Florist Detectives. Consumer Information about alleged deceptive and misleading florist advertising and marketing practices.

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FTD vs Local Florists

For nearly a century, FTD - Florists' Transworld Delivery - had been synonymous with flower quality, value and trust, delivered by a network of professional local brick and mortar flower shops. One of the most recognized logos in North America, FTD once was the standard bearer for the floral industry.

But it's only taken a few years for the leadership team of equity investment group Leonard Green and Partners to gut the core values of the company and earn staggeringly low consumer satisfaction ratings as seen in this screen shot from BizRate.com taken on March 5, 2007.

FTD-BizRate-3-6-07.png

What has the leadership of FTD done and failed to do to earn a 100% negative rating and so many complaints? In our opinion, there are four key issues:

 

  • Through FTD.com, FTD misrepresents what consumers are purchasing by showing photographs of professionally designed arrangements when the flowers will arrive in boxes delivered by courier companies like UPS, FedEx or DHL and require the recipients to assemble their own gifts.  Read what consumers have to say about FTD removing the florists from their flowers -

A letter to the Florist Detectives:

"I have been an FTD customer through its website for a number of years. After my experience this past week, I will probably stop using wire services altogether.

"In early December, I received an email from FTD with an offer for $20 off select floral products. I chose one that looked appealing and ordered it for both my mother and mother-in-law for delivery on December 21st. Unfortunately, I didn't read the full description, which said the arrangement will "arrive boxed and ready for the recipient to arrange in their own special way." Both of the bouquets arrived on-time, but the flowers were not fresh. And, my poor 75 yr old mother and 86 yr old mother-in-law had to be their own floral arrangers. I got a promise of a refund for my mother's bouquet, as I had found out about the state of the flowers the day after it was delivered, thanks to my sister. My mother-in-law would not tell me how poor the bouquet was - I found out when we went there on Christmas Day.

"I am waiting to hear if FTD will give me a refund for that one, too. I checked the FTD website today and saw that the majority of the arrangements that are not marked as being available for same-day delivery will arrived boxed and ready for the recipient's "special touch". So...it appears that FTD is cutting out the local florists where it can and pushing the responsibility for floral arranging to the consumer. And for the same prices.

"I realize this is not the same issue that your website is dealing with, but I think it's a practice that many consumers should be aware of."

A blogger:

"As an update, the order finally arrived today - in a box [no less] with everything shown in the picture left to the recipient to assemble herself into an arrangement. First off, a day late is completely unacceptable and then to not even ship a complete arrangement is just ridiculous. I would have stuffed them under my desk too if I was her."

  • FTD removed the formerly very clear text on FTD.com explaining that local delivery charges were included in florist-delivered arrangement prices and that shoppers would be charged an additional handling/service fee on each order. The 'price includes delivery' is now gone and the handling/service fee charge (ranging from $12.99 to 15.99) isn't disclosed until deep into the shopping cart section of the site. Some consumers erroneously believe the additional charges are 'shipping fees'.

 

The repercussions from the Valentine's Day fiasco will be long felt in the floral industry.

Rather than focusing on delivering a high quality, informative experience for flower buying consumers - both through FTD.com and through some of its 'online only' affiliates - FTD's lack of customer oriented core values is making shoppers think twice before using FTD - and its florists - ever again.     

It's a sad fall from grace for the once most famous and respected florist brand in the world.