Flowers are an easy way for people with distance between them to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry” and “Thank you”.
Allison Linnell thought she could say it with flowers. She was visiting family in Orange County for Thanksgiving. Her mom, sister and her all pitched in funds for a special bouquet to be delivered before they arrived. “I went on line and ordered a bouquet and then at Thanksgiving we went to their house and my 75 to 85 dollars was this little bouquet that I would have spent 12.99 at the most at the grocery store for it..and I was embarrassed”.
This happens a lot because when you send flowers across the miles delivery services bank on you never seeing the recipients arrangement. Palm Springs florist Gregory Goodman gave us some insight into how these services work. “They are just middle men. They are not a real florist. They don’t even work in a flower shop. These are just big buildings with call centers”.
Unfortunately, sending flowers can also be an expensive proposition. Many times the fees tagged on to the flowers ends up being more expensive than the original price of the flowers. According to Goodman, “when you call a wire service or go on line with
FTD, Teleflora, also 800-FLOWERS you’re calling a service. That service charges you a percentage. They charge delivery plus a service charge usually their service charge can be anywhere from 14.99 to 19.99. They then send it to a local florist where you want to send it to. That florist fills it and only gets 72 percent of that order. They’re suppose to fill it to full values a lot of them do but some do not”.
So how do you know you are actually getting the flowers you paid for? We decided to find out by sending flowers to three different regions of the United States using three well known floral delivery services. We chose the premium top dollar bouquet in each floral selection for each recipient. The arrangements varied from 65 to 70 dollars prior to fees. One arrangement after fees was over 90 dollars.
We then asked our recipients to send us pictures of their flowers and we skyped with them as well. We provided them with an advertised photo of what their floral arrangement was meant to look like and we included the amount we paid for it.
Kristi Redford from Portland, Oregon received a bouquet from Teleflora. She admits they are beautiful but points out the florist failed to put all the stems in the water. She also notes, “there is not a back to them so I will have to put this side up against the wall”.
Cory Parolin of St. Louis, Missouri received a fresh cut tulip and rose bouquet from FTD. It arrived via UPS in a box. She considered it quite a challenge to remove them from their bolted positions in the box. She also noted it was fortunate she was home at the time of the delivery since temperatures can be damaging to tender stems.
Cory told us, “The roses are very pretty. they’re in good shape. it’s the tulips that are a little um…here’s a tulip for example. The description said that the bouquet would have red and pink tulips as you can see I have red and white tulips. Of course the picture you see on line is a very lush arrangement that has tons of filler and greenery and the presentation on line looks a lot better than this does”.
Each website we placed an order from provides a small print substitution policy. Although flowers may differ their quality and the size of the arrangement should stay the same. We were disappointed to to see all three of our arrangements had obvious differences.
Gregory tells us the discrepancies are almost inevitable because delivery services send your order to a florist without any knowledge of what that florist has in stock. The substitution policy allows them to change flowers out but they are suppose to stay as close as possible to the original arrangement. “They do whatever they want and the color is the same but bottom line…it’s not what you ordered”.
Linda Zazzali from Saddle River, New Jersey was suppose to receive a vibrant lush arrangement of purple and pink hues from 1-800-FLOWERS. She noticed hers paled in comparison to the advertisement. “The roses look a lot paler. I think they should have been more pink. I’m not a professional floral arranger, that is not one of my top skills… but I guess if you mess with it a little bit like one of their designers did 14 times, it would look like the flowers in the picture”.
To ensure both you and your sweetie get what you paid for this Valentine’s Day, Goodman suggests, “Know your local florist ask them for a florist in the city you want to send them to then send it that way”.
Goodman however cautions calling a florist in the destination city on your own because you may run into the same delivery service problem. “You have to be careful with that too because there’s services like “Just Flowers” that say they’re in that city and they’re not in that city and then they charge you all the fees and they fake that they are actually in the city”.
If you still choose a delivery service and get unsatisfactory results Goodman says, “Call the wire service, see if they’ll even do anything. Wire services usually don’t back up the florist. they could care less. They got their money. Insist. if not, get your money back and go to a local florist. Do not use wire services”
Be prepared, it can be a frustrating experience if you are unhappy with a floral delivery service. You are likely to be offered a replacement arrangement and/or discounts on future orders. You must also be ready to provide proof your order was not what you paid for and outside the substitution policy. The delivery services are reluctant to give full refunds but staying diligent it is possible to get a refund.
Perhaps Linda has it right, “When someone is hot for you and its Valentine’s Day..they don’t care what they’re sending what they’re spending and you’re happy with your flowers. This seventy dollars- someone might not care on either end”.