This is NOT good customer service (long read)

The mother of my wife’s best friend died of cancer this week. She wanted to order flowers before she left town for the funeral, so we quickly looked for an online florist, and found one that had nice arrangements at a decent price. It wasn’t a name brand shop like FTD, it was a place called “Florist Express”. So we placed the order on Wednesday, and she left Thursday afternoon to see her friend and family before the funeral on Friday. At around 5:30pm on Thursday, I got a phone call and email from Florist Express about the order. Here is the email they sent me, as well as my response:

On Thu, 27 Jan 2011, Florist Express wrote:

> Dear Mr. Schmidt,

> Thank you for your recent order. Unfortunately, our florists in the area
> of the recipient did not have the item that you requested and due
> to time constraints, we had to substitute your requested product with a
> green plant in order to complete the delivery in a timely manner.

> Thanks again, and I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

“Inconvenience” is not the word I would use. It’s not even close.

This arrangement was for a funeral; the mother of my wife’s best friend,
someone she’s known for over 30 years. My wife had very little time to look
for flowers, as this was a sudden death. She chose your “Amazing Azalea”
arrangement from a quick scan of online florists (bypassing known names like
FTD) for the beauty and color of the flowers, as well as for the hummingbird
feeder. She thought the feeder would be a lovely memorial for her friend to
keep in her back yard.

Instead of this arrangement, she received – in her own words – a “very tiny
pot” containing “three pink carnations and one peace lily”. No azaleas, no
hummingbird feeder, no memorial or beuaty. She was, in her own words again,
“extremely, extremely hurt and embarassed” and wanted to “cry and crawl into
a hole” when she saw it. She was offended at the cheapness of the
arrangement, as well as the fact that we were given no options or
alternatives. She said that she had seen better floral arrangements at
grocery stores for $20.

And after all that, to just write it off as an “inconvenience”? This was not
an inconvenience, this was a deep insult. We paid almost $60 for what sounds
like a handful of castoffs picked up off of the floor. There was no attempt
to contact your customer to see if an alternate arrangement would be
acceptable, and no offer of a refund or reimbursement for not properly
filling the order as it was placed. There was just an email and a phone call
placed after hours to someone 100 miles away from your shop.

That is not acceptable.

Your web site proudly proclaims that “100% satisfaction on this gift is
guaranteed”. My wife and I are in no way satisfied with this order. I feel
like we were taken advantage of at a sensitive time, and I cannot allow this
to stand. I will be eagerly awaiting a response from you Friday morning with
a respectable solution to this problem. I can be reached at this email
address, or on my cell phone…

I received a response shortly afterwards, but did not read it until the following morning. Here is what they sent, and my reply:


On Thu, 27 Jan 2011, Florist Express wrote:


> Dear Mr. Schmidt,

> Thank you for contacting Proflowers Florist Express. Please accept our
> most sincere apologies for your disappointment with your order. You are a
> valued customer and we would like to resolve this issue for you.
> Therefore, we have issued a refund of 20% off of the product. This refund
> will process back to your account within 1-3 business days. We have also
> informed the delivering florist of the complaint, and they asked that we
> extend their apologies to you as well.

> Thank you and once again, please accept our apologies.
That 20% refund still leaves us paying $46 for an item that we did not
receive; $46 for an arrangement that my child could buy at their school
office as a Valentine’s gift with pocket money. I can accept your apology
for the failure in fulfilling this order, but I cannot accept this pittance
of a refund.

 Your own customer guarantee states:

 “Florist Express offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not
satisfied with our service for any reason feel free to contact us. We will
either refund your money or redeliver a new product depending on the
situation. The choice is yours!”

 Based on your own stated policy, I would expect a full refund, not just 20%.
We placed an order through your company for a particular product, and we did
not receive that product. We did not receive anything even close to what we
ordered. I have no intentions of paying for something I did not order.

I received a third email from them, and this is where things currently stand:
Dear Mr. Schmidt,

Thank you for your reply. We understand your dissatisfaction with your
recent order and would very much like to resolve this for you. For that
reason, in addition to the previous refund, we are issuing you an extra 30%
refund off of the product for a total of 50%. This refund will process back
to your account within 1-3 business days. Additionally, we are issuing you a
$10 gift certificate to redeem at any time on a future purchase with Florist
Express. This gift certificate will be generated within 1-3 business days.
To utilize this gift certificate, you should call 888-444-1922 and reference
your order number (81XXXXX).

Thank you and once again, please accept our apologies.
Personally, I am still very offended by this whole situation. I could easily continue this dispute, but my wife says that we would do well enough to take the 50% refund and wash our hands of them. We certainly have no intentions of doing business with them again, so the gift certificate they are offering is useless to us.

So for clarity’s sake (and to further the search results), the company we have been dealing with here is Florist Express ( They appear to be a nation-wide service that takes orders online and then farms the order fulfillment out to local shops. A search of the Better Business Bureau shows 159 complaints against the company in the last 36 months, and a quick Google search for reviews of their service shows a lot of problems and complaints. I would strongly recommend that given the choice, that you NOT do business with Florist Express or their affiliated storefronts From You Flowers or USA Florist. You will be sorely disappointed.

Cristofori’s Dream

This song came up on Pandora while I was working today. I first heard it when I was working as a busboy in a restaurant in Bay City. I discovered the cd changer they had wired into the dining room audio system, along with a handful of other instrumental / new age cds. I just turned the player on one day, with the volume really low, just enough to barely be background music. Nobody ever complained.

I love this whole cd, but especially this song. It’s so simple, yet so powerful… and my daughter would call it depressing, like any of my other instrumental music. I’d almost agree with her. It’s definitely a deep song, and quite stirring. But it’s still really good. It really makes me wish I could write music, just so I’d have a really high goal to try to reach.

Killing my car

The car I drive (1991 Buick Regal) has a hood opening mechanism that has you pull up and back on it, kind of like the tab on a can of pop. Well, after the mechanism getting more and more uncooperative, I managed to actually break it after giving it a good yank a few months ago. Well, I broke the plastic handle that was attached to the pull cable that worked the mechanism.

This happened just as winter was starting to settle in, so I figured I’d wait for a warm spell to come along so I could hang out in the garage and try to fix it. The warm spell never came, so I haven’t been able to get into my engine compartment to do things like refill the wiper fluid, which ran out a month ago… or add oil to the engine (which it wants me to do, suggesting it repeatedly with a flickering oil light as I start the car each morning).

Or, as of yesterday, to jump start the battery.

I hopped in my car to pick up a part to fix the bathroom sink, and the engine wouldn’t turn over. Completely drained battery, barely enough juice to power the alert lights. I went out to the garage today (today’s a sick day for me, mind you), put the car in neutral, and backed it part way out of the garage. I tried to jimmy the hood open so I could jump start it with the wife’s car, but no luck. I hopped back in the car with a pair of pliers to go after the cable. I removed a plastic housing that covered part of the (now broken) mechanism, only to find it held the rest of the mechanism in place. I held what was left in place with my foot, got a good grip on the little metal crossbar that held the cable in place, and I pulled… and pulled…

And the cable snapped. I flew back with the crossbar stuck in the grip of my pliers.


I now have a car with no wiper fluid, an engine that needs two quarts of oil, possibly a new battery… and no way to get at the engine to take care of these things.

I am not amused.

Can’t sleep :p

I just tried going to bed, and I couldn’t. Laying there, feeling kinda crappy, with pressure in ears again. I wasn’t sure if that was due to my blood pressure being up, or due to tension in my back and shoulders, or maybe the chronic pokey pain in my ribs acting up again. So I got up, checked my BP, and the first reading was 143/82. Then I checked it on my other arm, and it said 152 / 78. I checked the right arm again, and this time it was at 163 / 81. Blargh! :p

I’m not particularly worried, since I know my readings go up at night, and the low number (diastolic) is staying around 80. That means that the pressure in my veins after the heart has pumped and is refilling is at a “normal” level, I also know that worrying will increase my BP, which turns into a vicious feedback loop with me. I also have a bit of an upset stomach tonight, which doesn’t help my BP, since it irritates my whole system. But even with all this not worrying, I still have to try and get to sleep. I popped a Benadryl before coming out to take my readings, which should help. So I sit here, ears burning red and hot, wondering when it’ll help so I can get to bed…

Last reading I’m going to take tonight… 152 / 84. Blargh. In the words of Max Headroom, “How do I get to sleep?


It’s Subway Sunday!

While driving to the kennel in Ann Arbor to pick up the dog today, I drove by muscle memory and ended up near where I used to work. So, as usually happens, my mind wandered back to that time, playing back memories of working there, and “Subway Sunday” came back to me and brought a smile to my face.

(Now, the following should only make complete sense to the half-dozen or so former co-workers that follow me on Facebook, but I figured it would be fun to at least write down and note a little personal history.)

To explain:

I used to work at a network operations center located in Ann Arbor, and we supported (if memory serves) over 50% of the AOL dialup network in the US and selected sites worldwide. Our work schedules were staggered, working 4 days on and 3 days off in a week on 10 hour shifts. When meal times would come around, there would usually be one person who would volunteer to take food orders from folks and run out for them. It was a good way to get a little “away time” during the work day, even if it meant having to keep money and orders straight for co-workers and brave the sometimes inclement weather.

Also, as a means of making our jobs easier, we had an instant messaging system called Zephyr that we could use to shoot messages to co-workers or groups of users without having to shout or otherwise disrupt the goings-on of the work day. You could customize the look and feel of the messages you were sending to some extent, with a custom header full of different colors and fonts.

So while I was there, I ended up with the habit of going to Subway for lunch when my schedule had me working on a Sunday. This eventually led me to set up a custom Zephyr config that announced my messages with “It’s Subway Sunday!” in them, with the text in yellow and green, like the Subway colors.

So there was that, and a bunch of other memories… putting in a Halloween workday as nWo Sting (yes, complete with facepaint), seeing a co-workers black Aztek on some service’s satellite map system and noting it’s the only vehicle ugly enough to be recognizable from orbit, avoiding the geese that we weren’t allowed to defend ourselves again… ah, memories.

What was that about an omen?

What a great start to the new year! The kids got off to school after break with no problems this morning, and I made it out the door early as well. I hop in my car, and notice that it’s cranky after sitting around for almost two weeks. I pull it out of the garage slowly to give it a few minutes to warm up, when I realize the car doesn’t feel right, like it’s slumped over. I hop out to have a look…

And see the left front tire is flat. The screw I ran over is sitting right there staring at me too, just the head sticking out of the side of the tire.


I throw the trunk open and dig out the spare tire and jack. I stick the jack under the front bumper and slowly crank it up, up, and up. There doesn’t seem to be much clearance for the tire, though. I double-check the instructions, and they say to put the jack elsewhere to properly lift the car.


But, since I’ve got it up here anyway, let’s see if I can wrestle the tire off as is. I go to take off the hubcap…

And discover that it’s locked with a special tool. One that I don’t have in the car.


I crank the car back down, go in the house to warm up, and consider getting it towed to a shop. Well, nobody’s going to be open yet – it’s not even 9 am – so I go to give the car another try.

This time, I pull the car back into the garage, so it’s on level ground. I also put the jack in the documented position. This time, the car goes up quicker, and it looks like I’ll have clearance. I take a look at the jack to make sure it’s balanced and level…

And see that the rusting underbody of the car is starting to collapse around the jack head.

All together now…


Crank the car back down, throw all the crap tools in the yard, go back in the house again, thaw out (did I mention that it’s below freezing out there?)… call the insurance folks to confirm the procedure for getting the car towed…

And now I’m waiting for a tow truck to pick up the car so I can get a new tire installed by people that have the right tools and a heated work space.