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ConsumerWatch: Putting Online Flower Retailers To The Test

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Red Rose For Valentines Day (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

Red Rose For Valentines Day (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – With Valentine’s Day upon us, CBS 5 ConsumerWatch’s Julie Watts put the top online flower-ordering services to the test.

Nation-wide, local florists expect nearly half of all their Valentine orders to come from online ordering websites and wire services. However, when it comes to ordering flowers online, not all of them are created equal.

The vice president of the San Francisco Flower Mart, Bob Otsuka, said there are many variables that go into not only how your flowers look but how long they last.

“It really depends on what happens in transit and how it’s handled at the fulfillment center,” Otsuka said.

Since flower services get their products from a range of different places, there is no sure-fire way to ensure quality. With Otsuka’s help, Watts tested bouquets all priced at $49.99 from 1-800-Flowers, FTD, Teleflora, and ProFlowers.

Poor flower quality and bouquet design landed 1-800-Flowers at the bottom of the list. 1-800-Flowers’ order was also improperly fulfilled. The bouquet was missing the promised picture frame keepsake and included several flower substitutions for what was originally described.

Some of the flowers were at also at full bloom while other buds hadn’t even cracked yet.

“My concern here is that the arrangement itself will not mature consistently and you’ll have some flowers dying off before the rest of them even come to a full bloom,” Otsuka explained.

FTD’s flower quality and design overall was strong, but if you’re looking for a sizable bouquet, FTD came up short. FTD’s bouquet was the smallest of the four despite costing the same price.

ProFlowers had a similar review to FTD’s, but it was also the only company of the bunch to charge extra for a vase. Flowers arrive in a box and must be arranged by hand.

“Obviously the design is not so good because it wasn’t arranged by a professional. It was arranged by us,” Otsuka said.

Teleflora ended up being Otsuka’s top pick because its bouquet was both fresh and full with very good flower quality and design. The only con was that the bouquet included some substitutions.

ProFlowers is the only company of the four not to use local florists to fulfill its online orders, and while that may sound like good news for local florists being used by the three other online retailers that is not necessarily the case. Online ordering services charge commissions that ultimately don’t benefit local florists at all.

Harold Hoogasian, the owner of San Francisco-based Hoogasian Flowers, said it is much better to buy directly from the florists themselves.

“You’ll get a better value, you’ll have a chance to know exactly what they have in stock, and they’ll know the intricacies of how it’s delivered,” Hoogasian said.

Below are full statements from the four companies involved in the test:

1-800-Flowers

At 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, we pride ourselves in helping our customers deliver a smile with our truly original arrangements. We offer a 100% Smile Guarantee; therefore, if a customer is not completely satisfied with their order, our caring team, obsessed with service, will redeliver, refund, credit or offer a comparable exchange. As always, our goal is to help our customers express themselves perfectly to the important people in their lives.”

FTD

“Thank you for including us in your segment. As the flower experts, we feel there is no better way to express the love and feeling of Valentine’s Day than with a beautiful arrangement of flowers from FTD. FTD and its nationwide FTD member florist network proudly deliver millions of beautiful arrangements to our customers each year. Our goal is to delight each and every customer and to ensure they shop with the utmost confidence. Our policy is to ensure the quality and freshness of all our products through The FTD ‘Good As Gold’ 7 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. Any time a customer is not satisfied with FTD products or services for whatever reason, our customer care department can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Teleflora

“With over 15,000 local neighborhood florists throughout the U.S. and Canada, Teleflora is the largest network that offers 100% hand-arranged, hand-delivered bouquets. Teleflora florists take great pride in delivering exquisite arrangements in our exclusive keepsake vases. Any orders placed through teleflora.com will be filled by a Teleflora florist quickly, professionally and to your complete satisfaction. “

ProFlowers

ProFlowers business model is built upon our world-class customer service and the quality of our flowers. ProFlowers are different than flowers received from your local florist. ProFlowers are shipped in a specially designed gift box and are shipped fresh from the farm which is why are shipping charges may sometimes be higher. We are proud to offer a 7-Day Freshness 100% satisfaction guarantee.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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