5 On Your Side

Wilted flowers teach bride a lesson about buying online

Posted August 13, 2008 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2008 10:23 p.m. EDT

— 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.