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Golden Phoenix Exotica (www.goldenphoenixexotica.com)

I

Immortal_Sin

Guest
Golden Phoenix Exotica

Positive

ok, I'll be the first to post here!
I highly recommend Darrin at Golden Phoenix Exotica, in, guess where?.....Phoenix. He is knowledgeable, friendly, and always available to answer questions. He has a nice selection, and I've always been happily surprised at the size of the tarantulas that I have ordered. The link is www.goldenphoenixexotica.com. Ok, do I sound like a commercial?!

Cheers,
Holley
 
M

Matt

Guest
Neutral

Friendly dealer, animals came safe, quick responses, all that good stuff.

But he does not have alot of selection, and doesnt ever get new stuff in.

Also, I paid for a large sized Tiger Centipede, but recieved 3 babies instead, 1 of which was dead due to an injury, and the other 2 escaped, which wouldnt have happened if I had the larger centipede. Made me quite angry.

But other than that, go for him.
 
G

gphx

Guest
Owner's reply

Hi Matt,

No new stuff? What about adding B. smithi, C. crawshayi, A. versicolor, and T. blondi slings this month? We added over $4000.00 wholesale of tarantulas this month alone. You're right though, we may not have as much selection as some dealers because rather than buying from indescriminate importers, our focus is on breeding our own captive bred specimens and buying from other collectors who do so. Rather than a negative, we see that practice as a plus for the animals and the hobby.

The centipedes? Not so easily bred, in fact bred by very few, so we field collect these. As I wrote you, when you ordered yours, we had just made some bulk sales of them and were out. Seems other dealers were advertising them, and ours were priced for far less, so we got the benefit of their advertising. So I went in the field to collect more, specifically to fill your request. It is a dry spring, so the large ones are far underground and few centipedes are around at all. This looks to be a bad year for field collecting. When field collecting, one cannot control the sizes available. Actually, that trip field collecting your centipedes was a net loss to us, what you paid for the centipedes barely paid for gas, and our time was free. So then we gave you three instead of one, 50% more on a price basis. Even removing the injured one from the equation, you still receive a comparable value. You did not indicate at the time that this was unacceptable to you. Please have the courtesy to do so at the time in the future, so we can address it then, rather than hearing about it on a message board. You gave us no indication that you were displeased. When we first started keeping large pedes we lost several very big ones. They can be tough to keep contained at any size.

You're a good client and a nice guy, which is why we went out to collect pedes for you regardless of profit or loss. Thanks for an otherwise good review, and please let us know in the future if something does not meet your expectations so we can make adjustments at the time. Thanks.

Darrin
 
G

gphx

Guest
Owner's reply

Ouch. I just read that you paid $43 for shipping two baby centipedes with Glades. We charged you $4 less than that for the shipping AND 2 pedes combined. There you go. :)
 
T

Tracey

Guest
Positive

I have to add my commendations of Golden Phoenix Exotica.
Darrin is a real stand up, genuine and honest guy who will help in any way he can.

I live in England and ordered a spider from him for a friend in America.
He helped me overcome the payment problems, and sent the spider in an existing order to save me postage.

I can only give my highest recommendation to his service.
The spider, with the other critters in the order arrived safe and well, and my friend is very pleased with her new addition.

Thank you Darrin.

Regards Tracey
http://www.geocities.com/tracey332002/Tracey_s_Tarantulas.html
 
Y

ying.yang

Guest
Neutral

I have only done business with Darrin once. Though his selection is limited, he more than makes up for it with his prices. I ordered only one item from him, a female juvenille T that molted weeks later into a mature male. I am certain it was an honest mistake and I do not recall any guarentees. I also recieved an apology from Darrin himself. Other than the mistake in sexing the T, the spider was in perfect condition, size was as promised, and was shipped safely and timely. I would recommend doing business with Darrin.
ying.yang
 
E

E. Anne Pennington

Guest
Positive

Heck, there's none better than Darrin. He's readily and politely answered my dumbest questions from the moment I started my collection. Two tarantula's to be exact.

Everytime I've wanted something for my collection he's come up with it. Everytime the T has been expertly packaged (giving me heart failure the first time I had to unpack a snuggly cupped tarantula and move it to a terrarium). Every T I received from Darrin has been beautiful and healthy. Frankly I've lost count of how many GoldenPhoenix beauties he's sent me.
Darrin is painfully honest and I'd I trust him with my daughter (sorry Darrin) ;D.

E. Anne
 
G

gphx

Guest
Owner's reply

Wow, thanks everyone for the great feedback! Might I add that all of these respondents have been great clients, and even better, great friends. I look forward to knowing them all whether they buy from me or not. If you don't know these people, find 'em! : )

Darrin
 
B

belewfripp

Guest
Positive

Usually I do not have the money to make a large online purchase, or even an online purchase at all. However, last month I got my tax return in and decided to make a big order online. I have only dealt with Darrin once, but I would highly recommend Golden Phoenix.

The prices were great, and though the selection was somewhat smaller than other dealers, there was still an awful lot there that I wanted, and I ended up ordering 8 different species of tarantula.

All the spiders arrived in excellent condition and were well-packed. Two of the spiderlings had even molted successfuly en route.

The A. versicolor and P. regalis I ordered were both much larger than advertised, which was a great plus, since I would have had to pay twice the $$ from some other places for a versi the size I received.

Communication was very good regarding when the shipment was sent, etc. Also, ordering is a breeze since the order form is tied directly into Paypal. Since I use Paypal quite often, this was probably the easiest way to possibly order online.

I highly recommend Darrin, and will order from him again in the future.

Adrian
 
M

Mendi

Guest
Positive

I think Darrin does a great job! All I ordered from him came packed very well and none have arrived in unhappy state. He is knows all about the creatures he sells and can answer all your questions about them. And as an added bonus, he is always posting to the arachnid groups online with his experience... maybe I'll learn a few things quicker. I'm kinda anxious to see what he is finding in the desert and will be on sale soon. I'll be shopping here again
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
Neutral ... bordering on positive


Darrin Vernier of Golden Phoenix Exotica has impressed me with his manner online - he regularly participates in the many forums and keeps the commercial side separate from the enthusiast side. He seems a quiet, humble man and so is his business. I finally placed an order from him for two tarantulas and a roach colony - ordered a juvenile A. anax and G. aureostriata. Online ordering was a snap with the intergrated PayPal system (minus my own stupidity regarding adding the shipping ;)) Things were a bit bumpier from there due to ATS convention related interruptions delaying shipping of the package til the second business day, then me having to go hunt it down at the post office since they were content to sit on an overnight package until the second day that had been there since 11:30AM >:{

Darrin included a cold pack in the package to see them safely out of the sweltering AZ temps and everyone was alive and well packed in their vials. The little Chaco even pulled one of those sling Houdini tricks and moulted crammed in a tube full of peat ;) The roaches had some humpbacked flies in the vial with them but hopefully my leaving them outside for a bit and changing out all the substrate they were in will prevent any fly colonies in my own place.


The highs:
Fair pricing and a decent selection of U.S. species, good web ordering. Has the best prices and selection of feeder roaches of any of the other tarantula vendors. In spite of a sometimes awkward layout, the website has a fair amount of meaty information and a lot of it is on things beside tarantulas. Safe packaging. Cheaper shipping than most of the competition (but see below).

Responsive to emails; friendly service and answered my questions as best he could.


The lows:
Selection is narrow. While he carries many hobby staples and bit of this and that, it's a stocklist which lends itself to mainly two situations: you're new to the hobby, or you just happen to be in a market for one of the more niche species he carries. It's not a selection that makes for repeated and varied orders.

Questionable choice in shipping carrier. It's probably more than random chance that out of dozens of different overnight orders from all kinds of businesses that I've dealt with Darrin's is the only one that uses the USPS. Their tracking is inferior which makes the voiding of the live gurantee if you're not there to sign for it questionable in my opinion. Further, due the looseness of the USPS commitment to getting things there overnight, they were going to wait til the second day to deliver my package even though it was sitting in the post office about 2 miles from my home and had been doing so since more than 6 hours before they closed. Saving $5 on shipping over other vendors sounds good on the surface, but there's still a price to pay.


Conclusion:
Darrin was pleasant and friendly to deal with and there were no real problems with the order. However, unless the breadth of his stocklist changes dramatically, it is unlikely I will order from him again.
 
G

gphx

Guest
Owner's reply

Hi Chip,

I'm glad to hear that you experience some good things, and will look to improve the things that you didn't like so much.

Delivery on a two business day basis is exactly what happened here. It could have been perfect arriving the next day, but I can't guarantee that this will always happen as not even any of the shipping firms always get a package there the next day, even if sent that way.

Instead of USPS, perhaps you'd have preferred Fedex as many shippers use? Guess what? USPS has a subcontract with Fedex. All deliveries are picked up at the post office that we drop them off at by Fedex, being returned to your local post office only for the 'last mile' of delivery. Essentially identical service to Fedex for a lower price. Would you rather pay more? Are you sure you would be getting more? If you want to, we'll be happy to charge you more next time, but in our experience, issues experienced with shipping firms are universal, regardless of price. Believe me, if we thought that other shippers were a better value, we would use them as most of the other shippers would pick up at our doorstep. With each USPS package, we drive them directly to the post office to save our clients money. We would be thrilled not to have to do so, but the other shippers have not proven consistently better than the USPS/Fedex combination.

I appreciate your noting the types of public service that I try to do, such as the participation on message boards and involvement with the ATS. I get calls at 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. sometimes from people on different schedules who've even bought their animals from other dealers who they may find can offer them no information on how to care for their animals. I answer them gladly, as talking to tarantula keepers is something that I actually like to do. We also want to make tarantulas available to those who cannot otherwise afford the higher minimum orders and higher shipping costs charged by others. Our shipping policies are less expensive and more lenient in the terms of guarantee than most any dealer you'll find, and if they allow us to fill an order for a new, teenage keeper or a single mom on a budget, we'll keep them as they are as long as we can.

As to our selection, something that is the concern we hear most often, I have a few remarks. Many people speak of wanting to buy captive bred versus wild caught in an effort not to remove these animals from their native localities. You will certainly find dealers and wholesalers with no hesitation in importing hundreds or thousands of animals, as long as they can flip them for a quick buck. Sometimes we have to do that too. We're not interested in being millionaires, but the bills have to be paid, and we have to eat. Most of the time though, a tarantula that you see on our list will be a captive bred specimen bred either by ourselves, or other collectors. You see, even though we would make a hell of a lot more money in a big hurry by buying everything from a wholesaler as many do and flipping them at the park'n'swap, we don't care about that. Even though it costs a lot more time and money to buy from other collectors or breed our own, we do so whenever possible. Tarantula keepers are only second in importance to us to the tarantula themselves. If you don't see an item on our stocklist, quite often it is because they are not available as captive breds or we have not bred them ourselves. Even among the specimens we collect from the local desert and resell, in most instances the animals are taken from areas slated to be developed, in cases where the animals would otherwise be thoughtlessly destroyed. Some are even collected from the yards of homeowners that stand by with hammers and cans of pesticide. Time is finite. Maintaining another 50 species takes time. If we did so, the time to maintain those would likely come from the time that we offer in public service, and we don't want to take that away. How many dealers do you know of that take time away from their business to train what essentially may be their future competition?

If people like the time we devote to public service, if they like our efforts to offer captive breds as a priority, if they like our ability to bring them healthy hobby classics on a timely basis, then they should order from us and support our continued efforts. Many feel that not being able to buy the latest wildly overpriced thingamalodes of the month is a small price to pay. If they don't, that is ok too, and the loss of that business is a choice that we willingly made when choosing our business model for reasons that we value highly.

Overall, as a client, I'd give you a high rating, and we'd welcome your return business.

Darrin
 
C

Code_Monkey

Guest
Customer's reply

(a longer and slightly different version of this was sent to Darrin)

Part 1.

I call things like I see them, and moreso, provide details so the reader can make an informed opinion of the way I called it. Unlike most people who write reviews on this forum, I do not believe that simply getting the spiders ordered to a customer alive constitutes a positive rating - to me, that is the bare minimum the customer should expect. I take the reviewing criteria of this board seriously and a Positive rating requires that three things be true: the customer is very satisfied, would order again, and would recommend to others. I would recommend Darrin to anyone who is sufficiently interested in his stock, I am satisfied with both the service and value for the order I placed, but for reasons outlined above, I cannot say that I *would* order from Darrin again. I can't say that I wouldn't either - it's a neutral situation ;) I'm not particularly happy with the review criteria of this board, it's too discrete and too limited in scope, but it's what the board uses and I have tried to make my reviews meaningful within that context.

In evaluating everyone there are a number of key factors that influenced my opinion - and how much any particular vendor met, exceeded, or failed my expectations in these matters is the difference between a Neutral versus a Positive rating. The chief factors that I looked at are: breadth of stocklist (pretty self explanatory - how much do you have for sale), relevance and accuracy of stocklist (Is your stocklist updated weekly or do I have to guess what's still in stock and use my magic 8-ball to see what came in during the past week? Are names accurate and spelled correctly?), convenience of ordering (Is there a good web ordering system, or do I have to call long distance on my penny during business hours to order), speed and excellence of service (Did the order ship when it was supposed to? Did you notify me of tracking information without me having to ask? Were there any mistakes made with the order? When I sent an email or made a phone call was it responded to quickly, or did I have to wait til the following business day or call again?), quality and discreteness of packaging (Were the spiders packed too tight or too loose? Was the packaging appropriate to the weather conditions not only where you were sending it from and to, but the intervening terrain? Was the return address Natural Product's, Inc. or Big Hairy Spiders 4U? Did you send it in a parcel box or a re-used cricket box?), and last, price (also self-explanatory - Do your prices stand up to comparison to other competitors? If not, is there something that separates your business from the crowd?).

There were, of course, other factors that influenced me and no one vendor exceeded or met all of my expectations, but the combined effect of evalutating on those factors is why I gave only one Positive rating out of four different vendors I have ordered from. FWIW, from me, a "Neutral ... bordering on positive" is a very high rating (in fact, I would place Darrin as second for overall satisfaction for the single order).
 
C

Code_Monkey

Guest
Customer's reply

Part 2.

As for the shipping issue, the $5 more that Fedex and UPS would cost is worth it to me. It's not simply a matter of moving the order from point A to point B, there is also the commitment to getting it there as quickly as possible and USPS does not have that commitment. Further, there are actual services associated with UPS and Fedex that the USPS simply cannot offer.

UPS, Fedex, and Airborne all will make multiple runs in the course of a day, you might live in an "outlying" area but, within reason, you can expect they will do everything in their power to get that order to you by the end of the next business day - not USPS. If that order isn't ready to go by their criteria when your postal carrier leaves for their single run to your address, that order sits there to the next day unless you do what I did. Further, they know within a pretty tight time frame when Fedex will drop off their subcontracted packages and commit to deliveries accordingly so they have the safety net to do this.

The other reason that USPS is inferior to the competition is their tracking does not give the customer the power to know within a narrow timeframe when the order will be delivered. With the competition I can practically find out in real time if my order is sitting on a transport truck while the driver takes a crap at the White Castle on some interstate. With USPS, I was informed, with a delay of hours, when the package was accepted, when it reached Virginia (i.e. when Fedex handed it off), and when it reached my local post office. No intent to hold or deliver was posted and if not for my natural distrust of them, I would have had to wait to the 2nd day to receive my order.

Compare that to the competition where you know exactly when your package is promised by, know if it's being held, know when it gets on the delivery truck to you, and can call customer service and update delivery information or make arrangements to leave a signature release ahead of time if you cannot be there for the delivery. To me, I would much rather pay the standard $25 shipping cost than play guessing games with the USPS as to when my order will actually be delivered. Saving $5 is not worth giving up the service that the competition provides.

Even saying all that, though, I still listed it as one of the highs of Darrin's service because saving $5 over the competition is saving $5.

*****

I'm not sure why the stock list comments warrant a rebuttal from Darrin. His business has the fewest tarantula species by a significant percentage compared to any of the eight vendors I refer to for stock and price comparisons - that's not innuendo or false perception, that's fact. Of these vendors, four deal almost exclusively in captive bred spiderlings so it is possible to have wider stock and not rely on wild caughts. Heck, the vendor with the largest selection of any of the dealers deals exclusively in captive bred as far as I know (of course that vendor is nearly twice as expensive as Darrin).

Darrin offers what he can get at what he feels is a fair price - there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Further, he tries to limit stock to what he feels he can properly care for, again, nothing wrong with that. But, from a customer's p.o.v., the stock *is* narrow, no justification changes that. If he's not going to compete with breadth of stock, then I would feel better if he would compete with specialisation of stock - his feeder roaches are one example of how this works. Anyone whose collection grows beyond a certain size begins to eye cheap, renewable food sources and many of us, me included, hate raising crickets. His roaches were a key reason he got my order - similarly seeking to offer what the other guy isn't in Ts would lessen perception of narrow stock.
 
G

gphx

Guest
Owner's reply

Hi,

Thanks for offering a constructive review. Thanks also for pointing out that the dealer with the most comprehensive stocklist has, in your words, almost twice our prices. As I said, time and cost are the main reasons that we currently keep our list as it is. To us, the cost of hiring additional people to maintain additional species, and then passing that cost along to our clients in the form of doubled prices just isn't what we had in mind as it would price many of our clients out of the market. Of course this is a simple difference of opinion, and knowing what our clients think is always useful feedback.

One thing that is dangerous though, is your preference for UPS and Fedex because they are willing 'to make multiple trips in one day' to attempt delivery. Fact is, regardless of carrier, these delivery vehicles are not air conditioned. Here in the western US where the temperatures are often (and are currently) 110 degrees, the temperature in the back of a delivery vehicle can soar far higher. The last thing most people want is for their animals to be locked in the back of a sealed vehicle where the temperature soars to 145 or more while the delivery person eats lunch for an hour prior to the next delivery attempt. In our experience, the vast majority of invertebrates that die in shipment die because of such subsequent delivery attempts. Those attempts rarely prove to be a deal and far more often prove to be a death sentence. There is no substitute whatsoever for being present for delivery. I wish it were otherwise. When we are expecting a delivery from any carrier, I sleep within feet of the front door so as not to miss the carrier should they come early. Not that this extreme is absolutely necessary, but I like to give the invertebrates every chance at survival that I can, even if someone else is guaranteeing their live arrival. Something you might want to keep in mind. Avoiding redelivery at all costs saves the lives of a lot of animals. The safety of the animals should be the paramount concern. The USPS holding your package at the post office was the best thing that could happen to them from a survival standpoint even if the carrier did it by mistake, and having them held for pickup is a special service that some of our clients specifically request with the above in mind.

So it all depends. If you prefer constant redelivery attempts over the safety of the animals, FEDEX and USPS are a better deal. Judging by the care exercised in your replies, I believe that you take exceptional care of your animals and would go to great lengths to ensure their safety, which is why I have taken the time to tell you why we think redelivery attempts are not a good thing, so that you may choose to use that information if you like, regardless of where you buy your invertebrates. Doesn't matter if you buy them from us or not as we'd like them all to survive. In the end, that's what the hobby is probably all about.

Thanks again for your constructive reply.
 
C

Code_Monkey

Guest
Customer's reply

Originally posted by gphx

So it all depends. If you prefer constant redelivery attempts over the safety of the animals, FEDEX and USPS are a better deal. Judging by the care exercised in your replies, I believe that you take exceptional care of your animals and would go to great lengths to ensure their safety, which is why I have taken the time to tell you why we think redelivery attempts are not a good thing, so that you may choose to use that information if you like, regardless of where you buy your invertebrates. Doesn't matter if you buy them from us or not as we'd like them all to survive. In the end, that's what the hobby is probably all about.

Thanks again for your constructive reply.
What I meant by multiple runs is that if the "local" Fedex has my package a 6 AM, they'll be by at 9:20 AM to deliver it and I can find out that it's being delivered online. If they don't get it til 12:00PM, then they'll be by at 4:30PM with the package and, again, I can find this out on their website. The USPS is the only shipper that won't guarantee shipping to my address overnight - Airborne won't guarantee priority overnight, but they will still guarantee overnight and my experience has been that all three get it here overnight.

I will skip classes, call in sick to work, make my wife stay home, call customer service to see that it gets left with my neighbor, hunt down the delivery truck in my apartment complex, whatever it takes to avoid them taking the package back. I want my packages, I'm like a little kid in anticipation of packages ;D

The problem is what I detailed: if I cannot determine accurately when they will deliver, then I cannot make arrangements to see that the package is received on the first try. If USPS could provide the sort of tracking information that their competition did, I wouldn't have a problem and saving $5 would be great. Even if they were "too lazy" to try and get the package to me because, dang, they've only got 6 hours to drive 2 miles and drop it off, if I *knew* it was being held there, I'd go get it myself. But, they don't provide that info and the customer is left in the dark.

What more can I say, I like to be informed and I like getting my overnight packages overnight, if $5 keeps me informed of exactly where that package is and saves me a day of waiting like a kid for Christmas, I'm a happy camper - I've certainly spent more for less.
 

tdark1

Arachnoknight
Joined
Jul 29, 2002
Messages
210
Positive!!

Positive

I just dealt with Darrin tonight, this is the second time!! I bought a great pede from him this time, I bought a red-knee last time, I was at his place. He is local, and I have met him!! He is a great guy, and is one of the nicest people I've ever met, he knows TONs about the hobby, and is ALWAYS willing to share what he knows, that counts for a lot in my book!! Both the T and the pede I bought from him are great. He has a good selection of all kinds of stuff, he has so much stuff at his place, its not all listed I know that, cuz it can't be. Might wanna call and ask if he's got something in stock, becuase his list is short compared to what he's got!! He also has the best prices I've seen. Would definatly return to him for more stuff!! Or just to talk to about the hobby. He backs all of his animals, and will always help ya out!! A++ of a guy!!
Robert
 

Mendi

Arachnowolf
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 19, 2002
Messages
1,387
just wanted to add...

I wanted to add to my post from before, as I've gotten some others since then...

This is another
=D =D =D Great Spider Store =D =D =D
Golden Phoenix Exotica

I don't know how he has anytime time to sleep, as he has all his critters to take care of, all the email posting and question answering he does, with wander the desert there in Phoenix there to catch his wild caughts. What a great informative shop he has there with a wide selection!
 

galeogirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 15, 2002
Messages
1,202
Positive

I received a "bouquet" of cobalt blues from my husband for Valentine's Day this year and, unfortunately, one of the spiderlings died in transit (it appeared to have started molting and died from a ruptured abdomen). Darrin was great about refunding our money and was very concerned that the rest of the cobalts had arrived safely. I'm planning to buy more from him after I return from Burning Man.

To clarify, I would consider my experience with Golden Phoenix as positive. I'm not going to hold an accidental death in transit against a dealer if he or she makes an effort to rectify the situation. The other cobalts I received in that shipment (Bane and Dread) have been incredibly healthy and are absolute stunners.
 
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