Problems with ordering overseas

SmokyMist(7 East TN)April 13, 2012

My son spent $500 ordering plants from Malasiana Tropicals , from Malaysia...the plants are nearly 4 weeks into shipping, and they are untraceable. All the company will say is this has never happened to them before, and in their 'fine print', they are not responsible for any problems with the postal service, so he is conceivably ripped off, to the amount of $500. If the package finally does come, we have to pay customs on it, $100, just to see if the box contains dead plants. He ordered all lowland nepenthes to have a base from which to possibly have a business on down the road.

He is very discouraged, as it was not an easy process to obtain all of the paperwork, license, etc. , and for this to be his first order EVER, well you can imagine.

I want to help him, but am limited to a hundred bucks to order things for him, so can anyone PLEASE recommend a good place to buy lowlands from, at a wholesale or decent price where we might actually receive the plants ?

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I'm sorry to hear about your sons experience. I'm curious to know if Malasiana provided you with a tracking number? If so has the package been handed over to US customs yet or is it in the USA? Sometimes when packages outside the USA come into the states the tracking number is no longer updated.

Since Carnivorous Plants are endangered and importing and exporting them can be stringent, customs might be holding onto your package for inspection. Hopefully that is all that has happened and hopefully they were shipped bare root. I know customs can be a pain in the rear when it come's to non native soils entering the USA.

I hope your package arrives soon. When I ordered seeds from Australia it took every bit of 5 weeks so your order is on par with how long it took mine to shop up.

If nothing shows up take a look at some of these places.

*Borneo Exotics - USA Dealers

I recommend California Carnivores. They have been around for a long time and are trust worthy.

*ICPS - International Carnivorous Plant Society
and their forum

If you go to the bottom of their website you will see the
Carnivorous Plant Web Ring. You can scroll through members websites of personal and commercial growers. It would also be a good idea to become a member because they have a good seed bank.

You can also ask questions and meet people on their forums.

*ICPS ListServ - A mailing list like a forum. Conversations come VIA emails. Another good resource with a wealth of information. You can find just about everyone who is serious about Carnivorous Plants here.

Ask around on the CP ListServ and on the ICPS forums. There are alot of great and friendly people who can lend a hand. Alot of them are USA based.

Tell your son to keep his head high. Once he gets a good variety of plants and gets to propagating them his $500 investment can be easily earned back.

Best Wishes

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:37PM
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Ohh yes one more thing. Try to find a Carnivorous Plant Society near you. If there is one go to their meetings. Your son will be in real good hands and have access to quality plants and information.

Best Wishes

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:44PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

Thank you so much Jeremy. My son is starting a new business, so we needed to find plants at a wholesale price. I love California Carnivores too, but their prices are not wholesale :o)
We received our bad news on Friday. Got a call from the USDA in California, and they said because of paperwork that Malasiana wrongly did, the box will be either returned to them, or destroyed, our choice.
Malasiana's viewpoint on this ? They didn't do anything wrong, but they will 'speak to the higher ups and possibly re-ship the order but we would be responsible for once again paying shipping fees , CITES, etc.'
Good business ethics to me, would be to ship another order , since this is not our fault. They have our money, and quite a bit of it too, and my son has nothing.

They did provide a tracking number, which never showed anything past when it left Malasia.

We also checked out Borneo exotics when deciding where to order from, and their minimum order was , from what I understand, over $1,000 which would require that we have a representative present at the airport when the plants came in.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Many businesses chose to hire an agent to handle importing CITIES listed plants. This is not the 1st or the last time an expensive order of Nepenthes from Malasiana, Exotica, Borneo Exotics, or Wistuba has been incorrect according to customs. Sometimes it's because they're held in quarantine too long and die, or because they suspect a pathogen and kill them asap. I'd highly suggest doing more research about customs or hiring someone who understand the process if you want to start a business. There are many places online to contact distributors and retail sales people. By the way, CP Jungle does retail Nepenthes/carnivores and is located in Tennessee. Why not try to e-mail Michael Catalani about advice, I'm not sure if they are open to the public.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 6:46PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

We don't have the start up money to actually hire an agent...Customs are saying the paperwork that Malasiana did was incorrect. I would think they would stand behind their business and replace the plants or give a refund since they are at fault. We did research, and all of the bad feedback on them we found was back in 2008 and 2009...we had heard they changed their practices and had improved greatly. Apparently that was wrong.
We actually ordered last year from Michael. It took him over a month to mail out our package, and this after I emailed him constantly. We ordered three plants. He finally sent a plant we didn't order, and promised a refund. He never sent the refund, so we had to file a disbute with paypal.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 7:40PM
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Although maybe they should ship you new plants, who's to say they did not fill out the paperwork perfectly. They may or may not have, but that's the point of an agent, and why some growers require the receiver in the US to hire one. It's customs, probably not Malasiana, they ship to the US all the time. Customs agents are not very educated about paperwork, plants, pests, etc. They go by what they do know and many times are wrong. My point wasn't to say do more research on the growers, but research how customs actually works if you don't hire an agent, there's a lot to know. Getting plants through customs is difficult, I don't know anyone who orders from overseas that has never had a problem with them. California is supposedly the worst for not letting orders through, don't know if that's where yours were supposed to come through. That's too bad you have had bad experiences with both companies, can't speak for Malasiana, as to if they are at fault, but it's odd you had a bad experience with CP Jungle too. I've only had to blacklist one company and it's none of the above. Have you checked out Exotica or Wistuba's shipping policies?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:15PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

Well actually the agent I spoke to on the phone confirmed for me that it was a paperwork problem. I wanted to pinpoint and make sure I knew what it was before we tried to get things straightened out . Since this has happened we have had multiple people tell us about problems with Malasiana, and really, we are small timers just starting out, so there is no way we could afford, I'm sure, an agent :o(
I have not checked out either of those no, thanks for the heads up.
Yes it has been odd, and probably not the norm,and very discouraging, to have had a bad experience both times we ordered. I have another order in now, not to the extent of Malasiana, trying to help my son out. $500 is alot to lose..I mean would anyone like to lose that much money and have nothing to show for it ? not to mention the usda paperwork he went through for this...
Some of the plants he had ordered were some he cannot even find here.
I write for a garden magazine, and my next article was going to be on keeping a bog garden in Tennessee. I think I will skip that idea for a bit.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:42PM
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That really is dissapointing. Like I said earlier though, an order from any of those companies can get held up in US customs for a variety of reasons and can get sent back or destroyed and unfortunatly it's at your expense. I know it's just as big a risk to order on ebay, for entirely different reasons, why not buy seed and grow and sell the plants that way? I've ordered from CZ plants a few times with no problems, and they're pretty cheap. Either way, good luck, it's not an easy buisiness to start.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:43AM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

Thanks...just found out the final verdict this morning. The company did not endorse their CITIES certificate, AND there was a disease found on one of the plants. They are sending the box back, but what do you bet we still wont' get our money back.
I'm getting very disheartened...I had emailed bugbitingplants last week just for the heck of it, and after asking them a question about pricing to which they rudely responded, was told to be 'happy shopping elsewhere'.
please tell me there are good people and companies out there who care about their customers ?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:41PM
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OMG! What the...? The majority of CPs I grow are Nepenthes. I always buy from Tony P. of if he has the plant I want. I have always recieved healthy, larger than seedling size, well hardened off plants. Unfortunately he is only currently selling Neps and Utricularias. He ships eveything pakaged well, cheaply, and quickly, try him next if he has anything you're looking for.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Melanesica Tropicals is a poorly run operation. Their plant materials are old recultured tissue cultured plants that rarely do well beyond the sterile confines of their lab cultures.
Borneo Exotics is another shady operation I would steer clear away from. I have had poor experiences with BE as well. I had a huge order sent to me on one occasion that the owner Rob Cantley went on vacation and left an assistant in charge of making sure the paperwork was in order. Guess what? The shipment was sent WITHOUT the CITES certification. So the boxes $5,000 worth, had to sit until Rob Cantley resend the CITES certificate by air, by that time every single plant in the box was on death row. And while he did replace SOME of the plants on another shipment, he did little to offer any consolation or discount on my next order.
Among many huge dollar value orders I have spent, each time an offering came out, I would have the same opportunities to get new plants as anyone and would only get some special treatment if I had become an investor with Borneo Exotics. These same investors also received the rare black truncatas and other rare offerings.
There is much controversies regarding the black truncatas. Originally he had announced that the new Mt. Pasian form of N. truncatas showed much variation and even black to orange offspring. "Buy more seedlings and increase your chances of obtaining a black seedling." Now he claims that the blacks were very different from seedling stages and were pulled, yet when he was selling the worthless Mt. Pasian truncatas noting was ever mentioned about the very differing black forms. Many other offerings were also botched up probably because plants were not collected as seeds but of live plant materials. BE's personal collection boasts of vividly striped N. veitchii's, grand specimens of N. spectabilis, boschianas, hamatas, lowii's, etc. yet nothing were ever available as desired offerings as seedlings or tissue cultured material.
In any event, while they do carry the best of what's out there, I do not encourage buying from this company.

Tony Paroubek is a BE shareholder, so I have nothing to say about this man. And while his plants and packing is very good, I wonder about his close ties with BE. He also obtained a black truncata not as "by chance" as everyone claims to be, but rather by select shipment of a plant in my opinion is well above the seedling material as werew grown with the Mt. Pasian form of truncata.

A favorite and honest grower I highly recommend is Exotica Plants. The quality of plant materials are very good and he also wholesales (inquire). This company is located in Australia.

I would also recommend another aspiring new grower from Hawaii, is Sam Estes, the nursery is called Leilani Hapu'u Nursery. He wholesales.

I would also recommend shipping by Air cargo from any foreign destination. The price is not that different from Express mail and you will get it in less than 30 hours for the most part. I used to bring in shipments from Exotica Plants and had them in my nursery within 24 hours of them leaving Australia.
A customs broker is highly recommended even though the price may seem steep. You can charge your mark up higher so everything works out.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 5:18AM
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Shareholder or not, why is he not allowed to be one of the few who got a black truncata. Why should BE have to give them to anyone they do or don't want to? Who cares about retail suppliers who do have good experiences with them and why they share certain plants? BE doesn't owe anyone any of their personal plants. If you remember Tony's plants were stolen, so in the end it doesn't really matter. They could be anywhere and everywhere now. I have had good and bad orders from many, many places, but I don't go around bashing people personally I don't know because of who their friends with and what they have. I have seen some orders go really badly from Exotica too.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 9:38PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

I only felt it fair to come back to this post and update it...Today, we received the second shipment from this company. We did have to argue just a bit with them to get them to understand the first shipment was returned to them due to a disease the usda found in their plants, so we should not lose our money because of that. They finally followed through with a second shipment, and did not charge us anything for it ( as it should have been). Got the plants today and we are pleasantly surprised at the size and health of them.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:26PM
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I am posting my experiences with each of these companies I personally have dealt with. You may also post your personal experiences with them as well.
Please note that I have had this never before episode of not having proper documentation happen to me with both Melanesica and Borneo Exotics. This has also happened to another grower who when he found out I had this happen to me (by posting MY EXPERIENCES on a forum) he had expressed that had happened to him as well.
The problem is many. There probably wasn't enough time spent on preparing the actual paperwork. If you are PAYING for the CITES/PHYTO then it is their responsibility that they double check, triple check to make sure the paperwork is 110% acurate.
Regarding the original offering of the black truncatas. BE had sold them under the auspices that they were a random "by chance" to obtain them from their seed lots of Mt. pasian truncatas, which they are not. The Mt. Pasian truncatas come from an entirely different location, an entirely different planet you can say from where the black truncatas originate.
I am posting the facts surrounding the black truncatas because I am a victim of the false rumors that the black truncata was a variety of the Mt. Pasian H/L stock (which of course today we know they are not, they were also not even received as seeds from this same region, as discussed in the origin of N. robcantleyi.
Back to this topic of buying overseas.
You should always hire a broker, you should always send by air freight (Air Freight is so much cheaper than any other mail, DHL, whatever).
One word of advice regarding Melanesia plants. Many of their tc clones have been around for decades and many do not grow properly. They appear to jsut sit and do nothing in long sets of time. You may find also that many have deformed flower spikes or attempts in producing upper development and making cuttings. Their rafflesiana is somewhat retarded and many of their "rarer" species tends to grow odd growth features that are dominant in their progeny.

Not all of the black truncatas are gone. Many do exist in Davao and in areas similar, but these ares are very dangerous to enter and while many wild populations exist, your chances of getting out unscathed or not kidnapped is near impossible.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:20PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

Not everyone has the money to hire a broker, OR meet the minimum order the other companies demand.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:48PM
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There are many new legalities surrounding shipments overseas. The hiring of a broker can also prevent problems before it happens. They will be in charge of the sending side and receiving, make aware of customs and other authorities to hasten speedy processing of shipment. The broker I hired usually gets my plants ready in about an hour (is her record time). It's worth it when you have rare materials and plants that are delicate, small, or other in ways that help you save to grow them from cheaper , smaller starters and this is where you actually save $
Ask those people who bring in tropical fish who they use. I am sure you will find someone inexpensive and affordable to get your products passed and in your hands with minimal losses.
A broker is worth it. You can always add this to your price in selling them. If you paid $100 for their services, you can mark up your plants on top of your profit margin, let's say $5 extra for a shipment of twenty plants. When you can sell 100% of your order of plants and experience no losses due to delays, then it's all worth the price.
If this is too much, then you shouldn't be selling plants in the first place,

An example for a medium order: $500 worth of plants, $80-90 shipping air freight, cites/phyto $100 (highest), broker $100You're still can afford the broker and make a killing on the plants.
The rest is simple math.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:11PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

I may not be as big into cp's as you are but at least I have manners. First you hijack my post for own agenda, and how you're being rude. Seriously I think you need to get over yourself.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:58PM
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Being big has nothing to do with it. Being a reseller, you do have minimums and things cost money when you're bringing them from international zones. There are growers in the US so you don't need to deal with CITES, brokers, and the like, but you chose to be a "big" dealer in obtaining plants from abroad. (worthless plants as you will find out eventually) You shouldn't be in the business unless you're out to pay what every dealer pays. Knowing the facts is not being rude.
You're dealing with a CITES material there are things that is expected of you to sell these plants in the US. This is the sort of thing that gives CP a bad name. To grow and resell you need to know the facts. If you just wanted to resell cacti from a nursery you should stick with that.
Good luck in your endeavor. I've seen this happens well too many times. You should take the advice of someone who's been there done that, not make yourself seem so high and mighty that these do not apply to yourself. Free advise should be listened to and not overlooked because you think you know everything!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:00PM
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SmokyMist(7 East TN)

Wow...your entire demeanor is nothing short of rude. I have never come across as high and mighty, but you sir are nothing but egotistical and know it all. Why don't you go hijack somebody else's post !

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:27PM
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