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Plants and flowers: do you know your rights?

Ever ordered flowers only to find they weren’t quite what you were expecting?! Here’s a look at your rights.

Update 15/02/2021

Did you receive a sorry-looking bouquet this Valentine’s Day? Or were you left empty-handed after your delivery didn’t arrive on time?

Lockdown restrictions might mean florists and delivery services are busier than usual this year.

And with Mother’s Day only a month away, we want to make sure you know your rights if something goes wrong.

Let us know your experience in the comments below.

Do you know your rights?

Nothing says romance quite like a withered bouquet. But did you know that plants and flowers are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

Just like other items bought online, you’re within your rights to ask for a full or partial refund if your flowers arrive in a sorrowful state.

With Valentine’s Day this Friday there’ll be a big increase in the number of flowers ordered online, and they’ll need to match the description given of them.

In fact, unless the retailer has specified that the flowers may vary, it must provide you with exactly what you ordered.

Matching the description

If the colour or type of flower doesn’t look right, make sure you let the retailer know you’re not happy.

And if the flowers look a little lacklustre, check to see that you’re not missing any. Cut flowers are usually priced per stem, so if you think there aren’t enough, you may be entitled to a partial refund.

It can of course be tricky to know if there’s a problem if you’re not the person who ordered them, but you should be able to spot if there are any obvious problems.

If you’ve received flowers that don’t seem up to scratch, you could also consider letting the sender know – tactfully!

What if my flowers turn up late?

If you’ve ordered flowers for Valentine’s Day then it goes without saying you’ll need them for the day itself!

If they do turn up after the 14th, you may be entitled to a refund, depending on the type of delivery you selected.

If you paid to specify the date or time of the delivery, then this is an agreed part of your contract.

If they arrive outside of this timeframe, you have the right to terminate the purchase and get a full refund.

But if you used estimated delivery, this means you don’t have an automatic right to refund.

Estimated delivery isn’t guaranteed by a certain time, so a retailer could argue that it’s reasonable for an estimated delivery to be a few days late.

Complain to the retailer

Until the flowers have been delivered, the retailer is responsible for their condition, not the courier, so be sure to take up any issues with them, rather than the delivery firm.

Take a photo of the flowers if you’re unhappy, as this is useful evidence if you’re asked to provide proof to the retailer.

The retailer may offer to send you a replacement rather than a refund, but if they were specifically for Valentine’s Day, you’re entitled to ask for your money back.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, you must be refunded within 30 days of you rejecting the flowers.

Have you ever had a Valentine’s Day or any other event ruined by flowers that weren’t up to standard or a delayed delivery?

Let us know your story below and we’ll try to help if we can.

Have you ever tried to claim a refund on flowers?
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ann wardell says:
17 February 2020

Had several plants delivered from online suppliers, Thompson and Morgan was one and they are extremely good on replacing them, I did sent photos of the plug plants to confirm. i also sent phots and complained to Gardening express and they did not hold up to the guarantee, I won;t use them ever!!

Karen Wardle says:
18 February 2020

Likewise Marshalls are extremely good, sending replacements for poor quality plants on the rare occasion it’s necessary.

McJannett says:
19 February 2020

My sister sent my mother (when alive) some flowers for her birthday and they were so few and half dead. so I took a picture and emailed it to her and told her to complain. she got her money back but poor mum with dementia never got another gift from her. need I say more! I prefer supermarket flowers, good value and more so with a food packet to make them stay fresh for longer if you can buy and take them to the receiver. One year using the RHS book of sellers I spent about £80 on lots of potted plants from a firm. when they came it was late winter still and hard to see if the plants were alive or resting so I waited, planted out and waited and 90% of them never did grow. I sent them a really nasty letter and said I had a good mind to tell the RHS to remove their listing. I got a refund in garden vouchers and them saying they felt they needed protecting from me instead. Fothergills still owe me a replacement philadelphus from a few years back as the one they sent was dead. I was in middle of moving and too busy to chase them up. what does get me is all the seeds one can buy and find do not germinate. I have made many purchases from many firms/sellers and it could be months later when one sows them and finds they have duds. Then it is your word against theirs. On ebay where one is expected to leave feed back within 90 days means you can be saying great seller, but you have no idea of the seed quality unless it is bought and sown there and then to prove if it grows or not within that time frame. Then if it does not outside that you cannot leave an extra feed back which I am sure would show up a lot more duds. I now avoid some who sell the most seeds on the site. Do wonder if they are buying in and selling old stock as when I sow my own saved seed fresh each year it normally grows ok, but the money I have wasted over the years could have bought me something I needed but could not afford.

McJannett, I agree about flowers – although I’ve had good results with M&S flowers online. However, I prefer to choose flowers and, in general, avoid florists – they are frequently very expensive and although they make lovely arrangements I’m quite happy to make my own with supermarket flowers. I prefer potted plants to flowers simply because they last longer, particularly orchids that are good value (avoid the died – with colour – ones!).

As for plants, I’ve used J. Parker with great success for roses, strawberries, dahlias, and bulbs. Thompson and Morgan have sent very healthy plug plants and, if you time it right, at great bargain prices – 72 perennials for £4.99

I generally buy well-known brands of seeds. A lot depends upon care when sowing – good compost, careful watering and warmth to get them going. I put 20 trays of flower seeds in a bit earlier then usual, for me. They went in an enclosed propagator with just bottom heat, trays covered to retain moisture. 3 days after sowing I checked as a routine and was astonished to find half had already started to germinate. I am a devil for keeping old seed but it can be a mistake; some, like delphinium, rapidly lose viability. It is mainly thrift, and the fact seeds are expensive – I remember Bees seeds at 2d a packet – but my garden centre sells it out of season half price, which is a good time to invest.

Normy says:
16 February 2021

Funny this article appearing today, post Valentine’s Day. I notice though, that all the comments so far come from a year ago. I have just bought an online bouquet of flowers for my wife. I used Marks and Spencers and felt confident that all would be ok. BUT NO! They were delivered about 15:15 in the afternoon, a little late. When taking out the bouquet from its special transportation box, I laid them out on my sideboard for preparation before placing in a vase. I found several stems broken and quite a few buds rolling about. I took pictures. I was not a happy bunny. The Valentine’s day present for my wife was very skimpy. The following day I went on the M & S website. It definitely was not an easy process. Eventually I was moved to a ‘sub’ website ‘Resolver’. I wrote out my sorry tale. This morning I got a reply from Resolver saying that I had to use the M & S website. This I did with reluctance as it is so tricky to navigate. I eventually gave up and rang a telephone number that had popped up. It rang for approximately 30 minutes before someone answered. I related my story to the customer relation’s person. I think he took pity on me and authorised a refund. That was a pensioner’s sorry tale for my Valentine, the wife! Hopefully with COVID-19 and lockdown, it will be better next year. Will I use M & S again? Your guess is as good as mine!

@hdownes – Hi Hannah – I see that Normy was referred to the Resolver website. I have been asked about this site but have not used it myself. It would be interesting if you or a colleague could tell us whether Resolver is useful or best avoided.

Hannah – I ordered some flowers from M&S a few weeks ago and the delivery was timely, the packaging was good, the flowers were excellent and exactly as shown on the website, and the recipient was both surprised and delighted.

The afternoon delivery reported by Normy might have been due to the carrier’s capacity on a busy Sunday rather than to M&S’s efforts.

There is bound to be some risk with flowers ordered from a national chain rather than a local florist but I think M&S get it right more often than not. With Currys PC World currently top of the table for appalling customer service, I think Which? should hesitate to pick on M&S for public criticism. Just my personal opinion, of course; Which? will, as usual, make up its own mind on what to feature.

I sent two £20 bouquets of roses – 30 in each – over Christmas from M&S with free delivery. They arrived on the day requested. Both recipients sent pictures that showed decent roses; they were delighted.

I ordered flowers for my mum for Mother’s Day. Arranged for them to be delivered on the Saturday. They didn’t arrive. It’s now Tuesday and they still haven’t arrived. I contacted the company they said I provided them with an invalid address. Nobody contacted me to resolve this, they have my email address and mobile phone number. They have offered £15 gift token. The flowers cost £50 They have taken my money but there are still no flowers.

Hi, I bought a plant on the high street and it immediately started dying. I am experienced in plant care- I have about 50 houseplants. I have contacted the shop who are refusing to acknowledge the problem, do I have a right to get a refund? It was £29 and it’s 6 days post purchase and completely dead. Thanks!

Chris says:
6 June 2021

Just had an email from Bloom and Wild, the online letterbox flower seller, who are offering to remove me from any ‘special events’ mails like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. ( to avoid distress, offence and hurt). In a world of a deluge of advertising this is the most thoughtful company move I have seen in a long time. It shows great respect for their customers. Not just words but actions, well done Bloom and Wild.

Phil says:
6 June 2021

Ordered some flowers from Bloom and Wild for my aunt’s 85th. Lazy courier (DPD) couldn’t be bothered to walk down the drive so left them propped up against the gatepost where they remained undetected for a week. Got replacements but over a week late so rather missed the point. Response from Bloom and Wild totally underwhelming. Won’t be using them again.

Just about everyone sends out an email like that these days Chris – Tesco, Asda, Wilko, Ocado, Lakeland, Boots, Hallmark Cards so far this year. I seem to be signed up to a lot of junk mail these days but they do contain the odd useful special offer or free postage just when I need it.

I do wish companies would offer couriers other than DPD who we have had a lot of trouble from.

DPD were late with a date-specified flowers delivery to a relative a few months ago. We made allowances because of the coronavirus emergency and the lockdown. Unfortunately things have not improved.

We were due a delivery today from John Lewis. We chose a Sunday as we knew we would be at home. DPD duly sent an advance e-mail on Saturday saying the parcel would be delivered today – “check your e-mails after 11:00 am to see the one-hour delivery slot”. We were up early and I checked on-line at 7:30 and then again at 8 o’clock in case there was an update, but nothing. So we thought we would spend a couple of hours in the back garden safe in the expectation that the delivery would be later. I then heard a van’s reversing signals and went to the front to find that a card had been left to say delivery was attempted at 8:55. I checked my e-mails and found a notification timed at 08:27 to say that delivery would take place between 08:53 and 09:53.

DPD used to be one of the best carriers but I think they have lost the plot. I would go so far as to say that Hermes are now overtaking them in customer satisfaction.

Hansa Pindolia says:
26 June 2021

I ordered colossal strawberry plants last year from Ideal World in July.They produce a few tiny fruit but this tear only 4 survived and fruit still small.
I complained and was told to contact supplier. they refused refund but offered replacement.
Had no choice but accept replacement but then wanted 6.99 for postage which I think is a rip off as originally they were free postage.
Never buy from them again
Their policies policy is refund within 30 days but do the plants know this?

Hansa — There are lots of customer reviews on the website, mostly favourable including some complimenting the customer service when complaining about them and getting replacements. A few reviews say the plants were in poor condition or have not thrived and I think there is always that risk with buying seedlings remotely.

Your plugs are nearly a year old now so I think you just have to write them off and put it down to experience. I don’t think you will be able to buy twelve replacement plants for £6.99 anywhere else . . . but the risk of poor plants could repeat itself.