Is Your 'Local' Florist Really Long-Distance?
Flowers are a
great way to celebrate a birthday, cheer up a sick friend, or simply brighten
someones day. Your local florist is just a phone call away, or so you think. Some
unscrupulous telemarketing firms are posing as local florists, charging you higher fees
and taking business away from legitimate florists in your town.
Heres how the deception works. A telemarketer takes
out a bogus listing in the white pages of your telephone directory. The company may use
your towns name in its own to make you believe its local. Or, the name of a
legitimate local florist may be listed with a different local phone number. For example,
When you call, youre unknowingly forwarded to an
out-of-town telemarketing operation. The telemarketer takes your order and credit card
information for payment, and forwards your order to an area florist. The telemarketer
pockets a processing fee and usually a percentage of the sale as well. You dont
realize youve been scammed until you get higher than expected charges from an out-of
town company on your credit card statement, or learn that the flowers werent
delivered as ordered, or were never delivered at all.
How to Protect
Follow these tips before you order your next pot of
- Ask neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers for
- Deal only with shops that list a street address with their
phone number. If youre asking directory assistance for a number, also ask for the
street number and address. If there isnt one, consider doing business with another
- Check out the florist youre considering with the
local Better Business Bureau and consumer protection officials in your area. Or, if
youre ordering flowers from a local shop in another city or state, contact the
consumer protection officials there. Ask if they have any unresolved consumer complaints
on file. Also ask them to verify the street address.
- Ask the florist to itemize the charges. In addition to the
price of the arrangement, most florists charge a delivery fee and taxes if you live in the
When a Rose is
- Ask the florist for directions to the shop. If they
hesitate or refuse, consider this a red flag, and avoid doing business with the florist.
What to Do If Youve Been Scammed
If you placed an order through a wire service, a
toll-free number, or a local florist, call the toll-free number of the florist and
describe the problem. Many wire services will work with the filling florist to fix the
problem or refund your money.
If your arrangement was never delivered, and you paid by
credit card, you can dispute the charges with the card issuer.
The FTC works for the consumer to
prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the
marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and
avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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