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.
What 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.
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