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How to get the best deal on Valentine's Day flowers

Declaring your love with a beautiful bouquet doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

By Cheapism.com Feb 11, 2014 11:49AM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site Cheapism.com.
Cheapism.com on MSN Money

Every year some 200 million roses are produced in preparation for Valentine's Day, according to the Society of American Florists. It seems like almost as many deals are appearing online for flower delivery services. Whether through coupon codes or daily deal vouchers, frugal shoppers wishing to send flowers to a special someone are likely to find big "deals." However, a report from Cheapism.com reveals that using an online flower delivery service is unlikely to yield the best value.

Roses are displayed in a flower shop © Herwig Prammer/ReutersWhat to expect From online flower sites
First, understand that there are two prevailing ways online flower services handle deliveries. One is to fulfill orders directly; the other is to act as a broker, forwarding orders to local florists and taking fees for facilitating the transactions. When comparing the price for a dozen roses and a simple vase from companies that fit both models, the lowest price Cheapism found was more than $65. Granted, that was without a coupon code or daily deal, which could lower the amount considerably, but cost is only one element in the case against the online retailers.

More important than price, especially on Valentine's Day, is the quality of the flowers and service. On numerous review sites, online flower delivery services get knocked for wilted or incorrect arrangements, late arrivals, and poor customer service. The blog The Consumerist, an outpost of Consumer Reports, has highlighted some of the disappointing bouquets some customers have received and compared them with what was promised in photos.

The trick to a better bouquet for the money
Simply by finding a florist near the recipient and ordering the flowers directly, consumers can often come out ahead. When pricing out local delivery of a dozen roses last year (soliciting input from the Society of American Florists and quotes from shops in New York and California -- not cheap markets), Cheapism came up with an estimate of about $50. Although that's not especially cheap, it's well below the asking prices of the online vendors.

Dealing directly with a florist also allows consumers to make special requests or ask questions without having to deal with decentralized customer service. If your significant other doesn't like roses, you can set a budget, perhaps offer a few specifications, and have the florist create a custom bouquet with the best available blooms. With no fees accruing to an online middleman, the full amount you pay can go toward the arrangement.

A simple Google search can turn up local florists and Yelp or a similar review site can help guide you toward the best shop even if you aren't familiar with the area. The Society of American Florists also maintains a National Florist Directory.

Consider an unconventional delivery option
For those who want to try an alternative route with the potential to cost even less, a service such as TaskRabbit can deliver flowers and more to your Valentine. Available in select areas only, the company invites users to submit a task and name a price to have it completed by a vetted "TaskRabbit." An example task could be to buy a dozen roses from a supermarket or corner store, prepare them in a vase, grab the recipient's favorite treat, and deliver the entire package with a handwritten love letter. You could even request a singing Valentine, although you may want to hear a sample performance to be sure the TaskRabbit can hit the notes you want.

More from Cheapism:
5Comments
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Or just quit the lemming herd, and get your sweetie flowers when s/he doesn't expect it, rather than on the one day a year that our society has conditioned people to be milked out of money. Wouldn't that show more thoughtfulness for your relationship, rather than canned, guilt-induced obligation?
Feb 12, 2014 10:57AM
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buy bare root roses for the girl!  $1.99 at many garden centers, even during this busy week!
Feb 11, 2014 4:06PM
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Online and local florists have huge price hikes at this time of year anyway. Finding "cheaper" flowers is as easy as celebrating Valentine's a week early or a week afterward.


Or you can just get her diamonds...as Ron White says "Diamonds. That'll shut her up."

Feb 11, 2014 3:47PM
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From past experiences the flowers that florist get around Valentine's day are rushed from around the world to get to the USA for the heavy demand.  As a result I have been told they are treated with a special solution to go to the colder climates of the USA such as the Northeast or Mid-West and the end result is usually a day or two after Valentine's Day they usually turn black without even opening up.  This has happened to me several times & although the florist has replaced them it is not worth the $85 investment.  My wife said herself she would rather go out to dinner & get a nice sweater or perfume & enjoy it than having dead roses in a few days.
Feb 12, 2014 12:37PM
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I made the mistake one year of buying my mom flowers (it was a small roses plant) from Proflowers on the internet. Thinking this would be a big surprise for her. The flowers were supposed to show up on valentines day. Never showed up. Called Fed Ex and they "couldn't make it out, but I could make a 90 mile round trip to get them." Called Proflowers and they were actually very nice about it. They had problems with Fed Ex (apparently a lot of people weren't getting their flowers or were frozen when they did.) I got a new shipment of flowers and Fex Ex had to pick up the tab on both. Both plants showed up a few days later. The first one took a little TLC to keep alive but the other one was in good shape. She may not have got them on Valentines Day but she got two and I was really shocked that things worked out for the best.
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