Don't you love the Internet? We do but with the invent of the internet came a very bad thing for florists ~ The dreaded Order Gatherer. What is an Order Gatherer you ask? It's a business who sometimes claims to be a physical floral store, located in a town where they really are not located. How do they stay in business? By acting like they are a real florist, they "gather" orders and then turn around and send them via a floral network such as Teleflora or FTD back to real florists who then fill them.
Why is this bad?
- First off, it's bad for the florist, because the orders are "stolen" away from them and then often resent back to them at a lower price than the consumer pays.
- Second, this is bad for the consumer because they are often paying a high fee almost $20 in some cases, that goes to the "order gatherer" directly and not into their floral gift. Some even do what we call skimming, which means they pay the florist even less than the amount they collected before their "Service Charge". According to the rules of the Wire Services, this is not allowed but we have noticed they rarely revoke a business's membership for doing this.
- Third it confuses the consumer who often thinks they are ordering from someone located in that town, who has coolers full of fresh flowers when in actuality they are calling a call center.
- Lastly, the small, local florists who try to fill these orders, mostly because they need the orders (remember, these orders are stolen out from under them) often fill them at a loss. In other words, it costs them more than they are paid. As you can see this is a very vicious cycle because real florist to real florist orders are not unprofitable but not all orders are considered equal.
Does this mean you shouldn't trust a local florist to send an out of town order for you? Absolutely not. When you visit our website, it clearly tells you we are located in Princeton, NJ and Yardley, Pa. We have customers who trust our "floral network" to handle out of town orders for them. It's the reason that these networks were invented. They act as a clearing house between florists who need to send orders for their customer out of town and get paid for the ones they deliver. For this service, the Wire Services make between 7 and 8% as a clearing house fee. More than reasonable to handle the dollars back and forth, don't you think? All florist need to "Gather" orders but it needs to be done without deception!!
Thanks to websites like Florist Detective ~ we can share some tips to help you going forward when looking for a real florist in a particular town.
Tips to Avoid Being Fooled by Flower Order Gatherers
- Check the Home and About Us pages for the physical address of the business.
- Ask 'What is Your Address?' when you call on the phone. If they decline to provide it, consider calling another florist.
- Check the Contact Us page for a local phone number. It should match the area code of the location to where your flowers are being delivered. If the contact information consists of an email address only, be suspicious.
- Call the local phone number. If it is answered 'Flower Shop' without providing the name of the florist, ask which shop you've called. If they provide a different answer than the one you've dialed, you may have reached a gatherer/broker.
- On the phone, ask for the business' location and driving directions. If they fail to provide these details, consider calling a different florist.
- Ask the florist to itemize all charges. Be especially cautious about companies that charge relay fees, same-day fees, service fees, shipping fees and handling fees. Local florists generally charge for delivery (which you also pay through a broker) but the other surcharges are completely avoidable when ordering direct from the florist who will actually make your arrangement.
- Google the phone number. If it appears under many different business names with different locations, be suspicious.
- Be aware that just because an ad or website name says "City Name Florist", it doesn't mean the company is located in or actually delivers to that city.
- If following a link from a search engine ad, find the site's home page. Order gatherer sites often contain directory-like links named after states, provinces and cities. Each page will appear virtually the same except for the city name.