Consumer Reports puts online florists to the test

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Before you order flowers for Mother's Day - you'll want to watch the results of a Consumer Reports test. (WPVI)

People spend more on flowers for Mother's Day than they do for Valentine's Day - close to two and a half billion dollars. But before you order, you'll want to watch the results of a Consumer Reports test.

Many of us order flowers online but never get to see what actually gets delivered.

So Consumer Reports did a little undercover shopping and also learned something interesting about how to get the best price.

If you're planning to send a Mother's Day bouquet, you want it petal-perfect.

Big holiday orders put a strain on florists, so Consumer Reports ordered a variety of colored roses near another high-stress time for florists - Valentine's Day.

The long-stemmed roses were from popular online florists - ProFlowers, FTD, and 1-800-Flowers.

When the flowers arrived, they were assessed by Consumer Reports staffers. There were some surprises.

These boxed roses from ProFlowers flopped out of their protective plastic collar. All but five of the stems were broken.

A Consumer Reports editor called ProFlowers, without revealing her identity and received a fresh bouquet the next day.

Later, ProFlowers gave Consumer Reports a statement that said:

We were deeply disappointed to learn of the poor experience with ProFlowers that you recently reported. We appreciate the great responsibility and trust our customers put in our hands every day to deliver thoughtful floral gifts and sentiments to their loved ones. We are proud to have been externally recognized numerous times as having the highest customer ratings among flower companies. But if we fall short, we are committed to doing our best to make it right.

We worked with our Quality team to investigate the floral gift in question. In this particular instance, we believe the damage occurred somewhere in transit between the farms from where we source directly and your doorstep.

We deliver millions of these beautiful, delicate perishable products to our customers delight every year but understand occasionally that even with the best, freshest product and planning, damage can occur. If at any time any ProFlowers customer is not satisfied with their purchase, we hope to be given the opportunity to make it right. Our customer service team is standing by 365 days a year to assist our customers with their questions or to quickly address any issues if their expectations are not met.

If you're not satisfied, all the sites Consumer Reports checked offer a refund or a replacement. So be sure to ask your mom if her flowers arrived in good shape.

And as you're ordering, take into account the cost of shipping.

"You won't see this charge until you're checking out. We paid between $13 and $19 dollars per bouquet for shipping," said Mandy Walker from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found another surprise.

"We noticed that as we clicked around the three sites, the prices either began to drop or we were offered discount coupons. So taking your time can really pay off," said Mandy.

And because delivery costs escalate as the holiday approaches, consider sending mom her flowers a few days early.

Consumer Reports advises that the best way to keep flowers fresh is to snip a half-inch from the bottom with a sharp scissors and get them into room-temperature water immediately.

Use the flower food that's included. And remove any leaves below water level.
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