Ordering Flowers: How the Different Services Compare

February 11, 2010

By Angie Moreschi:

If you’re sending flowers this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to find out what kind of quality you get for your cash. We put several different vendors to the test, from a local florist, to online services that ship from a warehouse, to well known services that use member florists like FTD and teleflora.  Click on the video to watch Angie Moreschi’s report on how they compared and read the story to learn more.

Do You Get What You Pay For?

We ordered the same thing–  a dozen standard, long stemmed roses with a vase –from 5 different vendors:  1-800-flowersProFlowersFTD…  teleflora… and a local Tampa florist.

FTD was most expensive at just over a hundred dollars.  The local florist was smack in the middle.  And 1-800-Flowers was least expensive for this order, coming in at half the price of FTD.

Here’s how it broke down on cost –

  • FTD-  $103.76
  • teleflora – $94.94
  • Local Florist – $88.71
  • ProFlowers – $69.51
  • 1-800-flowers- $51.34

All prices included-sales tax and a delivery or service charge, except for 1-800 flowers, which offered free delivery on the date we chose. (SEE PICTURE COMPARISON BELOW: Did we get what we ordered?)

Call in Orders

“Please continue to hold, and we will be with you as soon as possible.”  You hear an awful lot of that when you call the 1-800 numbers to place an order, no matter which service you call.  The process was time consuming and frustrating at times. The operators are pretty much just telemarketers and don’t know much about flowers.  If you have a question, they often have to put you on hold to get an answer.  Average time to place a “call-in” order– 20 minutes.

Ordering Online

Ordering online was fairly quick and easy, but of course, you can’t ask any questions.  Placing an order on the website took just about 5 minutes.

Calling a Local Florist

Placing an order directly with a local florist was actually the fastest and most efficient– taking just about 3 minutes.  They were quick and could answer questions.

Roadside Flowers

We also decided to buy a dozen from one of those places you see alongside the road.  Just to compare how bargain roses stack up.  A bouquet at a local farmer’s market cost us nine dollars.  Pretty basic, not much filler.  You have to use your own vase and assemble it yourself, but hey… they are cheap!

Delivery Day

All the flowers we ordered arrived by mid afternoon.  It turns out, price had little to do with quality.

Our dozen roses from the local florist were first to arrive at 10:25am.  Gorgeous… long-stems… beautiful filler… even a nice bow. No problems here.

Not far behind at 10:40am, the flowers from FTD.  Not quite as impressive, even though they were the most expensive. The roses were not arranged with any symmetry.  The filler was shabby.  And the roses weren’t even quite long stemmed-which should be no shorter than 20 inches.  These measured just under that, at 18 and 19 inches.

Flowers in a Box

Next, the ProFlowers and 1-800-flowers arrived at the same time, 11am, delivered by UPS. Both came in a box, even though 1-800-Flowers told us when we ordered, they would be delivered arranged by a “local florist.”

We opened the 1-800-flowers first.  They came tightly packed, with lots of wrapping to undo.  The vase was inside, and instructions were provided on how to put the arrangement together.  They recommended you cut the stems under water, add preservative– which was provided, and use room temperature water.  It looked pretty nice once it was all arranged, but I was still a little disappointed I had to assemble it myself.

ProFlowers came next.  They were packed much the same way as 1-800-flowers.  With a few snips and pulling, a beautiful bouquet was revealed.  It was nicer and fuller than 1-800-flowers’, and even nicer than FTD’s, which was the most expensive.   The only downside, again, is your Valentine has to do the work of assembling their own arrangement, so you do lose that WOW factor when it’s first delivered.


The last bouquet finally arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon.  The “Red Hot Dozen” ordered online from teleflora for $95. Uh-oh.  That’s not what we ordered.  Our roses look a whole lot like carnations.  In fact, we only got three short roses, mixed in with several carnations and a couple of lilies.  A pretty arrangement, but not at all what we ordered.

I checked teleflora’s website, and I actually found a picture of the bouquet they sent.  It cost 20 dollars LESS than the dozen roses we ordered.  I called teleflora to complain.

Calling to Complain

After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, getting transferred around, and finally getting another number to call, I talked to a customer service representative.  I explained that the bouquet they sent was not what I ordered.  She assured me not to worry, and that they would take care of everything.  How nice.  But then, she immediately tried to get me accept what was sent.  She said when I ordered I indicated that comparable substitutions would be okay.

Wait just a minute here.  You can’t really claim carnations are comparable to roses, and secondly, the arrangement they sent cost $20 dollars less.  Becoming slightly irritated now,  I pointed this out.  She then asked to put me on hold.

When she came back she offered to pick up the first arrangement and re-deliver the correct one.  I agreed, but then she said they wouldn’t be able to deliver it until the next day. “First thing in the morning,” she promised.  Kind of a bummer if you need the flowers for an event or holiday that day, but that was the best she could do.

I asked what they could do for all my inconvenience.  Again, put on hold.  Upon returning, she offered to apply 10% credit back to my account.  Not in the mood to haggle, I accepted.  But then, she explained, she actually couldn’t apply the credit herself.  Someone from the research department would call me shortly to confirm they were applying it.  WHAT?  This is just too much.  By the way, no one called, and they did not apply the 10% credit.  Read on to see if they delivered on time.

Do you really get what’s in the picture? (Click here to see Bouquets after 3 Days)

So, when it comes to that all important question “Did I get what’s in the picture?”  Teleflora flunked this one. And the others?  Here’s a breakdown:

teleflora – flunked

FTD- not quite as nice.

ProFlowers – pretty close.

1-800-flowers – Not bad, but they weren’t supposed to come in a box.

One last note.  Surprise, surprise.  The teleflora replacement bouquet did not arrive first thing in the morning as promised.  It finally came at four o’clock in the afternoon.  It was pretty, and this one did look like the picture of what I ordered, but this was definitely not worth the aggravation.

In the end… when it comes to flowers– it’s pretty clear— you don’t always get what you pay for.

And the Winner is…

In our final analysis, based on our test, we think the best value for your money– with the least frustration- is to call a local florist and order your flowers directly.  If you don’t know a local florist ask someone for a recommendation, and if you don’t know anyone to ask, one floral expert suggested you try calling a local funeral home to find out who they like.

Final Ranking:

  1. Local florist
  2. Pro-flowers
  3. 1-800-flowers
  4. FTD
  5. teleflora

The flowers we bought by the side of the road weren’t bad either, although they did start to wilt a bit by day three. Still, for $9, it’s quite a deal.

Good luck and Happy Valentine’s Day.

RELATED STORY: What makes one dozen roses last for a week or more, while another lasts for only a few days?  We went to a floral expert to find out.  Click here to learn more.