Knowing that I’m in the flower business people from outside the industry will tell me about their experiences buying or receiving flowers. One aspect is almost always the same – pretty much everybody loves both getting and giving flowers.
But sometimes there is a point in the story where I start clenching my teeth and feeling a tightness in my stomach. Why? Because it’s obvious (though not always to the person telling the story) that somehow an order-gather got entangled in the process.
It doesn’t mean anything went bad. Most of the time the person on the receiving end was still thrilled with their gift of flowers and the customer remained very happy with their purchase. In some ways it is a “no harm, no foul” situation.
But it still gets to me. It gets to me because the bad guys prospered, at least a little bit, and, even though everyone might be happy, I know that they probably could have gotten better flowers and/or value if the order gatherer had not gotten involved.
What is an order-gatherer? An order gatherer is a business that masquerades as a real local flower shop. They try and get you to place the order with them, then try and get an actual florist to prepare and deliver it.
They usually won’t have flowers or florists to prepare them because that is not what they do. Instead they have websites and call centres – all they want to do is take your order.
They have some pretty good tricks for doing that too. They’ll have hundreds if not thousands of different websites, or at least doorway pages for those websites, each designed to convince you that they have a real local flower shop in whatever city or town you are trying to send flowers too. Sometimes they’ll even use fake addresses to help convince you or, even worse, use the names of established and well known local shops.
Same thing when it comes to the phone – they’ll run fake (known in the industry) as “deceptive” listings in different phone books and directories from coast to coast. Sometimes these too will use the names of trusted local flower shops – making it impossible to tell the real florist from the imposter in the listing.
They’re good at what they do, and it’s very easy to fall for their tricks. It is very easy to accidentally end up dealing with an order-gatherer when you meant to deal with a real local florist.
What happens then? They take your order and your payment, generally with additional and/or inflated fees, then try and convince a real local florist to actually do the real work of preparing and delivering your flowers… for mush less than what you have paid.
The best the local florist can hope for is about seventy cents on the dollar, but the order gatherer will rarely settle for that. Instead they’ll typically withhold all of the service charge and a portion of the delivery charge. They’ll also settle for something cheaper than what you actually ordered if it lets them keep a little more money. You ordered the “twelve premium ultra-long stem roses in a glass vase”? If they can keep a little additional money by purchasing something smaller (they might say to the real florist “we’ll take any roses in any container”) they’ll usually do it.
Real florists are great people. They deliver truly beautiful products no matter how much of your money the order-gatherer skimmed off of what you paid them. This is what allows the practice to continue – you might not have received what you paid for, but it was probably still really beautiful.
So when I hear stories about sending or receiving flowers, and realize that somehow an order-gatherer was able to get in the middle, I do stiffen up – just because I know that as happy as the person is… they should have been happier.
I’ll always try and give them some tips on avoiding order-gatherers in the future. There are some great tips on how to avoid order-gatherers and order from a real local florist on the Bring Flowers website.
It’s tricky – they’re usually thrilled about the experience (flowers really are the greatest gift) which is why they’re sharing the story with me, but I want to make sure they keep having good experiences with flowers. The best way to do that is to shop with a genuine florist.