Ruth to the Rescue: Flower delivery test

Flower delivery test: Who passes? Who fails?

Published On: Feb 12 2013 11:04:07 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 13 2013 10:08:49 AM EST
Flower test
DETROIT -

So many people will be sending flowers to their Valentine this week, but how do you know if what you order is what they really receive? And, what other challenges can you encounter when ordering flowers for Valentine's, or any occasion throughout the year?

Local 4's Ruth to the Rescue unit decided to put some florists to the test to see if what they ordered was successfully delivered to our recipients' doorsteps.

For the test, Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer and her producer, Tony Statz, ordered eight flower arrangements for the mothers of two Local 4 employees. Mrs. Mayberry of Metro-Detroit is the mother of Local 4 Medical Producer Sarah Mayberry. Mrs. Statz, who lives in the Chicago area, is mom to the consumer producer.

Two metro Detroit florists and two national floral companies were used.

Ruth to the Rescue ordered roses from Cardwell Florist in Livonia, one for Mrs. Statz in Chicago and one from Mrs. Mayberry in metro Detroit. The order was specific for one dozen roses with a red ribbon around a clear vase.

This order was Mrs. Mayberry's favorite. "I like the variety of the greens and then that particular one had a bow, a red bow on it, which was, added a touch to it as well," said Mrs. Mayberry.

When Local 4 requested a red ribbon from 1-800-Flowers, the company could not guarantee the bouquet would include one. In the end, the bouquet Mrs. Mayberry received in Metro-Detroit did not include the bow, but it did include a free box of chocolates. Mrs. Statz received two arrangements of red roses from the same florists as Mrs. Mayberry. Both featured red ribbons, as ordered.

Do The Photos Match The Real Thing?

The Ruth to the Rescue unit also ordered arrangements chosen from photos online to see if the deliveries would match the pictures. The Ruth to the Rescue unit ran into two problems here.

Up first, the unit ordered the "Dance with Me Bouquet With Red Roses" from Tiffany Florist in Birmingham. The online photos showed a very full arrangement of red roses, pink carnations and red carnations.

After comparing cell phone photos of the two bouquets Tiffany sent to the two mothers, everyone in our test agreed the one delivered to Mrs. Mayberry was not quite the same. It seemed smaller, not as full, and it didn't come with a ribbon that was featured in the online photo.

Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer visited Mrs. Mayberry's home and they talked about the difference between the two deliveries. Mrs. Mayberry said she liked the one delivered in Chicago better than the one sent to her home. While the one sent to Mrs. Statz was ordered through Tiffany, it was arranged by a florist in suburban Chicago.

"If this is the way it’s supposed to look, then they need to improve theirs a little bit, said Mrs. Mayberry about the delivery she received.

During a phone interview, Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer asked Mrs. Statz what she thought of the arrangement send to Mrs. Mayberry.
"Would I have been happy if I just got that? Yes. I mean, it's flowers. You what what I mean? But if you're comparing them to the other ones, then no,"
said Mrs. Statz.

The owner of Tiffany Florist in Birmingham told Local 4 the arrangement sent to Mrs. Mayberry was not made as it should have been and that his store is always happy to replace flowers that aren't satisfactory, for any reason, or offer your money back. He also points to the many positive online reviews for
his store as evidence this was a rare glitch.

In the end, "Dance with Me Bouquet" send to Chicago through the Tiffany Florist was actually the favorite arrangement Mrs. Statz received. "I like the mixture, the roses with the carnations," she said.

Delivery Disagreement

The biggest problem the Ruth to the Rescue team encountered when ordering online was with the Teleflora order. Mrs. Statz received the
"Hold Me Close" bouquet on the Monday delivery date requested, but Mrs. Mayberry did not.

Luckily, this was just a test, but if Mrs. Mayberry was really expecting flowers from a loved one.... "I would be upset. I'm sure the one who sent it would
be checking with the company!" she told Local 4's Ruth Spencer.

Teleflora told Ruth to the Rescue a delivery was attempted on Monday, February 11th, but no one was home. The company could not specify at what
time the delivery attempt was made. The Mayberrys tell us someone was home at all times, specifically waiting for all the flowers to be delivered.

Teleflora did offer an apology by later afternoon, and in the evening, sent a second bouquet with a card that read in part, "Please accept our apology
that the flowers sent... were delivered late. We hope you enjoy this arrangement."

Flower Buying Tricks

Local 4 consulted Frank Viviano, owner of Vivano Flower Shop, to find out what people should think about when placing an order for flowers whether online or by phone. Viviano has four locations in St. Clair Shores, Shelby Township, Chesterfield Township and Grosse Pointe Woods.

Vivano said people should look for a company that's not just going to take the order, but deliver the order. He said national companies never deliver, they contract the order out to a local florist. He also said national companies charge that local florist a service charge of up to $15 and could also get a percentage of the sale. A local florist could take a delivery charge of around $10 out of price as well. So if someone spends $100 buying flowers online through a national company, they could only get $75 worth of flowers.

He also said shipping direct usually means flowers are shipped loose and that the bouquet will have to be put together once it arrives. So people should realize there is a 'do it yourself' component with these flowers.

Viviano recommends using a local company so you can go to their website, call them and they will take your order directly and process your order.

The long-time florist said there is an emotional component to consider when buying flowers. He said you can't discount a delivery by a professional in a uniform showing up at the door versus a Fed Ex delivery of a box.

Viviano's other recommendation is to consider delivering the flowers yourself to your Valentine because of the emotional component. He also said it's a way to save on the delivery fee which is $15

Important Note About Photos

Viviano also said pictures of flowers online are of the absolute peak of the bouquet and they may not look that full when the flowers arrive. He said people should give it two days and let the flowers open up. Viviano told Local 4 if they delivered the flowers at their absolute peak they would be dead in two days

He also wants people to remember flowers are a perishable product that needs to be cared for once they arrive. For his advice on how to do that, click here. (http://www.viviano.com/pages/flowercare.asp)

He said to consider calling a florist instead of ordering online because it's another way to get more information before placing the order including details on specials, which flowers are freshest and the best quality of the flowers for the time of year. The florist taking the order can also give instant feedback about how the bouquet will look and on delivery time.

Viviano also said the florist can help select the appropriate gift. For example, if the bouquet is for a new girlfriend.

Viviano also suggested people consider sending flowers on February 13 instead of Valentine's Day. He said that way the loved one can enjoy the flowers all day on the 14th. Last minute orders might not be received until later in the day. Viviano said they could still take orders on February 13th for delivery on the same day.