1-800-FLOWERS, for when you absolutely don’t care about getting a terrific experience


I have a shocking confession to make. I’m a nerd. A colossal, boring, asocial nerd, and a homely one at that, and I always have been. You might also be surprised to learn that I totally lack all confidence in myself and my appearance, and it only takes a little bit to impress me.

So I was dating this girl once upon a time…a girl who totally outclassed me in all regards. This was the standard scenario: I was the typical dirt-poor nebbish with the glasses and the weird focus on science, and I had acquired this fascination with this one very attractive, smart, well-dressed, significantly-more-popular-than-me girl, and I had one day decided that I would be bold and ask her out on a date. I’d do it that night.

I didn’t. I’d looked up her phone number, though, and had it written down, and that had been nerve-wracking enough for one day’s labor. I’d do it the next night.

The next day I memorized her number. I still remember it: 852-1177 (don’t worry, the area code has since changed, and she has moved away anyway). I was ready. But then I realized that I didn’t know what to say. How do you do that ask-her-out-on-a-date thing? Was I supposed to be cute or clever? Was small talk expected? I better wait and plan this out.

It took me a few weeks to gather my courage, and there were a few false starts where I started to dial, and then chickened out. I eventually managed to stammer my way through a conversation, and we actually went out on a date! I know, you can hardly believe it. I couldn’t either.

Better still, the second time was easier, and we went out regularly for that entire summer. We went out for three months, and then I got really adventurous, and one night, as I dropped her off on the doorstep and was about to go back to my parents’ station wagon and drive home, I was so bold as to ask her for a good night kiss (don’t be horrified; this was long ago, when lifespans were short and you never knew when a sabre-toothed tiger might leap out at you and end all your aspirations, so we had to work fast when romancing the ladies). I was prepared that she might laugh, or be offended, and send me packing, and then I’d be shattered. Would probably have gone looking for a hungry sabre-tooth afterwards.

But she actually kissed me! She couldn’t have had more of an effect if she’d triggered the spring-loaded trap door in the floor and launched me to Puyallup. For the very first time ever, I felt like maybe somebody liked me and there was a bit of hope in my future. I remember every millisecond of that kiss even now. Apologies to the Princess Bride, but this is wrong:

Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.

There was a sixth and superior one, it just didn’t get mentioned in the book. Probably because Goldman wouldn’t want his central characters upstaged.

And I swore that I’d always remember it, and that every year I’d do something for that girl to remind myself of that moment, for at least as long as she’d have anything to do with me. So I got her a flower a year later. And another, or a bouquet the year after, and the year after that, and the year after that.

That kiss was in the late evening hours of 18 August 1976, which means that I’ve given almost 40 sets of flowers so far. Almost. It didn’t happen this year. I was going to this student retreat this weekend, so I figured I’d just have them delivered this time, and I placed my order with that 1-800-FLOWERS place, and go off to my inescapable obligation.

They failed to deliver. I thought it would just be late, which is OK. I found myself checking the tracking info a dozen times while I was away, and it was always this cryptic “Status: Pending Delivery Confirmation” which wasn’t very helpful, but I figured it would get there eventually, while I was away.

It didn’t. Still hasn’t, and I’m home now.

It’s not a huge deal — we don’t make a big celebration of this event, and usually I just quietly put some flowers in a vase, and don’t even mention it. But I find it just kind of rankles, you know. I tried tracking down what happened, but when I go to their page, and I see the founder smiling there, with this quote, I just give up.


Nope. Abso-freaking-not. Here’s a tiny little thing that means a lot to me, and I paid them to do the most basic, simplest, no-frills thing their service offers, and it was not a terrific experience, and there’s nothing they can do to fix it.

Especially not when, after they eventually acknowledged their failure, they emailed me a coupon for less than a third of the price of the flowers I’d ordered and suggested I try them again.

I think not. I’ll never trust them with my business again.

I’ll stick with my girl, though.


  1. DonDueed says

    Well, that’s sad. I’ve used 1-800-FLOWERS several times in the past, and they have always delivered high quality flowers when promised.

  2. Matrim says

    I’ve been largely unimpressed with all online flower services (FTD, 1-800, etc.), and have learned that such services generally give you subpar results and are bad for the business that act as their distributors. I, too, do the once a year flowers thing for a lady friend of mine, and I’ve found that simply ordering from a local flow shop that delivers (which is most of them) gets better results at a comparable price. Plus it’s better for the local businesses.

  3. wzrd1 says

    I’m a bit odd in one way, if I pay for something and I don’t receive it, I don’t care if it cost a nickle, I’ll get that nickle back *and* let the entire planet know about the shoddy service not provided by the company that fundamentally breached our contract.
    Note the term, it’s a highly specific legal term, you have absolutely no hope that the other party will actually bother to fulfill its contract and you’ve faithfully explained that entire concept here.
    I’m dick enough to spend thousands of dollars in my billable hours time, just to recover that nickle, recover damages of some sort or another, just to make a point.
    But then, we’ve been married for over 34 years and hence, don’t really have a personal life. ;)

    That all said, we don’t do the flowers thing, none of my old girlfriends, back when the monotremes common ancestor was still tripping me up were about, definitely not now. Allergies and waste. A living plant, yes, a dying flower, no, a rose, hell no, she’s allergic.
    Besides, I prefer my flowers steamed, broccoli, artichokes, various and sundry other edible flowers that my wife also doesn’t eat, yes. To us, a rose is a damned weed that’s nearly as bad as ragweed.

    But, I’d be the biggest PR nightmare that company ever had a nightmare of, just on general principle.

    Oh, for the record, should anyone ever be tempted (yeah, that’s beyond belief indeed) to send me flowers or something, send a fruit basket. She somewhat tolerates and will eat *some* of the fruit, I’ll strap the feed bag behind my ears and graze. ;)
    Well, save for a bag of grapes I just purchased, “Cotton Candy grapes”, billed to taste like cotton candy. No, not at all, but they are intolerably sweet.
    I’m more than capable of obliterating a bag of cherries, grapes or other fruit in those bags you see in the supermarket, these, way too sweet. So sweet, if I juiced them and tried to ferment them, the yeast would likely die from the hypertonic solution!
    That said, watermelon, honeydew are always welcome (the wife hates both), cantaloupe for her, cherries for mostly me (she’ll try a few and quit), other fruits are mutually enjoyed.

    Side humor from the joking rant. I planted a *lot* of cucumber seeds into my germinating planter, then transplanted the ball into the garden.
    Somehow, one single plant survived and thrived. A honeydew melon plant.
    Don’t ask me, I ain’t figured out how *that* happened! One melon was lost to a local mammal, the other is much better guarded.
    Having supertankers of wasps here, I trained a squadron… ;)
    OK, not really, but a bit of wire fabric is always a good idea for one’s garden. That means, worms will get this one.
    As, I do organic gardening, stones are totally wrong for my garden. Oh, I mean, I’m too damned cheap to spring for chemicals. ;)

    Pity though, I’d have enjoyed cucumber salad, although my wife loathes cucumbers, they repeat on her.

    Wandering back to topic, if they take my money and entirely fundamentally breach our contract, I want every damned mil back, let alone cent. I also retain the right to raise merry hell over, “You only had one job”.
    But then, I’m a man of principle, the primary principle being, I’m a cheap bastard that doesn’t have money to just toss away for nothing whatsoever. I’ve also had everything I’ve owned stolen from me several times in my life. Hence, I become a tremendous dick about being ripped off.
    And the personal satisfaction of seeing every mil of money that I spent sent back, with profuse apologies is indeed immensely satisfying.
    That said, failing satisfaction, I do have a gun and would have no problem applying a generous layer of grease to their doorsteps to their main office with it.
    With a sign very high up reading, “Warning, wet grease on step, use care!” Only viewable from said step.*

    *OK, not really, some day, I just very well actually discover a grease fitting under a newer car and need that grease.
    KY jelly on the top stair tread of the stairwell works far better. It dries rather quickly into an unrecognizable residue, it’s extremely effective and yeah, I actually did that once to someone.
    We’ll suffice it to say, not a soul in that battalion found fault in that specific dirty trick. If he didn’t learn his lesson on the first landing, he was disoriented enough to try to stand on slicked boot soles and he fell down a second landing.
    He was a model citizen after that.
    Of course, I did treat his injuries and have him medically evacuated to a hospital. Kneeling upon his forearm while evaluating him.
    Responsive to painful stimuli, check. Responsive to sternal rub, check…**

    **No, I didn’t, but I was indeed sorely tempted.
    I do admit to a character flaw, I am a very, very, very vindictive man. I’m also creative and patient, within that context. I’ve taken years to reward some untoward activity of another. One individual, it’s been twenty years and I’m gradually moving toward settling that problem.
    Worse, I don’t give a shit about MAD. I grew up around Mutually Assured Destruction, cut my weaning teeth, militarily in it, have no truck with it. That worked well with assholes near and far, for that makes me their emperor.
    As a really cool dad, who successfully raised two children to adulthood (out of 16 pregnancies), yeah, there are times one must be an asshole.
    I’m just surprised how natural it is for me. ;)

    Come on, work with me on that one, expand it!
    I didn’t create this missive of bovine defecation, with partial truth for nothing.
    Partial or full truths, the KY thing actually happened to a barracks bully, who made the grave error of bullying one of my team and I was too busy to personally attend to the matter.
    I also do indeed own a grease gun, in sore need of locating a grease fitting on a modern car! I’m seriously giving my age away here.
    I am indeed enough of a dick to get *all* of my money back and force an apology from the company. Obviously, I’m not above ustilizing somewhat extra-legal means, short of actual terrorism. Documents could suddenly show up trivially available, e-mails, the same, a network might become utterly unusable, etc.
    The only way I don’t accept face value is, if I screwed up an order and it had to be restocked, everyone admits a screwup and the order gets filled late, “oops, here’s your money back, we royally screwed the pooch there, we apologize”.
    Doubling the order is a nice touch, but I didn’t order a double order, fix it, we’ll move on, assuming you’ll address the screwup.
    That said, I do have one final, extra-legal method available to me, should all other methods fail.
    I’ll tied the bastard’s shoelaces together around a table rung. Twice.***

    ***I’m infamous for infiltrating our own units during a training mission, as opposing force and catching sleeping centries, tying their shoelaces together or worse, together, around a very close small tree.
    As I’ve long been infamous for doing the unexpected, under those infiltration conditions, I brought the B team in, the crew served weapons team (machineguns, etc). Such a racket is utterly disconcerting to one and all, to those unsuspecting and worse, asleep, well, I have pictures of men jumping up to immediately kiss a tree.
    Said men deployed before I did, as I was too busy training many to deploy, the aforementioned redeployed home and actually thanked me.

    Dirty tricks, yeah, harming someone, they’d have to work seriously long and hard to earn such a thing, indeed, causing ICU type of harm to earn that.
    Otherwise, you’ve heard of the unibomber? I’m the stinkabomber at worst.
    Usually, I’m simply a stinker.

    /rant off. Meds seem to be carrying me away. While pain medication is cool for removing pain, they can be distracting, but I’m hoping for entertainment with my random rant(ish).
    I am indeed a dick about breaching a contract. To the point where, I would spend serious time in litigation, should it become required, as long as I do recover every cent I expended initially, despite later expenses.
    I’m a cheap bastard, I’m not poverty stricken. Although, specialist copays are starting to wear my reserve down significantly, for both of us.
    I have indeed lost everything that I’ve earned and owned, twice.
    Making me adverse to accept a single penny’s loss and not accepting a loss when a company entirely fundamentally breaches a contract to deliver. As such is a recoverable, with punative damages, I’ll take time off from work times 100, just to prove a point.

    Now, how about we have fun with the KY jelly weilding, grease gun fielding guy, who is utterly frustrated due to a dearth of grease fittings and utter injustice in the flower delivery industry?
    Call me FatMan (While, I was nearing rather a robust girth some time ago, I’ve massively lost weight due to hyperthyroidism. That doesn’t remove my humor over Incredible Bulk abuse of comic book excesses).
    Or, BlatMan.
    No, better yet, SplatMan, for my infamously lousy superzero landings. ;)
    Out-batman’s batman for stink bombs, lubrication attacks are at utterly unexpected times and locations, is infamously invisible in plain sight due to a generic appearance and the only real “superpower” might be flatulence, albeit uncontrollable, erm, ability.
    Add in ten thumbs and massive dyslexia. Humorous, defusing a bomb… ;)
    Let’s get silly for a change!
    Lest we lose our minds in everyday serious insanity everpresent in this land.
    My superzero catchphrase is, “ert, erm, buuurp, uh, excuse me, blaaaaarrrrrrrttttt”. ;)
    Or something.

    Oh wait, my catchphrase already *is* present, “Or something”. ;)
    Run with it!
    For, being serious, all the time leaves precious little venting opportunity.
    This gives ventage. :)
    Although, perhaps the venue should be altered a bit.
    Superhero/superzero, gone, superbastard or something. ;)

    OK, random rant /closed. Gotta get ready for bed. Midnight shift… Sucks.
    But, I volunteered for it, as I’ll not ask a coworker or subordinate to do that which I’ll never do.
    We’ll suffice it to say, management isn’t quite happy.
    But, they’re getting over it, due to team performance. :)

  4. tmscott says

    I’ve always been flummoxed by the cultural significance of the castrated sex organs of some poor plant. Why not the genitals of some small mammal instead? Why pick on plants?

  5. marcoli says

    I don’t mind saying that sometimes I am a little slow on the uptake. Here I was wondering what your wife thought of your tradition, and I was getting a little upset. Then…. ohhhhhhhh.

  6. InitHello says

    #5: Maybe the ancient aliens who uplifted us were evolved from plants, and we somehow remember this in the species overmind. And they … did something mean. So now we don’t like plants, or something.

  7. says

    The company just emailed back.

    We received your e-mail, and after checking in our system, it looks like your issue was resolved over the phone. We’re fully committed to our 100% Smile Guarantee, and wanted to confirm that we’ve issued you a full refund in the amount of $72.97 to your account, which should appear on your next billing statement.

    We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and hope you’ll let us deliver another smile for you soon!

    They did not call. They didn’t let me know they were going to fail to meet the order. Their tracking service still presents the order as somehow “pending confirmation”. Their “100% Smile Guarantee” can go fuck itself, with a smile.

  8. drken says

    @tmscott #5

    It’s been my experience that sending mammalian genitalia to straight women is generally ineffective as a romantic gesture and usually results in a restraining order. However, those in the LGBT* community might have different results, so YMMV.

  9. blf says

    I’ve ordered a few flower arrangements (always for funerals — make what of that you will) via local shops (in various European countries) for delivery to USAlienstan. Always worked, no problem, if perhaps expensive.

    The one order I specifically remember was different, placed in San Francisco — albeit not at the local (independent) flower shop, who didn’t do teleorders — for delivery to another location in California, after the individual concerned hurt herself skiing (as I now recall). What — rather stupidly in retrospect — surprised me was the request for a “note to send” (or something like that). This was at a chain flower shop the independent shop suggested.

    Flummoxed for a moment, I eventually decided on “You are not supposed to eat this.” The flower-shop person gave me a weird look.

    The lady in question later said she had a good laugh.

    (It perhaps should be said she’s somewhat used to odd presents from me, since I once gave her a banana slug (e.g.)…)

  10. A. Noyd says

    tmscott (#5)

    Why not the genitals of some small mammal instead?

    People do that, actually. Look up raccoon baculum jewelry.

  11. magistramarla says

    Awwww. What a lovely tradition.
    My nerdy guy first asked for a kiss in 1974. I absolutely LOVE red roses, and for a while he was very good about giving me a single red rose at unexpected times. I even carried a single red rose for our wedding.
    When we were busy raising kids and dirt-poor, I convinced him that I didn’t really care for flowers.
    Unfortunately, he still thinks that is true. I’ve been trying to convince him that flowers are a good thing. He occasionally remembers, but I wish that he would get better at it.

  12. Silver Fox says

    A fortunate fellow you are, PZ — to have married your first love. I remember mine with the same clarity you do, but, alas, I screwed up on so many levels and it didn’t work out. I take full blame. But I still remember her, the first date, the first kiss, the first . . . you know. I hope you have another 40 roses in you.

  13. Ragutis says

    I’ve unfortunately had the need to send flowers for a few sad occasions in the last couple of years and have come to the opinion that one’s local florist is the way to go with any flowery delivery needs. Mine has been nothing but compassionate and efficient. She also has the sweetest, most gentle Great Dane in the world. Watching a beast like that delicately weave its way though a room full of glass vases and floral displays to greet you and ask for scratches is a sight to see. I don’t know what kind of dog your local Morris florist may have, but give them a try next time anyway.

    Congrats PZ on making “first love’ last 40 years. Though perhaps it’s more a testament to Mary’s patience? (insert winking smiley here)

  14. Intaglio says

    Firstly PZ – awwwwwwwwww

    Secondly – the company deserves all the flak that you send it.

    Thirdly @wzrd1 – Many flowers are edible, common ones are roses, clover, dandelion, marigold, chamomile, pansy, nasturtium, sunflower and lavender. Elderflower and lilac can be used to make wonderful alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Additionally fuchsia fruits are edible as are rosehips and rowan berries (rowan jelly is, in my opinion, much nicer than cranberry with turkey)

  15. says

    Hey, I already got email this morning telling me that this post proves I’m a pathetic beta and that my virtue signaling is just what cucks do!

    I knew that would be coming.

  16. erichoug says

    I solved this problem years ago. The flower shops near the special ladies in my life ( mom, sister, significant other) All have Web sites. I place my order on line and then call them to confirm. Debbie by my mom’s house is the best and always takes excellent care of mom since the big flower shops screwed up mothers day, her birthday and Valentines day all in a row.

  17. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    About a decade ago, I used 1-800-FLOWERS and while the flowers arrived no problem, they came with some other person’s card. From Jack to Frieda. I wonder if Frieda got our card instead.

  18. cartomancer says

    It’s funny how we use flowers to make gestures like this. I fell in love with my best friend on March the 24th 2001, and every year since I have picked one daffodil for each year I’ve been in love with him. It’s a spring flower, and grows everywhere in England, so there are always plenty to be had in late March. When they shrivel up I put them with the rest in a box on top of my cupboard. I now have the remains of 120 daffodils up there, and the box is almost full. I’m going to need a bigger box eventually.

    It’s bittersweet, sadly, since circumstance has prevented us from being together. But one day things will change. When they do I might well mix the remains I have collected into compost and plant fresh daffodil bulbs in it, so we have a living plant to commemorate the love I have felt for him all these years since I was a teenager.

  19. garnetstar says

    1-800-FLOWERS is one of the companies that the Stop Rush campaign urges people to boycott: it’s one of the companies that refuses to stop buying advertising on Rush Limbaugh’s show.

    So, I am more than happy never to use them, no matter what quality of service they may or may not offer.

    Here’s the Boycott Rush petition.

    Click the “39 others” link at the very top of the page to see the list of companies they urge you to boycott.

  20. says

    They had just one job… ONE JOB! And they even got paid for it!

    Stick with proflowers.com. I like that they let you send flowers without a vase. We all have too many vases already!

    Go Pro next time.