Customers say Christmas trees from Houston Garden Center drying out, dying earlier this year

By Leigh Frillici - Reporter

HOUSTON - With Christmas approaching quickly, KPRC stumbled upon a story that has many people scratching their heads.

It's not a Grinch, but something is stealing the life from Christmas trees this year.

Trees from one Houston-area store in particular seem to be dying way too soon.

KPRC has heard story after story of upset customers who say the trees they bought from Houston Garden Center turned from gorgeous to dead within days.

"Everything was really good until two or three days after we brought it home," Jana Johnson said.

The tree looked perfect when Johnson first brought it home from Houston Garden Center.

Now the tree is shedding needles at an astounding rate.

A manager at the store didn't seem to want to deal with the issue.

"He told me several times it was not his problem," Johnson said.

Meredith Xavier's tree from the Houston Garden Center deteriorated in similar fashion.

"It was like you barely touched it and it was like it rained (needles)," Xavier said. "Basically it's an 11-foot twig at this point."

It lost most of its needles and now it's in her backyard. With only five days until Christmas, she now needs a new tree.

Tracy Dupre said she didn't try to return her tree because of what she saw on Facebook.

"They said, 'Too bad,' and so people were just leaving the trees in their parking lot," Dupre said.

When asked about the situation, Sydney Hooper, with Houston Garden Center, had a message for customers:

"We apologize that they were treated that way and we will make sure all of our managers were talked to about it."

Hooper has been dealing with the complaints from customers who say their trees dried out.

She said people's heated homes are the culprit.

“There’s nothing wrong with the trees,” Hooper said. “We’ve had an unusual year with the weather. It’s gotten really cold. People have turned their heaters on for almost two weeks now. And it sucks all of the moisture out of the air and the warm temperatures will cause the trees to defoliate.”

Johnson, who has had live trees before, is not buying it.

"We always run our heater when it's cold outside, so it seems a poor excuse," she said.

The Houston Garden Center said it is working with customers. If you show a picture of your tree and proof of purchase, the store is giving out gift cards.

The people we spoke to said they don't want a gift card, they want a refund.

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