National Home Gardening Club

In the mail today comes an epistle from the National Home Gardening Club. It contained a small packet of red poppy seeds and a second packet containing about one tsp. of "all purpose" timed-release plant food (14-14-14). If I join, they, promise I'll get more loot and get to "test" garden goodies -- starting with what looks to be a knock-off of a Feclo pruner -- on a monthly basis (and I can even KEEP the goodies!). All this for (apparently) $1.00 a month.
Dunno what the kicker is, but I'm gonna pass. But I will enjoy the poppies ;-) and use the fertilizer in a pot somewhere. No micronutrients in the fertilizer, though, so it's probably not too good as a pot fertilizer on a regular basis.
Jim Lewis - snipped-for-privacy@nettally.com - Tallahassee, FL - The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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I'd be glad to pay a buck a month for bad tools & random seeds just out of idle curiosity, but it does seem like this is some sort of come-on-attraction for a hidden scam, so best left untouched. They are probably part of a "club" factory that is often in hot water with the better business bureau for vile service: Cooking Club of America, Handyman Club of America, Health Club of America, Guns/Hunting Club of America, & so on, with a staff that is never going to be very helpful in exchange for your $12 membership because talking to you even once would eat up whatever profitability you may represent. If you're satisfied with the generically topical newsletter for $12 a year probably you'll be happy; but if you expected to be a member of a club which lives up to sundry promised services & bonuses, probably you'll end up annoyed.
They sell "charter memberships" which are "exclusive" since 1997. Dishonest ad campaigns don't bode well for honest services or products. One of the strangest things, too, is how many UseNet posts & bulletin board boasts begin "I have received a mailing from the National Home Gardening Club" or "Has anyone had experience with National Home Gardening Club," invariably careful to banner the whole name. It kind of makes one wonder if these hundreds of queries aren't themselves stealth spam, which would be in keeping with the dishonesty of calling random subscriptions "exclusive charter memberships." I don't think that's at all what Jim Lewis is doing since he has a posting history in the Bonsai ng, but it's a little odd to say the least that these queries are so common & seem to be slight variations off a template.
This past thread: <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&frame=right&th {0965443e9c8ec9&seekm=9p2gas082t7tqadkgq948bfkrsn45uuan0%404ax.com#link1> indicates that some people have had serious problems with them rebilling for things already paid for or for things never actually received. "Rebilling" is a standard method of bad companies hoping bills are just paid by people who don't actually keep very good records & don't ever realize they're paying multiple times for each thing or for things they didn't actually get.
Checking quickly sundry complainers around the web, one person complains that after a full year she still hasn't gotten the free sheers or any other free stuff but is being billed to rejoin (she perhaps failed to look close enough at all the ad enclosures; you have to read all the crappy little bits of paper full of pitches in order to figure out how to get the sheers. Sending your money that one time won't do it automatically). Even so, she thought the magazine was worth the money anyway. Another person claims she has become a regular product tester for them & has never been asked to do anything but fill out forms about each product, which is how it would be with a legit research company. But yet another soul complains that she received products she never requested, returned the unrequested items, but was hasseled for months to pay up or get turned over to collections, while all her attempts to communicate with them about the error failed (again, probably did not read all attached flyers; some "clubs" demand that you explicitely inform them beforehand you don't want to buy a product or it will be sent automatically & you will have to pay up. This is arranged so that the average human being that does not read every scrap of junkmail, but just tosses junkmail summarily, can be billed & threatened until they cave in & pay up). As they also sometimes threateningly bill for things never even sent, they seem to have worked every possible gambit into their system, all of it designed so they can credibly deny it was anything but a mistake, every time the Better Business Bureau gets involved.
Yet some people seem honesty to like the magazine itself, & can't find any agregious accounts of people feeling more than the most mildly duped.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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The magazine they send is worth the dollar a month, they do send out things to test, or seeds to test, or not. I always got stuff to test...and you have to send in the review in a timely manner if you want more things to test out. Other than the magazine, they have nothing much to offer.

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I signed up for one year around 1999. I wasn't too bad of a deal. I didn't renew because they jacked up the membership fee to $15 IIRC. The introductory book they send you (unsolicited??) "Gardening Essentials" is not bad for ~$13 for people who don't know manure from manola and it was easy enough to cancel further shipments of books (which cost considerably more ~$25). They also sent me a product to test (even though you were supposed to sign up first). It was a <ooh ah> <wow!> packet of coleus seeds with absolutely no planting instructions and a germination rate of < 5% (or I could just be really bad at planting coleus, which is entirely possible). The pruners weren't too bad either (although mine was a freebee and not for test), but I busted it cutting up too thick wood after a hurricane. I didn't get any plant food, though I might have gotten something else instead. I did get the poppy seeds, baby's breath and maybe cornflowers or something else but I didn't bother to grow any of it. Magazine only comes like 10x per year, though (some months are combined).
BUT THEN GUIDO CAME OVER TO MY HOME AND DEMANDED THAT I SIGN UP FOR ANOTHER YEAR.
j/k (about Guido)
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I have to agree with winkydinky and Salty Thumb. I subscribed for 3 or so years. The magazine was okay, I received the free pruners and several small items to test (tomato seeds, fertilizer and powdery mildew spray). I probably would have remained a subscriber had their rates not gone up.
Cheryl
- Tallahassee, FL - The end of

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On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 21:13:01 -0500, Jim Lewis wrote:

I was once suckered into buying a fishing magazine under the pretense that subscribers would become product testers and receive free merchandise. In the 2-3 years I had the magazine, I was never contacted once.
Caveat emptor.
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Yeah. Well, as I said above. I'm gonna give it a pass. Just thot it was a curious bit of unslolicitedness (is that a word?) (My spell checker says "NO!).
Jim Lewis - snipped-for-privacy@nettally.com - Tallahassee, FL - Nature encourages no looseness, pardons no errors. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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This instance is not one of those. They never say you will definitely be a product tester, but that you MAY be chosen to test products. I always received this or that to test out for them. LIke I said, if you send back the completed questionnaire, you are sent more product. If you don't send it back, you never get another thing.
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opined:

I don't know whether to believe WiGard or not. His whole story seems really fishy.
Ha ha, comedy.
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Agreed You have to sign up as a product tester. If you do and complete the questionnaires in a timely fashion, they will send you other products to test. Unfortunately you don't get to choose your category. I am a vegetable grower and while I have recieved some vegetable seeds and tools pertainent to veggie growing, I have also recieved materials fror house plants, a tick/ chiggere repellent bracelet and other stuff I am not in a position to test. The magazine is about on a par with Organic Gardening and is heavy on decorative gardening with minor attention to veggies. The sign -up prizes are cheap types but have always been delivered in timely fashion.
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