Ordering flowers for relatives, friends, business associates who live at a distance? Think it will be so easy to just use an 800 number? I want to tell you a bit about flower deliveries, and you can then make your own decision.
You’re aware, of course, that the time of year and the geographic location of the recipient determine availability and quality.
You also know that florists receive cut flowers from their providers on certain days ,and the specific flowers in your order could be close to their expiration date.
You’re ready to order and put “flower arrangements” or something like that in your search engine. Or maybe you put the city, the state and “flower arrangements” in. All sorts of 800 numbers pop up. As you start clicking, you see page after page featuring lovely arrangements, their beauty and mystery expertly accentuated by an excellent photographer. And ordering is so simple with the recipient’s information and your credit card.
Don’t do it.
Let me share with you an order I placed in this manner on Friday before Mother’s Day to new mothers. My confirmation e-mail indicated the flowers would be delivered on Saturday. I spent $100 on the arrangement, believing with a Florida address — where flowers are more plentiful than oranges — that the flowers would be exquisite. And I actually believed they would be delivered.
Wrong on both counts. I began getting emails about delivery delays on Monday after Mother’s Day. And they continued — until Thursday.
I finally called the recipients to get their response to the flowers I had ordered. It was, “Nice.”
Few recipients will ask what you paid, and no recipient will say, “They sucked. What did you pay? Twenty-five bucks?”
So I called the 800 number to express my dissatisfaction and was told I’d need to submit a photo. Believe me, I was embarrassed when the flower recipients sent me the photo, which I forwarded as requested.
After two phone calls, I was finally told that the 800 people would refund my credit card $15. I told them that I did not want that, but I wanted instead a $100 arrangement delivered to the new mothers. I was furious when I hung up. This was not my first rodeo, and I knew what a $100 bouquet in the boondocks of Florida should look like.
Why the problem? The 800 people have overhead: the elaborate marketing materials, the call center personnel, and the arrangements with a subcontractor, a local florist, who also needs to get a percentage of the $100 payment. And the 800 people are confident in knowing that few people who receive flowers are going to complain to the person who sent them.
My recommendation: establish a relationship with your local florist. Buy from that shop. Actually talk to someone there about what you want, what flowers are in season, which ones are the freshest.
If the recipient of your largess is at a distance, use the Internet to find a local florist in that city and talk directly to the shop. You’ll probably get the same quality service that you do when you buy locally. I know I did in April of this year.
Greenville florist Caitlin Miller says, “Two years ago, when we first started our business, we made the decision to stay independent from any wire service, that is, order gatherer, due to their costs and dishonest advertising. We encourage our customers to buy directly from a local florist to ensure top-quality flowers and more money allotted to the arrangement. By supporting local florists directly, customers are helping put bread and butter on their neighbors’ tables.”
A Miami County florist who prefers to remain anonymous revealed to me that many of these “order gatherers” have no flower shop, no floral designers, no flowers, and no delivery drivers. They make money on service fees and the commissions they keep from the florists with whom they work. The customer pays a significant amount of money more than the flowers are actually worth.
She says, “Going to great lengths to represent themselves as real florist, these ‘order gatherers’ give real florists a bad name. “
Have we convinced you that you and the recipient are the real losers as well as your local florist or the local florist in the town where your family member, friend, or business associate lives?
Take the time to buy directly from florists. Put these fraudulent order gatherers out of business.
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.