Whatever the occasion, sending flowers shows someone you care. Online flower delivery sites make the process easy, letting you choose from hundreds of flower arrangements, vases, and other gifts from the comfort of home. We set out to determine which online providers deliver the best cheap flowers by considering price, customer service, and the quality of the goods. Our research included reading customer reviews, looking at comparative tests by other outlets, and consulting independent florists.
Scores of complaints about late deliveries, missing or incorrect orders, and last-minute fees convinced us that no big-name site is a slam-dunk. If budget is your bottom line, ProFlowers is probably the way to go. ProFlowers charged $6 less than second-place 1-800-Flowers to deliver a dozen roses. However, reviews suggest that quality can be hit or miss, not just from ProFlowers but from all the major flower delivery services. Using a local florist may be a better bet for shoppers willing to pay a bit more in hopes of getting a better product.
|Price of a Dozen Roses||Standard Weekday Delivery||Sat. Delivery (Mother’s Day Weekend)||Same-Day-Delivery Surcharge||Same-Day-Delivery Deadline|
|1-800-Flowers||$59.99||$14.99||$19.98||None||2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 1 p.m. Sat., 11:30 a.m. Sun.|
|FTD||$74.99||$17.99||$23.99||$4.99||2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.|
|ProFlowers||$49.98||$15.99 + $2.99 care and handling||$20.98 + $2.99 care and handling||$4.99||
2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.,
1 p.m. Sat.
|Teleflora||$72.95||$15.99||$17.99||$1.99||3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon Sat. or Sun.|
|Local Florists||$59.95-$79.95||$8.50-$15||Standard fee applies at 9 of 10 florists||None||Varies from noon to 3 p.m.|
PriceFor our cost comparison, we gathered prices for a dozen long-stem pink roses in a clear glass vase from FTD, 1-800-Flowers, ProFlowers, and Teleflora. We also averaged prices from 10 local florists across the country in a mix of higher- and lower-cost areas. Our analysis included delivery fees, which can add a hefty amount to the bill for any floral arrangement.
ProFlowers, the cheapest service, would deliver the flowers for a total of $68.96. Note that ProFlowers, unlike its competitors, sends boxed flowers directly from growers. If you want the initial "wow" factor of flowers presented in a vase, that's not what you get here. Although you can order a vase, the recipient still has to put together the arrangement themselves.
The second-cheapest service in our comparison, 1-800-Flowers, charged $74.98. Teleflora and FTD were by far the most expensive options, with flowers and delivery fees totaling $88.94 and $92.98, respectively.
The average combined cost of flowers and delivery from a local florist worked out to $80.66 ($67.38 for the flowers alone), which put them squarely in the middle of our price comparison. On the high end, a New York City florist quoted $94.90 for flowers and delivery, while on the low end, a florist in Jacksonville, Florida, charged $72.90 — less than most online services but still a bit more than ProFlowers.
Note that coupon codes for all the major flower delivery services are frequently available on sites like RetailMeNot, and local florists often have promotions or coupon codes on their own websites. However, we did not take advantage of any special offers when pricing out flowers, as they change frequently and aren't always available.
Flower QualityClearly prices can vary wildly even for the same types of flowers and number of stems. A dozen roses at the supermarket might fetch $15 while a dozen roses at a flower shop may eclipse $100. Is the extra cost worth it? Possibly. Higher-quality flowers generally look better and last longer. Higher prices don't necessarily translate to higher quality, however.
Plenty of consumers reviewing the big flower delivery services online were incredulous at arrangements that showed up looking substantially less healthy than in online photos. If you order flowers online, it's important to remember that the pictures will typically show all the blooms artificially tilted toward the camera, creating the impression of a larger arrangement than you'll actually receive. Flower deliveries are often made by FedEx or UPS, and depending on weather and handling, flowers may arrive damaged or wilted.
Consumer Reports compared bouquets of a dozen multicolored roses from FTD, ProFlowers, and 1-800-Flowers, and no provider came up smelling like roses. The ProFlowers arrangement had only five intact flowers when it arrived, and the roses from 1-800-Flowers were substantially less full than the online picture showed. FTD's arrangement was the best of the three, but still a bit lackluster compared with what was promised.
FTD also prevailed in a Reviews.com comparison of several floral delivery services; 1-800-Flowers was a runner-up with more inconsistent quality. Tests by NBC's "Today" of FTD, 1-800-Flowers, and Teleflora found fault with all three services, especially FTD, which sent two subpar bouquets and overlooked a third order entirely.
It's true that local florists fill orders for FTD, 1-800-Flowers, and Teleflora, but buying direct often results in nicer flowers. Some florists actually lose money by taking orders from these services. One seller told us he sacrifices a hunk of his profit to the referring site and consequently may cut a corner here or there to buoy his margin. A different shopkeeper said orders coming through the online system include a price and a "recipe" that he's contractually obligated to follow. But with a direct order, he keeps all the profit and may throw in something extra to spruce up the arrangement.
Flower VarietyAlthough the primary flowers in an arrangement should be comparable to an online photo, the finished product also depends on the local florist's inventory or what's in stock at the warehouse or in the grower's shed. Most sites post a disclaimer alerting customers that they reserve the right to make substitutions, and they will — sometimes quite liberally.
Still, with some specific items, you'd expect the order to be filled as described. In a test of flower delivery services conducted by Consumer Warning Network, an order for 12 long-stemmed roses placed with Teleflora showed up as a mixed bouquet with three short roses. A number of customer reviews indicate this is a relatively frequent occurrence when ordering flowers online.
By calling up a local florist, you can discuss what's in stock, potentially eliminating any nasty surprises. Going into the shop in person, if possible, lets you see what you can really get, instead of a too-good-to-be-true photo. If you're not sure what to choose, the florist can steer you toward flowers you may not have considered that can make for a unique arrangement, especially for someone who has already received their fair share of roses or tulips. Another approach is to leave it up to the florist to choose the best-quality flowers within a set price range.
Customer ServiceReviews of the major flower delivery services contain numerous reports from customers who claim to have turned to local florists after bad experiences with online providers. While there are certainly some positive reviews of flower delivery services, the overall impression is "buyer beware."
ProFlowers emerged as the top online flower retailer in a recent customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, followed closely by 1-800-Flowers. FTD earned a below-average rating, weighed down by its pricing and customer service, and Teleflora finished last, with low scores across the board.
All four get uniformly poor reviews on sites like Yelp, Sitejabber, Consumer Affairs, and Trustpilot. Among the litany of complaints: undelivered orders, rude and unhelpful phone representatives, and arrangements that looked completely different from the online description. To be sure, angry consumers may be more motivated than satisfied ones to post feedback, and some flower delivery reviews are positive. But overall, we were struck by the preponderance of negative reviews and found that many consumers have vowed to buy only from local providers.
Local flower shops, on the other hand, earn mostly favorable reviews. For instance, the local florists we contacted have received plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews on sites including Yelp and Google from customers who rave about the quality of the arrangements, helpful service, and reliable delivery.
Delivery Charges and TaxesThe major flower delivery sites come in for particularly scathing criticism in reviews for tacking on myriad service or shipping fees toward the very end of the ordering process. Delivery charges often rise on weekends and around major holidays; they also may be costlier for larger arrangements.
Delivery fees for a dozen roses ordered online ranged from $14.99 (1-800-Flowers) to $17.99 (FTD). For delivery the day before Mother's Day, charges jumped as high as $23.99 (again, FTD). For procrastinators who order flowers the same day they want them delivered, FTD and ProFlowers tack on another fee of up to $4.99.
Among the local florists we surveyed, delivery fees ranged from $8.50 to $15. They averaged out to $13.28 — a bit more reasonable than the nationwide delivery services. Notably, all but one of the 10 local florists we surveyed did not charge a higher fee for delivery the day before Mother's Day. None charged extra for same-day delivery, and all allowed free pickup — a big money saver if you're giving flowers to someone nearby and are willing to do a little legwork.
A word about sales tax: You don't always have to pay it if you go through a delivery service like FTD, 1-800-Flowers, ProFlowers, or Teleflora. For instance, Teleflora charges sales tax for delivery to only four states. 1-800-Flowers is the most likely to tack on sales tax; customers pay extra for delivery in 19 states. Of course, you're always on the hook for sales tax with a local florist.