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Beware of Ordering Flowers Online

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Valentines day may be several days away, but local florists are already busy at work filling orders. Many of those are coming from online web sites like FTD.com and Teleflora. However, local florists warn we all need to do our homework when we do our shopping on line. Florists tell us ordering online from these "order gatherers" as they are called, may be quick and easy, however, it will cost you more and the pictures can be deceiving.

Gretchen Ashley is a floral designer at "The Green Thumbers" in Davenport and she says many local floral shops pay a monthly fee to be members of these sites. She says many shops have reluctantly joined because they have become so popular. That means while you may be ordering your flowers from FTD.com, it's actually local shops, who will be filling it.

"They kind of have some deceptive advertising because they'll be listed in the local phone books as if they are a local florist and what they really do is just collect orders, charge a hefty service fee and send it to a local florist."

Ashley says not only do you get charged more, but the pictures can also be deceiving. Often, there's a deluxe and basic version of an arrangement, but the photo you see may only be for the deluxe.

"Sometimes the scale of the arrangement might look big, but in actuality they are a lot smaller than that."

Floral designers say they have to follow specific instructions for these orders and ordering from these sites can not only mean less quality, but it also means less money for local businesses.

"We get only paid a percentage of what the person spends. Gosh, by the time they have their delivery and 20 dollar service fee we probably get maybe half of what the order gatherers have collected."

Ashley says she understands these sites have their purpose and can be helpful for those who are out of town or live in a different state. However, she says to get the most for your money, you are better off just calling a local shop and placing an order, that way you eliminate the middle man. She says many shops even have their own web sites if you prefer to go online.

Meanwhile, Reps with FTD say the vast majority of the orders placed with them "arrive as requested to customer's delight." They say that is reflected in an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They go on to say "with any perishable product, there may occasionally be issues and we have processes in place to resolve these issues to our customer's satisfaction."

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