Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Customer Service Warning... Bloomex = BAD

I never, ever do this, but I just have to this time. Please, please don't order flowers from Bloomex. It's an online flower delivery service that is based out of Canada, but I think they also have a US arm of their service. I ordered Mother's Day flowers for my mom and stepmom. Seemed easy enough... except they delivered them the Tuesday after Mother's Day. When they hadn't arrived by the Monday, I contacted Bloomex via phone. The phone service asks if you want to order or if you have a question about an existing order. If you choose the latter, you're put through to a voicemail service that asks you to leave a message. Even if you say, "here is my number, please call me I don't want an email" they will look up your order number, match it to your account, find your email address, and email you. They will not call you.

So when I did that, they simply sent some form letter via email saying sorry for the inconvenience, the flowers you ordered were out of stock and we had to wait an extra day for new stock to arrive.


So I left it, and they arrived on Tuesday. I ordered a planter's basket for both of my moms, something that wouldn't die right away. Bloomex delivered yellow roses... which, I might add, were cheaper than the baskets because roses were half-price. Did I mention one of the moms doesn't like roses? When I called again to complain and ask for a refund, asking them to PLEASE call me so I could discuss this with someone, I simply received an email saying not to worry about a refund, they were resending the proper baskets out immediately.

Today I get an email from my stepmom saying she's about to go away on a trip, and she still hasn't received her basket. A WEEK LATER.

So I called Bloomex back. This time I pressed 1 for a new order. Sure enough, I finally get a real live person (Bloomex assumes you're giving them money rather than asking for it back, so they'll treat you REALLY well until they have your cash). I got a customer service rep and talked to her about it and said I was really happy to speak to a live person, and laughed, and she did, too, and I explained the issue. She said no problem, but that she was on orders and she'd have a manager call me back immediately. I said I just wanted a refund, and didn't want to deal with this anymore, and she said she'd let them know that and a manager would call me back.

Only a few minutes later, someone did call me back. She started off very kindly, just asking what the issue was (rep #1 asked for all the details and then didn't pass any of them on) and so I ran through all of it again and said I just wanted a refund. I've worked in customer service years and years ago... I think people who just call up and yell and swear at people who had nothing to do with the actual problem are rude, so I'm never like that. So I was very calm and cheerful, and laughed it off and said look, one of my moms doesn't even like roses, so I look like I don't even know her. I'd just like a refund and I can go and get her something she does like.

The manager said, "It is our policy at Bloomex to not issue refunds of any kind. I can give you store credit or redeliver the flowers, that's it." I said you must offer refunds. She said nope, I had to get them redelivered. I said I'd asked for that a week ago and no one sent them, so I could say ok, sure, redeliver them, and nothing will happen and I'll just have to make this phone call again. She said if I'd wanted a refund, I had to contact them within 7 day and it's outside of 7 days. I said I DID call them within 7 days, and they didn't call me back and instead reassured me the issue would be dealt with. She said sorry, I didn't follow their policy. I should have asked for a refund within 7 days.


I said, "OK, so just to reiterate [realizing as I said it I sounded exactly like my husband], I ordered flowers, you sent them two days late, and then you sent the wrong ones, and then you didn't call me back when I called to request a callback, and then you promised to redeliver, and you haven't redelivered, and now you won't do anything for me? Seriously? What can I do here?"

"I'm sorry, we can't issue a refund."

I said, "Actually, you have my credit card; any company that can take a credit card CAN reissue a credit back onto it, you just choose NOT to. It's not that you can't, it's that you won't. You won't redeliver, and even if you did, you'd probably send the wrong thing anyway and I'll have to call again. Is it really cheaper for you to send the flowers six times rather than just issue my refund and keep me as a future customer?"

"Ma'am!!" she suddenly bellowed into the phone quite abruptly. "LISTEN TO ME. I am a HUMAN BEING." No, really. She said that. "You simply CANNOT scream and yell at me the way you are right now." Irony moment? She was yelling as she said this.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I can be excitable, and my voice rises, but not in an angry or yelling (and definitely not screaming) sort of way. I never swore at her, nor was I rude or talked down to her in any way. She doesn't know rude if she thinks I'm being rude. I told her that I wasn't yelling at her, that I was simply frustrated, and-- and she cut me off to say I most definitely WAS yelling, and she was a HUMAN BEING and CANNOT be treated in this way.

Now, I could have responded angrily. I could have said, "Actually, in this particular case you're not a human being. You're a representative of your company, a faceless voice on the other end of the phone that I'm speaking with to try to resolve an issue," but I didn't. I doubt she would have gotten the subtlety. I asked her what her name was, and there was a long pause before she said, "Michelle." (I don't for an instant believe that's actually her name.) "Michelle," I said, as quietly as I could with her still being able to hear me, "I'm sorry if you thought I was shouting at you. I'm very frustrated right now. I know you didn't put through the wrong order, nor are you the person who delivered them late, nor are you the one who reassured me I didn't need a refund and my flowers would be redelivered. But right now, you're the first person who's called me back. You're the only one who can help me. I'm frustrated. What was supposed to be a thoughtful Mother's Day gift looks like an afterthought, something I ordered the day after because of the timing of the delivery, and you sent the wrong thing to boot. I look like I don't even know what my own mother would want. I don't know if you're a mom, and that's none of my business. But I'm one, and Mother's Day means a lot to me. The flowers were what I sent as a gift, and it was a screw-up. So please, please, can you help me?"

"You know," she said, clearly now on speakerphone because obviously my booming crazy voice was too loud for her eardrums, "You can sit there and scream and yell until you're blue in the face, and I'll sit here all day and listen to you. I don't care. I can do other work while you're screaming. We have a policy. I'm not changing it. You either take a company credit for your next purchase or I will redeliver the flowers to you."

She said that, after I had just apologized to her. I've been inconvenienced, humiliated, wronged, and ignored, and instead of an apology, I just apologized to her. And I did so in my "indoor voice." And she again accused me of screaming at her. Which meant her earlier freakout that I was screaming at her and not treating her like a human being was some weird put-upon thing acted out by a drama queen who doesn't understand how to do customer service.

"I don't want a store credit," I said as calmly as I could, despite the fact my hands were shaking in fury. (Why do our hands shake when we get angry??) "Because, if you don't fix this, I will never use your store again. That's not an idle threat, and I'm sure you don't really care, actually, but this has been one of the most frustrating customer service experiences I've ever had. The only option you're giving me is to have you redeliver the flowers. And I'm going to hang up this phone and you won't redeliver them. And then I'll have to make this call again. I don't want to do this. Could you just please help me?"

"We. Can't. Refund. Your. Money. You give me a date to send those flowers, and I will. But otherwise, I can't help you."

I sat for half a second, and finally just told her to send the one bunch at the end of the month when my stepmum is back from her trip, and send the other one immediately. I felt completely defeated, talked down to, and this woman who had the nerve to act like I was a shrieking banshee had just won.

What Bloomex did was reassure me twice within the 7-day refund period that they would send out my flowers again. They delayed me until I was outside the 7-day period, and then threw their hands up and said, "Whoops! Looks like you can't get a refund now, Missy!" And that was that.

I'll never use them again. They may be convenient, but it's just as convenient to pick up a phone and call your local florist. I've never used a local one I didn't love, and the only reason I didn't use one in this instance was because I didn't know if one that would deliver to a rural route address. But I'll find out who does, and use them the next time.

I hope me telling you this will dissuade some others from ever using them, too. I really hope as the world begins to move online, customer service doesn't dwindle to a world where the customer is never right, and we have to bow down and apologize because they've got our money and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

UPDATE: As I mentioned in the comments yesterday, after I hung up from Bloomex I contacted my credit card company to dispute the charge, and they are launching an investigation. But thanks to all the comments I've received on this post, I realized that there's a reason Bloomex doesn't offer refunds: their incompetence and terrible customer service is legen -- wait for it -- DARY. I'm thinking maybe it won't be too difficult to get the charge wiped from my credit card because the credit card companies have probably been inundated with complaints. Here's hoping, as Toronto Star columnist Ellen Roseman suggests, if enough people complain, the credit card companies will simply stop dealing with Bloomex.

When I tweeted the link to this blog post, I did a quick search for "Bloomex" on Twitter and found out they have their own Twitter name... wait for it again... @bloomexcares. HAHAHA! And here's their description of themselves:

Bloomex Customer Service - Industry leading policies supported by our amazing customer service agents. Need help with an order, PM us with your order number.

At least I got a really good laugh out of this whole experience. ;) Their Twitter feed is locked, so I'm thinking it's because it's filled with complaints and they won't let people see their feed... it's probably just them dealing with angry customers.

Reader Fred directed me to the Wikipedia page, which was shocking. I've learned my lesson: Next time, do your research on the company, no matter how insignificant the purchase seems to be. This is from the Wikipedia page:


On March 1, 2008, Toronto Star business and consumer affairs columnist Ellen Roseman reported on Bloomex online complaints, offering one customer's experience with a promised same-day delivery as an example of company unresponsiveness. In a follow-up Star column the next week, company president Lokhonia examined Roseman's late-delivery example, explaining that the order was entered past the deadline for same-day delivery, it was delivered according to the company's published terms and conditions, and the company never refunds delivery charges in such cases in order to maintain its low prices.[4] Lokhonia also alleged that some complaints were actually written by small retail florists in competition with Bloomex,[5] a statement that drew fresh online complaints.[6]

In June 2008, Bloomex issued a press release admitting that the company had made mistakes in the past due to unexpectedly strong sales growth, and announced new systems to improve customer satisfaction.[7]

Following Mother's Day 2009, Roseman noted many new complaints about late or damaged deliveries and advised consumers to seek chargebacks from their credit-card companies rather than pursuing Bloomex for refunds.[8]

In April 2010, the CBC News television program Marketplace tested Bloomex's promises, reporting that the company "...sometimes substitutes one item for something completely different, without checking with the customer, or doesn't deliver at all". A "Chocolate Lovers" basket contained far less chocolate than promised; of three floral arrangements ordered, one failed to arrive and the other two were not as advertised, receiving a "thumbs down" from a professional flower judge.[9]

As of December 2010, the Canadian Better Business Bureau (BBB) continues to give Bloomex its lowest possible rating, an "F", due to the company's overall complaint history, number of unresolved complaints, and Bloomex's failure to resolve the underlying causes of a pattern of complaints.[10]

UPDATE #2It is now two days later, and I just received an automated message from Bloomex saying that both of the redeliveries were now complete. I called them, and left a message asking for someone to call me back, no one did, so I did the same thing I did the last time and got a callback, and I asked her if the one order (to the mom who IS NOT THERE) actually was delivered despite reassurances that it wouldn't go out until May 30. She checked and said, "Yes, it was delivered last night. Why? Is that a problem?" I said yes, actually, it's a problem, because the person living there won't be back for another week, so she'll return to a box of dead, wilting flowers on her porch. She wrote on my file a "request" that the flowers be redelivered in another week.

Three deliveries. But apparently that was cheaper than just giving me my money back. I called my mother to see if she got her flowers and she said yes, she got a second plant (and because I hadn't warned her, she thought I was going to start sending her flowers every week!) and said both times no one knocked at the door, and they dropped it off last night and never knocked so she didn't know it was there until this morning. She had to remove some of the plants from the basket because they'd wilted overnight (SERIOUSLY) but she said otherwise, it was very nice. But she added that they stuck three small plants in the basket and then some tiny flowers, and just for my own knowledge I should know that I could probably have bought these plants at a grocery store for $3 each and stuck them in a planter. I groaned and she said, "Oh no, don't think that I don't love them, because I do!" But it was just another reason not to use them.

I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau last night. They have an F rating there, the lowest rating you can possibly get. I doubt anything will come of the complaint, but at least I'll be one more customer on the list of people they let down.


Erin {pughs' news} said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Call Visa or Mastercard and have them not honor the charge. I've done that several times when I've been screwed over. If you're a good customer they should help you.

-Tim Alan

Erin {pughs' news} said...

Oh my god, Nikki! That is BRUTAL! I bet she had someone else nearby when she was weirdly telling you not to keep screaming and shouting at her (and you obviously weren't)...

Now I know you have a LOT of readers and all of us will refuse to use Bloomex. But I think you should do something more. Is there someone at the CBC or something that you could contact to run a story?

I'm mad! And I'm not the one who had to deal with that crap.

I'm going to link to this on my Facebook. Spread the word, and bring Bloomex down!!!

Whew. Okay, I'm going to calm down now.

One more thing: is there anything on their website about not refunding? AND can you call Visa to complain and have them take it off your bill?

Christina B said...

I'm SO upset for you, Nikki! I've also worked in customer service for many years and I KNOW that her behaviour was UNACCEPTABLE!

Bloomex= Off my list!

Lisa-Maladylis said...

being that your in Canada, I don't know how it works there compared to the USA but here, anything that is purchased over 50 bucks I think, has the right to return it up to 30 days. I would also call the better business bureau or what ever it is called there and report them. Then we should all cross post this too. what a horrible woman !

aec said...

Wow, she sounds absolutely horrible!

I agree with whomever posted earlier about calling your credit card company and canceling the charge. I did that once when I had a horrible customer service issues that the company wouldn't resolve. It ended up working pretty well.

Please post again in a few weeks and let us know what happens and if the correct flowers were ever delivered!

Marebabe said...

Like Lisa, I was thinking of the Canadian equivalent of the Better Business Bureau. I just hope this will be resolved to your satisfaction.

bwinton said...

I also vote for contacting your credit card company, and cancelling the charge. They didn't deliver the product you ordered, I don't see why you should pay them. And the credit card companies keep track of stuff like that, and will take action if Bloomex is a repeat offender.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

You get all the details, you contact Visa and you request a charge back. You get your money and they lose.

Helena said...

Unbelievable!!! But just posted your page link on my profile so hopefully the power of Facebook will be used for good this time (and get this company to change its policies) rather than for spam!!

The Question Mark said...

LoL I bet Bloomex has frustrated customers calling in all the time. They probably have a script pasted to the desk of every call centre employee with lines like, "We cannot refund your money" and, "I AM A HUMAN BEING!"
You should have asked her to just resend the flowers to the CEO of Bloomex with a card that says, "Your company is poo-poo"

JS said...

Sorry to hear that. Definitely dispute the charge with your credit card company.

Apparently not delivering on the day EVERYONE wants to have flowers delivered is common. My step-mom never got her flowers, and 1-800-flowers is redelivering and giving me a 50% discount. I didn't even ask, just called to find out why the flowers hadn't been sent. Their customer service was good, just not their deliver-the-flowers-when-the-f*ck-I-scheduled-them-to-be-delivered service.

Chris said...

I'm with the others who say to contact the credit card company and initiate a chargeback. The penalties for a chargeback are actually more than the actual refund would have cost them. Then tweet the hell out this blog. I'll retweet. We all will. In this day of immediate communication "Michelle" needs to be taught a lesson on how to communicate instead of frustrate. What a ridiculously poor display of anti-customer service. She wasn't a human being. She was an automaton of the company.

Nikki Stafford said...

Hey guys! I posted this and then went off to do work, and thanks so much for the comments! I actually should have added at the end that I did exactly what you guys suggested, even before posting this. I contacted my credit card company to dispute the charge (something I'd never done before) and talked to someone and told him the story and said I didn't know what to do. He was flabbergasted by the story, and then said the good thing about credit cards is that you can dispute it. So a complaint is going to them, and if they don't protest then the charge will be wiped. If they do protest, then the credit card company will call to advise me on what my next step will be. I'm assuming that means lawyering up. For $100, it's not worth small claims court, and yet it's enough money to hurt.

jessica said...

Ugh, sounds awful. Some people are like that. No matter how awful they are, they never see themselves as doing anything wrong, and try to convince anyone who stands up to them that *they* are the awful one. You have my sympathy. Hopefully word about Bloomex gets 'round.

jessica said...

Also, you could review them on a site like Yelp:

Fred said...

My sympathies with you Nikki over the trouble of dealing with a company that has mismanaged your order. Sadly it does happen from time to time, and we all have such experiences. As some suggested, trying to get your credit card company to cancel might work, but then again you might find yourself on the phone with a collections agency at the end of the day. Going to your credit card company was the right thing, and if your credit card company really likes you they might absorb the cost to keep you happy.

I don't know which is the worse feeling, the lost money or the frustration of the representative, which from your story sounds pretty bad.

Melissa said...

That is absolutely horrible. I will never use Bloomex and make sure no one I know uses them. Thanks for sharing your experience. You are saving other people the stress of going through something similar.

Fred said...

Nikki, just out of curiosity how did you choose this company to deliver your Mothers' Day gifts?

If you go to Wikipedia and type in the company name, you'll find a whole lot about them, such as the Bteer Business Bureau giving them an F.

(Not a comment on you. I've made some pretty big bone-headed mistakes over the internet when choosing companies).

Joan Crawford said...

That sucks. I admire your ability to keep your cool because at the end of the day, SHE IS A HUMAN BEING! What was she watching, The Elephant Man? Next time something like this happens lie and say you are recording the conversation, just to even the field a little bit.
I once saw an interaction very similar to what happened to you between a nurse and a man at the walk-in clinic. I witnessed the whole thing and he was completely normal and not yelling or swearing but she goes "Sir, I am asking you to stop using profanity." and he's like "Sorry?" and she raises her voice "SIR, if you continue to use that language I will have you removed." and the guy goes "I think you need to ask for a transfer to work at the psychiatric hospital so you can be around people who will understand you." And I laughed. Don't let the bastards get you down, Nikki!

Nikki Stafford said...

Joan: LOL!! Oh, to be able to zip off comebacks like that in the moment. That guy is brilliant.

I wanted to quote the Prisoner at her, "Oh YEAH? Well... I am NOT a num-bah! I am a FREE MAN!" But then SHE would have thought I should be put in a hospital. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Fred: I should have checked them out, you are totally right. I used them a year ago when I had to have flowers shipped to someone in Vancouver, on the other side of the country. I did a quick search, "Florists Vancouver" and Bloomex was the first thing that popped up. I checked it out, looked easy enough, and went with it. The person received the flowers a day late, but timing wasn't off the essence on it, and I never did ask her what they looked like to confirm that they were the right ones.

No wonder they wouldn't issue me a refund. If the complaints stack up as high as y'all are saying they do, they'd go out of business issuing refunds to people.

Anonymous said...

I know it has been a year but if you're still pissed, the president of Bloomex is named Dimitri Lokhonia. His personal contact number is 1 (416) 565-7089

Anna (R)oginska said...

I just found your story, sadly too late. I have to laugh because I decided not to order with a different company because a redflag post saying how awful they were. The only other company was bloomex, and since I had ordered with them before (never thought to confirm what actually arrived) I decided to go with them. Lo and be hold i was sent a picture of the supposed sunflower arrangement I paid for, when it arrived.... To my surprise it was the crappiest tiny arrangement. Called them - same as your story. Emailed, was told too bad. 20 emails later, I got a email telling me they will redelivered in the future if the flowers are ever in stock.

Wish I had seen your post before I placed the order.

Thank you for writing this up, and sharing your frustration.

Mazz said...

Have just had a similar experience with the wonderful customer oriented business...NOT
Flowers for mothers day not delivered, Dear Bloomex forgot to put complete address on box so it was stuck at puralator warehouse for 2 days.
After countless attempts at trying to talk to a real person and promises via live chat and voice messaging that someone will get back to me and refusals of refunding via email, I am at my wits end. I was delighted to see the owner's telephone number appear!!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had googled before dealing with Bloomex! 4 days after Mother's day and still no flowers! I called and asked for a refund, but was told that they are investigating the matter, sending e-mails and what not. I said don't bother - it was supposed to arrive for Mother's day. I will call my credit card company now. thanks for your post.

kuma0265 said...

How about a CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT for these thieves?

Tom Coshow said...

That was really bad! Customers don’t have to be treated like that. They called because there was a problem or miscommunication that occurred with their orders. And the customer service reps have to be more considerate with regard to the complaint that was made, since they're representing the company. It’s kinda disappointing that you didn’t get the right order, and even got wronged and mistreated in return.

Tom Coshow @ TeleDirect

Francesca Taranto said...

Im so upset with myself that I didn't read all the negative reviews.
As they say, you get what you pay for and that's the case with Bloomex. Dimity (the CEO) has brilliant business model. It's all about a very strict refund policy (which is never). He doesn't care about the disgruntled customers, just the suckers who get a cheap product and ok service experience.

Go local..speak to your local florist and support your local community.

Anonymous said...

Happens in Australia - refund refused. My mother was delivered dead brown squashed Christmas a few days after Christmas!