In November of 2011, we placed an order for over $2k worth of trees - husband later said he'd seen some bad reviews, but they were the only company offering balled & burlapped trees of that size, so he decided to give them a shot anyway...
The trees arrived in late March of 2012, shipped FedEx Freight at a cost (to us) of over $400 for shipping. When I'd called Willis Orchards to inquire what root ball size to expect, so that we could have the appropriate size holes ready, I was told 20-24". The baskets they were in were, in fact, 12'. The trees were NOT balled and burlapped at all- they were bare-root stock that had been severely root-trimmed, and set in baskets of wood chips; there was not a trace of soil on the roots. (a balled & burlapped tree is dug with the root ball intact, wrapped in burlap and the root ball secured in a wire basket) The cherry trees had less than 6" of root - several had less than 4". We planted them anyway, and hired a young man to water them every day, because we knew they didn't stand a chance otherwise.
Most of them sprouted a few leaves before they died. It was obvious that most of them were dead by August. I called the company, and was told that in order to avail myself of their guarantee, I had to send back the lower portion of the tree & root ball within a year. In November, I pulled up the ones that were dead beyond any doubt(no digging was required, no roots had grown), packed and shipped them off - at a cost of over $70. I left five trees that hadn't gone completely grey yet in the ground... (most were also dead, only the peach survived, but I couldn't be sure until spring, which was 2 months after the guarantee expired).
After some phone calls, I got an email with a $700 credit. Husband said to order smaller, bare-root trees this time, on the assumption that the butcher job done to the root system of the others was so they'd fit into the small baskets, and have them shipped in November. I tried - but despite Willis Orchards' assurance that I'd have fall shipping, and multiple emails to them inquiring where my trees were, I finally called last week - and they shipped them the next day. I also had to pay the $177.65 shipping for the replacements - their credit voucher was good for product only.
The trees that arrived yesterday don't look bad - in the ground, where you can't tell that the roots were subjected to almost the same butcher technique. The roots on these are mostly 8-10" long, and I'm hoping they have a little bit better chance, but I'm still not optimistic. Since their guarantee is a one-shot deal, (they don't guarantee the replacements at all) if nothing else, I know I won't ever have to deal with this company again!
Product or Service Mentioned: Willis Orchard Company Tree.
Monetary Loss: $3046.