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!”
                — http://www.floristexpress.net/guarantee.htm

 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 (http://www.floristexpress.net). 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.
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