Holiday Central

Valentine's Day Reader Responses: Things Got A Little Heated!

Valentine's Day got a little heated for some Retail Detail readers. Iposted my interview with FTD's CEO right here yesterday for all of you to get a little insight into what goes on during one of the busiest days of the year in the floral industry.My friends on "Squawk Box" interviewed the CEO of 1-800-Flowers (FLWS) yesterday morning as well.

While I would have liked to have aired and discussed what's going on with the weaker dollar and its impact on labor costs, political unrest in Kenya and that impact on flower supply, etc., Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson's economic testimony dominated the day. Yet it seems that many retaildetail readers have a thing or two to say about FTD's and FLWS's businesses.

I decided to post some of your responses after reading some comments from reader Donnie Boman. He said that retaildetail is business oriented, there is value in keeping retailers accountable in their commitments to quality and give insight to investors into the customer service practices of these companies. With that in mind, here are some of the responses.

In the interest of fairness, I should note that happy customers rarely pen letters or type emails. Also, the weather can really complicate deliveries by the retailers to which the order aggregators (FTD, FLWS) dole out orders.

Donnie Boman wrote in that his fiance was embarassed that her flowers arrived in bad condition and after 5pm on Valentine's Day:
"I can't believe their stock is up over 2.33 percent today! I wonder if anyone buying that stock actually used FTD this year for their flower-buying?...Or maybe FTD is just dumping the reimbursement/replacement costs back onto the producers and FTD won't really lose any money at all. Or if refunds have to be processed, they can make some money off of the interest, as they cite a 7 day refund time in the form of original payment"

Andrew Marshall of Brooklyn also wrote in to complain about a lost/delayed FTD order and an unanswered customer service phone line.

Edward Rose similarly complained of poor customer service. He wrote:
"I ordered flowers two weeks ago and they were not delivered on time. Calling their 800 number, you would think that a company which has experience in dealing with this cyclical event and knowing that it is their biggest demand day, would have policies in place to ensure that these types of problems would not exist. I think they are in danger of losing business, not to other competitors like 800 flowers, but back to the original supply chain......local flower shops and retailers."

FTD's competition wasn't left unscathed either. Reader James Davis says that he would "short FLWS" after being told that the company would email his fiance to warn her of a late bouquet delivery:
"They also said that they would make a phone call to the recipient to explain. After my own explanation to a very upset and disappointed fiance', she said she did receive an automated message saying that the delivery will not be there- the least they could have done is make a personal call."

Davis was disappointed that FLWS compensated him by giving him 20 percent off the order and a $20 credit to his next order:
"Next order? I would never do business with this company again. I have already given them a 2nd chance when they failed to deliver my flowers to my Mom on Mother's Day. That's right... they messed up the 2 largest days of the year."

Rick Bond of Baton Rouge issued a similar complaint and forwarded on the automatically generated response that he received from Chris McCann, President of 1-800-Flowers. Here's an excerpt:

Thank you for shopping at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. We understand that your order was scheduled to be delivered Thursday, February 14th. Unfortunately, due to high demand for Valentine’s Day deliveries and weather issues in select areas, we will be delayed in getting your gift to your recipient within the desired timeframe...

To ensure that your recipient will receive the gift, we have scheduled your delivery for Friday, February 15th, or Saturday, February 16th. Please know that your gift will be delivered fresh and beautiful.

We shall contact your recipient to apologize for the late delivery.

Also, we shall issue a 20 percent credit on the delayed order, and shall extend to you a $20 Gift Certificate for your next purchase. We do hope that you will give us another chance.

Chris McCann

Thanks to all for writing in!

Questions? Comments?