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Relay ruling to learn from


ASAAlthough it’s a long old story (legalese tends to be like that) I read with interest that the Advertising Standards Authority have upheld complaints against both eFlorist and Prestige with regard to flowers not matching the picture on the sites.

1:  Because it only took just one person to complain and set the wheels in motion which, if I’d known it was that easy, could have saved me a fortune over the years in my battle against deceptive order gatherers and 2:  It struck me that the ruling actually has potentially huge impact on all online players and could (with a small c) have the power to change the way they operate and how consumers are encouraged to see third party players.

You see whilst florists know full well that the pictures these operators show are virtually impossible to replicate because they are invariably shot in full bloom, with all flowers front facing to camera rather than in the round as they will be made (Appleyard being one notable exception), the majority of customers haven’t got a clue when it comes to flowers.

Which is why consumers believe the WYSIWYG (adj: whizz-ee-wig What You See Is What You Get) principle is real and DO expect wide open flowers, a full and voluptuous bouquet and with at least 50% more in it than they see because they naturally assume it will be the same both sides.

And that’s where it all goes Pete Tong.  Because having received what is the real deal (because the executing florist or pack house simply can’t or wont make it like the picture) they are naturally disappointed and will either use social media to complain (you only have to look at the FB pages of Interflora et al to see that), not buy flowers again or, in some cases, decide to take it further to the ASA who do have the clout to change things, whatever the companies being taken to task may say.

Now online operators will probably poo pooh the whole thing and say it is a minor problem. That their ‘happiness rating’ is good and I suspect will, in many cases, blame the florist/pack house for poor execution blah de blah.  And yes there are far too many poor florists out there churning out complete garbage.

But that is really not the point - or rather it’s a different point!  On this one it’s the fact that ASA, having now found fault with two relay/online operators, has not just potentially put the industry under the microscope but has set a precedent for future complaints and, as you can see, it really does only take one complaint to set the ball rolling.

Having spoken to ASA it seems that they are more concerned with relay type companies than independent shops.  However, if it was me I wouldn’t take the risk.  Not only would I make sure all the pictures on my website were of my own work and photographed in a way that showed the whole thing (as I say look at Appleyard for how they do it) but I would make sure my substitution policy could stand up to scrutiny. 

As to how independents could use the ruling to their advantage. As long as you can stand true and proud that your web pics are really representative of what you do I reckon you could have a field day with PR stories etc.  Certainly, with my Good Florist Guide hat on, I’m going to see what we could do.