ProFlowers Might Be Harmful To Your Relationships

I normally post about technology here.  Business.  Entrepreneurship.  Customer service certainly has a place.  Today gets a personal rant, with lessons applicable to the above.  The short story is that I meant to have flowers delivered on Monday to my wife, and only today found out that ProFlowers would not be able to fulfill the order because they had no local vendor.  For the tl;dr crowd, here are the key lessons:

  1. Don’t take money before you can fulfill the contract – The mere fact that ProFlowers took my money without a way to fulfill my order is crazy.  The fact that all of my interactions with them since Monday indicated none of this makes it even worse.
  2. Bad customer service will be cemented in search indexes – I let the woman know on the phone that the days of hanging up on an upset customer were done.  I am codifying this here.  I have set up a Facebook group.  I will request that my tweeps retweet this whole ProFlowers debacle.
  3. If you are in the business of delivering happiness, deliver! – Having a scripted response for a call center makes sense.  However, the flowers I needed on Monday were to handle an issue on Monday.  With each passing day, the value of those flowers decreases quite a bit.  Flowers can bring joy, but lack of flowers can actually create problems.
  4. Flowers are not harder than pizzas – It’s not like it was some crazy arrangement that was ordered.  Roses.  How hard it is to cut some flowers and get them delivered?  I was told that I was in a remote area.  I live 10 miles from the Microsoft campus.  Hardly remote.  The pizza guy can get here in 30 minutes, and they actually have to bake the thing.

The story begins on Monday morning.  I ordered flowers to be delivered because I have been working quite hard, and traveling quite a bit.  With yet another trip coming up for SxSW, I figured it would be a smart move to have the flowers delivered.

To their credit, 1-800-Flowers (the first site I visited) stated clearly that for the arrangement that I wanted, they could not deliver same day.  That’s what you should do.  Knowing that I wanted to try and get the flowers that day, I went to the next link in the search results.  Just a few minutes later the flowers were ordered.  I even paid the extra $5 to ensure that they would be delivered that day.

Sometime around 5pm on Monday, ProFlowers called to let me know that they would not be able to meet the delivery schedule.  They were nice about it, but it was a bit upsetting.  The only offer they made was to call my wife and apologize.  Given the flowers were supposed to be a surprise, that wouldn’t cut it.  I asked the best question you can ask (thanks Chemda) when dealing with unhelpful customer service people: “what do we do now?”  You have to commit to the WDWDN, and be silent.  It’s uncomfortable for everyone.  The woman eventually offered to upgrade the flower bouquet size.  Done.

Tuesday came and went.  I spent the whole day checking for delivery status.  I called into ProFlowers several times, each time they assured me that they would get the flowers delivered.  By the time I got home, around 10pm, they had not arrived.  What surprised me was that no one saw fit to call me as they had the day before.  Worse, throughout all of the conversations with the customer service reps, no one mentioned that they were having problems.  They kept telling me that the flowers were “out for delivery.”

When I called Tues night, the woman read me the exact same script they had been reading me all day.  “Can we call to apologize?”  That’s such a strange thing to offer.  I had to ask for something of monetary value.  Perhaps their customer base just takes it – feeling that it’s just flowers, and that the cost was low, so getting anything of value isn’t appropriate.  I asked, again, to get the next up-size on my bouquet.  At this point, I was at the super-ultra-mega size bouquet.

No surprise – Wed came and went.  No call from ProFlowers.  I traded emails with them all day.  They all had the same script:

image

What is involved in the “thorough investigation?”  Despite all of the back and forth, it wasn’t until this morning that the truth came out:

image

What’s nutty about this is that a) they again offer the apology letter, but b) insinuate that they can get the flowers delivered.  I called to verify, and only then did they indicate that they had no vendor to fulfill the order.  They absolutely knew this on Monday.  It’s impossible that they did not.  So they took my money, and agreed to a contract, without the ability to perform.

When I called this morning, the only thing that ProFlowers would say was “we’re sorry. We can call your wife.”  Ridiculous.  Only after venting on the poor CSR, did they offer me a $20 discount on a future order.  Why would I EVER do business with these guys with them again?  The worst part was, the woman basically said “sorry…have a nice day.”  That made me pop.  So I made today “make ProFlowers pay” day.  Bad customer service, especially of this level, should not be allowed to persist, especially from a company with such a high search index placement.

So there it is.  My poor wife the one who didn’t get nice flowers.  I will sort that out, but my ask to you – join the Facebook group “ProFlowers is Bad for Relationships.”  “Like” it.  Retweet my post.  I want this to run around the interwebs, and I want ProFlowers to feel a bit of the pain.  This is a different world we live in now, and the social graph should be able to hold bad vendors accountable.

Also, if anyone has a suggestion for the best florist in Seattle who can delver a long overdue bouquet to my wife, let me know.

  • Fromsomewhere

    why are you using Gmail ?

  • Would this be the appropriate place to mention that my Samsung Focus still doesn’t have certified SD cards?

    Or that a few months doesn’t feel like “very soon” when it comes to the nodo update. Especially when some others have it already.

    Or that just like Pro Flowers kept you in the dark about what the challenges were that kept them from delivering, some of us WP7 owners feel like we’ve been kept in the dark about what’s holding up the update process. We’re not looking for special feature announcements. We just want to be kept in the loop when things happen that are obstructing delivery.

    But other than that… yeah, the Pro Flowers incident sucks.

  • Anonymous

    A pissed off wife can not be calmed by an anon caller for the flowers not showing up.

  • Tim

    If you think any of those scenarios are even remotely equivalent to this, then there’s no hope for you. You’re clearly trolling. Get over it.

  • Fena flowers – beautiful and they give you an extra 25% with your primecard. Based in Kirkland. http://www.fenaflowers.com/

  • Rob Roland

    I understand your frustration with ProFlowers completely, but for something like this, I think calling your local florist is always a better idea. They’re mostly individually owned, and you will get better customer service from them.

    I ordered flowers for someone over the Internet once, and only once. They arrived in a box that had been beaten pretty badly, they were wilted and horrible looking.

    If you really must do it on the Internet, try ftd.com. They deal with local florists who will drive the flowers to your destination.

  • While the situation and the service obviously suck, I think it’s a common practice to charge money when you order, not when you get the product or service. Amazon charges when they ship the product to you, not when you sign off that it was delivered.

  • NoDo pls?

    It’s hard to not draw a corollary between this and NoDo. Developers love you and you’re doing awesome things for us.

    Come on Brandon, don’t be the pot calling the kettle black. Give us something…

  • It’s similar in that A LOT of customers would like to know what’s going on.

    I’m a patient and understanding guy. I love my Windows Phone.

    I appreciate the great job that Brandon does in reaching out to developers. I think he’s one of Microsoft’s gems. So I’m not putting the blame on him personally in any way.

    But the reality is that there is a customer service issue right now. And a post regarding customer service seemed like a great opportunity to open up the discussion.

    I’m not sure why you consider that trolling.

  • Actually, you’re right. They aren’t equivalent. I have spent A LOT more money and A LOT more time on WP7 than he has for the flowers.

    Honestly, I don’t care about copy and paste. I do, however care about the update. I don’t need to tomorrow or next week or next month, but I’d like to know a real timeline for when I can expect it to come down the pipe on my HD7.

    Shoot, at this point knowing that I’m not going to get it would be better than the total lack of information we’re getting now.

  • Many of your customers have asked where the update that was promised to us is only to get absolutely no response. Even people from the tech press have asked and they’re getting stonewalled. A little communication goes a long way.

    So I’ll ask you. What do we do now? As in your case, simply waiting is not an option.

  • I am only responsible for dev platform. I hear and share your frustration. Updates are going out. We hit a problem with some phones, and it was bad enough to stop the updates. Better we fix it then keep it going. The team is working very, very hard. I have always been as honest and forthright with the things in my purview. I wish I could tell you more about the update process.

  • Oh, I have learned my lesson. Shame on me. I normally get flowers on Friday on my way home (call it “flower Friday”) but in this case, I wanted a specific bouquet, and I am a child of the interwebs. Lesson learned.

  • See my previous comment, but I did want to point out that it’s amusing to me that a personal rant about flowers for my wife quickly got traction on Windows Phone. What a targetted audience I have that such a thing can happen. 🙂 Allow me to channel my inner Dos Equis guy:

    I don’t always write apps, but when I do, I prefer Windows Apps. Stay nerdy my friends.

  • Unless that caller is made of chocolate.

  • Thanks Brandon. Even though you probably don’t think you’ve said much, it likely means a lot to those that have read it.

    Do you know who “officially” has the duty of saying things like, “We hit a snag, so it’s on hold until it’s fixed.”

    A lot of us are really reasonable people.

  • As a developer, I’d really like to test updates on actual hardware before they go out to consumers. Yes, it’s nice to at least get the emulator build before the update goes out but that’s not good enough. My app didn’t have any issues in the emulator but then again before launch my app loaded fine on the emulator but did not launch at all on real hardware. What’s to say a future update doesn’t break my app? Apple manages to do this. Sad that Microsoft can’t do the same.

    Oh and the fact of the matter is, updates are NOT going out. Not a single person (besides leaked roms) has gotten NoDo. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if Microsoft would at least be up front and explain that they missed their date and had some issues. You were frustrated over flowers not getting delivered without communication but imagine us with expensive devices waiting for updates to be delivered with absolutely no communication.

  • LOL @ the unintentional double meaning of chocolate. (unless it was intentional in which case 8-0 )

  • Thanks for the quick response. We are starving for information — even if it’s bad news. Despite that, it wasn’t fair to jump on you.

    The developer story has been great since before the phone was released. It continues to be great, and given Microsoft’s relationship with developers I expect it will be great in the future. Keep it up.

    P.S. I hope your wife isn’t too upset.

  • Neil

    I couldn’t agree more. Your point #1 hits closer to home, however, as I am still to successfully register with marketplace after 4 months of dead ends. Geotrust might be the top of their game, but if they can’t offer good problem resolution then it’s going to continue to look bad for MS atop of the still-to-iron-out-the-wrinkles of Marketplace signup. /rant

  • Nodo pls?

    Agreed, thanks Brandon. It would be great to have someone like you on the other side for communicating with users.

  • Shelby Moore

    Brandon I appreciate the great job you do in reaching out and helping developers so I apologize that my frustration is direct towards you. As you can see and seem to understand many of us are frustrated by the slowness of updates to Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is hurting its relationships with consumers and developers by the lack of updates and more so by its silence.

    I love the Windows Phone 7 platform, and I do not just say that. I show it! I bought a HTC HD7 in an area that no GSM phone can get 3G so I run daily on Edge, thank goodness for WiFi.

    If you would do me favor and pass on the ProFlowers I have sent to you, they should arrive tomorrow, to the person or persons responsible for my poor HTC HD7 not yet getting a nice update. Hopefully they will serve as a “show it” symbol of mine and many others frustration.

  • Brandon Watson

    For everyone who has beaten on me today – behold, naked honesty – http://bit.ly/dS02vp

    That’s what’s been going on with the update process, as explained by the General Manager of the engineering team responsible for the updates.

  • I have a similar ProFlower story. Last year, I ordered Valentines day flowers for my wife. I ordered them a full month in advance, and allotted to pay the extra fee that was to “guarantee delivery on Valentines day.” I live in the within a couple minutes drive of downtown Houston. Well Valentines day came, and came to a close. Still no flowers. I called them and asked them why. They said, “Were sorry, it looks like the flowers aren’t going to arrive until tomorrow.” Flowers on the day after Valentines are not the same thing.

    They offered to refund me my “guarantee fee.” It seemed kind of ridiculous that the only justice that was to be served was to refund to me the fee that was to guarantee my delivery.

    Needless to say, I’ve never ordered from them again. All my flowers are picked up by me, and delivered by me. There’s my guarantee.

  • FlowerChat

    FYI: Most of the items on FTD.com are drop-shipped, not florist filled. They are in the same boat as ProFlowers, and if you read their Facebook page you’ll see tons of complaints from Valentine’s about unfulfilled orders.

    The advice on calling a local florist is spot-on. If you need to send out of town, ask your trusted local florist for a recommendation, or get them to handle the order for you.

    @Brandon: Try Toppers – http://www.toppersfloral.com – They are very well respected within the industry.

  • Brandon’s younger brother

    You really call it flower friday? Like, you say that out loud?
    Nice post. However, comment section digression FTW.

  • Dana

    whats really sad is they have SOOOOOO many negative comments on the entire web but it doesn’t seem to phase them. check it out. USE A LOCAL REPUTABLE FLORIST WHENEVER ORDERING FLOWERS!

  • Roberta

    You want to know why they didn’t have a “local” vendor? Because WE (the REAL LOCAL FLOWER SHOPS) have had enough of their crap and no longer accept taking their orders. They charge the cutsomer one price and then gives us as the florist another price (much less) to fill the order, then YOU as THEIR customer get mad at US (the flower shop) for “cheating” you. That is not the case. BUT we as the florist never get the chance to educate you as a consumer until you are already pissed at us for cheating you. It is very hard. I am sorry you had to learn the hard way and we all appreciate you trying to inform everyone of your issues so that they may not learn the hard way as you did. Had you called my shop for example at 5pm and told me your issue..I would have offered to deliver it on my way home from work…I would have charged you an extra service fee BUT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DELIVERED. I hope this message reaches millions. Your first question to the person when placing a floral order should be “Do you have a store front that I could come in and pick something out of your cooler?” if they say NO they are not a flower shop!

  • Lakegastonflowers

    This all could have been avoided if you would have just called a real brick and mortar florist in Seattle where you live! Not an order gatherer like Pro flowers.

  • Kathy

    Ordering on line is not the convenience people think it is when it comes to flowers. Nothing beats the customer service & quality you will receive from your local florist. Proflowers and all of the other “order gatherers” are not good for the floral industry as a whole. More & more florists refuse to accept orders from companies like these. And more florists are dropping their memberships to wire services like FTD & Teleflora because there is zero profit. There is great value in receiving a creative, custom designed arrangement from your well trained local florist.

  • Oceancalm

    Its cos you are the closest thing wp7 has to a @majornelson the xbox team did a wonderful job at realising their customers don’t get as fed up, stressed and as internet rant-y when there is a decent release of information to them.

    Problems with LIVE get mentioned within minutes via twitter and with 30 on the blog, apologies are made at that time not days later, software releases via the arcade are announced a fortnight maybe more in advance (usually with a caveat that dates may change).

    You say you are a child of the interwebs, why aren’t you reminding the platform team that it’s customers are animals of the web, the early adopters who who are connected 24/7, who understand that social media can help a platform survive, everyone was enthusiastic about the platform to start with but have you seen how negative the web has become around wp7?

    A lot of that negativity could and should of been handled by a public face someone coming forward when the pre-NoDo update was failing on Samsung devices and saying “Our bad” and offering to help Samsung owners, not the complete “it’s not our problem” attitude that seemed to arise with customers calling support getting told to talk to the shop they purchased from or Samsung, both of whom said “it’s Microsoft’s software talk to them”

    The wp team needs to realise that Microsoft isn’t Apple, it doesn’t have the legions of apologists when things go wrong, what it does have though is legions of people wanting wp to fail.

    Things the team could do the relieve the tension between them and the customers
    As there is a staggered roll-out announce which carriers/devices you are rolling out too, I.E. this week Samsung customers on these carriers (x,y,z) will see the update. Not hard is it, owners of other devices will know it’s not for them, Samsung owners not on x/y/z won’t see it (won’t stop them ranting about carriers blocking updates but if Microsoft had had the balls to tell carriers we’ll update as we see fit like Apple that issue could of been avoided).

    A little bit of real two way communication with users from the platform team would go along way, instead we’re left with personal and 3rd party blogs which pick up on faults, forums with no direct feed to the platform team and official information sources with twitter/facebook/windows team blog, either not having information or being late or cagey with what is said.

  • BrittanyFlowers™

    Brandon, I am sorry that happened to you. It makes me upset because I am a florist in the Seattle area, and I have fantastic customer service and it does harm to our industry. I have to admit that I often refuse orders from the many online brokers because so many times they do a bad job with the order, like the address is incorrect, the name is spelled incorrectly, the delivery date is wrong, they neglect to note important details like ” it needs to be there before she leaves at noon”, or they don’t pass on the design details, etc… All the important things that it takes to make customer service superior. I feel like there poor attention to the details will make me look bad, so I refuse the order rather than accepting it and having me end up looking like the bad guy. I can only suggest that you call a real LOCAL florist and ask them for what you need. If I can’t do something that someone requests, I will tell you up front so will most real florists. Call me next time I will find you a good florist if I can’t take care of it locally!
    Patty @ Brittany Flowers of Kirkland

  • Salvatore

    Anyone who shops at ProFlowers, 1800 Flowers Etc… Deserves what they get!!!

  • Annabeaver1

    Hey Brandon you goof! Why are you complaining about ProFlowers? They are what they are. If you ever had any class, you would go to an independent florist and not some brainless chain. YOU are part of the blame.

  • CPrkr

    Found this today, as it’s Valentine’s day. ProFlowers owns Shari’s Berries, and that’s who screwed up my order today. I paid $70 to have a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries and 4 gourmet chocolate dipped cookies delivered to my husband. I paid extra to have a special card sent as well. I get a text from my hubby saying that his MOTHER sent him something from Shari’s Berries! Somehow, instead of my well thought out letter to him, the letter that accompanied his gift said, “Love you both, Mom”! After checking with his mom to see if she, in fact, sent this present (she did not), I called customer service. They offered to reimburse me for the card, that’s all. Nevermind that my thoughtful, heartfelt gift to my hubby was perceived to be from his mom and in fact ruined the whole experience on my end! I didn’t yell, I didn’t curse them out, and yet they hung up on me too! Never again!