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Thread: Betterbee

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Utica, NY, USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Betterbee

    I live near Utica NY, so have purchased from Betterbee for many years. Working with Bob Stevens, the deceased owner, was a pleasure. His son seems to be in charge now, but his former wife is listed as President.

    I was on hold 7 minutes the other day waiting for someone to take my order! I wanted to buy Sundance traps, but they say they can't get a supply from the manufacturer. I called the manufacturer (Ross Rounds) and they said they have plenty of inventory, but no pending orders from Betterbee! Any idea who is lying to me? Everytime I talk to Bob's son he is condensending, agrees with everything I say, and then does absolutely nothing.

    Other beekeepers around here are having the same difficulty and some are saying they will no longer deal with Betterbee.

    I ordered the Sundance traps from Brushy Mountain who shipped from PA and delivered the next day.

    Are these problems limited to beekeepers in Utica? Should we all switch to Dadant and Brushy Mountain?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    larchmont ny usa
    Posts
    66

    Default Re: Betterbee problems

    Opposite problem. Betterbee has been good to me. Bushy Mountain dead slow. I'm staying with Betterbee for now. Go figure!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,078

    Default Re: Betterbee problems

    My last order from them a couple months ago had the exact same problem. Its my understanding the problem was on betterbees end. The owner of ross rounds even called them for me.
    When my order arrived shortly after he spoke to them, there where 3 mistakes in the shipment. 2 items I have no use for, 1 item missing, & an extra item. It came out to be in my favor so I didn't go through all the hassle or returning, & dealing with them.

    Don't think I'll be doing business with them again.
    Dan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,665

    Default Re: Betterbee problems

    Betterbee is hit or miss.

    They consistently have most things in stock but are VERY slow to get it out the door unless you pay the $10 fee to expedite.

    They also do a consistent inadequate job of packing items that consistently results in dings and dents.

    Sometimes I wonder what the heck is going on over there in NY, I even had one order of hive bodies come through wet.....but the box they were packed in was bone dry....almost as if they were storing the stuff outside and uncovered.

    When I order from Mann Lk or Kelly they ship same day or next at the latest. Things are always as they state, in good condition and packed well....I just wish they were closer so I didn't get screwed so badly on shipping.....if there was a Mann Lake on the east coast they would get most all of the business I do with Betterbee....they are always happy and helpful and its much easier to get through when you call them....getting Betterbee on the phone is a train wreck.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Susquehanna County, PA USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I ordered a package of bees from Betterbee this year, a little bit of a drive for us but I planned on ordering most of my equipment from them as well, so the savings on shipping would offset the gas.

    Due to an ongoing project at our house, I needed to cancel my order. I called Betterbee 10 days in advance of the scheduled pickup date, and was told that there are no refunds within "10 business days" before pickup. I asked where that number was on my invoice, the lady that I spoke to was pretty snotty and told me that it was in the brochure sent with the invoice and also on the website. I don't know where the brochure went, but it was (at that time) NOWHERE on their site, I spent a couple hours searching. I told the lady that fine, I will come and pick up my bees, but I will never buy another thing from Betterbee, and I will relay this story to every beek I come across.

    On the day of pickup, we loaded up and got there fairly early (10 a.m.) to find a scene of utter chaos. Cars parked everywhere, cars trying to get in and out via the barely one lane left. No one parking cars, no signs, nothing. Then we got in closer and there's a huge mowed field where cars could park, but since no one was organizing, there were just cars parked all along the edge, preventing anyone from getting in and parking. It was to the point that the NY State Police showed up because customers were blocking the neighbors driveway and traffic was impeding the main road. That's just to get parked!

    We stood in line, in the sun, for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! While it was enjoyable to talk to the other folks in line, the general consensus among us all was that Betterbee would get no further business from us. Come to find out, there were two delivery dates rolled into one on that day. Of course I told everyone what had happened to me on the phone, the only contact from the staff was someone coming out and yelling peoples' names once in a while, which I found out was mostly to tell them that their equipment orders were not ready or missing items.

    I fully understand the difficulties of running a small business, but they sell packages several times a year, why not plan ahead and get a system in place to deal with the heavy flow? Hire a couple local kids to park cars, have some way to process more customers more quickly. Maybe a place to get water, or better yet, sell cold drinks and/or ice cream? Hawk your t-shirts and gear to the people in line, interact with them a bit instead of making it into a scene reminiscent of a Depression-era soup line. I've run large events before with a very limited budget, a little thinking goes a long way.

    Sorry for the long rant, but you can't really evaluate a company until there's a problem. Deal fairly and efficiently with the problem, I'm a customer for life, treat me like an annoyance and I'll never be back. Word-of-mouth works for good and bad, a small business in a low-margin field needs to keep that in mind.

    I bought all my equipment from Brushy Mountain, in 3 orders the stuff has been here a couple days before I expected it, and the staff there has been very helpful with my orders and very friendly despite the sounds of a very busy office in the background. It cost them 30 extra seconds on the phone to keep my business. I don't think I'd order online, several items showed "in stock" on the website that weren't. Nice to talk to an actual human in today's "press 9" world.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,665

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Quote Originally Posted by FeedingFreedom View Post
    treat me like an annoyance and I'll never be back.
    Yea, I think that sums up how I feel altogether too often when I order from them, its the tone more than anything....too often they make their customers feel like they are doing them a favor by being there.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,243

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Quote Originally Posted by FeedingFreedom View Post
    I I told the lady that fine, I will come and pick up my bees, but I will never buy another thing from Betterbee, and I will relay this story to every beek I come across.
    I began doing business with Betterbee in 1980, shortly after they opened. Over the years I've had nothing but problems with their service. They almost never have the complete order...even when they told me they did and I drove 3 hours to pick up. Like you, I do my best not to do business with them. It's hard to believe they are even still around.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,118

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I don't know how this problem can be so persistent and systemic. This is nothing new and was common place in Bobs' time. I don't understand how this isn't apparent to Justin and why it hasn't been taken care of by now. i guess there are alot of beekeepers to go through.

    I don't buy loads and loads of equipment each year, but I like Mann Lake and Dadant.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Clinton County, Michigan USA
    Posts
    299

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I placed an order with them early last week and expected a box to be setting on the porch when I returned from vacation on tuesday. No box, received email that my order shipped as of yesterday. I like betterbee's selection but this will be my last order. I should have known better, many of the bee club members have had the same delay in service.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I ordered over $600 worth of equipment (probably not a huge quantity, but it's a lot to me) this past spring. They shorted me a $12 plastic hat (was not included in the shipping, but was paid for). When I called to rectify the problem, I was told that there was no way for them to verify that I had, in fact, been shorted, so a refund or a replacement was impossible. Amazing. I have since ordered $1200 worth of supplies and equipment through Kelly, and have had no problems whatsoever (and will continue to urge others to do so). My question remains: how on earth can a business continue to operate with such dismal customer service?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,078

    Default Re: Betterbee

    They must have enough local pick up business, people saving shipping costs by buying from them.

    I don't see any other way they could make enough money, with their poor mail order service.
    Dan

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,589

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Now that Brushy Mt. has the PA warehouse shipping has gotten much better. I bought boxes and some accessories from Betterbee three years ago, but I am now pleased with Miller's commercial boxes. The last time I ordered, I asked how many 8-frame medium boxes they could pack in one package. 13 boxes were within the weight limit. They sold three additional boxes by taking a few extra minutes to fill/weigh the order.

    I always like calling the suppliers in the South. They have always been pleasant and helpfull.

    I don't believe I've bought anything from Betterbee during the past two years.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Red Hook Ny
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I've got to say that over the years I have placed many orders with betterbee and I always get good fast service. I live less than two hours away, so my orders arrive quickly and seem to always ship out within a day or so.

    I have picked up packages there four years running, and I have never waited in line for more than a few minutes. If your packages were not paid for already, there is often a long line to get into the office to pay. I charge mine on my credit card and have honestly never spent more than ten or fifteen minutes picking up bees.

    They are a small, locally owned company, worthy of my support.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    247

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Bingo. You are all getting the picture correct. I have ordered from Betterbee many times over the years. Overall their people are friendly and they have always made good on any mistakes. I live in Central New York and have both picked up items as well as have them delivered. Generally they are very slow in filling orders, even off season. I can order from W.T. Kelley in KY and get the order here before the Betterbee order ever ships.

    In summary:

    Pros:
    * Great prices on jars and bottles.
    * 3 hours from my location so I can pickup big / heavy orders and save on shipping.
    * Friendly service
    * Unique Items
    * They have always replaced bad / missing items

    Cons:
    * Slow to ship
    * Frequent mistakes on orders
    * Slow on pickups. I called in an order 1 day ahead and pre-paid for it. I got their on my way to another appointment with "only" 1 1/2 hours to pickup my order... You got it, only a small portion of the order was filled and I had to wait while someone in the back counted out each of many hundreds of jar lids for several different size jars ... 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61... I even went to lunch at the McDonalds next door... 238, 239, 240, 241...

    * Absolutely the worst woodenware! The worst. The 7/8" thick hive bodies they tout as being better insulated than normal 3/4"... that because the wood is so cheap... construction grade fir that it would all crack to pieces if only 3/4" thick. My couple of big orders of the best grade had 15% unusable... split boards, warped boards, half rotted wood, big machine gauges, many missing fingers on the box joint, misaligned joints. I took pictures of it all, just never posted them so far. I complained and they did replace the bad pieces. You would think they would carefully check the replacements they sent out. You guessed wrong! 20% of those pieces were bad. Then because the outside dimensions are the same as a 3/4" thick box you loose 1/4" of the inside dimension. Can't fit 10 frames in it with even the least amount of propolis. Since I used mediums excusively, I now use the Betterbee boxes for honey supers where I use 8 or 9 frames.

    Do yourself a favor and order from Walter T. Kelley. Next best is Dadant as their boxes and frames are on par with Kelley's. Unless you need jars. In which case I highly recommend Betterjar... I mean Betterbee.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Paulding County, Georgia
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I'm a new beek - have placed one order to Dadant but got great customer service. Everything didn't go perfectly, but they called me and tried their best to make everything right. I totally forgot to call them back after they left a message and they called me back a week later to make sure that everything was buttoned up. It's the best customer service I've had in general in several years. Very impressed.

    When you're in business things go wrong - that's the nature of the world. But it's how you handle the situation when things do go wrong that differentiate you from your competition.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    South Haven, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I don't have a lot of experience, just two order with them. But both arrived on time and were complete. All in all I will continue to use them.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,815

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Quote Originally Posted by ekrouse View Post
    betterbee

    In summary:

    Pros:
    * Great prices on jars and bottles.
    * 3 hours from my location so I can pickup big / heavy orders and save on
    if you order enough jars try
    Wixon's
    Telephone
    607 243-7301
    FAX
    607 243-7143
    Mailing address
    4937 Lakemont-Himrod Rd Dundee, NY 14837


    they have a web site but nothing on it, call and ask for there prices, far cheaper than better bee and alot closer to syracuse
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,118

    Default Re: Betterbee

    Just what I was going to say. ekrouse is 3 hours drive from BB and 1 hr away from Wixson? BB must be giving their jars away to make them more worthwhile going to.
    Wixson is 250 miles away from me and that's where I go for jars. I can't tell you how well Jerry, and Roscoe before he died, have treated me.

    Mann Lake and then Dadant for everything else. 'cept bee suits I get from Brushy Mtn at the big mtngs.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Betterbee

    FWIW....
    I've ordered twice from Betterbee, both orders having a dozen or so all different types of items, woodenware, etc.
    Both times the phone service was quick and pleasant, and my order arrived within about 5 or 6 days, with no mistakes in it.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,470

    Default Re: Betterbee

    I order several unique items through betterbee. Overall, I find their customer service lacking, their online catalog poor, and expensive. If I could find the same items elsewhere i would not look back.

    Mann Lake rocks!! Shipping is more for me, but what an awesome company! Any issue that ever occurred with Mann Lake was handled quickly with great professionalism. I've also had great luck with Kelley's.

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