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Which artificial tree should I buy - Balsam Hill or Frontgate?

Updated on January 2, 2013

Two artificial tree companies, one showdown

With the wide variety of beautiful artificial Christmas trees available on the market, choosing the perfect tree for your home can wind up being one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season. On this page, I would like to provide you with a comparison between two leading brands - Balsam Hill and Frontgate - to make your decision just that much easier this year.

Picture courtesy of Fredrik on Flickr

BALSAM HILL

Balsam Hill artificial Christmas trees are so popular that they have been used on the sets of television stars such as Oprah, Ellen and Rachael Ray. They pride themselves on the realism, quality, and longevity of their trees. You can even choose your tree according to realism, from the award-winning True Needle (TM) foliage tree to the classic PVC needle tree for those with a smaller budget. Each tree comes with a 10 year tree and foliage warranty, and all trees over $100 dollars are delivered to you free of shipping and handling costs. Balsam Hill even offers a branch samples kit containing branches from every type of tree available. This way, you can pick the style of tree best suited to your home.

Visit the official Balsam Hill website

Thank you to Wikimedia Commons for this photo
Thank you to Wikimedia Commons for this photo

Reviews of Balsam Hill

Summary of comments made by customers

Reviews of Balsam Hill are as wide and varied as the branches on their trees. Most complaints seem to stem from poor customer service and defective lighting, whereas there are very few complains about the realism of the trees. Specifically, customers complain about the failure on the part of Balsam Hill to answer emails and phone calls, and the fact that customers must pay for return shipping of their product. Many have said that products have not been replaced until long after the holiday season is over.

In short, it seems that if you are fortunate enough not to have to deal with customer service, you will be satisfied with your purchase. If you do decide to purchase a Balsam Hill tree this year, I would recommend buying one without pre-lit LED lights to avoid the most common defect of these trees - poor lighting. In this way, you will not have to contact customer service at all.

Realism: 4/5 stars

Quality: 3/5 stars

Customer Support: 1/5 stars

Balsam Hill Poll - This poll reflects what others think of the Balsam Hill company

How would you rate your Balsam Hill tree?

See results

Unlit Balsam Hill Artificial Trees on Amazon

As customers seem to have trouble with the pre-lit trees created by Balsam Hill, I have provided you with a small list of unlit Balsam Hill trees on Amazon you can browse through.

FRONTGATE

The motto of the Frontgate artificial tree collection is "inspired by nature." They take pride in the solid construction of their trees, from the steel trunks to wire-reinforced branch tips. All branches are moulded from the branches of live trees to give their artificial counterparts a realistic appearance. The lights too, are long-lasting and bright, with fewer wires.

Visit the official Frontgate website

By Jorge Barrios (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jorge Barrios (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Reviews of Frontgate

Summary of comments made by customers

Perhaps the most important thing to note about Frontgate trees is that, out of the many reviews I have read, not one of them criticized the realism of the trees. The only comments on their realism have been positive. Negative comments usually spring from problems with customer service and defective lighting, but these critical reviews were not as wide spread as those regarding the quality of Balsam Hill's customer service and lighting. Based on this research, I would say that despite the occasional electrical problem, Frontgate appears to be a reliable company that provides high quality artificial trees.

Realism: 5/5 stars

Quality: 4/5 stars

Customer Support: 3/5 stars

Frontgate Poll - This poll reflects what others think of the Frontgate company

How would you rate your Frontgate Christmas tree?

See results

Balsam Hill vs. Frontgate

Would you pick a Balsam Hill tree or a Frontgate tree?

Balsam Hill because...

Balsam Hill because...

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    • melissa 19 months ago

      My experience with Balsam Hill has been repulsive. Their customer service and "company policies" are the WORST. For a supposed "High-End" product I expect high-end service. I received a defective tree - entire top section DOES NOT LIGHT - and after HOURS on the phone with customer service, all they offered was to accept the return of my broken tree, which I would have to pay the shipping fees for, and then I could place a new order for another tree (hopefully not broken) and with holiday shipping delays it would arrive in about a week and a half. Save your family the heartache and shop somewhere else!

    • sadchristmas 2 years ago

      Have a really beautiful 9 foot pre-lit from Frontgate.

      We paid PLENTY for the tree. This year ( this is our 4th year) around a third of the lights went out. We tried for over an hour to replace fuses and nothing worked. I went into the store today and was told sorry. The warranty is up and the lights used then were not long lasting. How amazing we were told how amazing the lights were when we purchased the tree...sad and really irritated.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      We ordered a tree in November from Balsam Hill and paid over 500 dollars for it. The following week only half the tree came by FedEx and for some reason the other half of the tree was sent back to their warehouse. No one at Balsam Hill customer service can give us the answer as to why it was sent back or when we will receive the other half of the tree. I have spent four out of the six days on hold for more then forty-five minutes at a time and talking to supervisors trying to get an answer as to when the rest of the tree will be sent. I just got off the phone again with still no answer and told I will now have to wait until Monday because the people they need to talk to are not working today. I started the process of calling this past Monday. Today they did offer a five percent discount and if I want to cancel the order, I need to pay for shipping and send back the other half of the tree.It is now two and a half weeks before Christmas and we do not have a tree and have no clue when or if we can put up a tree.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Neither! And I wouldn't buy from Treetime either - they're worse than the other two. The owner of Treetime owned part of the old Tree Classics and won't do anything to fix my old Tree Classics tree. I bought a new tree from Treetime and now they won't fix that one either. Avoid Frontgate, Balsam Hill and Treetime!

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      My Frontgate Tree died after year one and Frontgate would do nothing to repair or replace it!

    Frontgate because...

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      • Someonew 2 years ago

        No, Treetime is NOT owned by Tree Classics or any affiliation. That's totally false. Tree Classics' site was bought by Balsam Hill. They now peddle their wares through that site and 2 others.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Horrrible experience with Balsom Hill....just wish I had looked on the Better Business Bureau and all the "complaint" websites before I bought. Do NOT buy from this company!

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I WOULD NOT CHOOSE EITHER COMPANY IF MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT!!!!!! Like one other reviewer I went with Treetime.com thanks to this and many other reviewers online that drew me away from the horrors of both. This forum won't let me choose a third option unfortunately. My tree looks real and I'll tell as many people as possible about their products and service! Treetime is the way to go for a fake tree and definitely worth it.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Has to be Frontgate -- Balsam Hill MISREPRESENTS. They put their top of the line tree on the SALE page. When asked about the sale price, the customer service idiot stated it was NOT on the sale page. When the proof was provided, she simply said ';sorry for the inconvenience. Its not on sale.'

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Neither, after having dealt with both, I prefer Treetime for my artificial Christmas trees. Love my 4 trees and have had no issues with it. We used them for the two entries at our business and they were lovely. Service was by far better and it looks very realistic. The site was www.treetime.com .

      Have something to say about either Balsam Hill or Frontgate? - Please share your experiences!

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        • savenlives profile image

          savenlives 5 years ago

          I have to be honest, I have never heard of either of these. I wish I had this lens to look at last year when I drove myself nuts trying to find the right artificial tree without breaking the bank.

        • delia-delia profile image

          Delia 5 years ago

          I guess both companies are good, the trees look nice...nice lens...Actually once the lights are on and it's lit up with the decorations, it's pretty hard to tell whether artificial or real...thanks for checking out and commenting on my lens "Artificial or Real Xmas Trees."

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          We purchased a Balsam Hill tree in 2007. Very speedy delivery. Found the tree we selected was too short for our room. Contacted Balsam Hill and they agreed to do an exchange for just the price difference and THEY paid our return shipping costs.Fast forward to 2010. One strand on Section C went bad. They immediately shipped a replacement string to get us through the season. Then, when their repair department opened in February, they built and shipped a completely new Section C at no cost to us which we received in early August - plenty of time to test before Christmas. Additionally, they will send you 2 packages (100 bulbs) of replacement bulbs at no cost each season during your warranty period. You have to call and request them, but the first 100 bulbs is free during your warranty period. Additional packages are just $4.99 / 50 bulbs and shipping is also free. When we purchased our tree the warranty was 10 years foliage / 5 years lights. Now warranty for premium trees is 10 years foliage / 3 years lights.So... Yes we had to initiate contact, yes on-hold wait times can be long during the season, yes their repair department doesn't reopen until February. But.... we have had a totally positive customer support experience and have a "still" working tree 5 years old now.My one recommendation - regardless of which company you use - would be to purchase an unlit tree, and string it yourself. Then you know what you are dealing with when a string of lights goes out. Balsam's pre-lit trees use non-standard bulbs you can only get through Balsam. While they have very reasonable prices on their replacement bulbs, you have to plan ahead. You can't just go down to Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a pack of bulbs.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          I would not buy either brand again, after having dealt with both, I now prefer Treetime for my artificial Christmas trees. Love my 4 trees and have had no issues with it. We used them for the two entries at our business and they were lovely. Service was by far better and it looks very realistic. The site was www.treetime.com .

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