Updated January 2, 2020
The Tree Center Grade: B-
Overall rating: 81
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 11 factors we evaluate. You can read details on what each category means and how we score it here.
|Years site Active||3.5|
|Range of sizes||9|
The Tree Center Plant Supply Company Review:
TheTreeCenter.com rating came in at an 81 this month, keeping their and grade at a B-.
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 also recently traded a few emails with one of the owners. They impress us as people who try hard to keep things running smoothly and keep customers happy.
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 their plants appear to be located tied to a home address. Their field is large enough to hold plants as they get ready to ship. Maybe not a true nursery but getting high quality plants is a plus. It kind of reminds me of the first online nursery I worked with years ago that literally started with a 1.5 acre back yard converted to a nursery holding field operation. They eventually grew out of that and that company is actually one of the largest and best run online nurseries in the country right now. I guess what I'm saying is that they may not have the largest nursery facilities but they do seem to be running a good operation.
It looks like The Tree Center made a few site upgrades in the past few months. Their logo has been updated and they seem to have added some new content and revised a few design elements. The Tree Center folks seem to be as good at marketing and website optimization as they are getting quality plants shipped promptly.
The Tree Center also boasts a new slogan on their home page; "Lowest Prices Online Guaranteed! Show us a lower price and we'll match it!" As a marketing person, the new slogan is awesome, but you really need to read all the details. They essentially limit price matching to 5 other online nurseries. You qualify for a $50 gift card if they can't match a price. It's also totally their discretion if there's any question on comparable sizes being price matched. You can read all about it here: https://www.thetreecenter.com/guaranteed-lowest-prices/ Coming from someone who has written their share of cheesy infomercial scripts, this is a bit over the top even for me.
Their 'Arrive Alive' guaranty 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 in my opinion but The Tree Center folks seem pretty good at marketing.
The Tree Center seems to have a lot of inventory at decent prices. There are still quite a few discrepancies. Nothing horrible but just a few small things that just makes you pause; and that's never a good thing for any online store. It will also be interesting to see how much inventory they will carry and sell in winter. And, if they will continue to ship to warmer climates in the U.S. through winter. They are located in Maryland, not sure how bad the winters can be where they are located. If you're in the south during the winter months 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 spring.
In April there were 18 The Tree Center Google customer reviews with a 2.4 average rating. Then they disappeared. Gone. In early September a new listing showed up with 1 review for, of course, 5 stars. As of January 2nd, it is up to 10 reviews with a 3.8 rating. The address for The Tree Center's Google business listing has a picture that looks like it says is a post office but appears to be a fire house. Not a fan of either the Google review switch-a-roo or trying to use a fire station as their business picture. Here's a screenshot of their business listing:
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 BBB grade is a B-. You can view it here.
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.
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