The Florist Detectives
You're a smart shopper
You know that the best flower arrangement value, quality and service on the web comes from dealing directly with the real local florist that will actually create and deliver your order.
Why would you want to trust that special arrangement to some guy sitting behind a computer terminal that doesn't know a gerbera from a gigabyte?
And how come it's so hard to figure out the actual local florists from the weeds of affiliate companies pretending to be 'your' local flower shop?
This site is dedicated to providing consumer information to answer those very questions. Along the way, we'll highlight some of the seemingly deceptive and misleading advertising practices used by faux local florists to confuse, misdirect and plain-old fool the gift-giving public. We'll also provide resources to help you find real local florists.
It's tactics used by deceptive floral wire service affiliates, the ones that generate the letters we receive from defrauded and deceived consumers, that prompted us to create this site. A quote from one recent letter sums it up:
"What should have been a simple, sincere gesture of sending flowers was cheapened by the actions of this (order gatherer) company. Despicable."
Tips to Avoid Being Fooled by Flower Order Gatherers
- Check the Home and About Us pages for the physical address of the business.
- Ask 'What is Your Address?' when you call on the phone. If they decline to provide it, consider calling another florist.
- Check the Contact Us page for a local phone number. It should match the area code of the location to where your flowers are being delivered. If the contact information consists of an email address only, be suspicious.
- Call the local phone number. If it is answered 'Flower Shop' without providing the name of the florist, ask which shop you've called. If they provide a different answer than the one you've dialed, you may have reached a gatherer/broker.
- On the phone, ask for the business' location and driving directions. If they fail to provide these details, consider calling a different florist.
- Ask the florist to itemize all charges. Be especially cautious about companies that charge relay fees, same-day fees, service fees, shipping fees and handling fees. Local florists generally charge for delivery (which you also pay through a broker) but the other surcharges are completely avoidable when ordering direct from the florist who will actually make your arrangement.
- Google the phone number. If it appears under many different business names with different locations, be suspicious.
- Be aware that just because an ad or website name says "City Name Florist", it doesn't mean the company is located in or actually delivers to that city.
- If following a link from a search engine ad, find the site's home page. Order gatherer sites often contain directory-like links named after states, provinces and cities. Each page will appear virtually the same except for the city name.
If you are a US consumer and have been deceived by a call center posing as a local florist or have been mislead by flower advertising, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to hear from you.
TV, Newspaper and Web Coverage of Phony Florists
Phantom Florists - Fox 5 Investigative Report, Washington, DC
Buyer Beware: 'Local' Florists Might Not Be Local - WBNS TV10, Columbus, OH
FTC Warns Against Phony Florists Posing As Local - CBS 13, Sacramento, CA
Valentine's Day Flowers - 3 On Your Side, CBS3, Philadelphia, PA
Flower Shopping? Get Real - Human Flower Project
'Local Florist' Might Not Be - Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH
Ask questions in picking a florist - Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH
"The Internet makes it easy to order the crappiest, overpriced bouquets..." - SmartMoney.com
Hank Investigates: Phony Florists - WHDH-TV Boston, MA
Your Local Florist Might Not Be Local At All - WISN ABC12, Milwaukee, WI
Telemarketers Posing as Phony Florists - KSBW-8, Salinas, CA
Where Did Your Flowers Come From? - WCCO-4, Milwaukee, WI
Finding A Florist - Terri Gruca, Consumer Reporter, WCCO-4 Milwaukee, WI
Man Warns About Flower Scam - The Denver Channel - 7 News, Denver, CO
Cutting Out The Florist Middle Man
Informed shoppers know that 'cutting out the middle man' and ordering direct from a local real florist saves them time and money and allows them to get a more accurate idea of what will be delivered. How does some company in India pretending to be in New York have any idea what the local US or Canadian florist has in inventory? Well, they don't...which is why buyers must agree to accept this disclaimer before they'll accept your order:
- The picture above is indicative of the product being delivered, and the product being delivered may not look exactly as shown.
- Sometimes, the delivering outlet may substitute, without notice to me, flowers, container or accessories from those as shown incase those are not available. This is acceptable to me.
- I will not deny payment to XXXXXX.com on account of a substitution in flowers, container and/or accessories.
You're basically asked to agree that if you don't get what you see, it's not really their problem. It's yours.
Order Gatherer Rewards
The sad fact is that some of the well-known floral wire services give one set of rules to real flower shop members and virtually ignore many of those rules when it comes to some large-volume broker agents, 'internet only', 'online only' and 'virtual' florists.
Some believe that the once vaunted integrity of the florist networks has now degraded into a fight to the bottom of the (flower) bucket. Instead of suspending memberships of companies that use false claims, deceptive location information, and misleading prices, these wire services often fight with each other to offer higher and higher rewards (in the form of rebates and other incentives) to some of the most egregious weeds on the web and in your local Yellow Pages.
That's right. There's a bounty on the head of each consumer that florist wire service brokers can route through themselves and the wire services before finally redirecting your order to the real florists who will actually make and deliver that special bouquet. And the side trip can cost you as much as an extra $25.00.
Despite reading ads that say 'local florist' and 'family owned and operated' you may be phoning a local family owned and operated call center.
Also, see our Valentine's Day shopping tips for further advice about ordering roses and romantic arrangements for your sweetheart and avoiding disappointment with online purchases.
Recent News and Site Updates
Yahoo Local, Phony Flower Shops and User Review Spam
FTD and Kay's Florist, Bellaire TX
Google Adwords: Watch Your Wallet
ProFlowers Roses - Fresh or Frozen?
1-800-Flowers and Phony Free Delivery
All American Florist and SuperPages.com team up to deceive consumers
Kay's Florist aka Blossomflorists.com Continued Rip-offs
E-Florist-Inc.com listed on BBB Buyer's Alert
'Local Tax' Charge Scam?
ProFlowers Proposed Class Action Lawsuit Settlement
Valentine's Day Flowers in the News
Understanding Florist Price Comparisons and Fees