Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: jersanct on March 29, 2012, 08:39 AM

Title: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on March 29, 2012, 08:39 AM
Hello everyone,

I'm hoping someone here might have dealt with Marc Torppa at the Growing Grounds.  If so, could you please share your experiences with him?

If I have put this question in the wrong section of the forum, I hope the moderators will correct my error.

Thank you,

Chris
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: reddog on March 29, 2012, 01:20 PM
Interesting.  Why do you ask?  Are you looking to purchasing material from growing grounds?
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on March 30, 2012, 12:02 AM
Let's say that I've tried.  So far, we've reached the point of the transaction where he cashes my check and sits on my money for nearly a month without shipping my tree, completely ignoring several messages asking him what's going on.

Earlier today, I was directed to a fascinating thread dedicated to him on bonsainut; it sounds like my experience is worse than most, but not by much.  Unfortunately I didn't see this thread when I tried to research him, because they had misspelled his name as "Torpa."

More details tomorrow.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: reddog on March 30, 2012, 01:09 AM
Sorry to hear about your experience.  I had an unpleasant experience with him about two years ago when I inquired about his material.  He is arrogant and I would not recommend him. 
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Dave Murphy on March 30, 2012, 12:09 PM
I've never dealt with him, but I've heard he has great material and crappy customer service.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on March 30, 2012, 12:26 PM
If you look for the thread about him on bonsainut, you'll see that it doesn't appear to be uncommon for the nice material to arrive damaged, due to his shoddy shipping practices, as well.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on March 31, 2012, 12:19 AM
I feel that I must post a warning here, so other people do not run into the same problems that I foolishly did.

I would recommend staying far, FAR away from Marc Torppa at the Growing Grounds. He was pleasant enough as we were discussing a few trees I was considering buying, although I detected a strong smell of b/s from the beginning. I decided to buy a wildly overpriced tree (that he also was misrepresenting), just because I had been looking for something like the tree he had. Big mistake.

He does not accept any modern forms of payment (i.e. credit cards, PayPal)--so I sent a check to him. Bigger mistake. He claims he doesn't accept credit cards or PayPal because nobody ever wanted to use them. Seriously? I now realize he doesn't accept credit cards or PayPal because it's much easier to get your money back if you use them.

Once my check arrived, it was cashed immediately...and then he went completely AWOL--well, nearly (see below). I now sit here nearly a month after he cashed my check with no tree, no expectation that I ever will receive my tree, no response to any of my email messages first asking then demanding to know what was going on, and no other way to contact him.

If you think that I might just be a difficult person, I would strongly encourage you to read this link on the Bonsainut forum: http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?6212-Arakawa-woes%28Thanks-UPS%29&highlight=torpa (http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?6212-Arakawa-woes%28Thanks-UPS%29&highlight=torpa) .

Unfortunately, when I tried to find reviews or commentary about him, I didn't find this thread--because they misspelled his name in it as Torpa rather than Torppa. After reading all of that, it sounds like I probably should expect to find my tree and/or its pot broken if it ever arrives, on top of all of the other trouble.

So, just to lay out various parts of my experience in one concise list:

* The only thing that happened smoothly and quickly in the whole experience was when he cashed my check, nearly four weeks ago.
* He stopped answering email messages after he received my check.
* Although he did ignore all of my messages (which sounds like standard practice, judging from the commentary on the bonsainut thread), he did send one random message saying he would ship my tree last Wednesday and would send a tracking number - that never happened.
* I've received emails from at least 2 different addresses for him, maybe more. My guess would be that he is doing this so he can claim that someone must have used an incorrect address while trying to contact him or some other nonsense.
* He doesn't accept credit cards or PayPal - which is just annoying and also makes it very difficult to dispute payment.
* I couldn't find one review for him online--as I said, I didn't see the bonsainut thread, unfortunately. This should have been a warning sign, but I ignored it.
* I only found one other mention of him on any bonsai forum, and it was unclear if the person who mentioned him had ever dealt with him. Another warning sign.
* He has no phone number listed in his contact information; I found two phone numbers for him online, and both have been disconnected.
* I found a yellow pages listing for his company online, and it listed the business as CLOSED.

So, until the bonsainut thread confirmed that he existed at all, I was nearly certain that this was all a big scam. Well, it is kind of a big scam, in my experience, but at least he and some trees do exist.

Again, I would encourage you to read this thread on bonsainut - link above. I also would encourage you to share this information with all of your bonsai friends.

I repeat: I RECOMMEND THAT YOU AVOID MARC TORPPA / MARC TORPA / MARK TORPPA / MARK TORPA @ THE GROWING GROUNDS.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: raydomz on March 31, 2012, 08:52 AM
Hey jersanct and fellow bsg members..

I am the author of that other thread on bnut. I just wanted to chime in on this and confirm all of what has been said so far.
My experience with Marc Torppa* had been very much the same although I was fortunate enough to receive my tree. I STRONGLY suggest that anyone considering purchasing material from Marc avoid it at all costs. Yes some of it looks great and he will of course "make you a deal", which sounds great but consider that he would need to break everyone a deal with such over priced trees.
I do not deal with Marc after my experience, waste of time.

jersanct, are there any plans to deal with this legaly? With the mask of email it could take forever to get it settled otherwise.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: rockm on April 02, 2012, 09:45 AM
https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/mailfraudcomplaint.aspx
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: bwaynef on April 02, 2012, 10:32 AM
If you have a complaint, the BBB is always a good place to contact.  Also the "whois" record for thegrowinggrounds.com has an address, a phone #, and an email address.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on April 02, 2012, 10:38 AM
Thanks, guys.  Today I'll be asking my bank about what they can do, possibly with the help of his bank, and I'll be submitting a complaint to the link rockm provided.

Bwaynef, thanks for the advice.  The email address listed for Marc on whois is yet another email address, and the phone number has been disconnected.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Judy on April 02, 2012, 11:12 AM
Anybody have any ideas on how we can spread the word to potential buyers so no one else gets hurt?  Seems somehow sadder that it happened inside the bonsai community...  :(
Good luck to you jersanct.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: rockm on April 02, 2012, 11:40 AM
I'm not a lawyer, but I would be VERY cautious about "spreading the word." Given the nature of today's litigious society, I'd think such activity could be actionable...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation)
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on April 02, 2012, 11:51 AM
Well, as the wikipedia entry states, negative claims have to be false to be considered defamation.  People publish online reviews of products and services all the time, perfectly legally.  I've laid out my factual experience for you.  However, Judy, I would leave the publicly published warnings to those of us who have had actual experiences.  Privately communicating to friends and acquaintances, pointing out where they can read about other people's experiences...do whatever you please, there.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: rockm on April 02, 2012, 01:18 PM
I understand that, but "false" would be a sliding scale. I mean the guy has reportedly delivered SOME trees (albeit busted, smashed and in otherwise questionable shape) just not others.

Anyway, I agree that those commenting should have had experience with the guy.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on April 02, 2012, 02:32 PM
For all I know, I may be the only person who hasn't had a tree delivered.  I'm only telling you about my experience, rendering an opinion on the guy as a vendor, and directing you to view the experiences of others.  But I do understand what you're saying and appreciate the sentiments.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Judy on April 02, 2012, 02:53 PM
I guess in these times, everyone must cover their respective a**.  But I still think it's a sad state of affairs.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Vulcan on April 02, 2012, 03:31 PM
Possibly, a forum subject for "Vendor Experiences" would be a way of educating the bonsai public; at least here.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Dave W on April 02, 2012, 05:14 PM
Hi everyone. I'm new to the Bonsai Study Group, but not with dealing with Marc Torrpa. I have ordered 4 trees from him over 3 yrs, and 3 of those trees were damaged. One of the pots was shattered. Two of the trees had the apex split pretty bad. As for getting my trees shipped, that was another adventure all together. It has always taken multiple emails to get him to do anything, and at one point I thought it was a scam on the first purchase.

My sister lives about an hour away from him, so on my last visit to North Carolina from Cali, I arranged a visit to the Growing Grounds. While there I  purchased a Japanese Maple from him. I informed him that my past purchases from him had been damaged upon arrival, to which he sounded very suprised. I paid him by check, which he cashed within a couple of hours. Two weeks later my tree arrived with the apex broken off about 5 inches down. I think you can all imagine how heart broken I was when I saw it.

I would advise anyone thinking of purhasing a tree from The Growing Grounds to think twice!!!!
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Owen Reich on April 02, 2012, 07:15 PM
I had friend drop off a tree there for styling (Growing Grounds).  Tree supposedly died, then 6 months later it was "for sale" on the web.  I've never dealt with him directly.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on April 05, 2012, 11:44 AM
Just an update:  still no response from Marc whatsoever.  I have been keeping him updated on the next steps I will be taking and have been following through on each step, so he can see that I am serious.  Still nothing from him.  Amazing.

I talked to my bank this morning.  They said they would be happy to help me talk to his bank but suggested my first step should be to contact his local prosecutor.  I probably will do this Friday or Monday.

On the postal inspector front, I have read through a lot of the information on the site linked earlier in this thread.  It sounds like the postal inspectors are particularly interested in situations where there is a pattern of problems with transactions executed through the USPS.  Judging from what others have posted publicly or sent to me privately, I think we could have an interesting case.  If anyone who has had problems would like to be involved in a potential complaint to the postal service, please PM me.

Thanks everyone.  I continue to recommend staying away from this guy.  If you want good trees, packed safely, and from a vendor who knows what customer service is, I have had very positive experiences with Gary Ishii @ Chikugo-en, Don Blackmond @ Gregory Beach Bonsai, and George Muranaka at Muranaka Bonsai Nursery--he is the gold standard in safe shipping among the group of vendors I have used, but all three on this list are good.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: rockm on April 06, 2012, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the update. Good luck. Hopefully some of those efforts will shake loose the tree or your money.

FWIW, you might ask Robert Stevens (the Indonesian bonsai artist) about his experiences in chasing down a reluctant would-be bonsai merchant.
http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?4288-Will-Heath-and-the-Mysterious-Case-of-Disappearing-Pots&highlight=Robert+Stevens (http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?4288-Will-Heath-and-the-Mysterious-Case-of-Disappearing-Pots&highlight=Robert+Stevens)
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: John Kirby on April 06, 2012, 09:59 AM
Rock, you aren't going to mention the name of the person who is not supposed to be mentioned on a bonsai forum?
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: davestree on April 06, 2012, 10:58 AM
I think he just did .....
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Jay on April 06, 2012, 11:05 AM
John, 
Brings back memories of the old days on the 'old board'. That was one person I'm glad to be away from......

J
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: MatsuBonsai on April 06, 2012, 12:06 PM
Now you have to go outside, turn around three times, and spit.
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: Humunculus on April 10, 2012, 12:36 PM
I also thought it worth mentioning the negative experience I had with Marc.  I'm certainly partly to blame here.  Bought a very nice looking japanese maple bonsai based on photos of the tree leafed out.  Based on price, I expected a tree with at least some basically acceptable branch structure.  Shame on me for not insisting photos of the tree while dormant.  In the canopy of leaves, the trunk was very badly scarred, with very large open cuts that were badly done and which will take a very long time to heal.  The branching was terrible and I was forced to remove almost everything down to a stub.  The tree is now in the ground for some proper development.  All of this would have been fine had it not been billed or priced as a finished tree.  It was the only bonsai transaction that I've had in 12 years that I came away from feeling duped.  For what it's worth. 
Title: Re: Marc Torppa @ the Growing Grounds
Post by: jersanct on April 10, 2012, 01:35 PM
Latest update...

On the advice of my bank, I have called the county prosecutor where Marc's business resides.  I am still awaiting a response from the DA but hope to receive a return call this week.  However, it may be very helpful to the bonsai community in general if others with bad experiences were to share their stories as well.  Just Google "gaston county nc district attorney".

Alternatively, you could contact me by PM, and you could at least allow me to list you as another person who has had a bad experience.