We set out to determine the best place for cheap flower delivery by comparing price, customer service, and the quality of bouquets from 1-800-Flowers, FTD, ProFlowers, and Teleflora, as well as independent florists across the country. If budget is your bottom line, our price survey shows that ProFlowers is probably the way to go. ProFlowers charged about $6 less altogether than second-place 1-800-Flowers to deliver a dozen roses. However, online reviews suggest that quality can be hit or miss, not just from ProFlowers but from all the major flower delivery services. 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. Using a local florist is a better bet for shoppers willing to pay a bit more in hopes of getting a better product.
|Dozen Roses||Standard Weekday Delivery||Same-Day Delivery||Same-Day-Delivery Deadline|
|Local Florists||$60 - $79.95||$8.50 - $15||No extra charge||Varies (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.)|
|1-800-Flowers||$59.99||$14.99||$2.99||2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. |
1 p.m. Sat., 11:30 a.m. Sun.
|FTD||$75.00||$17.99||$4.99||2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.|
|ProFlowers||$49.98||$15.99 + $2.99 care and handling||$4.99||2 p.m. Mon.-Fri.|
1 p.m. Sat.
|Teleflora||$74.99||$16.99||$1.99||3 p.m. Mon.-Fri. |
12 p.m. Sat. or Sun.
For our cost comparison, we gathered prices for a dozen long-stem pink roses with 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. Another important note about ProFlowers: The service charges higher delivery fees than any other vendor, and Saturday delivery fees are particularly steep (expect to add $9.99 to your order).
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 $91.98 and $92.99, respectively.
The average combined cost of flowers and delivery from local florists worked out to $81.88 ($68.35 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 St. Cloud, Minnesota, charged $73.49 — less than most online services but still more than ProFlowers.
Note that coupon codes for all the major flower delivery services are frequently available on deal 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 Quality and Variety
Clearly prices can vary wildly even for the same types of flowers and number of stems. A dozen roses at the supermarket might fetch $15 or $20 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 pricey 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.
A recent TopTenReviews comparison gives the overall nod to 1-800-Flowers, which sent a bouquet of large-bloomed, long-lasting roses. ProFlowers earns praise for sending an incredibly affordable arrangement with similar staying power, although reviewers note that arranging it themselves was less-than-ideal, and the flowers weren’t in full bloom. Teleflora’s bouquet was lovely upon arrival but lasted only six days, while FTD’s bouquet arrived with beautiful but small blooms.
When Consumer Reports compared bouquets of a dozen multicolored roses from FTD, ProFlowers, and 1-800-Flowers, 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, while 1-800-Flowers was a runner-up with more inconsistent quality.
Local florists fill orders for FTD, 1-800-Flowers, Teleflora, and, in limited cases, ProFlowers, but buying direct often results in nicer flowers. Amy McCord Jones of Oklahoma-based Flower Moxie, an online business that sells blooms to do-it-yourself brides nationwide, says the business local florists get from big online players has progressively become much less profitable. “Over the years, these large companies began adding additional charges that resulted in ‘death by fees’ to the small, local florist fulfilling the orders,” she says. “The result of these extra charges means consumers are not getting the full value of their money, because the fulfilling florist has to cut corners by using cheaper, filler flowers or older product to make it slightly profitable.”
Although the primary flowers in an arrangement should be comparable to an online photo, the finished product still depends on available inventory. 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.
Sydney and Cornelia Peterson, owners and founders of Sacred Thistle in Denver, Colorado, point out that most online services promise customers certain types of flowers year-round, which means prices can spike when those flowers aren’t naturally in season, and they won’t always look their best. Independent florists have the flexibility to offer better bouquets for the money. “We handpick everything at markets weekly, ensuring we are delivering the freshest and best quality we can, and seasonally utilize local farms,” they told Cheapism via email.
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. “Local florists usually have their own flavor of arrangements, as well as a more seasonal selection of floral elements, to best reflect what’s looking good at the time,” the Peterson sisters said in their email. “We custom-make every arrangement, and work with each individual to make sure they get something special.”
Online flower delivery sites make the ordering process easy, letting you choose from hundreds of flower arrangements, vases, and other gifts from the comfort of home. But reviews 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."
1-800-Flowers emerged as the top major online flower retailer in a recent customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, followed closely by FTD. ProFlowers, which had traditionally held the top spot, earned a below-average rating, weighed down by low marks for everything except pricing. Teleflora was not ranked this year, but in the 2018 report, it 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.
Florist McCord Jones says the better reviews of local shops are not at all surprising. “When you order from a local florist with a solid reputation, you should receive higher quality blooms, less filler, and better service, because that business has more skin in the game and has a larger profit margin to create better arrangements.”
Delivery Charges and Taxes
The 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 can rise on weekends and around major holidays; they also may be costlier for larger arrangements and same-day delivery.
Standard delivery fees for a dozen roses ordered online ranged from $14.99 at 1-800-Flowers to $18.98 ($15.99 for delivery, plus a $2.99 care and handling fee) at ProFlowers. For delivery the day before Mother's Day, ProFlowers' charges jumped to a steep $28.97, with a $9.99 Saturday delivery fee on top of the standard charge. That's more than half the price of the flowers themselves. The other major delivery services also increased their fees around Mother's Day, but none as much as ProFlowers. The delivery fee at FTD, the next highest, was just $6 more.
Even if it's not a holiday, online delivery services still may charge extra weekend delivery fees or increase delivery fees on other days (presumably based on supply and demand). For procrastinators who order flowers the same day they want them delivered, FTD and ProFlowers tack on the highest fees, at $4.99; Teleflora charges the least: $1.99.
Among the local florists we surveyed, delivery fees ranged from $8.50 to $15. They averaged out to $13.53 — a bit more reasonable than the nationwide delivery services. Notably, none of the 10 local florists we surveyed charged a higher fee for delivery the day before Mother's Day. None charged extra for same-day delivery, and all allowed free in-store 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 three states, while 1-800-Flowers collects tax for delivery to 15 states. FTD is most likely to tack on sales tax; customers pay extra for delivery in almost all states. Of course, you're always on the hook for sales tax with a local florist.