Is Your Florist Really Local?
The florist scam works by overcharging buyers on shipping and delivery costs. The companies do this by misrepresenting themselves and advertising as a local company. The individual places an order, are given one quote, and then find that additional charges were added to the final order after they granted approval or verification. While this scam sounds simple, it’s actually fairly involved.
The floral scam begins with the fake company finding a wire service that’s willing to pose as a local company. The fake company uses the wire service’s information on all their advertisements and websites to further the lie. They then find an advertising publisher to accept the payment and continue to help the fake company continue the lies about their location.
Often times these companies buy phone numbers for local areas and then forward any calls made to that number. A customer calls one location thinking they’re speaking to a local florist when they’re actually talking to a call center hours away. These companies even buy fake listings in smaller phonebooks and list their services online using fake addresses. They typically run scams in multiple cities at one time.
Once a user places an order online or over the telephone, the florist adds a large surcharge to pay for shipping and delivery fees. There are some scams that work as affiliates for reputable companies like FTD or Teleflora. Those reputable companies receive a portion of the overcharge, as do the advertisers and other businesses associated with the scam. In some cases the scammer takes the money and never sends the flowers to the recipient.
There are many companies offering information about the florists scam. One of the best is the Florist Detective, which offers several variations on the scam and information for users on how to report the crime. The Society of American Florists also lists variations on the scam, including updated stories from people who were scammed.
Other websites with information on this scam include The Ripoff Report, Florist Talk-Avoiding the Local Florist Scam, and Bank-Rate.
When an individual finds that they’ve been scammed by one of these fake florists, they should begin by making a formal complaint. An online complaint can be filed through the Federal Trade Commission. The complaint assistant form on their website gives users step by step information on filing a complaint. The US Department of Justice is another place where consumers can complain. They maintain a hotline for those who have been scammed over the Internet.
Shoppers can avoid the florist scam by shopping from a real life local florist. This may involve visiting the shop directly or checking for the store’s listing in an offline phone book. Those still interested in shopping online can try visiting a few websites to find information and an address for the company. The Florists Directory lists flower shops by the state and city or the zip code and has an easy to use search function. The Google run Floratopia! also lists real life floral shops and works to eliminate any scam companies and those with official complaints against them. The Preferred Florists Association is also a good source of information because flower shops must pay to list their company here and many of the scammers refuse to do that. Using one of these sites helps eliminate the scammers and focus on finding real life flower shops.