Whether you need to send flowers to your loved one who lives hundreds of miles away or just to a special person but lack the time to visit your local florist, there is always a solution of having an online florist make the delivery for you. According to www.floralmarketresearch.com, nearly 44 million American households will make, at least, one floral purchase to celebrate romance, compassion and love with their significant others for Valentine's Day. So, if you are planning to show your admiration and affection to a loved one, rush in!
Need some help with finding the perfect florist for your Valentine's Day bouquet? Go through this handy guide to find valuable information about:
- How to Choose the Best Online Florist – Groups of flower retailers you can purchase flowers from.
- How to Choose the Best Valentine's Day Flowers – Tips about ensuring that the online florist you found is reputed, as well as about the type of flowers to deliver depending on the message you want to send out.
- Most Common Flower Delivery Scams – Types of flower delivery fraud and ways to avoid them. Also, how to report a scam.
How to Choose the Best Online Florist
Where to Buy Flowers From
There are three main groups where you can purchase flowers online. First come the actual florists that mainly make flowers-by-wire deliveries, which means that they have each gift designed and delivered by professional flower shops in the area of the recipient.
Then, there are floral growers, online marketers and shippers that specialize in shipping unarranged flowers in a box by overnight air (also called "flowers-by-air" for obvious reasons). It is a more cost-effective alternative to having a local florist make the delivery. However, you can't expect same-day delivery and you may also face issues with the freshness of the flowers, considering the temperature fluctuations and amount of time involved in overnight shipping. Speaking of flower quality and freshness, Pissed Consumer has received quite a lot of complaints about bouquets ordered from FTD that started to deteriorate almost as soon as the recipient received them. This is considered a scam. Flowers should be well taken care of and last for, at least, a week. Check out this consumer's review about an FTD:
"I ordered a get-well bouquet of assorted tulips for a friend and they were delivered on time but there were only pick and yellow blooms. In 3days, the yellow ones were drooping to the table and losing their petals.I emailed ftd to complain and they answered with a message that they would send a replacement bouquet. When that never happened, I called customer service and "Warren" said they had no record of ever sending me that email!"
Finally, the third online floral sources are middlemen, wire services retailers, and other resellers that forward your order to florists and flower shippers that they do business with. Before you click on the purchase button, just make sure there is a phone number available to use, just in case something goes south.
How to Buy Flowers for Valentine's Day - Things to Look at
- Customer Service - Online florists should be offering 24/7 customer service to help with any problems that may arise.
- Maximum Security – Online transactions should always be secure. A secure payment gateway is an absolute necessity, especially when using your bank information or credit card for the transaction. So, always prefer reputable florists, with great reviews and customer testimonials. You may also check out Pissed Consumer website and see how consumers feel about the particular florist.
- Privacy – It is important to make sure the florist will not disclose your private information to a 3rd party (i.e. commercial entities). Check with the florist before you place an order.
- Reasonable Pricing – Even during special occasions (i.e. Valentine's Day), when the prices usually go up, an online florist should be able to keep prices reasonable. Compare prices with other online flower retailers and also check for discounts that most online florists usually offer at this time of year.
- Experience – Some flowers require special handling and care (i.e. exotic flowers). This comes with experience, which you can determine by going through customer reviews. Also, if the florist is a long-established business, it probably means they are well regarded too.
How to Buy Flowers – Final Tips:
- If your local florist has a website, order from them.
- Always ask the total number of flowers your bouquet will have.
- Check whether a cheaper price corresponds to fewer flowers.
- Be specific about your requirements (budget and preferences). A good florist will work with your budget and give you ideas to get the most of your money.
- Prefer overnight flower shippers that have the best ongoing relationships with their carriers, shippers and growers. For that reason, it is best to choose medium and larger providers.
How to Choose the Best Valentine's Day Flowers
Having something custom made may cost you a bit more but it also ensures you get something unique and totally personalized. However, if you don't have enough time for that, you may as well have a look at pre-arranged bouquets florists have to offer. For custom made orders, it is important to be able to give the following information to the selected florist:
- The occasion or reason you need flowers for.
- Your significant other's favorite colors and personality (i.e. for bolder ladies, florists usually suggest contrasting colors).
- Your budget.
Dos to Consider:
- Get ahead of the game - Set alerts and sign up for newsletters that could get you deals early on.
- Plan ahead – Ordering in advance will save you money with deals and get all the stress out of the way. Leaving things to the last minute can end up with major frustration, given that florists are usually swamped with orders during Valentine's Day, and other celebrations. However, do check on the delivery status close to the holiday, just to stay on the safe side!
- Shop around – Relying solely on your local florist probably narrows your options, especially when you want to send flowers across the country. Better select a trusted online retailer that ships nationally.
- Ask for an early delivery – Delivering the bouquet a couple of days earlier (of course, if that is okay with the recipient too) will give the florist the time to give more care to your order. To save a few more bucks, you may consider to have them delivered on a week day (weekend deliveries are more costly).
- Keep flowers in water – Get the flowers into water as soon as you receive them to keep them alive longer. Also, make sure to change the water every day.
- Cut the stems at a diagonal – Cutting the stems flat does not allow flowers to drink enough water.
- Feel free to think outside the box – It is not necessary to send roses, which is an all-time classic option. And, even if you do, there are so many impressive alternatives to the classic California buds (i.e. Lisianthus roses and roses from a volcanic origin).
How to Choose Flowers Based on What You Want to Say
Each flower has a special meaning. So, depending on what message you want to convey with your Valentine's Day flowers, you may choose any of the following buds:
- Red roses – They represent romance and love. The darker the color, the more intensified the meaning!
- White roses – Great choice for true love while they also represent innocence and purity. The same goes for daisies too. However, to some people, white roses are associated with sympathy so not the wisest choice for Valentine’s Day.
- Yellow roses – They represent friendship (also a get well soon wish). If you want to say that you need to be more than friends, make sure you add a few red roses in that bouquet!
- Pink roses – Perfect for a newer relationship, where feelings of love are less intense.
- Purple roses – Although not a conventional choice, they do represent royalty. What better way to tell your loved one that she or he is the Queen or King of your heart!
- Tulips – They have a different meaning per shade. White ones represent royalty, while pink tulips stand for caring. Yellow show that you are crazy about somebody, white are for forgiveness, and red tulips mean love.
- Carnations – They convey various feelings, from cheer (yellow) and gratitude (pink) to remembrance (white). Striped ones represent refusal, though, so not a good option for Valentine’s Day.
- Chrysanthemums – Offer 13 of these to a crush to reveal that you have been secretly in love with him or her for quite some time. Bronze mums are excellent choices for a first date as they convey excitement.
- Hydrangea – If you have been in a long-standing relationship, these are the perfect blooms for her, at Valentine’s Day as they represent chivalry! So do daffodils. However, they are more often preferred for weddings.
- Peony – Closely related to good luck and riches, they make exceptional options for both married couples that have stood the test of time and newly engaged ones alike.
Note: The best Valentine's Day flowers are not always roses. Consider mixed bouquets, carnations and other types of flowers with variety of colors. But, if you do go with roses, shop around first because if you are paying a higher price for a bouquet or roses, it should be flowers with a longer stem, more fragrant and high petal count. Otherwise, you may end up having to deal with problems like this Justflower.com consumer did:
"Beware of Justflowers.com. I ordered a "premium" flower arrangement in a white wicker basket for $102.21. The description for premium says: "We'll add lots more. The premium arrangement makes quite a statement." They delivered a small flower arrangement in a dinky brown basket. It was embarrassing. It was nowhere near the full flower arrangement in the picture. It looked like a $30 arrangement at best. When I called to say I was not satisfied they refused to do anything."
According to other Justflowers.com reviews, this is not the only case of fraud.
Most Common Flower Delivery Scams
The "Petal Pushers" Flower Delivery Scam
A lot of things can go wrong when you order a bouquet of flowers from a florist you have never worked with in the past. However, things can take an unexpected (bad) turn with florists that you found listed in your local phone directory because some telemarketing firms advertise themselves as local florists. The Federal Trade Commission calls them petal pushers. So, when you call them to place an order, believing they are local florists, you are being redirected to a telemarketing operation that could be located anywhere around the world. The telemarketer that receives your order, who also gets your credit card information, forwards your order to an area florist. A percentage of the order goes straight into the pocket of the telemarketer while your flowers are either never delivered or are not delivered as ordered. A wrong or undelivered order is already enough to call it a scam; to make things worse, you also receive a huge bill.
How to avoid flower delivery scam:
- Always check where the florist you are about to contact is located exactly (see if the listing has a local address). When you call them, ask for directions to their store. If they refuse or seem unwilling to share such details, simply hang up.
- Ask for referrals from people you trust.
- If possible, visit the shop and check the quality of the flowers and see how presentable and neat the business is as a means to figure out if they are reputable or not.
- Ask for a guarantee. A satisfaction guarantee is provided by all professional florists.
Note: In the past, being part of Teleflora was considered a guarantee of high quality services. Unfortunately, Pissed Consumer receives a growing number of complaints about Teleflora scam practices and deliveries that never made it to the recipient's door. Like this consumer, for example, who shares their exeprience in Teleflora review:
"I placed a same day delivery order at 10am. I got an email around 5:30pm saying that my flowers were "hand delivered". Well, my girlfriend never got the flowers. When I contacted customer service I got someone on the line who was clearly reading from a script with broken English. They refused to disclose the name of the florist for "confidential" reasons. When I asked for my money back the person said that my case has been forwarded to research to figure out what happened.[…] given that Teleflora has a long history of under delivering on their promises I would not discount that there could also be some elements of fraud."
The same applies to FTD, which faces an increasing volume of complaints from consumers that report FTD scam practices.
The "Secret Admirer" Flower Delivery Scam
Another popular scam involves receiving a bouquet of flowers at home or work from a "secret admirer" – at least, that is what the person delivering the flowers says. Sometimes, they say it is from an unnamed family member. Of course, they ask for a small service charge or tip but, guess what? They don't accept cash. Instead, you need to use your credit card to pay them. To understand where this is going, right? Once they get hold of your credit card details, they charge it with huge amounts – could be even thousands of dollars, which is what happened to a Sears customer, who had his credit card details stolen by imposters.
How to avoid the scam:
- Always keep in mind that the delivery drivers of reputed florists and flower stores never ask for money or any financial information.
- Flower delivery is always paid in advance, even if a person wants to send flowers anonymously.
- Most trusted florists will disclose the information of the secret admirer to the recipient if the recipient of the bouquet calls in to ask about the sender of the bouquet. If unsure of a flower delivery, just give the florist a call to confirm the delivery.
How to Report a Flower Delivery Scam
Flower delivery scams are ever-evolving, with a new scam surfacing every now and again. Imposters change their tricks based on the ways people react to them. If you are victim of a flower delivery scam, do use the power of social media to share your experience. You may also expose scammers through the Pissed Consumer website. Finally, if you want to report the tricksters officially, go to the FTC Complaint Assistant, and report it to them.
Finding the perfect flower delivery shop could be challenging. However, with the tips shared above about how to buy flowers for Valentine's Day and how to choose the right bud for the occasion, your budget, and per the recipient's likes and preferences, you will be able to start this journey on the right foot. And now that you also know how to avoid the most common scams, nothing can stop you from having to a heart-fulfilling celebration of your love and affection for your significant other!
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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.