Ordering flowers can be confusing – especially if it is your first experience sending flowers. A simple Google search leads to hundreds of links – some of which can be very misleading. Some websites, claiming to be “local florists,” are deceptively advertising to people online and adding on extra fees to orders. This is often called “order-gathering” in the floral industry. We’ve put together some tips on ordering flowers to help you stay informed, ensure you get the best flower arrangement for your value and take the uncertainty out of your flower buying experience.
What are order-gatherers?
Order-gatherers are websites that are not actually affiliated with local florists. They deceptively advertise for floral delivery with the intention of submitting orders to local florists via national wire services (Teleflora, FTD, etc.). These websites purposely deceive customers by leading them to believe they are dealing with a real local florist.
In reality, order-gatherers are call centers that do not actually deliver your flowers. When you order flowers from one of these sites, there are additional fees either being added on to your order, or taken away from the value of your flower arrangement. After delivery and relay fees are deducted from your product you can end up with something much smaller or not what you intended to order. The worst part is that these sites do not explain all of these fees and deductions to their customers.
Here’s an example: Christine lives in Rochester, NY and wants to send flowers to someone living here in Utica, NY. She is unfamiliar with the area, so she does a quick Google search of “flower shops utica.” Several pages come up and she clicks on the very top result – a site that is advertising on Google and looks to have a positive rating: kimsflorist.com. She loves the “Be Happy” bouquet and thinks the price is great at $34.99. When checking out, Christine gets charged another $14.99 shipment fee – totaling $53.94 with tax. This fee is not actually her delivery or relay fee, this is a fee from Kim’s Florist. Next, someone at their call center puts in an order with a national wire service, which takes an $8.00 relay fee to send it to a local, trusted florist. The customer is now down to a $27.00 arrangement. The local florist now needs to subtract their delivery fee – $10.00. The flower arrangement is now going to be a $17.00 arrangement, that’s right – a $17.00 “Be Happy” bouquet.
What can you do to avoid this?
There are several ways to avoid order-gatherers to ensure not only that you will get the best flowers for your value, but that you will be supporting a local shop that knows the area you are sending flowers to.
- Make sure there is a physical address or phone number – Many order gathering websites do not provide a physical address, and only have an 800 number. Before placing your order, make sure there is a physical address (ex. 1117 York Street, Utica, NY 13502) and phone number with a local area code someplace on the website – these can be found at the very bottom of the website, or in the “Contact” or “About” section of the site.
- Call the florist if convenient – Calling a local florist can be a much different experience than ordering online. The florist knows the area and local interests, along with knowing what flowers and plants are seasonally available in the area. When talking to someone on the phone, the florist can offer more personalized touches to the arrangement.
- Ask for fee itemization – If you call an 800 number and are suspicious of the fees, before giving a credit card ask for an itemization of the fees involved in your purchase. A delivery fee and relay fee are normal charges, however you should avoid any “same-day” or shipping and handling fees.
- Know what order-gathering sites look like – Order gathering sites can be extremely deceptive and confusing for those who don’t know how to recognize them. A rule of thumb is that these sites will look the same for any city you are sending flowers to. The colors, flower arrangements, etc., will all be the same, but the headlines will say something like “Serving Utica, NY” or “Same-Day delivery in Utica, NY.” This is very different from Teleflora’s website, which makes it clear that they are a national wire service, and will be sending your order to a trusted local florist.
- Choose a Local flower shop to relay your order – If you’re still feeling confused or unsure, you can always call a local florist that you are familiar with, and trust them to take care of your order. A local florist will take your order for anywhere in the world, and send it to a wire service affiliated florist in the area of your delivery. You can also trust your local florist to handle any problems that arise, whether it be flowers that are not in stock or a recipient that is not at home. If there are any troubles with your order, the florist that you originally ordered your flowers from will contact you right away. Not only is this a good decision for you and your recipient, but supporting local businesses helps grow local economy!
- Can’t find a florist in your area? – Visit a wire service website, like Teleflora.com, and go to their directory. There you will find trusted florists in the area, along with their phone numbers, addresses and store hours.