Thursday, May 08, 2008

Flowers for Mother's Day?

Every year for Mother’s Day, my husband and I have a minor disagreement as to how to handle the Hallmark holiday for our loved ones. I say “minor” disagreement because, as we’ve been together for over a decade, I have conceded my position for the most part and handle Mother’s Day and Father’s Day the way that my husband wants to handle them. I gently mention the option of just sending greeting cards and then give in almost immediately upon hearing him say that he’d rather send flowers. There are other issues worth debating. If sending flowers to our closest female relatives is what he wants to do, then that works for me. I don’t really see the necessity though, as anyone who knows me well knows that if I get so much as an email from someone with a kind thought, I have received enough… but different strokes for different folks. Flowers he wants – then flowers they will all get.

The problem is that the large flower sites have failed us repeatedly in the past. We send a lot of flowers during a year and have tried different vendors. If we lived in the same state as the recipients of our flowers, it wouldn’t be so difficult. It seriously doesn’t matter what time of year it is, there is a definite chance that there will be a problem with our order. Flowers not delivered on time, flowers not delivered at all, delivery-person failing to ring doorbell and flowers spending the night in the freezing cold as a result, wrong flowers delivered – it’s ridiculous.

Our most recent bad experience was with just the other week. We wanted to send flowers to the wake of a friend’s mother. The wake was taking place on a Sunday afternoon. I placed the order on Saturday morning. On Monday morning, I received an email stating that the florist did not deliver the flowers to the wake. When I called FTD, I was told that the florist didn’t have time to complete our order on Sunday as they close mid-day. Excuse me? I thought FTD was a large group of florists – and if one florist was unavailable, there would be another to fulfill the order. Apparently not. So much for flowers from us being delivered to the funeral home. Nice notice, eh? They just issued me a credit. I was royally irked.

Last year, we entrusted with our Mother’s Day order. In general, they had been pretty decent and had handled all of our previous service issues well enough. Six flower arrangements were going to six women in three states. We even asked that they be delivered either on Saturday or on Sunday – we truly had no preference. Only two of the bouquets were delivered without a problem (our aunts – yay for them). The other four were a mess. I was on the phone with 1-800-FLOWERS at five times with five different representatives over an order that I placed over the Internet and never wanted to have to discuss again with another human. Grrrr.

My mother-in-law was living in Plymouth, MA at the time and received a milk glass with some wilted-looking tulips and other greens in it. She knew we wouldn’t send anything like that to her and told the delivery man that there must be some mistake. I called 1-800-FLOWERS and they seriously wouldn’t make it right - instead of having their local florist deliver what we actually ordered (which was a large mixed bouquet of spring flowers) – they sent their delivery man back to my mother-in-law’s house to pick up the milk glass of wilted short-stemmed tulips and issued me a credit for the flowers. No matter. We didn’t want that florist to make anything for her ever again anyway. We were just amazed that instead of just apologizing and issuing the credit for the whole fiasco, they actually sent their delivery guy back to the house to pick up the milk glass and flowers. That blew.

My mother and sister hadn’t received their flowers in Chicago for Mother’s Day by 4 pm on Sunday – Mother’s Day. My sister called to tell me that my mom hadn’t received anything and I called 1-800-FLOWERS again. They said the flowers were on the delivery truck and apologized for the delay. The flowers were to have been delivered before 4 pm on Sunday and they were clearly late. Even worse, my mother was leaving for the airport to go to Dallas at 5 pm for a last minute business trip. SO – my sister ended up going back to my mother’s house that night to find the flowers sitting on her front porch, tipped over on their side. They actually re-delivered flowers two days later to my mother as a result.

My husband’s grandmother in Michigan hadn’t received her flowers either – and as it turned out, the flower delivery person delivered her flowers to a neighbor’s house instead of hers even though she was home all day long. The neighbor showed up with them late on Sunday.

Even goofier was the way they inform you that delivery has taken place. I received emails telling me that flowers were delivered when they clearly were not and I did not receive emails for deliveries that took place successfully. Clearly, I wasn’t in the mood to send flowers again for a long time… but it seems that flower-sending is somewhat of a necessity throughout the year for us. Usually, we don’t have issues – sometimes we do. For a business as simple as floral arrangement and delivery, the number of issues we’ve personally encountered is surprisingly high.

So here we are at Mother’s Day again and my husband doesn’t think a Hallmark card does it as well as flowers. Since I’m newly irked at FTD but am generally forgiving, we thought we’d try 1-800-FLOWERS again. I’ve used them three times since last Mother’s Day without incident, so though I’m still not thrilled with them, we’re willing to give them a go again. This year we’ve made it even easier and sent out five arrangements of two-dozen yellow roses each and sent my sister a nice mixed spring bouquet. We even asked that they all be delivered today, Thursday, instead of Friday or over the weekend. Luckily, my mother-in-law no longer lives in Massachusetts and we have a new florist to try out near her new home. We shall see what happens.

If I have to call and speak to another customer service person about a floral delivery, I think I’ll have an even stronger case to do it my way next year and send out cards.

Friday Update: We have heard from all six floral recipients that they received their flowers on Thursday and their descriptions of the flowers match what we ordered, so we're happy with that. However, I only received delivery confirmations for four of the deliveries, so if nobody called us to thank us, we'd still be wondering about two of the arrangements. Go figure. My lesson learned: If I'm compelled to send flowers for Mother's Day, have them delivered early. The florists must be a disaster zone from Friday to Sunday.

Photo by tanakawho


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your 1-800-Flowers experience ;( I was just cruising the site for my own mom and saw this super cute bouquet with matching Vera Bradley gift set. I know my mom would kinda love it.

hotfish said...

H's mum is fond of sending live flowers & cards on special days. I hate receiving them. When my kids were born, H told her to send me plants instead. We now send her potted plants on Mother's Day every year & I don't get anything for Mother's Day - they heard enough grumbling from me weeks before the event. :)