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Backwater Reptile Review And Complaint (i Hope I Am Posting This In The Right Area!)

Discussion in 'Amphibian - General' started by mdeford09, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Well, as the post says I wanted to make a complaint and here on the forums is the best place to do so. I am not making this complaint to try and tick off the company or anything of the such. I am making this so others can see more bad reviews and avoid this company at all costs. Like others, I made a purchase from them due to their prices. Of course, I read the terrible reviews but I saw their 25k likes on facebook and BBB review and figured they can't be that bad.... Boy was I wrong!

    I spent $189.99 to order a 7-9" South American Giant Marine Toad. I lived many years in Florida and I am extremely familiar with Cane/Marine Toads and their care and how they should look. I have owned hundreds of them (wild caught in my own back yard)... In other words, I know a fairly decent amount about them and there is no difference between the SA Marine Toads and a Cane Toad from Florida aside from their size.

    What I received was a 5.5" extremely dehydrated and skinny toad. It took them nearly 5hrs to respond to me with a fairly general response and then the owner got on and stated he hand picked my frog himself and there was nothing wrong with it when it was sent.

    I provided pictures with a tape measure and even asked "If you hand picked it, why did you knowingly send me a toad much smaller than the advertised size?"... I did not get a single response to that question. Instead they offered to return it and me get another toad or refunded. Or, I could keep the toad and only get a $50 refund because the toad was in the size smaller/less priced category.... I really cannot say anything bad because they did attempt to resolve the problem like they should have.... My problem was just that they kept insisting the animal was in perfect health and would be fine to be shipped back right away.

    After attempting to haggle a different outcome, I eventually let my love for animals decide for me to keep it and take the $50 price difference. (I really couldn't bring myself to send this poor little girl back)

    My complaints are that they knowingly shipped me an undersized unhealthy animal that should have been sold to no one due to its health. I will not be doing business with them again and others should REALLY attempt to not either. Their prices lure you in but you most certainly get what you pay for and these guys should be charged with crimes with how poor they keep their animals.

    Here is the toad and how it arrived this morning 06-09-15.. The pics are huge. Click the link if they fill up your entire screen

    (yes, I know about Long Fiber Sphagnum and impactions.. This was only temporary while I made some adjustments to her tank)

    Here are a few of the only pics I could find of a Male Cane Toad that I used to own. (Notice the MAJOR difference in skin tautness and fat)


    There is just no question that this toad was mistreated and not fed/housed properly before arriving in my care and I just couldn't let it go back. I lost out and was most certainly had for a lot of money... But, at least I can say that I did save a poor defenseless animal from bad care and hopefully this post will help others see the bad practices they have.
  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I don't think we have a company reviews category so it should fit here.
    To me it looks like you have made a fair review based on the animal you received. It's most definitely underweight and would be life-threatening to ship a toad in that condition. You were wise to not try and return it.
    It speaks volumes to me if a company just admits they were wrong and not try to worm their way out of their obligations to customers.
  3. ExoJoe

    ExoJoe Established Member

    I wish you the best of luck with getting this girl up to weight and healthy. I think with a good outcome in the long run you will have a more meaningful companion with the care and effort you put into her well being.
  4. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the comments, guys and I am very glad I posted in the correct area. I posted this to so many forums last night, I didn't have time to read all of the rules of all of them.

    I am still just so disgusted that they care for their animals this way. Another thing that was crazy to me was that she was eating within 2hrs of arriving.. That is so rare for any shipped amphibian that it just screams that she was starving. My pacman frogs won't eat for a few hrs just after I clean their tank. Let alone the 2-3 days it took them to start eating after they were shipped to me.

    But, she is most certainly in a better home now and I will get her so fat and happy in the coming months that hopefully she will forget all about her life before living with us :)

    I will most certainly stay a member here and post updates of her progress.
  5. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Little bit more info. I just left the vet and they were so appalled by her condition that they started the process to file animal abuse claims against them.

    They sadly do not feel she has a strong chance of making it. But, they gave me some high protein/fat powder to help get some weight on her quicker. They also gave me some stuff to put in her water to help her absorb through her skin.

    Marine toads are hardy and tough so my fingers are crossed and my hopes are high!... I will keep everyone updated.
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Glad to hear they are doing something about it. They will have more clout than you would by yourself.
  7. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    agreed. I am very happy but still sad at the same time.

    I can't help but think of how many more animals are there suffering.

    But, I have posted this on dozens of places and hopefully that will help spread some more word of mouth and hopefully something good happens with the animal abuse claim. *fingers crossed!*
  8. Darkbird

    Darkbird Moderator Staff Member

    Good luck with her, hope she makes it. I probably haven't seen near as many of those as you, but that is just appalling. Never seen one nearly that skinny.
    I've been hearing bad things about backwater for quite a while now, but I think I've definitely heard enough not to chance them. I realize you will always hear the complainers more than those who were happy, but between stories like this, and others where a wrong animal or dead arrival happened, I will take my money elsewhere. They should have offered a full refund on that. I understand mistakes happen, but if this animal truly was hand picked, the picker is grossly incompetent at the least.
  9. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Well, they did offer a full refund under the condition that I ship the toad back. I just couldn't bare the thought of shipping it back.

    My wife convinced me to try and haggle a different outcome but by the end of it I had just decided that I am well enough off to take this loss and the safety of the animal meant more to me than the money.

    These guys must be pure monsters to be able to treat their animals like this. The vet stated they've never seen one this skinny and malnourished and still alive.

    It is quite saddening.. But, I am doing my very best and she pulls through, she is gonna be fat and happy and live one heck of a long life with me! :D
  10. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    BIG update guys!

    She is a freaking pig! She ate more food than any frog I have ever seen before. I have 2 pacman frogs that are nearly the size of my hand and they can't hold a candle to meal this girl just ate.

    I have a lot of different feeders available at all times and so I tossed a plate in the tank and then started tossing stuff on it. She hesitated and then went straight for the superworms passing over the hornworms and crickets... These are not the best for her but they have a pincher cut off and any food is better than none at this point... But that pig ate 17 super worms (all that I had) 20+ crickets dusted in fluckers calcium + D3, and 6 horn worms around 3" long.

    I don't know where she fit it all but she only stopped cuz I ran out. She is still staring at that plate waiting for more food to drop.

    Its the happiest moment I have been in this whole ordeal and yet still very sad to see how starved she is that she is trying to over stuff herself since food is available. :(
  11. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    That's packing it away for sure. A healthy appetite is a good sign. Hopefully she doesn't make herself sick. I wouldn't let her continue to stuff herself.
    Eating is also an instinctive mechanism for them.
  12. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    I hope not as well. My thoughts last night were to let her get her fill. My other cane toads would always stop once they got full, unlike my pacman frogs, lol.

    The pacman's would slow down but would still eat once every 5-10 minutes.. the Cane Toads would just each till they stopped. But, lots of amphibians will eat more when they feel food may be scarce for some time and I imagine that is what she was doing.... But she never has to worry about that again! :D

    But, like I said, I just wanted her to get a nice big meal. She won't get anything for a couple more days and I am watching her like crazy to make sure she has a bowel movement :)

    very happy to see her eat!
    kriminaal likes this.
  13. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

  14. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    She seems to be thinking 'don't you have something better to do than watch me eat?'
  15. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    My issue with Backwater is that they are a wholesale site.
    Simply put, they get orders from you, then send these orders to a third party which actually has the animals and then ships them. You have no way of knowing what you'll end up with.

    I'm glad to hear the animal is faring better now.
    Helios likes this.
  16. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    Qwerty said it: The problem you have with a lot of sites online is that they engage in drop-shipping. I've had some great success buying from guys online, but I always take the time to try and connect with them via email or the phone to get a feel for what their company is doing. Places like LLL obviously run their own operation.
    Backwater is notorious as being a drop-shipper; however, based on my research it looks like the guy is also trying to get some things going in-house. That said, the majority of the species you see on that site are likely not housed in any facility he owns. Again like Qwerty said, he has access to wholesalers that those of us on this end of things would never have a shot at finding or doing business with.
    I personally looked at buying fire skinks once from backwater, but ran through some test questions with the owner, which confirmed I would have been getting drop-shipped animals. When I asked him specifically about drop shipping he never responded to the email.

    This is a significant problem in the hobby, in my opinion. We need better access to breeders and breeders need a better way to promote their work. Ultimately it's the only real way the hobby will flourish in establishing captive bred species that are harder to come by. I'm working on a project currently that hopefully will be a step in achieving this...
  17. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I knew that about backwater before ordering. They did tell me that they kept those toads in house and it did ship from california. So, perhaps they really do.

    She is an eating machine and fattening up really quickly. My son and I took her outside for some exercise yesterday and she seemed to really love the sun. (it was only about 82F out)... Found a tree with a bunch of large carpenter ants and she say under thing occasionally snatching up an ant for about 30 minutes. It was quite adorable and she seems to really be enjoying her new home.

    Helios, hopefully your project does some good. Cuz this stuff is just crazy sad and people like Backwater should be put out of business as quickly as possible. They are harmful to this community and the animals we love.
  18. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    And this is what arrived from Florida Herps.

    Darkbird and kriminaal like this.
  19. Helios

    Helios Elite Member

    Glad to hear your toad seems to have turned the corner. That one from Florida Herps looks really good.
    We'll see what happens, but I think BWH is going to figure out if they want to stay in business they're going to have to change some things. Your story is the first I've seen where they took steps to work with you to fix the situation. Wow, I missed the animal abuse claim bit my first read-through. Something like that could finally affect some change with them.

    I hope so too. And I agree: There are too many people who take advantage of the demand for reptiles and amphibians with no regard for the ethics. Ultimately that hurts the reputation of the entire hobby. I'll be talking more about what I'm working on soon as I'm going to be looking for people to get involved.
  20. mdeford09

    mdeford09 Well-Known Member

    Yep I made a major mistake with them. The other company I tried and ended up being a huge mistake was Reptilecity. These two businesses need some serious over hauling if they were to ever work like a good business.

    the owners themselves are the issues.
    Helios likes this.

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