JACKSONVILLE, FLa. -- Valentine's Day. It's a day to show your love to that special person.
It's also a day to spend money.
Consumers will spend billions of dollars this Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation, with the average person shelling out $116 on traditional merchandise.
An expected $1.7 billion will be spent on flowers.
Roses are a popular choice for Valentine's Day, but there are many options.
First Coast News set out to find which roses are the best quality and the best value.
We ordered six sets of one dozen red roses: three from online companies ProFlowers, FTD and 1-800-Flowers; two orders from markets; and one from a local florist we picked at random, Deerwood Florist.
We didn't specify long-stemmed; we just picked the cheapest arrangement we saw.
The flowers were ordered at the same time and all delivered the same day.
That morning we picked up the market flowers at Walmart and Publix, asking for the freshest they had. Publix brought out a new shipment.
Deerwood Florist delivered their arrangement.
Roses from ProFlowers, FTD and 1-800-Flowers arrived via UPS and FedEx, each in a box.
We followed directions noted by each company to put the arrangements together.
After the roses were trimmed and arranged, we grabbed unsuspecting co-workers to guess which was which.
Most were suprised to learn which were which.
For full disclosure, instructions from ProFlowers, 1-800-Flowers and FTD said to give the flowers around 15 hours to rehydrate. We did not wait before our test because we wanted to closely mimic what the flowers look like on Valentine's Day; the same day they were delivered.
Here's the breakdown for the total of each, including a vase from that company and all shipping costs and fees:
FTD - $80.91
Deerwood Florist - $73.72
ProFlowers - $53.46
1-800-Flowers - $51.34
Publix - $21.38
Walmart - $18.16
After one day of rehydration and all instructions followed, did they look like the advertised picture?
We'll let you decide if the actual product was worse or better, but it's safe to say none of them looked like the picture.
We contacted each of those four companies to find out if they felt the advertised picture accurately represented their product.
A representative of ProFlowers issued astatement saying: "Yes, we believe that the representation of our product on ProFlowers.com is an accurate portrayal of the flowers that we sell."
1-800-Flowers did not respond to our question, instead issuing a statement saying a customer can request a refund or redelivery if not satisfied.
A statement from FTD suggested that we received "Premium long-stemmed roses" instead of the ones depicted on the website causing the arrangement to look less full.
We met up with Deerwood Florist owner Bert Williams to show him the pictures and ask him in person.
Erin Hawley: "Would you agree that it doesn't look like the picture?"
Bert Williams: "Absolutely, it doesn't look like the picture."
The picture on the Deerwood Florist website doesn't come from Williams' store. Most local florists, like Deerwood, are associated with a larger company. Deerwood Florist is a part of Teleflora Network, which sets most of the store's base prices, supplies the flowers and website - including pictures.
Erin Hawley: "Do you think it's fair to show a product that isn't what you're going to be getting?"
Bert Williams: "Well in my opinion, this is very much what they're getting. In fact, not only are they getting that, but they're getting a little bit of an upgrade. This is full of greenery."
Williams added, "This is the best picture that they're going to have. So obviously the actual product is not going to look exactly like the picture."
We also kept an eye on the changing prices.
One dozen roses at Walmart, without a vase, went from $12.00 to $15.00 the day before Valentine's Day.
Publix roses alone increased from $14.99 to $19.99.
ProFlowers went from $29.99 on January 12th to $34.99, $39.99, and $49.99 Monday.
The price of the vase also increased $1.
A representative told us, "We change our prices based on flower availability and customer demand."
We followed up, asking again why the price of the vase increased but did not receive a reply.
1-800-Flowers went from $34.99 to $44.99, then $54.99, then down to $44.99 Monday. Their statement also notes, "During peak seasons, due to consumer demand, product prices may vary."
The price for FTD roses went from $59.99 down to $49.99 and then back up to $59.99 Monday. Their statement did not address the price change.
Our order at Deerwood Florist was $57.95. Last week, the price increased to $109.99.
Williams said the increase was due to consumer demand.
The price at Deerwood Florist dropped to $69.99 Monday.
The results: most of our completely unofficial guessers spotted the florist arrangment easily.
But the rest were a toss up.
For $21.37 from Walmart and $24.98 dollars from Publix, it was agreed those roses are the best deal.
STATEMENTS FROM THE FLORISTS
We appreciate you using ProFlowers and we're sorry that your order didn't meet our high quality standards.
If you haven't already, we encourage you to contact our customer service department directly regarding your order--1-800.580.2913. Although every order can't be perfect because we deliver a perishable product, this is what we strive for on each and every ProFlowers order. If any ProFlowers sender or recipient is unsatisfied with their ProFlowers order for any reason, we will replace it. That is our policy 365 days/year and what our business and world-class quality reputation is built on.
1) Yes, we believe that the representation of our product on ProFlowers.com is an accurate portrayal of the flowers that we sell.
2) We are sorry that you were unhappy with your ProFlowers order. We take tremendous pride in the quality of our flowers and the fact that your roses never fully opened is one of the rare occasions where the quality was not up to our standards and for that, we sincerely apologize.
As you may know, ProFlowers flowers has delivered more than 40 million bouquets since our inception on Valentine's Day in 1998. Our flowers are shipped fresh from the growers to you or your recipient's doorstep. Because our flowers avoid extended stays in warehouses, trucks and florist's coolers, we are able to guarantee you the highest quality flowers available. We will never compromise on your flower's freshness or longevity and all of our products are backed by a 7-Day Freshness 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
3) As with all flower companies and local florists, the law of supply and demand applies to red roses as Valentine's Day nears. We change our prices based on flower availability and customer demand. Because of our business model, we are able to offer a higher quality product at competitive prices backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
"At 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, we pride ourselves in helping our customers deliver a smile with our truly original arrangements. We offer a 100% Smile Guarantee; therefore, if a customer is not completely satisfied with their order, our caring team obsessed with service will redeliver, refund, credit or offer a comparable exchange. During peak seasons, due to consumer demand, product prices may vary, however, as we offer quality products, exceptional customer service and value, we encourage our customers to shop our array of product offerings at many price points, so they can express themselves perfectly to the important people in their lives."
Vice President, Enterprise Public Relations
"We sincerely apologize that your FTD order did not meet your expectations. Our goal is to delight each and every customer and to ensure our customers shop with the utmost confidence. We make every effort to deliver each arrangement as shown on the FTD.com Website. In this case, we are glad that your roses were fresh and lasted through your 7 day guarantee. Regarding the fullness of the bouquet, it appears that the stems on the arrangement you received appear to be premium, longer stems than those of the roses depicted on the Website resulting in the arrangement looking higher and appearing less full. To help the stems perform best and to obtain the appearance you seek, we recommend in our instructions to: "Trim at least 2 inches off the end of each stem on an angle. Size the bouquet to fit your vase." Trimming the roses a bit more would allow them to fit the vase better and appear fuller as shown in the photo.
In addition, we typically ship our roses earlier in their lifespan in order to make sure the customer can enjoy them longer when they reach their fullest bloom.
Our policy is to ensure quality and freshness through our The FTD 'Good as Gold' 7 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. Additionally, any time a customer is not satisfied with FTD products or services for whatever reason, our customer care department can be reached 24 hours a day 7 days a week at 800-SEND-FTD to facilitate a redelivery or refund."
Rob Apatoff, President, FTD