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Thread: Robert Russell

  1. #1
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Robert Russell

    I have done business with Russell and was extremely disappointed in the customer service they provide. They were very difficult to communicate with to determine if the order was processing and when it might arrive.
    I had placed two orders for queens this year. The first order, in May 2011, was for four queens. The order fulfillment was delayed due to the terrible Spring weather at Russell's facilities. I was very understanding of the conditions. When the queens were available, the order was shipped via US Postal priority, guaranteed delivery. The order was to arrive next day. The order took seven days to arrive. When I questioned the Postal agent about the meaning of the guaranteed delivery, he simply replied that if the order does not arrive within the guaranteed time, the SHIPPER is entitled to a refund on the shipping fees. When I asked Russell about refunding my shipping fees, I was advised that this was a US postal issue and that I had to deal with them. I attempted to inform Russell that the US Postal service was only willing to credit the shipper. I never received any shipping credit.

    In July 2011, I decided to give Russell another shot and ordered a single queen to re-queen a hive that had lost a queen. Again the order was shipped via US Postal priority, guaranteed delivery. The next day delivery arrived six days later. I was extremely disappointed that I encountered the same shipping problem. I requested Russell to credit the shipping fees. Again I was told that Russell does not deal with missed shipments and that I was to appeal to the US Post office, who again told me that the SHIPPER is entitled to a refund on the shipping fees.

    I understand that somethings are simply beyond the control of the seller. However I really feel that this issue could have been addressed by Russell. Perhaps an offer of a free queen or some way to make good on a two missed shipments. Customer service is about keeping your customers happy, so that they will not only return to you as a customer, but will also recommend others to their service or product. In this case, I will be reluctant to do either.

    Good Luck in your dealings!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Billlbee, why would you not request Express Mail, being it is Mississippi, to CT?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Quote Originally Posted by brac View Post
    Billlbee, why would you not request Express Mail, being it is Mississippi, to CT?
    The order was shipped US Postal next day guaranteed - it can't come any faster then that!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    This post was was written by rrussell6870 but ended up getting deleted accidentally when these posts were moved here from another forum. - Barry

    ***************
    The orders were shipped express... you paid for priority for the first order, we shipped it express at our own cost... the actions of the post office is beyond our control and we had already paid for faster shipping for you to ensure a safe arrival... your queens arrived alive and well, I assume... so why is it that you feel like we owe you something else?

    After looking at your order, I see that you filed with paypal attempting to get your entire payments back for both orders because the shipper did not meet THEIR "guaranty"... we are not selling pizza's here, and just for future reference, paypal and our company or not one in the same... if paypal decides to refund your payments, you will still be expected to pay for the queens that you received and the shipping that we have already paid for... each customer is set up like an account and if the purchases on an account have not been paid for (or in this case, the payment has been voided), the account will go into collections and no other purchases can be made until the past due balance is paid...

    The "guaranty" of the usps or any other company is not our "guaranty". We "guaranty" live, healthy queens... you received that... if you have a problem with the usps's guaranty, then you can take that up with them. We do not file claims for missed "guaranteed delivery dates" with the usps... shipping express is a way to ensure the fastest possible shipping, not a way to try to recover costs if they do not make it to the destination in the time that the postal service says they will. Each shipment is insured, so if queens arrive dead, the insurance can be used to cover losses that the customer may have until replacements arrive...

    As has been mentioned in the consumer report thread, we have indeed been keeping a record of issues such as this so that we can be a bit more selective as to whom we will provide queens for next season. We have had people that waited until they received their queens, then tried to find ways to get their payments back so they could essentially get free queens, refuse to go to the post office to pick up their queens when they arrived only to demand replacements when they decide that driving to the local post office is not such a big deal, put their queens in hives with the resident queen still there and then want replacements or refunds, etc... yes, we are a large supplier, but that does not mean that we are in the business of just sending queens off to be killed for no reason, or that we are in the business of providing free queens... we will never be able to keep up with the demand, so we have a list of people that we will not be providing for in the future, which will hopefully allow us to focus more on the quality and customer care of our true clientele.
    ***************
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    thanks Barry, I was just trying to post another. lol.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    I would certainly consider buying from Russell, if it ever rains again. In the meantime, I'm lucky to have living bees and a living feral queen.

    I ship Priority Mail, non-living items, not terribly fragile, if they were not half the price of UPS I wouldn't use them, as orders are not trackable, and last week they ran over 2 with a postal truck I think. (I pack very well, they had to work at crushing those boxes.) And yes, there's a scammer out there everywhere, something for nothing is a fine art..
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  7. #7
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    May 2009
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Very true... We have an elaberate packing process that not only includes the boxes, but we actually have staff members that place every single order in seperate postal handling bins, create a lattice of special care tape across the top of the bins, and then our people are the ones that load them on to the outgoing trucks and planes so that they are stacked safely as the very last things loaded... this helps greatly, but it only works from the central Southern hub to the next stop... at that point, its totally up to the postal service employees to get things right...

    Wish I could get some of our water to you guys over there... we were parched, but then got flooded... had nucs floating off in a foot and a half of water like little noahs arks. lol. Could have been worse though, so I guess its still a blessing... We will definitly going to get a huge goldenrod flow if it doesnt rain through the bloom...

    I have been talking with UPS, but they are very expensive... the high shipping costs of usps express have hurt bee keepers enough and I am hoping to find some solution to try to get the costs down a bit...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    again this sounds like a poor customer rather than shipper.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2010
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    Newman Lake, Wa.
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    An example of Dr. Russell shipping care. I couldn't have asked for better packaging when I went to the post office and picked them up.

    http://i1239.photobucket.com/albums/...n/IMG_0239.jpg
    Last edited by Daniel Wasson; 09-06-2011 at 05:49 PM. Reason: picture to big.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2010
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    Anthony, New Mexico USA
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Well, I do have to say that my Russell queens are just excellent in every aspect you may think of.
    Some of my queens had problems, some delayed and some DOA due to the heat wave we were suffering in the southwest; but each one that was not as I expected, were replaced and now are just thriving and making me happy.
    It is easy to be impatient when dealing with bees; it is hard not to be when everyone is just talking about the “miracle bee”, and you know you have some coming and your frustration is augmented by problems on the supply side. For some of us, they may represent a hefty investment, and when they are delayed somewhere, and that “wherever reason” is just not acceptable due to our own expectations, and frustration derived from preparations made in order to take advantage of the investment.

    I apologize publicly to Dr. Robert Russell, for being one of those clients that just wanted my queens and wanted them now! And for not ever saying thanks for all the advice I have gotten from his site, postings at this forum as well as private emails.
    After all is said and done, one thing remains truthful; the few dozen Sunkist queens I got are just some of the best queens I have.
    PS for the Bee Doctor;
    I hope you get to understand and forgive the “stinging” from us, frustrated and impatient customers, the way you understand your queens; thanks for your queens.

    Aurelio (leo) Paez
    DBA Micha Bees

  11. #11
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    Very true... We have an elaberate packing process that not only includes the boxes, but we actually have staff members that place every single order in seperate postal handling bins, create a lattice of special care tape across the top of the bins, and then our people are the ones that load them on to the outgoing trucks and planes so that they are stacked safely as the very last things loaded... this helps greatly, but it only works from the central Southern hub to the next stop... at that point, its totally up to the postal service employees to get things right...
    You did that elaborate shipping box I got my queen order in last spring?!?!?!? I thought it was the post office freaking out about bees! Hahaha, that is so awesome that you care that much about my small order!

    My shipment was delayed due to the USPS. My 1-2 day package took 6 days to arrive. Because of USPS's blunder (and NOT Russell's), one of the queens died in transit. Russell replaced it for free, without asking for anything other than a snapshot of the dead queen, and even paid the next postage. It still took 4 days to get my 1-2 day package, but again that was because the post office is a government run operation, and streamlining isn't exactly their goal.

    I couldn't have been more happy with my purchase. Russell's is sometimes difficult to get a hold of, but they have shown EVERY inclination of attempting to deal with EVERYONE'S problems, and Robert ALWAYS makes it right in the end. I would rather wait 10 months for one of Russell's queens than get 10 other queens in one week.

  12. #12
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    Feb 2011
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Sunkist are our best bee producers. My next queens from there will be cordovan if I get lucky.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Quote Originally Posted by BilllBee View Post
    The order was shipped US Postal next day guaranteed - it can't come any faster then that!
    Something you may need to consider Billlbee. Its the USPS! And its getting worse everyday. I dont know if Russells offers Fedex or UPS but anything private will outlast, out work, out perform, is better than a federal bureacracy, you get the picture. I lost everything I owned on 4/27/2011 to an F3 tornado. I gave a change of address to the USPS from my physical address to a P. O. Box # and it stopped some of my mail for 3 months....Hello??? All they had to do was keep it there!!!!!!! Why dont you stop your whining about something that had absolutely nothing to do with Russells and everything to do with your government, you got your queens, I hope they are producing for you, enjoy them and and the fruits of their labors!
    It takes a family to raise a family, it takes a village to really screw that up... Djei5

  14. #14
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    BilllBee

    Please dont take this to heart. I also hope you find a change of heart as well.

    First I want to say I think Russell does a great job of keeping his cool with these issues, Russell, kudos to you for that.

    I have seen so very many of these petty complaints against Russell and other breeders out of complete ignorant arrogance. It seems to me people cant read a book any more and just read a few paragraphs online and think they understand beekeeping, queen rearing, make a few mouse clicks, enter a credit card number, read a short version of making nucs and behave as if they ordered a item in stock at amazon. The get an estimated delivery date of the 6th, then go out on the 4th or 5th and make up a queenless nuc, likely before they even have a tracking number to comfirm a shipment was made. Next they are furious because they have queenless nucs, with emergency cells, a laying worker, blah, blah, blah. They think Russell is liable and that they should have received a phone call and be kept up to date, play by play with their order status. Other issues I see over and over is queens being balled, only half take, none take, blah, blah, blah. And I see russell replace these queens one after another when He and I both know there was nothing wrong with these queens. Folks I have had almost 100% take with all the queens I have introduced into my nucs over the past few years and I only leave them queenless for 4-6 hours but I start them weak with three frames and young nurse bees. I received 11 sunkist queens from Russell and every single one I introduced was excepted.

    Yes Russel could have prevented all these issues. He could have decided not to offer his queens to hobby beekeepers period, and probably not shaved off some valuable time off of his life due to the stress he has obviously taken upon himself and his reputation from mindless rookies.

    My best advice to you BilllBee is to educate your self more fluently and if you cant deal with the delays involved in mail order queens, find a local beek who offers queens for pick up. These can be reserved for next day pick up when they have them on hand and you can make your nucs the day you pick up the queens.

    My best advice to Russel is to spend a little time writing up a guide for customers who order queens and require a box be checked that they read it before they order.

    The best thing I heard in this thread is Robert may be culling the ignorance and arrogance from the queen purchasing herd that has passed through his online operation so others with understanding restraint can benefit and maybe be able to get ahold of him or his office if needed, instead of his phone line being tied up with, and email full of ignorance and arrogance.

  15. #15
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    Jun 2009
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    Danbury, CT, USA
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Thanks to all who have weighed in on this thread. There are obviously some very passionate supporters of the Russell Operation.

    I would just like to address the response I received from Russell: I attempted to make contact with you regarding the missed shipping dates and the guaranteed delivery process offered by the USPS. I will say it again, the USPS only refunds the SHIPPER. I am not the shipper. I completely understand that my queens did arrive, just not in the time frame that the tracking number indicated they would.

    My issue was with USPS, and I attempted to work with them to refund the two missed shipment dates. Their policy is very clear it is the SHIPPER that gets the refund. So my next logical step was to appeal to the shipper. I first attempted that through email to Russell and the response I received was consistent with what they have responded to on this thread, "its not Russell's responsibility to refund shipping cost". My appeal to PayPal was for the shipping cost of the orders, not the entire order. I have no control over the manner in which PayPal processes an appeal. I never indicated that I did not want to pay for the product. Perhaps PayPal did not provide you with my description of the disputed payment?

    This issue has nothing to do with the quality of the product. I think there are many here that are compelled to defend the quality of Russell's product, to the extent that they are attempting to insult my abilities in beekeeping and my level of education. The customer service issue seemed straight forward. It involved two missed shipment guarantees and the expectation that recouping funds for those shipping costs would be prudent. Good customer service is the key to bringing your customers back and expanding your customer base. The irony here is that the quality of service provided by the USPS has impacted the customer service that has been offered by the SHIPPER.

    I am certain that I am not the first person to have dealt with an overdue package and am even more certain that I will not be the last. Out of all of this, I would like to inform others ordering product from Russell, that a guaranteed shipment may not be all that it seems to be!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    My service from Russell has been outstanding, and the quality of the bees would have been worth waiting for anyway. I consider myself fortunate to even have access to buy from them at all. I hope that the whole "dealing with the public" thing doesn't foul that up.

    If the real problem was with the post office maybe the thread should have been called USPS instead of Robbert Russell.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Again, the postage that you paid for was priority, with NO guaranty, even from the usps... so you have absolutely no claim for the first shipment, because WE paid for the express shipment to ensure safe delivery...

    Also again, we do not offer ANY GUARANTY on the usps operations... the only reason that they offer that "guaranty" is so that shippers can recover losses for shipping costs, that is why the Shipper is the only one entitled to file for it...

    Unless a shipper tells you that your package will arrive by a certain date or they will refund your shipping, you are not entitled to it...

    Let's just stop and look at what would happen if this one producer did what you want and filed for a refund of all the shipments that do not arrive by the usps "guaranteed arrival" dates....

    We have shipped over 80,000 queens this season in a little over 18,000 shipments... more than 60% of those shipments arrived after the usps "guaranteed" arrival date... so if we were to file for a refund on these shipments, we would be requesting somewhere around 216,000 dollars from the usps...

    In case you haven't noticed, the usps is already in a major budget crisis... so that sort of cost would certainly require some sort of action to protect their future interests...

    Who would be hurt most by whatever action they decide to take? The public? Bee keepers? Probably both... at the very least, they would inflate the cost of shipping... at the worst, they would refuse to ship bees... somewhere in-between those options, are refusing to offer insurance for live shipments, inflating rates for live shipments, or only offering priority policy for live shipments...

    Don't think for one second that the usps enjoys shipping bees of any sort... we were the pioneers of shipping bees with the usps many decades ago and I still personally meet with the postmaster general annually to discuss policies and procedures in order to address trouble areas and to act as the voice of our industry to ensure that bee keepers and the usps continue to work together to keep shipping available... that is the only reason that they have not refused to ship bees entirely after having numerous issues with leaking nucs and packages causing serious damages. (not any of ours by the way) its also the only reason that bee keepers can get insurance for their shipments...

    It may seem like a petty $28 to you, but a policy like that would effect ALL of our industry... and that is something that we are not willing to risk... so we do NOT offer a guaranty, we do NOT ask for refunds for our shipping costs from the usps, and we do not make any claim to have "guaranteed shipping"...

    We DO pay for the shipment of replacement queens at our own expense, we DO purchase insurance on all shipments, and we DO NOT ASK FOR THAT MONEY... if your queens arrive dead from other suppliers, they require you to pay for the replacements and the shipping for those replacements and they only replace queens that are dead upon arrival. We may be forced to join that crowd next season for the first time in our history due to those that have abused that policy... but as of right now, we have been biting the bullet and sticking to our values...

    We had a horrible spring with one disaster after another and have still been able to produce more than our original goals... yes, we have been extremely overrun with communications, and issues like these only cause that to worsen... I could be spending this time helping someone that is losing hundreds of hives of another producers bees find the cause and stop their losses, or helping other producers to resolve the issues within their stocks to better their quality for the future, or helping the next generation of producers to learn how to get started right so that we have a better chance at facing tomorrows challenges... but instead, I am having to defend my operation over not refunding the shipping fees over a technicality... that is why so many people jump in to defend us, because they understand the situation... and I am thankful to every one of them for their efforts...

    This is why we will be limiting who we will be selling to in the future... and I am sure that there will be many more threads like this next season when some people make their orders only to have them refunded immediately with a note saying "thanks, but no thanks"...

    ps... Aurelio, you are not on that list, and I thank you very much for your kind words. Speaking with heart says a lot about a person, and you are a good man in my book.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    Dr. Russell, Very well said.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    "The irony here is that the quality of service provided by the USPS has impacted the customer service that has been offered by the SHIPPER."

    BilllBee

    Its not irony. We ALL realize that dealing with the USPS is taking a risk. Do you not realize this? The USPS has not impacted the shippers customer service. You have ! On the contrary, I find Russells means of conducting business to be professional. The real "irony" here is someone like you trying to blame one company for another institutions shortcomings. Bottom line is give Russell a break here and stop the wining. The only guarantee in life is that we all grow old and then we die...you need to take a little more time to enjoy the time you have here and stop complaining. The bottom line is ordering live queens through the USPS has risks. If you don't realize that, there's something wrong with you.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  20. #20
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    Jun 2011
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    Cole County, Missouri
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    Default Re: For Dr. Robert Russell

    threads like this helped me to decide I will never become a queen breeder It just seems too many new people with expectations that do not meet reality. I am now leaning to honey production. Funny I at first was more interested in queen production, but not any more.

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