Mother’s Day is around the corner, and if you’re like a lot of people, you’re planning to say “I love you” with flowers. So we wanted to see how two of the biggest online flower delivery services, 1-800-Flowers.com and FTD, compare. We had a similarly priced and composed rose and mixed bouquet from each service delivered on the same day. Then we placed a second order a few days later, for a total of eight deliveries. We took pictures of each arrangement in our photo studio. Then 112 people filled out two questionnaires. The first asked them how happy they would be on a 1-to-5 scale (1 being completely unsatisfied, 5 completely satisfied) if they received each arrangement. A second questionnaire asked them how happy they would be with the arrangements when they compared them with the online photos. We also checked out the services’ websites and policies.
The FTD bouquet as it appeared online, left; what we received, right
The mixed bouquets were $49.99 ($70.43 with a service fee and tax), and $59.99 ($81.26) and were prepared by local florists; the roses were $59.99 ($81.26) for 18 assorted-color long-stems, and $54.99 ($75.84) for a dozen red long-stems. Each came with a vase and was shipped in a gift box.
The mixed bouquets were $49.99 ($72.33 with a service fee and tax) and $54.99 ($77.73) and were prepared by local florists. The roses were $59.99 ($83.13) for 18 assorted-color long-stems, and $49.99 ($72.33) for a dozen red long-stems. Each came with a vase and was shipped in a gift box.
Delivery guarantees and limits
Orders may be canceled until they are en route. The site says that although it can ordinarily guarantee delivery on the date you choose, because of the high volume of orders handled during major holidays (such as Mother’s Day, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas), it cannot guarantee delivery during those weeks (not just on those days).
The site says no requests for credits on product, freight, or shipping charges will be accepted if your shipment is delayed for reasons beyond FTD’s reasonable control, including delays caused by inclement weather. During heavy traffic times (such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day) cancellations may have to be requested within 24 hours of placing an order.
Although we had no problems with deliveries, we called to say a vase had broken and were offered another delivery or a credit for the vase. (We declined both.)
When we called to complain about a broken vase that had arrived with a rose delivery, we were offered a duplicate delivery or a credit for the vase. (We received the credit.)
One 1-800-Flowers arrangement was the group’s favorite by a small margin; another was also their least favorite, again by a small margin.
Respondents were slightly more satisfied with the FTD arrangements overall.
Although FTD flowers were given very slightly higher ratings overall in our limited test, we found that its mixed bouquets were much smaller than we expected based on the pictures on its site. Plus, though its prices for comparable products were a bit lower, it charged slightly higher fees. And FTD may impose a much tougher cancellation policy around Mother’s Day. Overall, our respondents were pretty happy with all of the arrangements until they compared them with their online photos. then they were very disappointed with the fact that there were flower substitutions in the mixed bouquets and that none of the arrangements looked as nice as the online photos.
Editor's note: This article also appeared in the May 2014 issue of Consumer Reports Money Adviser.