This page tells you about Sproutpeople's policies.
Where We Are
Sproutpeople's physical location is...
170 Mendell St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
Local folks - or those visiting the Bay Area may pick-up orders from our facility, but you still need to place the order online and allow us time to fill it (2-3 business days). We email when it is ready for pick-up.
We have not used the telephone since 2001. Here is the short story...
Back in 2001 we were still using the phone. One day I (Gil) was talking to a long-time customer while pushing my (then 4 year old) daughter on the swing in our backyard (this is what a mom n' pop business is like on the internet). It dawned on me that my priorities were severely messed up, so I stopped using the phone. I love to talk and I love to help, but my family would never see me if I picked up the phone again, and that's just wrong - don't you think?!
The way to contact us is through E-mail =:-) We are quite fast and VERY thorough. We love to help.
So, we have been an internet only business since 2001. We are not a big corporation. We are but 2 people with some helpers, Mom n' Pop Sprout. We decided after years of juggling our family's (kids, dogs, cats and even our own) needs, and the needs of Sproutpeople, that we had to make more time for our kids, so we stopped talking on the phone. All calls go to voice mail and have for over a decade. We are very fast to fill orders and answer e-mail, and though we wish we could make the time to talk, we just can't seem to get more minutes into a each hour. We are many years older than when we started, and our days are too short and made up of too few hours to do everything. This limitation in our business has not kept us from pleasing our customers, nor from growing (as we have every year since 1993). We do what we do as well as we can, and we think we do it very well indeed. We appreciate your patronage more than we can say.
We ask that you search our site for answers before e-mailing us. This site is bigger than any 4 sprout books put together, it is always available and it is free, and we know that almost all questions are answered here. I have spent years - literally years - writing, editing, and re-writng this site. I NEED you to use it. It is part of me. Let me ask - if you buy a book - do you write the author with questions? No. PLEASE try finding answers here before writing. We pay Google for an exceptional site search engine. We have hundreds of pages. We love to help, but we are unhappy when we have to answer questions in email that are readily available on our site. I suppose it's just my ego - but I need you to treat this site like a book. After almost 2 decades of sprouting we know a whole lot and we have put it into our site. Please, PLEASE use it. It is here for you. I wrote it for YOU!
Thanks again for your support and your many kind words.
Adding to Orders, Flat-Rate USPS, and Large Orders
I really am sorry to bitch at you constant customer, but we are a very small business. We work very hard. We love to save you the cost of shipping whenever possible (we loathe that UPS and the USPS make so much money off you). We have long tried to combine orders for those who forget something and then go back online to buy something else. The fact is, we can't keep up with that anymore. So, please be sure before you checkout of our shop, that you have everything you want. If you end up placing multiple orders within a day or three - and we notice (fat chance - OMG it is busier then ever around here since we launched the new site) - we will ship the orders together and will credit your credit card for the shipping saved. If you email us asking us to combine orders we might actually be able to do it (don't hold your breath) and once again - if we can do it - we will gladly issue a credit to your CC. As much as it pains us to say it - we are very unlikely to be able to help in the case of multiple orders. I could explain the intricacies of our little business, but who cares? This is just reality.
For those of you who have us ship via the Postal Service...
We will use Flat-Rate boxes whenever it is economical for you and possible for the items you ordered to fit in one. There is no way for our shopping cart to know what will and will not fit in any size box - so it can not offer you flat-rate shipping at checkout. So, if it is a good idea and your items will fit - we will use flat-rate. If we can save you $2 or more we will credit your credit card for the money saved in shipping this way. You do not need to ask us. We want you to spend more of your hard earned money on sprouting seeds and supplies - and less on shipping. As always - we do the best we can. Please trust us to do so.
This one hurts, and we have discussed it often...
For those of you who purchase twenty - thirty - forty - fifty - or more pounds at once - please forgive us if it takes us an extra day or two to ship your order. We do not think it fair, but the reality is that we mix our seed by hand - and if your order is going to clean us out and other orders will pile up as a result - we will prioritize the smaller orders. Like I said - this hurts. We figure that you should get better service - being a bigger customer and all - but mixing seeds is a time consuming, and space consuming job. We can't do it every day or our little seed shop would grind to a halt (while everyone tried to squeeze around the seed-mixing wheelbarrow). We always ship orders out in the order we receive them, and we try to ship big orders out in that line - but if the timing isn't quite right - it is possible that your order won't ship for an additional day - or in extreme cases - two. Please forgive us our shortcomings. We truly are doing the best we can.
We will accept return of un-used items (ie: sprouters and juicers) only. We are a tiny company and our margins are very low. If you have not used your item and you have all the original packaging: you may return it to us (you have to pay the shipping) for a refund. We will credit your card the cost of the item minus a 15% restocking fee.
We do not accept returns of used items.
We do not accept return of seed - though we will credit your account if your seed is in fact not good at the time you receive it. Since we sprout these same seeds we know they sprout well, so instead of returns, we force you to learn how to sprout the seeds correctly. We can teach you that, and that's why we're here - to teach you how to sprout! If you are having problems sprouting something, try this:
1. Read the in-depth page for the seed you are sprouting.
2. Visit our Help page.
3. Join our Web Group.
4. Write us an E-mail using our Contact Form.
Try and see this our way: We sprout the same seeds you get from us. We sprout them in the same Sprouters we sell. We get great sprouts from these seeds. We've grown over 200 TONS of sprouts and tens of thousands of trays of Grass and Greens. If we can't help you - who can??? If we accepted seeds back - we'd have people giving up on sprouting instead of learning. We'd go out of business and the quitters would never know what they were missing! To us this seems like the height of logic.
We have to point out that we do not make any false claims to sell products - in fact we warn customers to avoid certain products. We feel that our honesty compensates for our strict return policy. We also point out all over our site, that we are a small family business, and frankly you just can't expect a family business to run like a big corporation.
We'd like to explain how shipping set up here - and elsewhere so that you have the big picture.
We ship orders as soon as possible - often the day we get them, but almost always within 2-3 business days, though we reserve the right to take the occasional day off - or even a family vacation every once in a great while, so perhaps longer. We insure all shipments. Our shopping cart lists several shipping options.
You choose your shipping method as you checkout of our online shop.
So as not to delay your order,
please keep in mind:
UPS Ground may be used ONLY if we are shipping to a STREET addresses in the United States.
If we are shipping to a PO BOX, APO or AFO you must choose Priority Mail.
If you are outside of the US, you will only see Postal options. ALL shipments outside of the US go via the US Postal Service. How they get delivered in your country will vary from place to place, but it is from the USPS that your delivery person got your package.
Be sure you provide the EXACT SHIPPING ADDRESS! If we ship to the wrong address it will come back to us and you will have to pay both the cost of that return (UPS charges us to return packages) and also to have it shipped again. If UPS delivers to an address other than that which you give (ie: You forget to put the apt. number or you give us 4700 when the address is 4722), they charge us eleven (11!) dollars. We will charge that to your card, so make sure your address is EXACT.
You must provide the EXACT Address your credit card bills are sent to as your BILLING address. If the address or zip/postal code don't match, your order will never get to us. You may ask us to ship anywhere as long as you provide the correct billing address, if you live in the US. We no longer send international orders to any but the Billing Address. We've been "taken" too many times to do anything else.
We charge actual shipping (Note: In addition to published UPS rates, we are charged a SURCHARGE by UPS - due to the high cost of fuel - which is only going to get worse - it has been over 10% for years!!!! Shipping is a huge expense for us as well as you - we wish it weren't so.) plus $1.50 handling on all orders, regardless of size. We are as small a business as you are likely to find - we are not able to lose more money than we already do on shipping. Our handling charge helps us offset the actual packaging costs (boxes, tape, labels, ink, postal meter.....) and we feel that keeping shipping separate and up front is the most honest and least costly option for our customers.
Unscrupulous merchants offer "free" or "discounted" shipping, but if you look just a bit closer you discover that they have hidden shipping costs in their product's cost and that they are in fact, more expensive than we are when you add it all together (especially if you purchase a lot of items).
Shipping is a cost we must pay as a retailer. We are billed by package weight. Order (dollar) value is not in any way relevant when figuring shipping cost (except as relates to insurance). We have filed formal complaints with UPS regarding their burdensome price structure and their fuel surcharge (which we have not added to our customers cost in any way).
All things considered, we generally prefer UPS to the Postal Service as they offer package tracking (you receive that info from UPS on the day of shipment, if you provide us with an e-mail address and their server does its job). We no longer list Standard Mail as the Postal Service now charges more for that than for Priority Mail (on packages weighing between 15 ounces and 20 pounds) and it is never cheaper than UPS at the higher weights.
Please note that there is only one choice for customers in Hawaii + Alaska - Priority Mail. We ship All International Orders by the Postal Service. All other Countries: We will ship your order via Insured Postal Air Mail - Priority or Express. We will always ship orders outside the continental US, via the methods listed whether you choose them or not. Sorry - these are limitations we all have to live with.
If you have any ideas that you think would improve our service, we would love to hear. We always try to do better.
International Shipping Policy and Disclaimer
We are very sorry to have to say this, but we can not afford the expense we are incurring more and more often as a result of non-US government silliness (that is not to say that we here in the US don't have a silly government). Though the problems are rare, we have lost our patience for them.
Firstly, ALL INTERNATIONAL ORDERS MUST SHIP TO THE BILLING ADDRESS.
We've had one too many incidents of fraud, so we will no longer ship to a different address.
We can't determine whether the problem is stolen credit cards or organized fraud. We suspect the latter.
When a charge is credited back to a customer who claims their card was stolen and that they did not order from us, we have little recourse, if the package shipped to a different address. We are sincerely sorry for this limitation. But, the other option would be us holding orders for 30 days or to contact the bank which issued the card to verify authenticity. That is an expense in time and money as well as an inconvenience given the time difference on the other side of the planet.
Countries are more often requiring phytosanitary certificates. A phytosanitary certificate documents the origin of the shipment and confirms inspection in the country of origin by a member of that countries national plant protection organization. These certificates are an additional expense and have a limited life span. We can not justify the expense and the time - We have 80 varieties of seeds and mixes - all of which would need to be certified. So, you should check to see if your country requires a phytosanitary certificate. If it does you should NOT order from us as we can not provide one.
We have had the UK customs folk refuse to let certain seeds into the country, despite the rules. Our seed is sent with this notation on the customs documentation: "Seed for Human consumption ONLY! NOT for Planting!" Countries are supposed to let these seeds in (unless that country states that they do not allow ANY seeds), but a customs agent can often do as they please, and though they (in the case of this UK example) are supposed to only stop seeds for farming purposes, they stopped 5 pounds of Alfalfa, and subsequently the whole order was shipped back to us. That isn't to say that your order will be stopped. The vast majority of our shipments get to you without delay. Another seed dealer we work with had shipped over 50 pounds of Alfalfa into the UK only a week before - with no difficulty. The short story is that it is all dependent on the customs agent who sees your package. Perhaps only one in 100 is going to incorrectly interpret the rules and stop your package - we have no way of knowing. Years are passing, and the difficulty is still about as irregular, BUT - we finally have a list for you folks in the U.K., so all of you in the UK should read this list before ordering. As much as we dislike their considering a seed marked "for human consumption only" in the same way they consider seeds for planting, there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. So, Here is the list: U.K. Seed Importation: What is NOT Allowed into the U.K.
Lastly, we have AUSTRALIA. We had 2 occurrences regarding specific limitations on seed varieties in the first half of 2006. In both cases the seed was held up, but eventually let through. We had to provide the Latin name: Family, Genus, Species, and Cultivar of Broccoli and Amaranth. For many years Australia did not allow any seeds in. Then we had a couple easy years, and now they are tightening up their restrictions once again. Though this may delay your order, we are willing and able to provide such additional information. BUT - as of September we have had yet another incident, and this time they refused our seed and offered to ship it back (not for free) or destroy it. So, Here is the update for you folks down under:
We cannot export seeds to Australia without the Importer (you) first applying to Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) for a permit and emailing us a copy. There are fees for permits. Here is the link to Import CONditions, or, ICON: Import Conditions Database - ICON - AQIS
Please note that any seeds applied for should be STRAIGHT (NON-Mixed) SEEDS. Seed Mixes MAY be applied for, but it is much less likely that they will be allowed byAQIS than straight seeds.
If you wish to go ahead and apply for a permit, please email us a list of the seeds you wish to import. We will email you back the scientific names of the seeds which you will need for your Permit Application.
Or, you can find them on our web site here: Seed Taxonomy
Please be aware that if we receive orders from people in Australia who have not first emailed us their Import Permits we will cancel and refund these orders which will include a 4% processing fee reduction (That is the fee we pay to the credit card companies. They keep it even when we cancel/credit you).
Back to the rest of the planet.....
What frustrates us is that our seeds are not going to be used except in a home. They are not getting planted in a field, so whether they contain any weed seeds (VERY rare in high quality sprouting seeds) makes no difference. Countries claim to be protecting their environments, but as truly Green people, we are confident in saying that they are doing a poor job indeed if they think holding up our shipments to you is bettering your countries environment.
Though we usually have NO PROBLEM getting most of your shipments to you (excepting Australia), we have had enough difficulty getting seeds into foreign countries that we have changed our policy. We require that you assume the risk. We will refund you for seeds and goods sent back to us (when we receive them (minus a 15% restocking fee)). Furthermore you will bear the burden of the freight. In the case that your government returns the product to us they may charge additional freight. We will deduct that from your refund as well.
We can not say we think our policy is particularly fair. Frankly we are trying to discourage you from ordering, as much as we hate to do so. That said, we will do everything we can to get your order to you. We have spent many, many hours writing letters, sending faxes and e-mails, and phoning around the globe to get orders moving. But we can no longer accept the financial burden. When our time is factored into the cost of our merchandise, it is clearly a losing proposition for us to ship internationally. That said, we love to send seeds around the world. We have done so for over 12 years and we will continue to, but we are covering ourselves by charging a bit more for freight and by requiring you to assume the financial burden if your package is delayed, refused, or sent back to us.
Checking out of our store is your acknowledgement and acceptance of this policy.
It is a gamble, but given history, you have very good odds of winning if you proceed.
We are so very very sorry about this. Please feel free to petition your government about their policies regarding sprouting seeds.
Sproutpeople considers your personal information PRIVATE!
- We will never allow anyone else to see it.
- We will not sell it, give it away or misplace it.
- We will not use it to send you spam, though we hope to someday offer a newsletter (we'll warn you first).
- We will never use it for the telemarketing of sprouting supplies.
We do appreciate you giving us all the information you can so that we may serve you better.
- Including your phone number allows us an easy means of contact if we have a problem or question regarding your order.
- Providing us with your Credit Card's ACTUAL Billing Address (the place your bills are mailed to) allows us to verify that you are the owner of the card we are charging. Without it we are unable to complete your order. You may have us ship it anywhere - as long as we have that billing address too.
We hate junk mail and we loathe telemarketing (try telling them that the person they are trying to reach is dead =;-) and we are disgusted by the junk faxes we receive constantly advertising cruises!
We have an address to share with you which is intended to stop junk mail.
Just send your address and ask to be removed from junk mail lists
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 90028
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Be well and happy.