The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Online Hydroponics Shopping

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Hydroponics shopping is becoming more and more popular. And as in any business there are good hydroponics stores as well as bad ones. And what constitutes 'good' or 'bad'? It's mostly a personal matter - are your needs being met?

Over the years I have ordered from several online stores and have mostly had a good experience although there are one or two I will never deal with again.

Consider this: you personally call a store to request a catalog. The store employee is curt and gives forth an attitude that you are a bother. During the short conversation you mention you know nothing about hydroponics but find it interesting and you hear a sarcastic laugh over the phone...

Is this a store you wish to deal with? It's not for me - and this situation really happened to me.

Another store sent me a pre-made ebb and flow system. It contained a semi-submersible pump that sits in nutrient solution except the top of the pump was not submersed and could not get wet.

Dangerous situation?

It did not matter because the pump did not work anyway. Returning it was a chore and it was finally replaced with the same kind of pump that immediately fell over into the nutrient solution and almost electrocuted me.

What this means is that this store sent me a pre-made system that was not constructed to work! I'm not dealing with them anymore, either (as a side benefit, I learned to stay away from semi-submersible pumps).

Since then I have developed my own 'screening process' and in deciding whether a hydroponics store is good, I look for the following when hydroponics shopping:

  • good attitude
  • good reputation
  • prompt service
  • fair prices (includes checking shipping cost)
  • how they respond to simple questions
  • whether or not you get any response at all from email questions
  • a good explanation and description of their product
  • helpful articles on tips and techniques
  • a good return policy
  • a web site that does not confuse or frustrate me
  • do you detect a bad attitude if you phone them (always phone them)
  • are purchased items as advertised
  • is delivery slow and is merchandise defective

After all, online hydroponics stores are businesses whose life-blood is the customer. Happy customers come back...and it's too bad there are actually people in business that do not realize this.

My final piece of advice is to not let a bad experience or two make you hesitant to order hydroponics products online. The majority of online stores out there are interested in providing a quality product and keeping you happy. Just do some initial product comparisons between different stores and check out their reputation by searching their name.

I would be interested in hearing of your personal experiences with online hydroponics stores.

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