Saga of the dead iris

Lowe's dessicated iris on left, Lowe's dead iris in center, healthy iris right

As I wrote in my last post, one out of the nine bearded iris rhizomes that I just purchased at Lowes Home Improvement nursery center was dead. Departed. Deceased. Rotten to its mushy core. I give you Exhibit A in the photo above. Compare the brown, rotted rhizome in the center to the robust, healthy rhizome on the right from Greenwood Garden in Somis, CA, or even the dessicated but alive Lowes rhizome on the left. The difference is clear.

Exchange of the rotten rhizome for one even as dessicated as the one on the left was all I wanted. I was not distressed that I received a bad bulb. I was not upset. I was not angry. I just wanted a replacement. One that had a chance of surviving. And if that exchange had been accomplished pleasantly or even neutrally, you would have heard no more of the matter. But alas, pleasant is not the experience I had.

I went to the Return Desk, where the job of the people working there is to accept returns. I showed the girl–and it was a young person–the rotted tuber and asked pleasantly to be allowed to exchange it. You would have thought that I’d smeared it upon her personage, or interrupted a personal phone call, or called her away from gossiping to, GASP, actually work.

She scowled and asked how long it had been since I bought it, like it was my fault that it was decrepit. It had been about a week. The fault was not mine.

The rhizome was packaged in a plastic bag with potting soil instead of in a net bag with good circulation. I mean, that kind of packaging was just asking for spoilage. The poor thing was being precomposted. But I didn’t mention that. I just wanted my friggin’ money back so I could get another one of their irises, only this time I wanted a live one.

It took her forever to do whatever it was she had to do, including talking to the manager about the issue. Jeez! It’s dead! Take it back! And she scowled the whole time.

Ahem, customer service means that you provide service to the customer. Is it really all that hard a concept? If a product is obviously spoiled and therefore defective, and your company’s name is right there on the package, you replace the product, no questions asked.

I got no apology for the product being defective. I got no expression of concern from her about the time (and gasoline) it took to drive back to the store to exchange it, or the amount of time it took her to figure out how to do her job. I received no expression of regret over my negative experience. Actually, I wasn’t upset until I tried to exchange the iris. Finally she counted out my money: $4.33.

Things were better in the nursery department, when I relayed my experience at the Returns Desk as I was buying a new iris (and a beautiful poinsettia). The sales staff there sees me often enough that I’m a familiar face. I got the apology and the expression of concern that I had expected.

The problem isn’t Lowes. It was that one clerk at the Returns Desk. With so many people out of work, is she the best Lowes could do? I’m just saying.

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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2 Responses to Saga of the dead iris

  1. Barbara says:

    They must have worked hard at killing off that tuber. I had to get rid of some irises that were taking over a whole bed, and threw some of the rhizomes into the compost where they just do not decompose. I’m half expecting irises to grow out of the slats in the spring. Wish I could have given them to you! Barbara


    • LOL, I wish you could have given those iris rhizomes to me too instead of throwing them into the compost bin. But that got me to thinking. I have some plants that outgrow their boundaries and I just toss them too. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a local plant exchange in our respective communities where we could give away our excess? I think I’ll bring that concept up with our local community garden committee.


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