We don’t sell you flowers . . .

Recently a lovely lady approached us during calling hours to ask about the flowers she ordered. She indicated that she had purchased them from our website and the order said that the flowers would be delivered in time for the visitation. Her flowers were not on display and she was dismayed that we would make a promise like this and then not fulfill.funeral flowers

As I began to talk with her, I realized that it would be better to ask her to show me how she had ordered the flowers. We went to the office and I showed her our website. I took her to the obituary and I clicked on the “Send Flowers” link. This link is shown on every current obituary page. The link takes you to a page that shows some local florists from whom flowers may be ordered. But there is no order form, simply phone numbers and names.

She said this is not where she got the flowers; in fact, the page she used had flowers shown and choices to make and could be ordered directly from that page.

I then did a search on the obituary, which brought up the Legacy.com version as the top option in the search. I clicked on the obituary and she was very excited to see the exact page she had seen earlier.

But this page has nothing to do with us. We do not support it, nor do we benefit from it. In fact, we usually are harmed by it–as are our local florists. What we would like for each person to understand is that Legacy.com is big business.

From Wikipedia:

Legacy.com is a website founded in 1998, the world’s largest commercial provider of online memorials. The Web site hosts obituaries and memorials for more than 70 percent of all U.S. deaths. Legacy.com hosts obituaries for more than three-quarters of the 100 largest newspapers in the U.S., by circulation. The site attracts more than 30 million unique visitors per month and is among the top 40 trafficked websites in the world.

Legacy.com is a privately held company based in Evanston, Illinois, with more than 1500 newspaper affiliates in North America, Europe and Australia . . . .”

As you can see, newspapers are primarily responsible for the success of Legacy.com. Our local papers jumped onto this platform many years ago because it took away the need for them to support websites to hold myriad obituaries for their local community. They found a way to allow someone else to carry the cost of perpetual maintenance of the life stories of the people in your hometown. And that was just fine with Legacy.com because they had a larger vision.

Now you can search for an obituary from your community and land on a national clearing house that looks like it could be a page from the funeral home down the street. And on that page, they will be offering to sell you flowers, candy, balloons, chocolates, and various other comfort items.

But they are not us. They are not even the local florist. They are not even in our state. And Legacy.com makes promises that cannot be kept because they do not understand the economic and customer service dynamics of our region.

And if they cannot deliver, as was the case in my opening story, they don’t care. The lady of the story did not receive any kind of customer service call telling her there would be no flowers. She just arrived and was totally disappointed.

So, why do we allow this to happen? Shouldn’t we be the top response when someone searches for an obituary. We learned a long time ago that Legacy.com has resources that we cannot match–literally, a business has to “buy” the opportunity to be at the top of the results when a search is performed.

So “Caveat emptor” — that web site that you’re clicking on might not have anything to do with a local business. When searching obituaries, you can be sure that Legacy.com is not a “local” company and they do not support local businesses.

If you must search for a place to purchase flowers — start on the website of the funeral home handling the services. Some of those do, in fact, have ordering platforms from which you can order flowers. In these situations, the florist is not getting the full cost of the arrangement as the funeral home receives a commission.

On our site, you will find referrals to our local florists.  These establishments are in the business of flowers and provide wonderful services directly to you. They answer to you and you can bring your concerns and questions directly to them. And from them, you can expect and receive excellent service on the arrangements you need for funerals in our area.

(And please, read the other postings about bloomstoday.com, flowers.com, and other flower gathering services….)

(Just for fun – I looked up the ranking for our website. In the United States, there are 1,727,216 sites that get more traffic than does ours!)

sendflowers

Avoiding *flowers.com

Yesterday’s post may have been a bit overwhelming because I just advised you what not to do. So now what, you’ve found the FTD site and located just the right arrangement. And you’ve nearly completed the ordering process only to be told that “We do not deliver in your area(!)” I understand your frustration.

Let’s not get all hung up on FTD; there is another source for flowers. The local florist. In our very rural area, we are very blessed to have several resources to go to … Doug’s Flowers, Way-to-Go Florist and Greenhouse, Kent Farms, Tami’s Floral Expressions, Hannigan’s. These florists are spread throughout our county and over into the adjacent county. Some of them will deliver to both of our locations; some to only one depending upon where they are located.

We love all of our local florists. They bring in your flowers looking so lovely and professional. If a stem gets broken along the way they provide a new one, or do what they need to in order to make the arrangement look great. They never expect the funeral director to fix a floral problem. They deliver, rain or shine, hot or cold, at just the right time all with a smile and a friendly greeting.

And we happily feature their information on our website, in the “Resources” section.

In looking at funeral home web pages, you will see that most of them offer some sort of assistance in choosing a flower source. If there is no suggestion, simply call the funeral home and ask them for referrals. It is much simpler give out a list of merchants over the phone than to be responsible for getting boxed flowers to look good in the vase.

You could choose an alternative to sending flowers. Many obituaries single out charities that were significant to the deceased. Donations to these organizations in the name of the deceased are encouraged. The organization that receives the donation will send a note to the family indicating that you sent a monetary gift, so you can be assured that your tribute is not just falling into a black hole somewhere.

You could choose to just send a card of condolence to the next-of-kin. Either to the one who is closest to the deceased or the person with whom you have a relationship. You don’t need to fill it with words. Just a simple expression that you are sorry for their loss is sufficient.

And finally, if the area supports it, in a week just order a pizza to be delivered to the family. By then everything will have quieted down, the leftovers will all be gone, and no one will yet be up to cooking.

pizza-capricciosa

*flowers.COM

This posting begins the new category of “unsolicited advice.” Because sometimes, you just have to say it.

Don’t send internet flowers. If it has to be UPS’d, Fedex’d or DHL Express’d … just don’t do it. Boxed flowers are not going to be a satisfying experience. I think I can give you some compelling reasons to avoid this manner of expressing your sympathy.

  1. They don’t arrive in a timely fashion. — Often, boxed flowers arrive at the funeral home at a peak activity time. This means that your funeral director and his staff are occupied with the business of preparing for a funeral. When boxed flowers arrive, someone has to devote considerable time and attention to this service. If things are going smoothly in the funeral home, then the boxed flowers will get reasonable attention. If there are complications in the funeral home, the boxed flowers will fall to a low priority.
  2. They don’t arrive IN TIME. We returned from a post-funeral dinner to find this on our porch.img_20161111_125014560
  3. The flowers require a great deal of work. Just getting the product out of the packaging is time consuming. Next, the discovery is made that all the stems come in the same length. This means either dropping the conglomeration into the vase “as is” or trimming stems — and that takes time.
  4. A beautiful bouquet is dependent upon the skills of the arranger. Funeral directors and their staff may not be (read this: are not) trained and accomplished florists. Try as we might, the end result is not going to go so well. Those stems need to be trimmed and bows fluffed and just so much primping to make a bouquet look right.
  5. The flowers are not going to arrive in good condition. Consider the weather. If it is down to freezing at night, those flowers are going to wilt. If it is below freezing at night, those flowers are going to freeze. Alternatively, if there is a heatwave, the flowers are going to show the damage. Consider the weather from where the blooms begin their journey all the way to where the journey ends. At any point in the transport, your daisies are susceptible to some sort of weather related incident. The merchandiser likes for you to believe that flowers are resilient and will “perk back up” but, well, you know.
  6. You will be disappointed. Well, if you’re sending internet flowers, chances are you won’t even see them. But the display will be a disappointing tribute of your affection. Take a look at the images below.

box-flowers

In the “What they got” image, you cannot tell that the rose tips are all brown.

box-flowers2

In this example, the item that they purchased was named “Stunning White Lily” arrangement. None of the lilies were in bloom. The snapdragons were suffering from having been too cold. The directions on the box were followed exactly. This arrangement arrived about 40 minutes before calling hours. Though the box promised that warm water would induce the blooms to open, the lead time was not sufficient to make that happen. The blooms on this arrangement did emerge three days later.

The blue accents were added. Though a person could not tell it by looking, the arrangement actually looked worse without the additions.

While the marketing on the outside of the boxes pledged “Better Flowers,” I believe that the actual product fell far short of meeting the promise.

I have given you only two examples. But not once has the final result with boxed flowers led me to believe that this internet product is a good value.