Beware of Order Gatherers Disguised as Florists!

by Rachael Priest on February 12, 2013

It’s two short days before Valentine’s Day. You suddenly realize that you’ve been so busy that you forgot to order flowers. In a panic, you jump online to place an order right this minute…just in case you don’t have time when your local florist opens tomorrow. Before you hand over that credit card number, however, there are some things you need to know about online order gathering sites.

The internet is a wonderfully convenient place. Without ever leaving your chair, you can order everything from cards to caskets. Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find fresh flowers. Now, some websites are for legitimate, locally owned flower shops and are a nice resource to have for after-hours or convenient ordering. Others, however, have less than honorable intentions. These sites are what we florists refer to as “order gatherers.”

Order Gatherers and Wire Services by Florists are NOT the Same Thing

If you’ve ever had to send flowers out of town, you are probably familiar with your local florist’s wire services. These services have been around for decades and allow your florist to find a local florist in the area that you’d like to send flowers to. There is a nominal fee for this service, which is generally under ten dollars, and it ensures that you are dealing with real people in real flower shops.

Order gatherers usually do not have a full-service flower shop anywhere, but rather office buildings and freelance phone workers. Many of these phone workers are seasonal, and most know nothing at all about the flower business or flowers in general. Most have no idea of what information is important to ensure that the filling florist has everything needed to complete your order. Some order gatherers have your fresh flowers shipped in a box from a warehouse, leaving the recipient to design their own arrangement.

The Not-So-Nice Truth About Flowers via Order Gatherers

Order gatherers are not your friend. Like ravished sharks to a feeding frenzy, these websites spend millions in online advertising to deceive the consumer and lure them in. They promise top quality flowers delivered anywhere in the world, on time and super cheap—promises they aren’t always able to keep.

What do you pay for this “stellar” service? Well, you might get a huge discount off the flowers themselves. You may even find coupon codes to use. But then you’ll have to pay for the vase. Then you’ll have to pay for the delivery, which is usually much higher than your local florist’s delivery fees. And, you’ll have to pay a processing or handling fee. We’ve seen these fees up to $30 and more, depending on the order gatherer.

After all of this, you have no guarantee that your local florist will even get the order on time. We have received some Valentine’s Day orders from order gatherers up to three days late. Additionally, you can’t depend on your flowers being in good condition when they arrive if they’re shipped from a warehouse. Thus, you’ve spent far more money for far less service.

Be Savvy When Ordering Flowers Online

We’re not at all against using the convenience of the internet to order flowers. However, because we care about you as a customer, we want to be sure that you are not being taken advantage of. Follow these tips to determine whether you are dealing with a legitimate florist or if it’s an order gatherer, and then feel confident about your order:

  • Be very careful of any floral website that advertises in cities from Anchorage Alaska, to Miami Florida. Obviously, no real florist can deliver across the entire United States. A true local florist will advertise within their delivery range–which is usually no more than 30 miles of the shop’s location.
  • Watch out for prices that seem too good to be true. The order gatherer is dependent on the local florist to do the actual delivery and the local florist is hit hard with price increases from their supplier during the Valentine’s holiday. In order to compensate for this, the order gatherer charges the consumer outrageous handling fees and add-on fees.
  • Order gatherers tend to promise much more for the money than they can deliver, as they  are dependent on calling the local florist to complete the order. Many times, the local florist does not carry the type of flowers that have been promised and the need to substitute arises. This leaves room for disappointment on both the purchaser and recipient’s part.

If you can find the time to do so, it is a good idea to call the number that is listed on a site and ask a few questions. One of the best ways to see if you are actually dealing with a local florist is to ask for their physical address so that you can come by to pick up your order. If the shop cannot provide you with that information, chances are you are dealing with an order gatherer.

A Local Florist’s Perspective

Our small town of Crawford, Ga. has only one local flower shop, and that is our shop. Yet, when doing an internet search for flowers in Crawford Ga., there were more than 10 different names of internet “floral shops”. One even advertised as being “family owned and operated”. The site provided no physical address, only a toll free phone number.

A couple of years ago we actually called one of the “Online Crawford Florists.” We were told we could not come by to pick up flowers, but one of their floral shops they were “affiliated with” would be happy to deliver our order. We are the ONLY local flower shop in Crawford Ga. and are not affiliated with any order gatherer.

At Buds ‘n Bows Flower Shop, we are happy to help you in person, over the phone, or online. Give us a call at 706-743-5830, or drop by our shop at 303 Park Avenue, Crawford, Ga. You can also visit our website to order. There’s still time to order for Valentine’s Day and get the personal service of a real florist, but the sooner you order, the better. Even if you choose to use a different florist, don’t let the order gatherers take advantage of you this year. Order local!


MandyFSN February 12, 2013 at 9:32 am

Fantastic article! Really goes to show you how low they will stoop. Thanks for doing your part to fight back!

Miki May 7, 2014 at 7:51 am

As a flower shop owner, I love this article! People don’t realize the florist get a small amount of their money to fill the orders and wonder why their arrangements are so small. I posted this on our Facebook, thank you!

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