I come to realize that what grinds my gears the most when working in retail is when customers fail to water their plants and then expect us to be held accountable. All to often I have people marching up and demand a replacement because we sold them a dead plant to start with. I'm a good salesman but I can't get someone to buy a dead plant. Ice to Eskimo's, now that's a different story!
Its really not a hard concept to grasp, all nurseries tend to their stock, watering, feeding and pruning on a regular basis and potting up to a larger container when needed. Just the same as we would do with a baby growing through its years.
You can look at plants like people, they need food and water to survive, they even have sex! So if we continue to draw that parallel, when the plant has reached its desired size, it flies the nest (being the nursery) to find its own way in life. A garden center is a temporary stopping point, like a bar or night club where it can flaunt its stuff to get picked up for hopefully a long relationship. Now that level of care and attention its been accustom to needs to be continued at the beginning as its still wet behind the ears. Once you've weaned it from the bottle you should have a relatively problem free plant, only needing the occasional haircut to keep respectable.
However, if you take the plant that has been flirting with you at the nursery and just dump it in the garden without any thought of carrying on the romance then the love will die, along with the plant. The 'treat it mean, keep it keen' won't work when it comes to plants! As you can see plants are really just like us.
Losing plants is sadly part of the game and I get reminded of it frequently. Mother nature constantly reminds us that she is in charge and will test our souls with droughts, freezing temperatures and plagues of beasts looking to use our gardens as an 'all you can eat buffet'. So with that in mind we (the consumer) should do whatever we can to help that poor plant transition from a life of comfort to everyday living.
Checking the plant and watering it properly, meaning a good deep penetrating soak is all that it requires from you. You don't have to find Himalayan mountain water bottled by a Tibetan monk and transported via yaks to carry out this simple task, tap water is just fine. Oh, and don't think irrigation systems will fit the bill, we've seen more plants being returned because of that assumption but if you insist on using it go get a refund from the company that put it in for you! 'Set it and forget it' only works for rotisserie chickens.
Gardening takes work and we need to 'own' our mistakes and admit that our neglect resulted in a loss. The difference is how we learn from our mistakes so that we can become better gardeners. It wasn't the bartenders fault for you picking up a lousy partner, just the same way that it wasn't the garden centers fault that the plant you purchased died.