Archived Antics of Order Gatherers
December 9, 2005
More Superpages.com/FTD Affiliate Shenanigans
Plunging ever lower in the quest for FTD affiliate commissions is the Brady's gang from Georgia. (see our August 15 entry below) To pull off this scam, they again need the help of Superpages.com.
We found this page for florist in Toledo, Ohio and noticed links to Flower Splendor - Florist, using the URL toledoflorists.org, and Maple Leaf Florist, with the link floristsintoledo.com . Both lead to pages with blazing FTD logos that state "This is our Florist in Toledo, Ohio (OH) web site." The fact that they're just a call center in the Atlanta/Norcross, GA area seems immaterial.
Both phony local Toledo pages flip to websites hosted and maintained by none other than FTD. Consumers' orders are sent to Flower Splendor's/Brady's Florist/Maple Leaf's/Broadstreet's call center on FTD's proprietary Mercury Network and then on to unsuspecting local Toledo florists - after the Brady's gang has extracted its $10.99 handling fee and a 20% commission. Of course, FTD gets a cut out of each of those purchases, too.
Think Toledo’s the only city? Guess again.
In Pittsburgh, PA Broadstreet Flowers as fake local florist pittsburghflorists.net.
In Peoria, IL Maple Leaf Florist with phony location floristsinpeoria.com.
In Buffalo, NY Broad St Flowers as bogus city florist buffaloflorists.net.
and the list goes on......
While states wonder where their sales tax revenues are going, we wonder when FTD CEO Mike Soenen is going to follow up on his assurances to florists that FTD will clean up their deceptive and misleading affiliate advertising. Mr. Soenen, when you're hosting the shopping carts and providing the network, you can just simply pull the plug.
Real Florists say 'Don't confuse us with the weeds'
A distressed florist contacted us because she found search engines displaying her shop's website, Artisan Flowers & Gifts of Smithtown, NY sandwiched between complaint sites discussing Artisan Florist, one of Vancouver Flower Company's group of notorious URLs. We understand her concern and offer this list of misfortunate florists that have confusingly similar names to some of the companies discussed here by the Florist Detectives and on other consumer information sites.
|Real Artisan Florists (not affiliated with the Vancouver, BC company of a similar name) |
|Artisan Flowers & Gifts
|| 37 W Main St
||449 Ada Dr SE
|Real Urban Florists (not affiliated with the Vancouver, BC company of a similar name) |
||764 S. La Brea Avenue
||Los Angeles, CA |
|Otto & Urban Florist & Greenhouses
|| 905 East State Street
||Fremont, OH |
|Urban Flowers And Gift Market
||1907 Skillman St
||Dallas, TX |
||4029 18th Street
||San Francisco, CA|
|Real Kay's Florists (not affiliated with the Bellaire, TX order gatherer using a similar name)|
|Just Kay's Flowers & Gifts
||4779 Maury River Rd.
||3532 Mimbro Ln
||Chattanooga, TN |
||1688 N. Perris Blvd., Ste. L2
|Real Brady's Florists (not affiliated with the Atlanta area order gatherer of a similar name|
|Brady's Floral Gallery
||7745 E. Gelding Dr. Suite 103B
||Scottsdale, AZ |
|Brady's Flowers & Tuxedo Gallery
||2801 7th St
||Bay City, TX |
|Brady's House of Flowers
||116-1st Ave. N.E
November 25, 2005
Urbanflorist.com Still Leading Our Weed Hall of Fame
We sadly found yet another consumer fooled by the empty promises of Urbanflorist.com/VancouverFlower Company. The writer chronicles his weeks of frustration dealing with the non-delivery, absence of customer service and lack of refund after purchasing from what we believe to be one of the web's most dubious flower sellers. (Read our initial report about Urban Florist and Vancouver Flower Company located near of the bottom of this page.)
The Vancouver, BC Better Business Bureau has received more than 300 complaints about Urban Florist and has placed the company on a Buyer's Alert.
We recommend consumers file complaints direct with the proper Canadian agencies with the hope that the RCMP and the Canadian Bureau of Competition will take notice and put and end to their ripoffs.
The writer's advice to "do your research before conducting any business online" is solid but we hope he gives sending flowers as a gift another try. With more than 25,000 quality florists in North America, there are much, much better choices.
Added 12/3/05: The continued complaints about UrbanFlorist.com keep rolling in. This blog entry from camworld.com thoroughly details the poor quality, value, service, unauthorized substitution, delayed delivery and over-charging by Vancouver Flower Company.
The Florist Detectives thank Cameron Barrett for chronicalling these rip-off frustrations on his popular blog and for taking a pro-active stance for himself and other consumers. We would like to remind him that while "Google knows all", it's their continued acceptance of AdWords dollars from UrbanFlorist.com that lead him and nearly everyone else to that site in the first place.
September 21, 2005
Findaflorist.com Now Helps You Find A Middleman
What would you do if you found out that a national company was displaying your business name with products you don't carry at prices you never agreed to? Within the last few weeks, thousands of Teleflora florists have awoken to just that.
When Teleflora built a national directory of its local members, findaflorist.com, many shop owners believed the wire service was returning to one of its original missions, connecting consumers direct to real local florists. For the Teleflora member florists that chose to simply be listed by name, address and phone number and forgo the paid ads and direct link subscriptions to their own sites, with no warning and no request for permission, Teleflora has unilaterally put up 'free storefront' webpages.
Why would any florist refuse a 'free' website and why should consumers be wary? Flower shops displayed under this 'free' program were consulted neither about the arrangement selection nor about prices listed under their names. They are required to opt out, not invited to join in and now have a national wire service gathering names and addresses of customers who may believe they are ordering 'direct' from their companies. Instead, Teleflora has inserted itself as a middle man using the florists own trade names as bait.
On an item like the dozen peach roses diplayed in TF34-2 for 74.95 plus a $10.99 service charge, consumers using the online shopping cart will pay almost $86.00. But Teleflora doesn't know if the florist actually has peach roses in inventory - at any price.
The $10.99 'service fee', listed as a 'delivery charge' during checkout, is actually a convenience charge kept by Teleflora - in addition to the 27% in commission and fees they have awarded themselves on each order sold via these 'free' storefronts. While it appears that Teleflora may think the 'delivery' of your shopping dollars to their company is a sufficient definition of the word, we believe consumers might believe their money would actually be used to pay for the delivery of the flowers to the recipient.
Field reports indicate that despite selecting a specific local flower shop, the arrangement and delivery may be made by a completely different company. At least one enraged florist has reported that a test order to his own 'free' storefont ended up being relayed to and delivered by one of his competitors. How ethical is it when a national company baits consumers with a real florist's trade name and then switches the fulfillment to a different affiliate?
Flower shop owners have reported considerable time lag between their requests for removal and the unwanted storefronts being taken down.
The florists specifically being used in this scheme are the ones appearing with links labeled "view our storefront' beneath their individual shop names. A quick check reveals more than 60 such New York listings, more than 50 in Los Angeles and over 40 in Chicago, with countless other cities and stores affected in the US and Canada.
The Florist Detectives are very concerned about Teleflora's use of florists' trade names in competition with the very companies they purport to help. We believe that most local florists have yet to realize their stores are being represented on findaflorist.com in this fashion. Having placed a link on our site to findaflorist.com as a way of assisting consumers to find direct florist-delivered values via local stores, we have decided to remove that link and caution consumers about using the site as a trusted resource.
August 15, 2005
The Yellow Pages Offer Many Choices - For Faux Local Florist Advertisers
Consumers headed to their trusty online and print Yellow Pages should beware that all those choices may actually lead to a just a few companies. After receiving a florist complaint letter from a flower gift purchaser who was fooled into believing FlowerSplendor.net operated a shop in the community where her grandmother resided, we took a closer look and found the following results on numerous SuperPages.com queries of 'City Name' 'Florist':
Broad Street Flowers
Send fresh flowers today! Same day delivery to the entire metro area! Let us hand deliver one of our works of art!
Proudly Serving 'City Name'
Flower Splendor - Order 24/7
Looking for a florist who will go the extra mile, give us a call. Your satisfaction is guaranteed!
Same day delivery of beautiful flowers, gift baskets and more! All arrangements are designed by a floral artist and hand delivered!
Proudly serving 'City Name'.
Beautiful flowers for any occasion! We serve the entire metro area with same day delivery and your 100% satisfaction is guaranteed!
Proudly Serving 'City Name'.
Four different names, four different phone numbers yet all 'serving' the 'City Name' from the same phone bank in the Atlanta Metro area. The sites sport different contact addresses including:
6350 Mcdonough Dr Ste K, Norcross, GA 30093
2566 Shallowford Rd Suite 104 #308, Atlanta, GA 30345
1261 N. Lake St, Aurora, IL 60506
527 Thrid Ave Ste. 418, New York, NY 10016
981 W. Arrow Hwy., San Dimas, CA 91773
4694 Cemetary Rd, Hilliard, OH 43026
8362 Tamarack Village #119, Woodbury, MN 55125
9548 Mt. Holly, Huntersville NC 28078
16748 E Smokey HIll Rd, Centennial, CO 80015
12905 O South 71 Hwy, Grandview, MO 64030
4007 Carpenter Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
5016 Spedale Ct, Spring HIll, TN 37174
631 N. Stephanie St., Henderson, NV 89014
4397 W. Bethany Home Rd, Glendale, AZ 85301
126 S. Boulevard, Edmond, OK 73013
The Norcross, Georgia address, which appears on their FTD hosted websites, flowersplendor.net and sherlockflorist.com, is a warehouse with nary a flower in site. The other non-Georgia addresses are all PO Boxes in UPS Stores across the US.
What? You thought Brady's/Broad Street had flower shops in those locations?
Too bad SuperPages.com believes it's more important to profit from the advertising dollars generated by these fake 'local florists' than to offer consumers truthful, relevant information when searching for a florist located in a particular city. Perhaps their tagline "We Know Around Here" should be ammended to read "We Know Around Here But Get Paid To Make You Think Otherwise".
Too bad FTD thinks its acceptable for their affiliates to run misleading online Yellow Page ads, charge bogus 'shipping fees' and operate websites with deceptive location information.
The irony of the statement "Don't be Fooled..." from FTD.com's home page isn't lost on us.
June 24, 2005
The Andy Warhol Floral Award
In what appears to be an attempt to mimic Andy Warhol's Mailyn Monroe series, FTD has decided to recycle the same rose arrangement image and simply digitally change the colors, regardless of whether the roses shipped by them or delivered by their local florist members can meet the expectations of the pictures.
We have yet to see varieties of real pink, peach or white roses that come close to duplicating the colors and looks in those pictures. And consumers wonder why they don't get the same flowers that they were sold on the web?
To make matters even more confusing, these images are primarily used to sell boxed or wrapped-up bouquets, not professionally arranged gifts in vases as displayed on FTD.com's site. Why not show shoppers what they're really buying for $29.95? To paraphrase Mr. Warhol, "Selling is anything you can get away with."
April 18, 2005
Press Release of the Year
It's only April, but we're prepared to proclaim this outrageous press release from florist-directory.net as our Most Deceptive Public Relations Stunt of the Year award winner. Having earned mentions on our site - at least four times - for providing blatantly misleading claims, this site is now stating
"Florist Directory Net is launching a new service to help customers identify fake local florist sites and help the floral industry re-establish the credibility in online flower shops."
From awards to phony local florists , to bogus claims of free delivery , to serving Google cloaked, redirected pages and fooling search engines into thinking that their Bulgarian registered, GrowerFlowers.com affiliate fake local florist sites are anything more than attempts to trick consumers, the idea that florist-directory.net is now going to "start ranking all floral sites as well as explicitly warning customers as whether a site is a local florist or a simple wire service redistributing flower orders" is beyond laughable.
The Florist Detectives have been patiently waiting to see if webmaster Evgeni Nestoroff will start by reporting "detailed information" regarding his own "fraudulent activity and methods used." We continue to hope that GrowerFlowers.com will see fit to clean up this flower spam and that FTD, the network through which florist delivered products are sent, will step in to suspend the operation for clearly violating their members' rules.
In our opinion, those moves would be a big step in "re-establishing the credibility of online flower shops."
March 12, 2005
"Cheap Free Delivery By a Local Florist?"
Cheapflowers.com, an affiliate reseller member of FTD, Teleflora and the FloralSouce wire service networks, continues to advertise 'free delivery' in Google Adwords ads and on their homepage. Orders transmitted to local florists for fulfillment are cloaked behind the name The Red Lily of Huntington Beach, CA.
We ask what consumer would want to get caught sending a gift from a company called CheapFlowers? To assuage concerned shoppers, the site includes the following text:
NOTE: The name "Cheapflowers.com" will not be seen by the recipient or be shown on your credit card bill. The flowers are delivered by a local florist under their own name, and your credit card bill will show the name "GetFlowers.com".
The Florist Detectives have heard rumblings in the industry that some local florists, horrified to learn their bouquets and designs have been brokered as being 'cheap', are threatening to include notes saying "Your order was transferred to our shop by The Red Lily, owners of CheapFlowers.com" with all future deliveries. We'll keep you posted on how this plays out.
CheapFlowers.com/The Red Lily has managed to use this 'your gift recipient won't know' ruse because the wire services have hidden the company's identity from local florists. We feel it's in the best interest of consumers and florists to be given the full business names and selling agent URLs of all wire service brokered orders. In our opinion, FTD, Teleflora and FloralSource should suspend all affiliates that violate US Federal Trade Commission guidelines by falsely advertising 'free delivery' on brokered products.
February 26, 2005
Eliminate the Middle Man?
Bloomen Direct, a marketing company based in Canada purports to "eliminate the intermediaries found in most floral e-commerce sites" by connecting consumers direct to local florists. We'd be all for that if they only practiced what they preached.
The site includes this faux directory of California florists with multiple links leading to city-specific doorway pages of a site purported to be owned and operated by Jim Anderson Flowers of London, Ontario, Canada. Consumers looking for a florist in Berkeley, CA are offered this deceptive page which states "we deliver to ...Berkeley" from Canada? They even go as far as to present a 'local' zip code to imply a physical location with direct services in Berkeley.
What they really do is transfer orders to local Berkeley florists who likely have no idea that consumers were mislead into believing they were making direct purchases.
In our opinion, this site deserves a double dose of weed killer for deceptively gathering orders under the guise of promoting local florists.
February 20, 2005
Paging Elliot Spitzer
Dear Attorney General Spitzer,
Consumers and real local florists need your assistance in ridding New York of the deceptive marketing claims found on FlowersofNewYork.com which include being #1 (they're not), being a florist (when they're really just a webmaster with Teleflora affiliate products to push), and offering free delivery (which they can't since they don't deliver any flower arrangements and simply pass orders on to local florists for fulfillment.) As the company also operates a site which is supposedly located near your office in the Capitol, we also request your staff take a look at FlowersofAlbany.com which repeats some of these same deceptive 'free delivery' claims. Their other location-specific affiliate sites can be found if you scroll down the home page of http://www.albanywebsites.com.
We'd appreciate your help.
February 8, 2005
Targeting Our Troops
We'd like to take a big weed wacker to giflowers.com, a subdomain of non-florist affiliate marketer pwflowers.com, for their deceptive website which purports to "save the $12.95 FTD delivery fee". This charge is simply just their trumped-up service fee for forwarding orders to local flower shops. The "Really Not Free Delivery" is still padded into the prices of the arrangements shown on their site.
Marketing fake discounts to our US servicemen should earn these guys a trip to the brig!
February 3, 2005
Numerous florists have emailed us to note that www.flowerdeliveryexpress.com and www.flowerdeliveryexpress.net (see below ) are owned by Wesley Berry Florist of West Bloomfield, Michigan. A cursory look at another set of their sites reveals similar tactics: wesleyberryflowers.com shows they are using the same directory-style navigation, featuring all US cities, with product details and ordering being redirected to www.wesleyberry.net, an FTD hosted site.
The spammy repeating of city names on each page is to offer bait to Yahoo! and Google with the hopes that they will think this site is relevant to searches for florists located in each particular city. If offered near the top of searches, consumers can then be fed these seemingly misleading pages so Wesley Berry can then earn a $9.95 "Fee for Delivery Distribution", a 20% commission on the product order, and a hefty rebate from FTD .
Is it crass to think their hosting companies are equal opportunity exploiters by allowing this company to say "We deliver flowers to the following zipcodes near Anchorage Alaska AK"? From Michigan?
Both these sites conveniently omit the 'clear and conspicuous city of location' which is supposed to be printed in letters at least one-third the height of the FTD logo, per FTD's own advertising rules to florists.
We wish Wesley Berry Florist would focus on what their own shop delivers in Michigan instead of working so hard to gather orders for other areas in the US. If you are a consumer or florist who believes these marketing practices are deceptive, please email FTD and Wesley Berry Florist requesting them to stop the charades.
If you are a florist and have had your business name exploited by Wesley Berry on their Teleflora set of sites (see below), send emails to both Teleflora and Wesley Berry Florist demanding the immediate removal of your shop name and address.
January 28, 2005
Using Real florists as bait!
We were searching for contact information for a local florist and were presented with a page from order broker www.flowerdeliveryexpress.com. This company has built a site with city-specific pages that include the names and addresses of many independently owned local flower shops in the US - without the shops' permissions and conveniently omitting the florists' phone numbers.
Florists interested in finding out if their own businesses have been included can go to the flowerdeliveryexpress.com home page and scroll to the bottom, following the links of their state names. They next will be taken to a page listing virtually every city in their state. Following their city links, they will be presented with pages that claims " We deliver to all cities in "insert state name here ." Local florists are listed beneath the Teleflora licensed product images and above the nonsensical text which has been added by their webmaster to optimize the pages for search engines.
No, they don't deliver to all cities - they "transfer to", "broker to", or "relay to" but they do not actually deliver to any cities except the ones near their actual location - but they omit that information .
Consumers are redirected to flowerdeliveryexpress.net for ordering. This Teleflora -hosted template-based site also omits any contact information and requires a purchase before providing users with an email address or any other company identifying details. We hope consumers are smart enough to pass up ordering from any site that fails to include a phone number and local address.
Will consumers searching for a florist by name be offered this site by search engines? Likely.
Will they take the bait of seeing many local florists' names on the pages and believe they are placing direct orders in those cities? Maybe .
Will shoppers understand that they are not dealing direct with a local florist and are paying an additional convenience fee of $9.95 above the cost of the flowers and delivery? Doubtful.
The Florist Detectives believes this tactic is quite possibly a form of trademark infringement and asks on behalf of all florists that all names and addresses be removed unless and until express written permission from each shop has been granted. Lacking an email address and/or phone number for the direct owner of the site, we urge all florists to contact the shopping cart hosting company, Teleflora and request immediate removal of their business' names from this site.
January 27, 2005
Growerflowers.com switches affiliation
Direct-shipper and affiliate reseller growerflowers.com has recently changed its affiliation for florist delivered orders from Teleflora to FTD.
The Florist Detectives reports that many trademarked FTD images are being offered for $5.00 less than the suggested selling prices as seen on FTD.com and alerts florists to watch for appropriate values being relayed from this company.
January 12, 2005
Affiliate reseller, flowerpetal.com issued the following press release : http://i-newswire.com/pr2700.html annoucing that they will donate 12% of sales via a subdomain of their website to charities aiding tsunami victims.
The Florist Detectives found the following AdWords Ad appearing in a Google search of 'Florists Los Angeles' today.
Free Delivery, Good Cause
12% of your order is donated to charities aiding tsunami victims. tsunamirelief.flowerpetal.com
We recommend consumers read about the untruthful claims of free delivery by wire service affiliates before supporting any organization, well intentioned or not.
Now, we have to ask: If this company is so interested in helping tsunami victims, why don't they just donate the proceeds from the root (main) URL of flowerpetal.com instead of setting up an ad tracking campaign? Or, why don't they just quietly send donations direct to the charities of their choice - like the Florist Detectives and millions of others have?