Update: 5/28/20 – Grove Collaborative must have had a change of heart, or perhaps it was this blog post, but they have now offered to remedy the errant error with a refund. They apologized for the product being out of stock, but did not acknowledge that their software charged me for products that appeared to have shipped out, but did not. It’s unfortunate the frontline customer service rep didn’t just take care of my easy-to-fix issue in the very beginning .
In further investigation, I have found that others are ALSO having the same exact problem right now. People are making Grove Collborative orders and not receiving all items, yet they are still charged for them. They too are told to ‘place a NEW order’ in order to receive the items that they SHOULD have received, and the new order must have the shipping minimum (around $40) to ship out. This is completely unacceptable – so I am going to leave my blog post up for others to read. Hiding behind a B Corporation is not a good practice for an eco-friendly company. A ‘Good’ Company behaving badly does not excuse them from ineffective software and horrible front-line customer service support. When other natural/sustainable companies that I order from mess up – and yes, sometimes it happens – they make it RIGHT. They don’t offer a canned sustainable shipping excuse as a reason to not fix an order. They also don’t force their customers to spend MORE to get the products they had originally ordered and were charged for!
The natural industy has to do better to go up against the Walmarts and Amazons, so I certainly hope that should other customers have similar issues, that Grove works to protect those active customers & keep them as active customers.
Original Post Below:
I love the convenience of online shopping, so I was thrilled to subscribe to Grove Collaborative in order to get my ‘better for you’ cleaning supplies shipped to me in a timely manner and touted as having the best prices. I could even schedule in when I wanted future deliveries with an ongoing subscription.
I paid a yearly FEE of $19.99 to be a VIP for this ability to order from them. As the year went on, I realized that Grove Collaborative was NOT the best deal in regard to pricing, especially since I had to have a minimum order for free shipping – however, they had a great variety of eco-household products.
Many stores offer free shipping with a minimum order, but keep in mind I was also paying a yearly fee to Grove on top of this minimum order requirement.
Despite the minimum order requirements, I continued because as a complacent consumer, I like easy and they did have all the yummy natural smelling cleaning options I like in one place. However, a recent experience which I’ll document below made me realize that Grove Collaborative is dropping the ball when it comes to product management and customer service.
To begin my disappointing customer service story, this order was made on TOP of my scheduled subscription shipment that just came a mere 10 days earlier, so it had a higher ‘minimum’ order amount. Grove has varying minimums based on the type of order like this:
The order minimums are:
|$30 for all first orders|
|$25 for all auto-shipments|
|$39 for “Ship Now” orders|
As I was doing a ‘Ship Now’, I filled my cart with a minimum of $39 in products and I received a notice that all of my products had shipped.
When I received my order, I noticed that the three Method Anti-bac sprays were missing. I saw from my shipping receipt (above) that I was charged for them, so I jumped on customer service chat to see if the three missing sprays were coming in a different shipment.
The customer service rep looked up my order and said that the Antibac sprays I ordered were out of stock. There was a different version (scent) available, however I was not offered that. He offered to credit my account or refund me.
I asked for a refund, but then asked if I could simply order the Antibac sprays that WERE in stock to complete my original order. He said No, that I would have to place a new order. I then asked if I could have free shipping or NOT do the minimum order of $39, since it was a Grove Collaborative stocking error in which I did not receive the product.
He said NO and that I would have to put a NEW Order in, meeting the $39 minimum AGAIN. So I’m thinking why on earth is the customer punished and forced to do another big spend again when it should have been their stocking system alerting me that it wasn’t available in the first place? Or, at least make an attempt to fulfill my original order?
The conversation is posted below where the Grove Customer Service rep acts like he did me a ‘solid’ by refunding me for the missing products.
STRIKE 1.) Grove didn’t have the product and yet still billed me anyway.
STRIKE 2.) Grove didn’t notify me by email about the missing product, nor did they alert me that it would be missing from my shipment.
STRIKE 3.) What if I had not checked my bill or order? Often my packages come and my family members open and put away items. Had I not been here to open this recent box, then the missing product would have most likely gone unnoticed, yet I would have still paid for it. Apparently there is no check system in the Grove Collab software to automatically credit back a portion of a missed shipment. Again, I had to ASK for my money for product not received – this was not automatic.
STRIKE 4.) When I pointed out that a buyer should not be forced to make a NEW $39 minimum order due to a Grove Collaborative stocking error, the customer service rep says the best he can do is refund my unshipped items. Gee, thanks?
I have been a consistent repeat VIP customer, spending hundreds just in the last year. The customer service person was not able or unwilling to help me complete my original order and his steadfast solution was to simply force me to spend MORE money yet again just to get those three missing sprays.
What should have happened? An offer to ship me a product replacement for the product that I paid for, but did not receive OR a refund and then code to use so I could go back in and make a NEW order without the new $39 order minimum. Pretty basic customer service 101. I really tried to give Grove Collab the business, even with the higher order minimums, however the reluctance to fix a simple customer request despite the hundreds I have spent over the year finally made me close the account.
I understand that Grove Collaborative is a certified B company – and that another reason why I initially signed up. I attend Expo West as a blogger every year and I’ve been a long time supporter of natural / eco companies. However, when other natural/sustainable companies mess up – and yes, of course they do, it happens – they make it RIGHT! They don’t hide behind a sustainable shipping excuse as a reason to not fix an order. They also don’t force their customers to spend MORE to get the products they had originally ordered and were charged for!
From here on out, I’ll place my orders with Target (only $25 minimum for Free Shipping & 5% discount for Red Card members!) and with my local grocery stores like Sprouts. Target is actually doing a great job in the eco-friendly product space, and with their prices I may end up paying a few cents more for the products I’ve been using, but at least I won’t be forced into higher orders just to get a few needed products, and their ‘in stock’ software lets me know if something I have ordered is out of stock in a timely manner. I’m trying to steering clear from Amazon for household products – they are big enough and don’t need my business.
Grove Collaborative Customer Service Chat
(05:46:33 PM) Grove Guide Team: Hello! Is there something we can help resolve for you at this time?
(05:49:10 PM) Visitor 39710845 is now known as Meg .
(05:50:03 PM) Meg : Hello! I was missing method – All Purpose + Antibac (Citron) Qty: 3 from my delivery. Can you see if it’s shipping separately?
(05:50:17 PM) *** Victor joined the chat ***
(05:50:19 PM) Victor : Hi
(05:50:21 PM) Meg : order GC-05221327-197973659***
(05:50:26 PM) Victor : I’m sorry to hear about that
(05:50:34 PM) Victor : Let me take a look at your account
(05:50:51 PM) Meg : thanks
(05:51:02 PM) Meg : it looks like I was charged
(05:51:33 PM) Victor : I show that those are out of stock. I can credit your account for the value or refund you
(05:51:39 PM) Victor : Which option would you prefer?
(05:51:46 PM) Meg : are there any anti-bac in?
(05:51:48 PM) Meg : spray?
(05:52:48 PM) Victor : I’m not sure. I’d be happy to look into that for you, however, you’d have to place an order containing those items if you’d like to receive them.
(05:53:04 PM) Meg : Ok..so I can’t place an order to get in line for it?
(05:53:11 PM) Meg : otherwise, yes please refund
(05:53:58 PM) Victor : This is the only antibac spray that I show that is in stock: https://www.grove.co/catalog/product/method-antibac-bathroom-cleaner/?v=148&attrsrc=18&attrpg=catalog&attrpos=1
(05:54:23 PM) Victor : You’d have to place another order to get that item if you would like. I am going to go ahead and refund you.
(05:55:00 PM) Meg : but now I have to order enough for a minimum again
(05:55:05 PM) Victor : I’ve gone ahead and refunded you for these missing items now. You’ll see this refund back in your statements shortly.
(05:55:06 PM) Meg : that sort of sucks..wish they just sent those instead
(05:55:24 PM) Victor : I’m sorry for any inconvenience.
(05:55:31 PM) Meg : is there a code for free shipping
(05:55:34 PM) Meg : since this is a Grove stocking issue
(05:55:43 PM) Meg : and as the buyer I shouldn’t be penalized for buying something out of stock
(05:55:48 PM) Meg : against the ship minimum.
(05:55:59 PM) Victor : I’m sorry there is not. That is why I’ve gone ahead and refunded you for those.
(05:56:11 PM) Meg : refunded shipping?
(05:56:29 PM) Victor : I’ve refunded you for the missing items.
(05:56:42 PM) Meg : ok – so there is no way I can do a replacement order w/out paying shipping
(05:56:48 PM) Meg : just to clarify …
(05:57:08 PM) Meg : do you mind if I repost this conversation?
(05:57:19 PM) Victor : I show that you have a VIP membership until 10/09/2020, you don’t have to pay shipping for any orders until that.
(05:57:29 PM) Meg : I do, if I don’t reach a min. order
(05:57:29 PM) Victor : *until that date
(05:58:06 PM) Victor : The VIP membership program allows you to get free unlimited shipping on all orders.
(05:58:18 PM) Victor : I’m sorry for any confusion.
(05:58:33 PM) Victor : You are free to respost this conversation, yes 🙂
(05:59:02 PM) Victor : Is there anything else I can help with today?
(05:59:22 PM) Meg : yes but I now have to order another $39 worth of product
(05:59:25 PM) Meg : to do so
(05:59:37 PM) Meg : when I really just want the products I originally ordered
(05:59:57 PM) Meg : it will not let me put an order in for 3 antibac sprays
(06:02:07 PM) Meg : You refunding me the amount for the products I did not receive isn’t really doing me a favor – it’s just not robbing me. Now I’m asking if I could please order 3 new sprays without getting the $35 order min. penalty.
(06:03:12 PM) Victor : Oh ok, the required minimum amount is something else completely. You have a monthly recurring plan that allows you to get orders shipped for a $25 minimum amount. If it’s asking you for a $39 amount it is because the system does not “know” that you are placing items in your cart for a scheduled shipment. Grove requires a minimum amount in order to consolidate shipments in a effort to reduce the carbon footprint that shipments generate. I’m sorry for any inconvenience.
(06:04:04 PM) Meg : So – I’m canceling my membership. Documenting this whack customer service. And posting to Twitter, Reddit & IG.
(06:05:44 PM) Victor : We are so very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. However, at this time, we have used all of our available resources to resolve this situation. I’d be happy to go ahead and cancel your membership as you requested.
(06:05:59 PM) Meg : Do so immediately and send me email confirmation.
(06:06:24 PM) Victor : I have now deactivated your Grove account.
(06:06:46 PM) Victor : Give me one second to send you that confirmation email.
(06:08:09 PM) Victor : I have gone ahead and emailed you that email confirming that your account has been deactivated.
(06:08:33 PM) Victor : Is there anything else I can help with today?
(06:09:02 PM) Meg : and I also need an email showing my refund
(06:09:08 PM) Meg : so I don’t have to do a chargeback against Grove
(06:10:12 PM) Victor : Sure, one moment please.
(06:12:19 PM) Victor : I have gone ahead and sent that confirmation email for the refund as well
(06:13:21 PM) Meg : ok I don’t see that yet
(06:13:43 PM) Victor : You don’t see the refund or my email?
(06:14:04 PM) Victor : The refund may take a few days to reflect in your account depending on your banking institution.
(06:14:29 PM) Meg : no, not in the email