Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why you should use a local florist and not 1-800-FLOWERS


Today is my mom's birthday. Because of what happened on 9/11, her birthday will always be a little bit overshadowed by a national tragedy. That's not necessarily a bad thing - 9/11 is a day for reflection, appreciation, and patriotism, so in a way I'm sure she is proud to share the date with Patriots Day.

I wanted to surprise her with flowers delivered to her office - I've never actually sent her flowers before and I thought it would be nice. I'm not familiar with the Washington DC area and didn't want to end up choosing an unreliable florist, so I decided to order her a nice plant through 1-800-FLOWERS. I knew they were large and reputable and had a big selection, so I went with them.

I picked out this really adorable plant - it was a Gerbera Daisy in a white tin planter with a Lady Bug design. Lady Bugs are known as signs of good luck and are also one of my sorority's mascots, so we both like them. I entered her delivery address at the Department of Veterans Affairs downtown and paid $25 for shipping to make sure it would arrive on her birthday.

I got an email confirmation and a tracking number for UPS, so on Thursday morning I started checking to make sure the plant was on the truck for delivery. All was going well and it was scheduled to be delivered before 3:00 PM. Around lunch time I got a delivery confirmation email, so I went on the UPS website to double check.

The flowers had indeed been delivered...to an address in MARYLAND. At first I thought it may have been a typo - someone had signed for the flowers and Maryland is pretty close to DC geographically...and I mean who would sign for flowers that weren't addressed to them?

I called UPS just to make sure. The guy on the other end was sympathetic and said he would call the number provided for the recipient and try to figure it out. He put me on hold and I was disconnected.

I called back and got a lady on the phone. She had a thick Asian accent and I immediately began to stereotype her. I had to explain everything all over again and give her the tracking number. She put me on hold for 15 minutes.

When she came back on the line, she said she didn't know why it was delivered to an address in Maryland. The delivery address was clearly Vermont Avenue in DC. They would have to send the driver back out tomorrow to speak with the person who signed for the package and then UPS would launch an investigation. She told me I should expect to hear something within 8 days.

I was calling from my office and trying very hard to contain my frustration. Nobody could explain why a package got delivered in the wrong state or what would be done to remedy the situation.


I asked to speak to her supervisor. She put me on hold for a few minutes. When she got back on the line, she explained again what they were going to do - send the driver back out, do an investigation. Her redundancy annoyed me even more and I asked to speak to a supervisor again. She said the supervisor was on another call but in the mean time she wanted to get some information for the investigation.  She needed my mom's number. I didn't want to provide my mom's information because the flowers were supposed to be a surprise. She insisted. She then put me on hold for 30 minutes. I'm not exaggerating. She called my mom and also called 1-800-FLOWERS to alert them of the situation. 30 minutes later when she came back on the line, she told me she had been in touch with 1-800-FLOWERS and that someone there would contact me about my order. I asked her to provide their name so that I could speak with them. UPS is not authorized to give out third party information (although I'm sure they can sell my address and phone number if they want). She said I would hear from UPS in 8 days. I never got to speak to a supervisor.

When I hung up with UPS I immediately called 1-800-FLOWERS to try to get some sort of answer regarding what was going to happen to my order. I did not want my mom receiving flowers that had been in a box for 8 days while UPS tried to get their act together.

I spoke to someone named Marnie or Carnie or Pokie or something like that. She tried to pull up my account but could not access any information because another representative was already "working on it" and I would be hearing from them.

That was not a satisfying answer. The fact that some is "working on it" does not tell me anything. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She put me on hold. When she came back, she reiterated that someone was working on it and I would be getting an email or a phone call. I asked if she could transfer me to the magical person in the sky who was working on my account. She said no. I guess the computer tells them everything except the name of the representative working on an account.


I asked to speak to Pokie's manager again. She transferred me. I don't remember the supervisor's name, I think it may have been Sanjay Gupta, but she essentially told me the same thing as Pokie. Thanks for calling, there's nothing we can do. Someone is "WORKING ON IT."

I thanked her for her time and effort and hung up right as she was asking if there was anything else she could do for me today besides jumping off a cliff and taking Pokie with her.

At this point in time I would like to point out that the subject line for the shipping email confirmation I received from 1-800-FLOWERS literally said "your order has been shipped...get ready for smiles!!" On their website, the Smile Guarantee section reads, "If you or the the person who received the gift calls with any sort of issue, it's a big deal to us. All of us. And we'll jump to make it right...no matter what, no questions asked."

Nobody at 1-800-FLOWERS was jumping to make this right.

I was able to locate the phone number to their corporate office in New York so I gave that a call.  A lady named Barbara answered and I immediately felt better. She spoke with no accent (except maybe that of a native New Yorker) and sounded genuinely upset about what happened. She said she would transfer me to the "Priority Line." She put me on hold for a second and then the phone started ringing. After five or six rings, the line went silent.

I called Barbara back and she didn't answer.

I called Barbara back again and she answered. I said, "Hi Barbara, I think we just spoke. You transferred me but it didn't go through."

She asked, "Are you calling about the job?"

I was ready to scream but said, "No, I'm the one whose flowers were delivered to the wrong state."


She apologized and transferred me again. This time a lady named Lona answered. Before she spoke, I heard a cat meow in the background. I knew I was in good hands. Lona was downright pleasant and made it feel like I was having a conversation with a long lost relative.

I explained (for the 75th time) what had happened. I ordered flowers. Paid extra to have them delivered on time AND TO THE RIGHT PLACE. They got delivered to the wrong place. Nobody at UPS or 1-800-FLOWERS had any answers. Please help me.

Of all the people I spoke with she seemed to be the most authentically apologetic. She wanted to make things right. She said she was the person UPS spoke to. She had already requested for a free replacement to be delivered next week, but in the mean time she would try to order something from a local flower shop to make up for it. I told her that would be perfect. I told her I paid $25, an atrocious fee, for prompt delivery, and that since UPS couldn't seem to handle that request, I ought to get my shipping fee returned. She agreed.

So as of right now, I have not gotten the confirmation email Lona promised to send once the free replacement and local flowers were ordered. Hopefully she got busy playing with her cat or something. It will also probably take 5 years and 1000 phone calls to get my shipping fee refunded. But at least I made some headway.

When I got home, I took to Twitter and tweeted a passive aggressive message to 1-800-FLOWERS and UPS. UPS was quick to respond. I'm not even sure the social media guy read my tweet.

Shortly thereafter, I got a tweet from 1-800-FLOWERS. It said, "How disappointing. Pls follow & DM the details so I can see what happened. Thanks. --PJ"

Have to make sure they get that extra follower before they can help me.

I DM'd good ol' PJ and explained the whole situation, complimenting Barbara and Lona for their help. PJ was more concerned with making sure 1-800-FLOWERS wasn't directly to blame.
If I ever order flowers again, I will NOT use 1-800-FLOWERS. If I ever have anything shipped in the future, I will NOT use UPS.
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4 comments

  1. My darling daughter. I love you all the more for the effort you went through to get flowers delivered on my birthday. Even if they were to arrive mostly dead, I will be proud to display them just for the opportunity to tell your story. Thank you for thinking of me and trying to surprise me. Best daughter ever! Love you, Mom

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