Internet flower services put to test

HOUSTON - Buying flowers for a loved one is tricky. How can you make sure what you order is what your sweetheart gets?

KPRC Local 2 did a test to see if the big flower delivery services sent what was ordered.

Many people head straight to their computer to place an order, which is exactly what we did.

We picked the "Elegant Wishes" bouquet from 1-800-FLOWERS. It was $64.99, but after taxes and a service charge the total jumped up to $86.58.

When it arrived at the station, the roses were a bit wilted, but overall, the description on the website matched what we got.

We ordered the "Sweet Surprises" bouquet from FTD. The bouquet price was $49.99, but we paid $71.25 after taxes and the service fee.

When then flowers arrived, we noticed that the roses were pale pink instead of fuchsia, but everything else matched.

The most expensive bouquet we ordered was the "Always and Forever" arrangement from ProFlowers. It came out to a total of $94.13.

When the "arrangement" arrived, we were a bit disappointed – it came in a box with do-it-yourself instructions.

The flowers were all delivered on Friday. Four days later, the "Always and Forever" flowers were less than perky and the 1-800-FLOWERS arrangement was brown and wilting. The flowers that held up the best were from FTD – and they were made by Sicola's Florist on F.M. 1960.

A representative for 1-800-FLOWERS said that it will issue a refund or replacement to customers who aren't satisfied with the flowers they get.

"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 and deliver a smile."

ProFlowers sent KPRC Local 2 the following statement:

"ProFlowers takes take tremendous pride in sending the highest quality, freshest flowers – and we do whatever it takes to accomplish that. We work directly with professional growers, rather than middlemen, retailers or third parties. This means less time between the flower fields and recipients' doorsteps, ensuring the freshest flowers possible and a longer bloom time for the flowers.

"We ship flowers in bud form to guarantee a longer blooming lifecycle so customers can enjoy the beautiful budding of the flowers. Our flowers are shipped fresh from the fields in our proprietary, specially designed box to the recipient's doorstep.  Because our flowers avoid extended stays in warehouses, trucks and florists' coolers – and because they remain protected and cared for within our signature delivery box – we are able to guarantee the freshest flowers available.  

"We are serious about bringing customers freshness, quality and value and ProFlowers consistently has the highest customer satisfaction rates among flower companies. We guarantee that our flowers will last at least seven days or customers can get their money back or receive a replacement bouquet."

Local florists said that going online may be easier, but buyers aren't going to get the best products.

"I wish customers knew to order locally at a reputable florist," said Elaine Nevares of Elaine's Florist. "Sometimes these photos can be misleading. They get very, very close to the arrangement and what you may think is a full-size rose or a full-size carnation is actually a small spray rose or a pixie carnation."

Nevares encourages people to go straight to a local florist to get the freshest flowers available.

One more tip. If you search "Houston florist" on Google, you might pull up a florist that you think is in Houston, because it shows a local area code or address. However, it may not really be local. One way to make sure the florist really is in town to look at a Google Maps image of the storefront.

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