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Buying flowers online could cost more than you get

Posted May 7, 2009

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— How much do we love our mothers? Here's one indicator: The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend nearly $2 billion on flowers for Mother's Day this year. About 18.2 percent of those purchases will be made online.

Local florist David Pender suspects that many point-and-click customers don’t know where their money goes, and might not be getting the most flower for their dollar.

Get the best deal on your Mother's Day bouquet Get the best deal on your Mother's Day bouquet

"A lot of times, you're going to fall into the clutches of a shark who's disguising himself as a local florist," said Pender, who runs Victoria Park Florist in Chapel Hill.

Internet retailers and wire services, like FTD or Teleflora, receive a certain amount from each sale, and hire local florists to fill and deliver the orders.

"They're making enormous profits from doing nothing more than taking an order," Pender said.

Once that profit is skimmed, Pender estimated he receives, for example, about $26 to fill and deliver an arrangement that cost the customer $55.

The result for the online customer is a smaller bouquet. Buying directly from the local florist would have meant a larger arrangement.

WRAL News found several Internet-based companies advertising as local florists. Abbott's, a Texas-based Web site, contracted A Ming Rose in Raleigh to arrange and deliver a bouquet with $40 worth of flowers. The order, after taxes and fees, totaled $54.

Florists at A Ming Rose said that for the same price, a customer could order a more elaborate arrangement.

"You're getting exactly what you paid for," florist Jaime Andrews said. "Whatever impression (customers) get from that flower arrangement is going to reflect on that local company and not that online company that's making the greater profit."

If you do prefer ordering online, many local florists, like Victoria Park and A Ming Rose, have Web sites and work directly with clients, and likely avoid the added costs associated with a third party.

If you're sending flowers out of town and don't know of a florist, look for a physical address in the Internet advertisement. Another suggestion: contact a funeral home in that area for a recommendation.


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  • jprime May 8, 2009

    I used FTD when my wife (girlfriend at the time) was studying abroad in Spain. She got a very nice bouquet delivered to her, and was very happy. Sometimes you cant always call the local florist!

  • Justin T. May 8, 2009

    Laughable story. I've had waaaaay better luck dealing with online florists than trying to call a local shop.

    Better selection, no bumbling clerk, little or no guesswork on the availability and arrangement.