Our Google search for “flowers, columbus, ohio” returned a couple of sponsored links from what appear to be local florists.
On one website, there’s this message: “Columbus, Ohio Flower Delivery by our local florist to Columbus TODAY!”
What might not be clear is that the owner of that website is in Michigan.
‘Deceptive order gatherer’
The company is what is known in the floral industry as an “order gatherer,” or sometimes derided as a “deceptive order gatherer,” or DOG, as described in a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
They take orders and then broker them to local florists or even ship the flowers (unarranged, of course) via UPS or FedEx. These DOGs, which operate year-round, are hunting for your Mother’s Day order. And if they get it, they’ll likely take a bite out of your wallet that will exceed what you would have paid by working with your local florist to place the order.
An order gatherer will entice you with deals that look great but, upon closer inspection, probably aren’t.
In almost all cases, order gatherers present their flowers at discounted prices. A tulip bouquet valued at $81.99 is shown as marked down to $44.99, for instance. They also tend to upsell, so that when you select a standard or regular arrangement it defaults to a “deluxe” (read: more expensive) version.
Costly commissions and fees
On one order gather’s website, the home page featured a “best seller” arrangement of lilies, roses and alstroemeria valued at $34.99 but discounted to $27.99. When we clicked on it, our selection instead chose the deluxe version: valued at $44.99 but with a “Google discount” of $9 that put the total at $35.99.
At checkout, there was a $2.99 charge for same-day delivery – and a service/handling fee of $14.99. Our total was $53.97 even with the so-called Google discount.
Order gatherers typically deduct a 20 percent commission and other fees from orders, according to the Inquirer article. So if a flower order is valued at $44.99, that leaves less than $36 for the local florist, who then must deduct his delivery fee. Pretty soon, that $44.99 worth of flowers is maybe only a $28 value or less to the customer.
“It’s a no-win situation,” the Inquirer noted of this practice. The florist “can either fill the full order and lose money, or substitute a cheaper arrangement and risk consumer outrage.”
Let your local florist help
Either way, it might not be a risk worth taking when it comes to the impression you wish to make on the recipient. If you have a strong and trusting relationship with your local florist, then why not let them help you with an out-of-town flower delivery?
Reputable florists will make sure you get the value and quality that you deserve on your long-distance orders. After all, they want to be treated fairly when they are on the receiving end of orders.
The deceptive order gatherers, on the other hand, extract high service and delivery fees – only to hand off the order to someone else.
Another one of the order gatherers we examined offered same-day delivery of a gerbera arrangement valued at $49.99 but discounted to $29.99. Then another offer appeared, lowering the price to $9.99. But a service charge of $19.99 and a handling charge of $10.50 brought the total to $40.48.
The order gatherer won’t earn those fees, and you won’t get what you paid for.
When it comes to flowers, these DOGs aren’t man’s best friend.