I have always wanted to try one of these wonderful sounding farm fresh, organic, all singing & dancing fruit & vegetable boxes that various companies now offer to deliver to your door step.
Various people I am on speaking terms with use various different companies and it has been my intent to try one for a couple of years now but one thing that puts me off is not knowing when the delivery will arrive and the prospect of fresh produce getting warm on my doorstep (or growing legs and wandering off).
The other weekend we got a flyer through the door for a local firm which promised farm fresh fruit & veg boxes delivered by 6am so you’d have it nice and early. Even better the first box was available for a free trail – you only had to pay £2 postage.
This seemed a great idea, so I signed up. The terms and conditions were emailed through AFTER I signed up and I skimmed them – it was a good enough skim to notice they’d buried a 50p surcharge for using debit card on each non-trial box (which is the only payment method they accept) but it was still a skim read as they were surprisingly lengthy for a small one-man company.
The first box arrived on time and contained apples, strawberries, chard, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato and green beans.
It was ok. I was aware that the T&Cs said I needed to cancel within three days of getting the first box in order to not get charged full price for the second box. I pondered for a bit and felt that the first box had been ok so I was prepared to try another as full price was £13 plus the 50 pence debit card surcharge.
The second box arrived and contained crap lettuce that tasted like parsley, tasteless tomatoes, tough sweetcorn, bland carrots, oranges that were only fit for adding lots of sugar to in order to make sorbet, juicy but tasteless plums and courgette. None of the items were organic and those with counties of origin on showed they were from right the other end of the UK.
A check of the bank statement also revealed that we’d been charged £15.50 – apparently the £13 box fee didn’t include postage and there was no mention of additional postage costs on the website at all!
I wasn’t impressed at all, so I took a really detailed look at the T&Cs to check how to complain and/or cancel. There was still no mention of additional postage cost but what there was the small line buried far far far down under “existing customers” saying that if you hadn’t cancelled within 3 days of getting the trial box that you were now an existing customer and would have to pay a £20 admin fee if you tried to cancel before having 8 boxes! And regardless of when you cancel you “agreed” to take one more box of
This seemed a bit much so I phoned them – politely, just to clarify a few details and with the intent to cancel. The conversation felt like an ordeal and the chap was an ***hat. However he did confirm the £20 charge wasn’t negotiable and that the trail box didn’t count in the 8 boxes. I was pretty cross at this point but stayed polite and ended the call without cancelling as I needed time to work out my options.
I hate being backed in to a corner so even if the veg box had been fab I was still ending this ‘contract’ ASAP. It was at this stage I did a more in depth google search on the company and started finding lots of bad stuff – mostly about how much of an ***hat this chap was
The menu for the week goes up on a Monday – which is then too late to postpone or cancel the box for the week, which seemed silly and was one of the many things that annoyed me about this company. The menu for the week commencing mid July was:
- Citrus – which I’d had the previous week
- Plums – which I’d had the previous week
- Lettuce – which I’d had the previous week
- Tomatoes – which I’d had the previous week
Seeing this I realised I’d had enough and didn’t want to play with these people anymore, so I phoned determined to cancel – but knowing he was an unreasonable p***k I adopted the “it’s not you it’s me” approach and we ended things politely but with me taking the one final box and paying the damn £20 charge (oh well!).
What was amusing is on the phone I mentioned the menu for this week was very similar to the previous week and the chap said “the system” would substitute any item you’d had the previous week. I didn’t believe a word of it, but the final box that arrived didn’t contain the four duplicate items and didn’t even contain the beetroot! Instead it was 5 random items and the expected cauliflower!
So the lessons that I learnt were: read the T&Cs even if they seem to go on forever, don’t use free trials and boycott local companies.
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