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

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Florist Price Comparisons

How to compare prices between online-only and local florists

Smoke and mirrors and flowers

Let's compare flower costs between some affiliate resellers/brokers with your typical local florist - dollar for dollar.

Price Shown on Flower Arrangement

Local Delivery Charge

Service/Handling/

Shipping Fee

Total Cost

Your Local Florist

$50

$5

none

$55.00

FTD.com

florist.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$11.99

$66.99

teleflora.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$10.99

$65.99

justflowers.com

Flower.com

virtualflowers.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$8.99

$63.99

virtualflorist.com

iflorist.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$9.95

$64.95

BloomsUSA.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$12.95

$67.95

CoasttoCoastFlorist.com

64.95

included in price of flowers

included in price of flowers

$64.95

11flowers.com

flowershopping.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$11.50

$66.50

1800flowers.com

$55

included in price of flowers

$11.99

$66.99

800wesleys.com

$55

included in price of flowers

10.99

$65.99

Do those "$5.00 off" coupons and "10% off" web deals sound like a bargain now?

Make no mistake about it - the following types of charges are simply service/convenience fees and are completely avoidable by ordering direct through the florist that actually delivers your arrangement:

Handling Fee/Charge

Service Fee/Charge

Shipping Fee/Charge (when used with orders for local florist-delivered products)

Relay Fee/Charge

Same-Day Fee/Charge

Delivery charges are a completely separate category and are described below.

The Florist Detectives found a very well written review of the FTD.com website at epinions.com which highlights the confusion on the part of many consumers as to what all these charges and fees mean.

The writer observed:

"Delivery is included" with the arrangement price, AND YET there is a mysterious $10.99 service fee that is later tacked on. I suspect that this fee is either a way for them to cover delivery costs OR a way to hide the true price of the arrangement.

The answer is... the added charge simply hides the true cost of the arrangement. (Note: At least FTD.com displays their service charge on the same page as the products. Many of the affiliate resellers simply hide them until after you've entered all the order details and given them your credit card number. )

"Delivery included" generally means that an estimated fee of $5.00 has been added to the price of the arrangement. We say 'estimated' because the price of local delivery greatly varies. The local florists which fill these orders are independently owned and operated and are permitted to deduct their prevailing delivery charges prior to filling your order to full value. (They are not permitted to deliver less overall dollar value than sent, but are also not obligated to give more than they would to any local consumer.)

Does anyone really think that a $50 arrangement including delivery charges looks the same in Manhattan, Omaha and Honolulu?

Now you know why sites are loaded with disclaimers about substitutions and why consumer satisfaction with flowers on the web is not stellar (especially when rated regarding price.)

We found a page on the Twin Cities floral association website that explains why local florists provide the best value. Like many florists, they and the Florist Detectives believe that informed consumers understand where to get more flowers and service for their dollars.

Delivery Charges

The term Delivery Charge, per major wire service rules, should be used to cover the actual cost of physically delivering floral products. Affiliate reseller/brokers and selling florists which indicate 'delivery charges' are to include those sums, in addition to the product price shown, when forwarding orders to local florists for fulfillment.

Example: You purchase an arrangement for $50 and are charged $8.95 for delivery. The affiliate is supposed to forward the order for $58.95 to the filling florist. Florists must then use the delivery fee to offset their local charges. If their delivery charge is less, more flowers will be added to your design. If it's higher, money is deducted from the amount allotted for the arrangement.

If the affiliate keeps the delivery charge and only forwards the price of the arrangement, the local florist will deduct delivery cost from the flowers - and you'll receive a smaller design.

How do you know if an affiliate reseller is following this rule?

You don't. You are reliant on the integrity of the wire service networks, which have very specific rules that include penalties such as stiff fines and/or suspension of membership. If only they were enforced...

The folks that primarily sleuth out this type of information are your local Florist Detectives - who receive orders from some broker for less than their web-indicated selling prices, sometimes lacking the delivery charges you paid. These 'affiliate gatherers' have simply pocketed part of your money, plus any additional service charges, and left the local florists open to complaints of sending skimpy, under-valued designs.

The wire services have a specific term for this form of deception/theft - it's called skimming. We call it a black eye on the industry.

We found this comment by a former employee of an affiliate reseller to be quite telling. And here's yet another one. ( Please note : We were notified by an alert reader that http://floristsearch.com/ is now a phony directory owned and operated by the justflowers/flower/virtualflowers team. The site claims '9000 florist listings' yet each and every city search result displays justflowers.com. Our thanks goes out to this new florist detective for bringing the misleading directory to our attention!)

If you are a florist or consumer that has been a victim of this type of theft, please file a complaint and/or let us know so we may help others avoid the same scam.