Online Rose Test

February 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The society of American florists estimates the number of roses produced for Valentine's Day in 2007 was 214-million. Of those, 74% were bought by men; 26% by women

Nothing says "I Love You" like a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day unless they arrive late, damaged or dying or even in the wrong color.

To help you avoid a potential V-Day disaster, Consumer watch put the four biggest online flower websites to the test: 1-800-Flowers, Hallmark.com, FTD, and Proflowers.

Our price limit was $50 for a bouquet of a dozen red roses. Each came with the option of a free vase. But shipping and tax added another $11 to $19 to the totals.

All arrived on the requested day. And it turns out what you see on the web site is for the most part what you get.

But there was quite a variety in the quality of roses you got at that price-point and what the flowers looked like when they were delivered.

We ranked the flowers best to worst by their condition and appearance upon arrival.

The best looking, and most expensive, was Proflowers; $68.89. The flower buds were large, tightly closed, and healthy. The filler was lush but not overwhelming and the red vase was a nice touch.

Ranked second is 1-800-Flowers at $61.53. Again, the flower buds arrived closed. They were also large with very long stems. There was some tearing on the petals and leaves. And the wispy filler and vase, looked a little cheap.

Ranked a close third was Hallmark.com; at $60.94 it was also the best priced. While the buds were large and the stems the tallest, there was noticeable bruising on the tips of the petals and the flowers were already opening.

By far, the worst looking bunch upon arrival was from ftd.com at $62.98. The flowers arrived damaged, with bruised and torn petals, and already half-open. They were also the only ones that were not long stemmed and did not come with baby's breath, only ferns as filler.

Next came the test for longevity. This is where things got turned around!

A check of the flowers on day four showed our previous second best, 1-800-Flowers, the worst off.

Six out of 12 flowers wilted without ever opening, while the others were still well off, which was puzzling; turns out the dying ones and the worst looking vastly improved in appearance.

While they were still old-looking, almost all the flowers were in full bloom, and they were the only bunch with an actual fragrance.

The Proflowers still looked the best, and the Hallmark flowers were looking second best, bruised, but beginning to bloom.

Per instructions, we changed the water and re-cut the stems for all of the bouquets.

Finally day seven: the survivors; despite the website's seven-day guarantee, only all of the flowers from Proflowers lasted a week.

The 6 of 12 surviving 1-800-Flowers were still standing strong. The Hallmark.com flowers; 10 of 12 drooped without ever really opening. And the ftd.com flowers had two remaining.

Best Appearance Upon Arrival:
1. Proflowers.com
2. 1800flowers.com
3. Hallmark.com
4. FTD.com

Best for Longevity:
1. Proflowers.com
2. 1800flowers.com
3. FTD.com
4. Hallmark.com

Julie O'Dell, Hallmark Public Relations Director

Valentine's Day is the second busiest week of the year for our floral business. The majority of Hallmark flowers come from South America with our tulips from California and Hallmark (Product) RED? floral bouquets from Africa. Our dedicated quality assurance staff follows the latest floral care and handling procedures under the direction of our floral quality manager, a grower of 10 years and more than 15 years in the industry. In order to prolong the life of our flowers, upon harvesting flowers are kept cold, dry and dark and kept in a consistent cold chain from the farm to our distribution center. Upon arrival at our distribution center, each bouquet is subject to a detailed inspection, following rigorous specifications to comply with the highest freshness and design standards. Product samples are monitored daily through testing and observation with a final step of an outbound inspection before being shipped with care to the recipient. All flower and plant orders are shipped, prearranged, in a secure and custom gift box ready to be enjoyed by recipients. Inside each gift box we include a personalized Hallmark greeting card and care instructions. We offer a 7-day freshness guarantee for our floral bouquets. If recipients have any problems they can contact us directly at 1-800-Hallmark(1-800-425-5627) and we will make it right. Hallmark floral bouquets are carefully designed to choose flower varieties with high petal count, large bloom size, clean and bright foliage, multiple floral blooms per stem and pest and disease free. Hallmark floral bouquets have Florverde® certification to ensure all flowers are grown and harvested to meet specific social and environmental standards. While Florverde® only encompasses farms in South America; growers outside of South America have comparable certifications for their country. Florverde® standards preserve and protect soil and natural resources for the industry's farmers for generations to come and satisfy global demand and desire for high-quality, affordable flowers year-round.

Erin Christensen, PROFLOWERS.COM

We're thrilled that you had such a great experience with ProFlowers! Always good to hear great feedback.

Valentine's Day is our second busiest time of year next to Mother's Day. In order to provide our customers with the highest quality flowers, we work with growers in 8 different countries, including the U.S., but most of our roses come from South America. To ensure quality and freshness we ship the flowers featured on our site fresh from the grower directly to our customers. All of our flowers are guaranteed to last a minimum of 7 days. Surcharges vary depending on the overnight carrier selected for a particular order, the exact time and date the customer wants the flowers to be delivered and the weight of the package. In other words, if a customer would like a bouquet with one of our signature vases delivered on Valentine's Day before noon, they may see a small surcharge associated with that order. In all circumstances, we strive to give our customers a choice in selecting what's most important to them for a specific order and we break out all the charges associated with ensuring that the experience they have with ProFlowers is exactly what they ordered and nothing but positive.

We pride ourselves on offering all kinds of flowers at price points that make sending flowers affordable for anyone. That said, we will not sacrifice quality or customer satisfaction just to offer cheap flowers. We guarantee that our customers are 100% satisfied with anything they order off our site or their money back.

Yanique Woodall, 1800flowers.com Public Relations Director

At 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, we pride ourselves in providing the ultimate customer service. We help our customers express themselves and connect with the important people in their lives by providing exceptional quality, value and customer service. If there's something we have done and you are not completely satisfied with your order, we will redeliver, refund, credit or offer a comparable exchange if the original product is not available.

FTD.com

We're sorry you received a bad batch. Make sure you remove the guard petals and follow the directions to get the best from your flowers. Call our 1-800-SEND-FTD and we will right any wrong. Our flowers have a 7-day stay-fresh guarantee. Our flowers come from a wide pool of suppliers, including Ecuador, Holland and California. They are delivered to our distributions centers, then sent out to our customers. Some bouquets are available for same-day delivery and those come directly from and FTD-affiliated florist in your area, which is important since Valentine's Day is the most last-minute holiday. We're told by our customers that FTD flowers bloom the best.


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