Rittners School Of Floral Design

How To Keep Sane
When Telegraphing Flowers

Sending flowers through telegraph services to loved ones all over the world has become a very accepted way of expressing love, friendship and concern. Still it is not without its problems. This little guide is to alert you to some of the common pitfalls, and help you be a more knowledgeable consumer.

We hope that the tips and suggestions that are offered here will be helpful to you and make your life a little easier.

Part I: How Does It Work

  1. The concept of telegraphing flowers is a great one. Think about it. You, the consumer, can go into a flower shop in one part of the country, (like here in Boston), and send flowers to a friend or relative in another part of the country (like Los Angeles) or even to another part of the world (eg. Paris). While we all take it for granted today, the idea of a custom made piece of floral art being made available and delivered to our loved ones practically anywhere is pretty impressive.

  2. When flowers are "telegraphed" they are not physically sent. That is to say, the florist who takes the order from you does not get into his delivery vehicle and drive across five states! He will get information from you, and gives that information to the florist on the other side, who in turn, will fill the order.

  3. The word "telegraphing" flowers suggests an earlier, bygone era. Today florists communicate with each other by phone and even by computer terminals. The concept of sending flowers over a long distance remains the same, regardless of the media of order transmission.

  4. The florists who do this are all members of one organization, or another. There are a number of these telegraph organizations. In the US the major ones are FTD and Teleflora, (There are also other companies that can best be described as sophisticated floral marketing operations).

  5. When you go into a flower shop, you decide what you'd like Uncle Charlie in Ca. to get. Perhaps you have a very specific idea in mind. If not the florist can show you pictures in a book, to help you make a decision.

  6. Once you've decided what you want, you place your order with the florist, and s/he will collect what you owe. (You may also sometimes be charged a service charge, which the sending florist likes because that is for his/her efforts in booking the order.)

  7. The florist will then contact another florist who is part of the same telegraph service, and give him/her the order.

  8. When a florist belongs to one of these telegraph services, s/he knows that s/he can receive orders from another florist in another part of the country who belongs to the same organization, and not fuss about getting paid. The telegraph services operate kind of like a bank. They help to work out the details of what one flower shop owes to another.

  9. It makes little difference what telegraph organization the florist uses to send his/her order. While none of my friends at any of the services would like to hear me say this, (with the exception of different corporate climates) all of them are essentially alike. In fact a florist may belong to more than one of these organizations.

  10. The florist in the other area will fill the order and Uncle Charlie, the recipient, will think you are a FANTASTIC HUMAN BEING!!!!

    Part II: Some Tips

    1. I always suggest to my friends that they order flowers that will be sent long distance, from a florist that they already know and like. (Yes, I know the net is changing that matrix, & may do so even more in the future.) However, my reasoning is simple. A flower shop cannot survive on one sale to a customer. Successful flower shops really do well because their customers come back & give them repeated sales. If you are doing business with someone regularly, and there's any problem, that florist should go out of his way to make it right, because s/he wants to keep you as a customer.

    2. Try to get someone responsible to talk to in the shop.

    3. If you pick an order from a telegraph service manual you should expect the order filled to be very much like the picture that you chose, but they are not always perfectly identical.

    4. I sometimes find that when I telegraph flowers as a consumer, the way I assure good value is to ask the florist to send an "open order." This means that the florist on the other side is given the freedom to send anything, as long as it's within a certain price range that I establish. You may also define the kind of item sent, (eg. Send an arrangement for $75., etc.) The reason I like to do this is that it enables the florist on the other side to work within his/her local market conditions. They may be able to get really high quality of a particular flower or plant. Better to send that, then to insist on specific items out of a picture book that may or may not be readily available or in the best form.

    5. Try not to be stingy. Allow the florist ample money to work with. Remember, the reason you are telegraphing flowers in the first place is to make a statement, and express your emotion. You want to create an impact. The amount that you spend in Boston, may or may not provide the same impact in Los Angeles, or Japan. Your local florist will be able to guide you in this area.

    6. Be very clear about what you have in mind. If you like open airy designs say so. If you prefer a stark contemporary look, also express it. Perhaps you simply want a rich mixture of flowers arranged in a glass container. The point is the clearer you are in your expectations, the better the florist can express that to the florist on the other end.

    7. If you are especially concerned about your order, and what will be sent, ask your florist to contact the florist on the other side while you are still in the shop. Your florist will have to contact them anyway to give the order, and it allows any problems to be ironed out immediately while you are still present.

    8. Always provide the correct address, zip code and phone number of the recipient of the flowers to the florist. (If the florist doesn't have the right address, delivery can be problematic).

    9. Always have a second or even a third choice in mind, and make sure it is something you really like. This way you'll avoid disappointment if the receiving florist is out of a particular item and can't get it.

    10. Allow enough time to the florist on the other side to make the delivery. It's not reasonable to expect an order to go halfway across the world, and then be delivered within an hour.

    11. Never assume that the recipient will know that the design came from you. You may be sending that design from Chicago to California, but it will be delivered from a shop in Ca. You may be her boyfriend, but unfortunately, she may also have three other boyfriends!!!!!! So always provide a name on the gift card. Never, "from me," or "guess who?"

    12. If sending flowers to a female patient in the hospital always give her first name, not just her husband's name. You may be sending flowers to Mrs. Jay Williker III. But there could be a Joan Williker and a Jean Williker there as patients. (Yes, it does happen!)

    13. Never refuse to give the sending florist your phone number, because if they do come across a problem, they need to be able to reach you easily. Always give the number not only for work but also home, etc. This can prevent delays.

    14. If you are not pleased with any part of an order that was sent (or you learn of a problem through the recipient) please try to notify the sending florist right away....the sooner the better. The quicker you can contact him/her the more likely s/he can correct the problem immediately

    15. Ask what telegraph service the order is being sent through, and pay by your credit card.

    Any problems that you encounter should be resolved by first contacting the sending florist, the place where you paid for & sent the order.

    Contact a telegraph organization (eg. FTD, Teleflora,) only as a last resort in the unlikely event that the sending florist wasn't helpful or effective.

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