5 On Your Side

Wilted flowers teach bride a lesson about buying online

Posted August 13, 2008

— Like any bride, Durham's Emma Lumley wanted her wedding day to be perfect and unique.

She ordered custom cake toppers and a really cool cake. Her father picked out her wedding gown and bought it before she saw it.

"I thought it was absolutely stunning," she recalled.

She thought she had made a smart choice with her flowers, too. To cut costs, she ordered them online. She paid nearly $470 for calla lilies, orchids, rose petals filler and a "hydration kit."

"I'd say we saved $500," she thought – until her order arrived, late and wilted.

"All of my bridesmaids and my maid of honor were helping," she described. "They opened the box and the odor hit them. They thought that was weird, and then the tips were brown."

Lumley said that when she called the company, she was told her flowers were "normal." By the next night, she said, the lilies were almost completely brown and wilted.

"Ultimately it devastated me. ... A wedding without flowers just doesn't seem right."

Lumley and her family had to buy new flowers for the ceremony.

Later, she sent pictures of the dead blooms to the company. After getting no response to her e-mails and calls, she called 5 on Your Side.

The company Lumley used goes by several names online: onlinewholesaleflowers.com, wholesalefloralexchange.com and wholesalefloralsupplies.net.

None of those URLs worked when we tried to connect to them Wednesday, however.

Calls to the company and to owner Richard Romano's home were not returned.

A check with the Better Business Bureau showed more than 100 complaints against the company. Customers cited problems with delivery, billing and quality.

Lumley made two mistakes. First, she failed to check the company's reputation online. Second, she didn't pay with a credit card, so she can't dispute the charge.

She said she hopes her story helps others avoid similar disappointment. "I would never wish that any woman would have to go through this," she said.


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  • mapleleaf Aug 15, 2008

    I was married recently and I must say, there is nothing wrong with doing things yourself to save some money. Not everyone has $60,000 to drop on one day. I did the flowers for our ceremony, bridal party, and reception, and did pay about $400-$500 less than what I was quoted by several florists. It's not for everyone and you should do your research before buying (and know you're going to spend hours the days before your wedding doing prep and arranging!). It's so easy to find reliable reviews of these online wholesalers if you just spend 15 minutes to sit down and look.

  • ncweddingdj.com Aug 15, 2008

    Rolling Along, we enjoyed your post about the "price match" (or beat, I guess) shoppers. We have 2 horror stories about that. A Bride-to-be chose a DJ who did her four hours for $200. GOLO is no place to repeat what he did for her, and how. He did help finish the keg and did that arrivng about 45 minutes late..."Traffic." But he was a professional and had already done two other wedding receptions last year. Caveat emptor does mean the exact same thing in N.C., even in the Triangle.

    There are so very many nice, smart brides and grooms here, I hate you left the biz. There are always going to be a few lemons in the basket.

  • Rolling Along Aug 14, 2008

    Yep saved that $500...being cheap almost never pays off. ncweddingdj...AMEN! FWIW we used to own a bridal shop but got tired of the constant nickel and diming for low price. People would try to get us to price match, then spend more than they saved to drive 100 miles up the road. Good riddance!

  • drnc Aug 14, 2008

    Folks, it's always the old saying, "You get what you pay for."

  • tarheelalum Aug 14, 2008

    www.proflowers.com is great!!!!! I and MANNNY people that I know have ordered many times and they're always top notch!

  • ncweddingdj.com Aug 14, 2008

    Here we go again---most wedding vendors in the Triangle are honest, hard-working, reliable. It is the Triangle, so these good things are simply not "cheap." If you try to cut corners, save a buck or 87, sometimes it does not work. YOu are rolling the dice on your BIG DAY. If this happens, c'est la vie.

    Be smart. References, references, refernces. Give yourself a chance to succeed, to have a great wedding day. We charge a very reasonable fee for our deejaying, emceeing, etc. We don't ake credick cards, but we do show up, bright and shiny, and do a wonderful job!

    We are rarely brown and wilted...


  • harinootsak Aug 14, 2008

    Good grief! I feel for the bride and her dad's wallet, but paying for an online transaction by credit card is the ONE thing you do to protect against fraud and poor product. Merchant/Seller research is good but secondary to CREDIT CARD.