, mostly around their obvious desire to remain anonymous, they do carry a good selection at decent prices. We were impressed with our order including the way they pack & box their plants.
What were the red flags?
- As we mentioned, using a PO Box as your primary business address is questionable.
- Their Terms of Service is a beast! One of the longest we’ve found.
- They offer a phone number to call in BUT it is only available for new orders. You have to use their contact form for any existing order. They may be great at promptly responding to customer service inquiries, it’s just been our experience that there are some situations where you really need to speak to someone, not just trading emails.
- Only 13 Google reviews for a site that has been around this long is a concerning.
Where is The Tree Center located?
Their mailing address is a PO Box in Davidsonville, MD. Plants shipped have a different address in a neighboring town.
Does The Tree Center offer free shipping?
The Tree Center offers free shipping on all orders over $100. No coupon code is required.
Are The Tree Center and Garden Goods Direct related?
They’re both located in the same general area. The owners are from the same family but the two nurseries do not work together. Just the opposite. Let’s just say family gatherings are probably awkward if both owners are attending.
Does The Tree Center guaranty their plants?
They offer an “Arrive Alive Guaranty”. The fine print says they will give you a 50% to 100% store credit depending on a few factors. They don’t offer refunds.
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