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Ordering Flowers Online vs. Offline

Flower Variety.

When ordering flowers online, it's important to remember that the images you see are approximations of what the bouquet will actually look like. Although the primary flowers should be comparable to the online picture, the finished product will depend on the local florist's inventory or what's in stock at the warehouse or in the grower's shed.
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Most online flower sites post a (small) disclaimer alerting customers to this fact.

Still, with some specific items, you'd expect the order to be filled as described. In a test of flower delivery services conducted by Consumer Warning Network, an order for 12 long-stemmed roses placed with Teleflora showed up as a mixed bouquet with three short roses. A number of customer reviews at sites such as Epinions and Yahoo Shopping indicate this is a relatively frequent occurrence when ordering flowers online from the major retailers, including FTD and 1-800-Flowers. Similarly, one ProFlowers customer who posted at Viewpoints felt deceived when flowers ordered for his grandfather's funeral looked completely different from what he had seen online.

With the DIY approach, the florist can let you know exactly what's in stock and discuss which flowers best suit the occasion (you can also shop by occasion and by flower variety when ordering flowers online). If you're not sure what to choose, the florist can steer you toward beautiful, yet not necessarily popular, choices that can make for a unique arrangement. For example, a flower-shop employee answering questions on Reddit recommended Amaryllis as a beautifully fragrant and relatively obscure flower that would please a woman jaded by too many roses and tulips. Another approach is to leave it up to the florist to choose the nicest-looking flowers within a set price range.

Delivery Charges.

The major flower delivery sites come in for scathing criticism in reviews for tacking on myriad service or shipping fees toward the very end of the ordering process. These charges generally vary by delivery method and increase in tiers along with the cost of the arrangement. For example, standard shipping costs $4.99 for orders fulfilled by 1-800-Flowers (as opposed to a local florist) and priced below $14.99 but jumps to $14.99 for the dozen red roses we priced out and can even get as high as $45.99 for orders above $350. For 1-800-Flowers arrangements prepared and delivered by a local florist, the charge is $12.99 for orders under $25 and $14.99 for pricier bouquets. At FTD, fees for fresh flowers are unlisted and vary by type of delivery (e.g., next day, Saturday, etc.) but generally hover around $16. Some brick-and-mortar florists don't charge for delivery, but don't be surprised by a flat rate of up to $15. Jenny Scala of the Society of American Florists suggests asking if the florist is running any specials or would be willing to waive the delivery fee. None of the shops we contacted tacked on an extra fee for weekend delivery, but some florists may charge extra on holidays to cover the cost of temporary staff. If you hire a courier through a site such as TaskRabbit or Zaarly, you set the fee. Be prepared to offer at least $20 on top of the cost of the flowers.

Same-day flower delivery should be easy to arrange online or by calling a local florist. Through ProFlowers, orders placed before 3 p.m. (in the recipient's time zone) Monday through Friday or noon on Saturday and Sunday can be delivered that day for an extra $4.99. FTD offers same-day flower delivery for $1.99 and 1-800-Flowers charges up to $14.99, and each maintains slightly different time restrictions. Teleflora doesn't charge extra for same-day flower delivery. Same-day service through an independent florist depends entirely on the shop, but you shouldn't have trouble finding a florist that can fulfill your request as long as you place an order early in the day. Many offer same-day flower delivery at no extra cost.

by Louis DeNicola (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Diet, Flowers, Gifts,
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