So, you have a forage issue—blame the seed company!
You thought this time you did everything right! You drilled the seed at the right depth, the weather was good and the signs were right, but you’re just not happy with what you’re seeing. All this time you thought this was the year that you would be able to put your forage program on track, now what you’re looking at is money, time and energy wasted. Frustrating. Time to blame the seed company!
Here are some tips to getting what you want when it comes to seed complaint situations.
Identify what you want. As a seed industry professional, the most frustrating complaints are those that have no clear end goal. A few common and reasonable goals when it comes to seed complaints would be:
Ask for replant coverage. All professional seed companies will have an established replant policy. It may involve you gathering some information and signing some paperwork, but it should be in place for you to use if the situation suits. Replant policies vary so it may be advantageous to request a copy of the replant policy before purchasing the seed.
Ask for agronomic advice on how to repair/recover the stand.
Ask for a visit from a support staff member who can assist with the exact problem.
Don’t ask for a refund – It’s just not going to happen. Seed companies are bound by the seed tag. If the information on the tag is accurate and up to date, the company has done what it said it would do. There is no guarantee of performance. You may be afforded replants, discounts on future purchases or agronomic support, but requesting a refund on seed that was legally sold and the contents were accurately depicted on the tag, is not a reasonable solution.
Don’t bypass your local dealer/rep – If you purchased the product through and with the help of a local rep or dealer, don’t cut them out of your complaint quest. Unless your complaint is directed toward the performance or behavior of the local dealer/rep, a reputable seed company will not take action on your complaint without involving them. Calling the company President may seem like the best thing to do in the moment, but most often your local rep can pull more strings than you can. Involve them.
Have your ducks in a row – There are a number of questions that a good agronomic service person will ask IMMEDIATELY when faced with a complaint.
- Have you soil tested? If yes, have you amended accordingly?
Did you save your seed tags?
What were the previous crops/crop rotation/herbicide program?
Timing of planting?
Conditions at planting?
These questions aren’t meant to blame you. They’re simple fact-finding questions. There’s no need to get defensive in this situation. Any reputable seed company is going to help you find a solution- if one is to be found. Solving the agronomic or management issue is not necessarily tied to you getting what you want to help ease the pain of a failure, such as a replant.
Don’t text it! This goes for almost all confrontational interaction, but especially for seed complaints. Feel free to text if you think something is wrong and ask for a call, but attempting to explain the problem in a text typically doesn’t work unless it’s very simple.
Complain early and often –The earlier your dealer/rep knows about your complaint, the quicker action can occur to address. Knowing the problem exists involves frequent scouting. Driving by is not enough. Walk your newly established stand once a week after planting to see how it’s progressing. At the first sign of trouble, notify your dealer/rep that an issue may exist. You can track crop progress together and make the appropriate adjustments.
Consider blaming others – Successfully growing forages involves a host of inputs and management considerations. Before resting blame solely on the seed dealer/rep, consider the other factors and be open-minded to blaming them. Fertilizer, weather, hired help, the weather and even potentially your spouse could be on the list of those who might share some of the blame. You can also talk to your neighbors about who they might blame! The point here is to be open-minded to involving everyone in your process of discovering why a failure occurred. No one person has the answer.
Embrace your profession – Failures occur with any profession, but farming is one of the rare professions that can be executed perfectly, but yield variable results. On the flip side, execution can be less than ideal or maybe downright careless and still sometimes yield very good results! Sometimes the failures and successes are to the fault or credit of no one. Mature producers understand this process and are able to accept it, learn from it and move forward with a plan.
Aside from the occasional misguided person with a chip on their shoulder, the ag industry is filled mostly with service people who enjoy helping. They want to see you succeed. Help them help you by changing the way you think about complaints. Pause, prepare and present your complaint as well as your intended goal of complaining. It may be a little extra work upfront, but it may get your further than you expected to get.