There, I’ve said it. It’s out there in the universe now and it’s real. My decision wasn’t made in haste, it’s based on a recent purchasing experience, and grounded in the belief that as a consumer, I don’t have to settle for less than the best. For me, sending a gift of flowers is a planned purchase. I send flowers for special occasions and to say “thanks” or “I’m thinking of you” because flowers touch everyone with a little slice of beauty. I take my time finding the right arrangement that fits the person and occasion exactly. So I feel keen disappointment when there’s a problem with quality or delivery.
We all do planned purchases – where we look through options and select what we perceive as the best value for the money. I love the convenience of internet shopping – I can do comparisons and selections from the comfort of my home (many times at non-business hours and in my jammies!). But convenience does not trump product quality or a good customer service experience.
So why did I “unsubscribe” from FTD and decide to not use their services again? My last purchase with them was a fiasco. I’ve encountered problems with their deliveries before, but this time was the last straw for me. I ordered an arrangement for delivery last Friday to my niece’s place of business in honor of her birthday. Friday came and went and there was no acknowledgement of the flowers from my niece – she’s usually johnny-on-the-spot with a text, email or call. No biggie, she manages the front desk of a popular hotel, so I assumed it was a busy day and I’d hear from her over the weekend. Well, I heard about the flowers over the weekend all right…but not what I wanted to hear. On Sunday night I received an email from FTD that their florist was unable to deliver the arrangement (scheduled for two days before) because the address was a secured building. Really? They waited two days to tell me that? A hotel lobby?
Monday morning I jumped on the phone and called. The service agent assured me the florist tried to deliver on Friday but it was a secured building. I verified the address and pointed out that a hotel lobby is not a secured building. She agreed. I asked why they waited two days to let me know about a problem, the response was sorry about the mishap, we’ll get the florist to deliver today and we’ll give you a free upgrade. I asked how a free upgrade was possible since I had ordered the top of the line arrangement. Her reply was that they can always add a few more flowers to any arrangement. Hmmm. But that wasn’t the point – my niece did not receive her flowers on her birthday and I wanted assurances that the delivery would indeed happen on Monday, skip the upgrade. Most definitely delivery would happen on Monday I was told, and then she recapped the conversation saying “you’ve refused the upgrade, but we will fix the delivery problem”. Refused? Good grief.
I sent my niece a text, apologizing that she didn’t get her surprise on her birthday and letting her know to be on the lookout. 6:00 p.m. on Monday, still no delivery. I called FTD again. Of course I had to rehash the hotel lobby vs a secured building issue again. This time the representative proposed to fix the situation by cancelling the order with the current florist and sending it instead to one of their “best florists in Seattle”. Best? Seriously? The first florist wasn’t “their best”? My response was to cancel the order in total saying to the rep “why would I want to do business with a company that didn’t offer me the best in the first place, waited two days to acknowledge a problem and then failed to fix it as promised?”
I did some research, found Seattle Flowers online (associated with Teleflora), ordered flowers for my niece on Monday night and they were delivered on Tuesday afternoon to the hotel lobby and they are beautiful! I received an email that the delivery had been made and within 5 minutes had a text from my niece with a thanks and a picture of the arrangement.
There was a post script on the FTD order – my niece learned from one of the front desk agents that the florist called last Friday and asked for my niece, who was not in the office at the time. The florist asked for her home address and took it upon themselves to change the delivery to her apartment without bothering to ask me if that’s what I wanted. Of course her apartment is in a secured building, with instructions on the door of how to make deliveries……..but that’s not where I wanted the flowers delivered.
There are several practical business lessons from this experience – if you make a commitment to a client, follow through; don’t change the agreement without consulting with your client; if you encounter a problem, connect with your client right away; when you make a planned purchase, don’t settle for less than what was promised. And my personal take away is that I’m finished with ordering flowers through a 3rd party service. From now on, I’m going to a florist that serves the same community as the location where I want the flowers delivered!
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