Everybody's a Critic, Taking Your Gardening Dollar

National Home Gardening Club – WTF?

by SusanMag
Here’s a question I keep hearing and reading:  What’s up with the National Home Gardening Club and it’s
Gardening How-To Magazine?  And indeed I’m JUST as confused as everyone else.  See, I don’t even remember subscribing
but when they sent me dunning notices I coughed up the $12 and decided to investigate.

While the first source of confusion is the unusual nature of the club-magazine combo, when a question about it was put to the gardening Yahoo group in my neighborhood, the answers revealed not just widespread confusion but irritation with the reams of junk mail coming out of the company.  Then one astute listserv member pointed us to what commenters at Dave’s Garden Watchdog have to say about this company.  And oh, boy, let the ranting begin!

In summary, there are 18 positive responses, 10 neutral, and 30 negative.  And can you really trust those too-glowing positives?  (We know that employees of company – of all types – are routinely instructed to comment favorably on forums, so I discount them by at least half.)  And these lifted words from the negatives and neutrals reveal a decided pattern: "suckered in," "false promises," "waste of money," "false advertising," "switcheroo", "irritating experience,"  "total scam,"  "deceptive,"  and "avoid this company!"

There’s more.  The "free" stuff is deemed "junk" and "worthless".  The magazine is "a joke," "barely there," and full of "grade school level gardening tips".  (I have to agree, based on the 5 whole minutes it takes to read one of them.)

So who ARE these annoying people?  The Terms of Use on their website are instructive:


This Website is provided by North American Membership Group ("NAMG"), subject to the following Terms of Service ("TOS"), which may be updated by us from time to time…These TOS apply to the following sites: Huntingclub.com, Fishingclub.com, Handymanclub.com, Gardeningclub.com, Partnersclubonline.com, Cookingclub.com, Healthandwellnessclub.com, Creativehomeartsclub.com, Thehistorychannelclub.com, Streetmachineclub.com, Clubrapala.com, and Namginc.com.

So neither the magazine nor the "club" exactly spring forth from the bosom of the horticultural establishment.  But readers, weigh in.  Positive, negative or – hard to imagine – neutral?

A WORD ABOUT FORUMS
The Watchdog feature on Dave’s Garden is awesome and I accessed it without paying anything, so I’m confused.  I seem to remember complaints about fees, so has that changed? And if Daves is free, why exactly do we need the dozens of new forums that are launched on the Web every month?  Clearly I’m not a forum person myself, so enlighten me.

Posted by on March 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm, in the category Everybody's a Critic, Taking Your Gardening Dollar.
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19 Responses to “National Home Gardening Club – WTF?”

  1. Colleen says:

    Ugh. I’m still getting tons of junkmail from the National Home Gardening Club after they scammed me into sending them $12 I didn’t remember owing (sounds like you were in the same boat.) There is nothing I like about the organization, their magazine, or their website (which, somehow, I keep getting email updates from even though I never signed up for anything like that.)

    As to DG, everything’s free except the majority of the discussion forums. It seems fair enough, and makes it so you don’t have millions of annoying pop-ups when you visit.

  2. grouchylisa says:

    Colleen is completely correct about Dave’s Garden. It’s completely free to post and read in the “Garden Watchdog” section. Kind of like American Express–I wouldn’t mail order garden without it.

    I don’t recall getting dunned by the National Home Gardening Club, but maybe that’s because I immediately round file anything I receive from them, unopened. If they were sending me faux collection notices, I wouldn’t notice. I’m sure that’s what they are doing, though. I saw a copy of their magazine, “Garden How-To”, in my doctor’s office a few visits ago, and I thought I might like to subscribe to the magazine, because even though it’s gardening “lite”, I figured it was worth $12 a year. I went to their website and couldn’t find the kind of specific subscription information (or membership information) you find with reputable magazines and organizations, so that’s where I stopped my investigation. National Home Gardening Club just didn’t pass the “sniff test”.

  3. steve says:

    sometimes these things are worded so you do not even realize what it means, as for forums they still are a great place to keep in touch with what is happening , the problem is finding it quickly

    steve

  4. While I admit that the magazine is elementary, I still enjoy flipping through the pages, just as I enjoy flipping through the pages of all the rest of my garden magazines. I have a slight obsession about buying as many garden magazines as I can — it gets me through the long, long winters here in Canada (we’re having ANOTHER snowstorm as we speak, I’ll be lucky if I can put peas in before the first heat wave, I couldn’t last year). As for junk mail — I don’t get any! Perhaps its because I live in Canada, and postage is too expensive. The only thing I receive from the club is my magazine. I’m fine with that!

  5. Bonnie Story says:

    Hello – My Home Gardening Club experience has been positive. I actually sought them out and subscribed on a tip from a friend.

    They are pushy about their calendar, although it is gorgeous I’m expected to pay $17.00 for it although I never ask for it…

    BUT I did receive a very nice welcome gift of top quality gardening tools that I’m still using 8 years later.

    I don’t mind the junk mail. I really don’t. It all has to do with gardening and tools and stuff. So no big whoop.

    The magazine is indeed geared towards the beginning gardener, but folks: Where are tomorrow’s advanced gardeners going to come from? I think the mag is attractive and well-done, and I do enjoy reading it. I really like the photos and captions sent in by readers. I think the fact that it’s not too highbrow is a real plus – it’s not intimidating to folks who just want to grow corn and pretty petunias and call it a season. Nuttin’ wrong with that, right?

    I have no negatives about the HGC except the unsolicited calendar, which I always end up buying because it’s large-format and lovely. I could just indicate “No thanks” and return it… Thanks for reading! Bonnie (Not a HGC employee by any stretch!)

  6. Bob(alink) says:

    I think the National Home Gardening Club is a great organization. It hides its true cost (advertising $12 when it’s really $24); makes it difficult to cancel; threatens you with, apparently, an in-house collection agency that hints it will ruin your credit rating if you don’t pay for something you apparently didn’t even order; sends “gifts” that often are laughable in quality; constantly duns you to join for a lifetime at $199 (plus a few extras here and there); and turns off future gardeners by ripping them off royally. Yes, this organization passes the “sniff test.” Just take your shovel, keep an eye on the bull so he won’t gore you, and move this organization’s steaming brown stuff to your compost pile, where, after six months, it will make a wonderful addition to your garden.

  7. melissa says:

    Is it run by Readers Digest? They do that scam to older people all the time and are next to impossible to get on the phone to cancel. They did that to my mother in law, who is elderly. I DID get them on the phone and insisted that they delete her account and cease billing her. They did. This LOOKS like a RD publication, like Family Handyman and its ilk.

  8. Reading Dirt says:

    Not long ago I came across and advertisement from an “expert gardener” selling a gardening e-book. His credentials? “Member of the National Home Gardening Club.” That’s where I first heard of this “club” and checked it out. Some credentials. That’s like calling yourself an “expert scientist” because your a member of the National Geographic Society.

    As for the “club” itself, I visited their website and found that it was more about selling lots and lots of gardening products than it was about actual gardening. In their informative article section, they listed wisteria, columbine, and bougainvillea under the category of “annuals.” That’s where I lot interest.

  9. I confess that I sent them the subscription money and received tools that broke the first time I used them – trowel bent at the handle with the first plunge into the garden.

    Then I received a little keychain – cute but fell apart.

    It took a while to get off the mailing list. Now they send me fewer pieces but I 86 them on site.

    Sadly, I don’t make the time to read gardening magazines. There are so many books I’m interested in right now instead.
    Martha

  10. Karen Graves says:

    last month I received a notice from a collection agency saying that I owed NHGC $170 for a life membership which supposedly I signed up for five years ago. What kind of club uses a collection agency for its dues ????? I immediately reported this to the US Postal inspectors and the state consumer protection agency as a scam. I am now waiting for their next attempt with glee. Does anyone know where these people live?? All I can find is email addresses. I’d like to call and give them a piece of my mind (for free too).

  11. Trevor says:

    Listen, I actually used to work for this company. If anyone who reads this wants to know anything about how membership works, or the marketing strategy (club benefits) just email me at nepatsfaninny@yahoo.com. I’ll gladly let you know what you want to know if I know the answer.

  12. Heather says:

    Sigh, I gave them money…I asked them to quit sending me books. I hate having to send things back. Their response arrived WITH A BOOK!
    I asked them in writing to quit with the $180 life membership. Their response? “Thank you for your interest in NHGC!” I am not good at this stuff. Now their collection buddies. Thank goodness I checked to see if other folks were having trouble before dashing off a check. I am calling the attorney general tommorrow!

  13. greg draiss says:

    The club is worse than attending a pampered chefs party. It is a marketing scheme to sell and get in return worthless reviews of stuff. As a professional in the hort industry I tried to join and was told it was more for amateurs

  14. I contacted an atty & BBB. I,m a senior. They promised to send shears & a cushion. My atty agreed to take it all the way as they use deceptive advertising. Scamming like this has GOT TO STOP. I kept every piece of mail & transcripts, dates & times of when their supervisors kept promising they were sending items. If this isn’t settled and my account cancelled, we will seek damages for time and money sent as well as emotional distress to an elder. ENOUGH.

  15. Carlene Liubakka says:

    Just received a collection notice for $226.00 for my life time membership which I thought was something I won. Not good business practices here I am not a happy camper and will fight this collection notice and make sure anyone I talk too avoids the National Home and Gardening Club.
    PS I am red hot mad…

  16. D Dotson says:

    I signed up for the $12 membership (1 yr) a short time ago. I’ve gotten several magazines and feel they are probably worth the $12 per year. They are nicely put together. I haven’t gotten any unrequested books or items from them, but I also haven’t gotten the promised transplanter and pruning shears. It said 4 to 6 weeks and it’s been 8 weeks already… I’m still in ‘wait and see’ mode at this point.

    I’m also wondering what will happen next year when my 1 yr sub. runs out and I don’t renew. Guess it could be a battle.

  17. D Dotson says:

    Today I got the package. I got a trowel to test, didn’t get the promised pruning shears, got some free seeds and a book I don’t want. If I pay for the book ($9) then I am “opting in” for more books, but they did send a form for merchandise refusal that I will be using.

    It’s a nice enough book, but I don’t want to be sent ANYTHING that I haven’t personally requested. Technically, I don’t have to return the books since it was unsolicited, but I know that route brings dunning, collection agencies and bad reports to the credit reporting companies.

  18. Brie says:

    Well, I guess I’m on the right mailing list now, because I got my first membership invitation today, pressuring me to send in the “YES” card in ten days so they can organize my membership and get me started testing products. I’ve got a pretty good B.S. detector and knew I’d find rants like this about the company’s bad practices. And as a graphic designer, I also recognize a certain hacky marketing style. Everything about the package they sent said “scam”. So I’m glad GardenRant and Dave’s Garden’s Watchdog site is out there uncovering the truth! Into the bin (compost, that is) it goes.

  19. Mary says:

    So glad I found this thread.. and just in time! I had sent in the original membership card and was sitting down to make the payment when I decided to look up their phone number and came across this thread! Not only am I NOT sending in the dues, I’m also sending in a letter stating that I don’t want to be a part of this club and that I want to be immediately removed from all their mailing list. I also stated that if I am harrassed or if they continue to send me unsolicted items after this notification that I will report them. Thanks for all your comments in this thread. I feel like coming upon this article may have saved me a lot of headaches.

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