- 4 months ago
Apologies for the long post regarding the details of my emergency situation and requests for solutions to resolve immediately – after you read, you may understand why I am so upset. I NEED HELP AND SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT TO DO – THE WEDDING IS 15 DAYS AWAY.
I am the Maid of Honor in my younger sister’s wedding. Again, the wedding is 15 DAYS AWAY. More than 2 months ago, I ordered a custom 25 piece order of silk flower bouquets (8), boutonnieres (11) and corsages (5) from Lily of Angeles through Etsy (they also have an eBay shop and a separate website for ordering). My sister is extremely busy and going through a difficult time right now with a pending sexual harassment lawsuit against her employer, her fiancé being laid off unexpectedly, in addition to preparing for her 300 guest wedding. I essentially had to take the reins because she was very overwhelmed up to physical stress symptoms presenting and requiring an ER visit and she was begin considering canceling the entire wedding even though STDs plus invitations had been sent out, dresses, suits, venues, etc. etc. had been arranged for and paid. I stepped in as I am single without children and have time outside of my full-time job to research and handle decisions that had been put off (such as flowers for the wedding party). I love my sister – who wouldn’t do this for her?!
Ok, so the emergency flower issue now at hand. I did hours of research – as most brides do (I was briefly engaged several years ago so had a bit of knowledge especially from Wedding Bee boards) – on different aspects of the wedding. After much consideration, I presented my sister with the option of ordering through Lily of Angeles Etsy shop since they had great feedback at reasonable prices for silk flower designs that would be much more expensive compared to fresh flowers – even those from Costco or Global Rose. She isn’t on a super tight budget but with a wedding so large, money saved is money saved. I placed the orders knowing that the turnaround would be 6 weeks and would arrive only a few weeks before the wedding. I put my trust in Lily of Angeles to deliver on the extensively descriptive custom order I placed and was looking forward to being just as pleased as other brides. It was nice to have that crossed off the list with confidence based on thousands of positive reviews and clear and concise instructions on what we would like to purchase. We looked forward to receiving the flowers shortly before the wedding as another piece coming together as the final stretch and excitement led up.
Fast forward to this past Monday (April 17), I received my order, excited to open it. My stomach dropped as I looked at each piece and found there to be very obvious damage to each of the 25 pieces (particularly the bouquets). The main issue was the crushed/bent/smashed fuchsia daises that are a main focal point of each bouquet. There was also visible hot glue on most bouquets and a flower fell out of the toss bouquet when I unwrapped it from its tissue paper. The ribbon on each piece were mismatched despite the absolutely clear instructions and order details outlined in the Reserved Item I purchased. I was obviously upset and had to put my sister off from coming to pick her flowers up from my house with a lame excuse. I then wrote out a detailed description including more than a dozen pictures to the seller confident this could be resolved – how would a seller have such positive feedback if providing such poor quality and damaged goods? The seller offered me a refund after I sent the package back at my expense ($25) within seven days – waiving her return policy on refunding customized orders as a courtesy (the page explicitly states refunds would not be issued for custom orders, “unless they arrive damaged or defective”). To make a long story a bit shorter, below is what I communicated to the seller and her responses to my messages regarding the issues with the damaged order through several email messages back and forth yesterday (a day was lost due to another non-wedding emergency that had to be attended to, and the long amount of time it took to compose my initial message):
1.ALL BOUQUETS in the order (with the exception of the 1 TOSS BOUQUET) to include 1 BRIDES BOUQUET, 1 MAID OF HONOR BOUQUET, and 5 BRIDESMAID BOUQUETS are damaged to the point of them being unusable and unpresentable. The Toss Bouquet’s appearance is acceptable for use, in spite of the flower that fell out of the packaging when it was opened. The flower can be glued back in and is the only item that does not need to be fixed.
The prominent issue with the bouquets are the fuchsia daises used in each piece. As I wrote in my original message, the daises are, “either bent, crushed, smashed, or all three.” Based on the pictures I took and submitted of each bouquet, it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that the daises used in the bouquets were damaged before being arranged or during arrangement. Please refer to the messages containing pictures of each bouquet to confirm this.
2. The ribbon is mismatched between a satin/sheer turquoise combination on the 8 bouquets and a satin only turquoise ribbon on the groom’s boutonniere and 5 corsages. The customized order specifically requested turquoise ribbon exactly as portrayed in the listing the order was based off. Please refer to the pictures attached to confirm this.
3. The stem ribbon is white satin on all of the boutonnieres and corsages where turquoise ribbon was requested. The customized order specifically requested turquoise ribbon exactly as portrayed in the listing the order was based off. Please refer to the pictures attached to confirm this. The appearance of the white satin stem ribbon is quite jarring, they look very much like lollipops.
I offered the following two options to resolve the extremely time sensitive issue as I have called all around my cities florists to be told they couldn’t take on the job, there is not enough time to order anything else from an online retailer, and DIY is not an option.
“1. I am willing to settle this matter by accepting a 50% refund in the amount of $192.55 to compensate for receiving an item not as described or pictured, my inconvenience and time taken off from work to handle this situation, and my faith and trust I put in your business to professionally provide the promised product for the special event of my sister’s wedding and the large gathering of friends and family from all over the country.
2. In the alternative, I am willing to settle this manner by a rush delivery of all the flowers ordered, with all of the mistakes identified corrected and received via tracked mail no later than Wednesday, April 26, 2017.”
I received the following follow up response from Lily of Angeles via Etsy:
“Your second alternative would not work because except the fallen Rose and boutonnieres with white stem, the replacement flowers would look almost exactly the same way as the ones you have.
And about a 50% refund, providing you have approved the bride’s bouquet, that seems a bit unreasonable. Even if we refund the full amount for the bridesmaid bouquet (with fallen Rose) and all 11 boutonnieres with white stems, the total would be only $77!”
[To clarify, I said the following when sent a requested picture of the bride’s bouquet and received a low quality picture, ““Thanks so much – we look forward to receiving all the flowers.”] Which was not an approval or a compliment to the products craftsmanship based solely on a low quality photo sent through the Etsy mobile app.]
The seller than replied again shortly after with another message stating:
“This is completely new to us since usually we only offer full refund. I understand in your case returning them for a refund might not work since your wedding is pretty close.
To solve this issue we thought about two options:
1- We can make 11 boutonnieres with turquoise ribbon wrapped stems and one bridesmaid bouquet, free of charge and ship them to you in a couple days.
2- We will refund the amount of $77 as a full refund for the pieces that are not as you wanted. (11 x $5 = $50 for boutonnieres and $22 for the bridesmaid bouquet).”
As you have read and I expressed in the exact terms in writing to the seller, ALL OF THE BOUQUETS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE TOSS BOUQUET WERE NOT USEABLE AND DID NOT MEET THE LISTING DESCRIPTION NOR THE PHOTOS AS DESCRIBED IN MY PURCHASE. I have no idea how Lily of Angeles got the idea that ONE bridesmaid bouquet needed replacement and why the incorrect corsages were not offered to be corrected as the incorrect boutonnieres were – the corsages not being corrected would still have mismatched ribbon amongst the collect of floral pieces and not resolve the issue.
Last night I spent a substantial amount of time photographing EACH item documenting the unacceptable final product and sending yet another message describing again in a crystal clear written description the problems and the need for an immediate solution due to the wedding being 2 weeks out. I went to sleep exhausted with this situation. Each message exchange the seller used as an opportunity to engage in a high school debate competition to counter each point I had presented and provided accompanying evidence to substantiate my concerns. Lily of Angeles took zero responsibility for their errors to my order and the poor workmanship of her business, (“For the 1200 other brides who left us positive feedback, we used the same kind of flowers and same craftsmanship has been applied.”; If you look at the picture I sent you, the Daisy is in the same shape as the ones in your pictures, and you approved it!”; “Those Daisies are NOT damaged, that’s how they look in original picture in the listing. And in the picture I sent you!”; If you make a mistake – own it, fix the mistake, and maintain the integrity to restore trust in the party you have not held up your end of the bargain with. This to me is business 101 and common courtesy that a decent person, much less a business devoted to providing wedding products, knowing how important they are to each bride, would recognize and follow. This may be a fluke. But the seller’s lack of responsibility for her error, defensive replies, non-concern for the urgency of the wedding my family placed our trust in her business to provide a quality product for, and the endless excuses and blame shifting are simply unacceptable and shocking.
This morning the seller returned my message with over 20 pictures including comparison photos included, simply stating:
“If we remake your package, the replacement flowers would look almost exactly the same way as the ones you have. Except the color of ribbon we will use for boutonnieres stems. Those Daisies are NOT damaged, that’s how they look in original picture in the listing. And in the picture I sent you! Also, I am really surprised when you mention you DID NOT approve the picture of the bridal bouquet while you wrote back to me “Thanks so much – we look forward to receiving all the flowers.”??? At this stage I believe the only solution left would be to return the package and get a refund. If you read our return policy, we do not accept returns for customized items but as I promised in my first message, we will do it in this specific case. Your refund will be processed as soon as we receive the package.”
PLEASE HELP BEE’S!
If I send the package back, I will pay $25 to return a product damaged and not as described through no fault of my own. I will have the cost of the order (around $380) floating until the refund is made, more than likely to be after the wedding, therefore unable to be used towards an alternate flower purchase (which is going to be a feat – I’ve looked high and low in the small metro city where I live).
Do I accept her offer to fix the boutonniere’s and one, unspecified bridesmaid bouquet or instead leave them as is and not as ordered with a small refund (if she will even honor that offer still) then try to somehow salvage the flowers through the help of a crafty friend (which will add another expense of buying more ribbon, more flowers, floral supplies, and the time it will take to do both – if I can even find similar items).
I have already contacted Etsy to file a dispute but was told to attempt resolution directly with the seller (and did as a courtesy to the seller, with the expectation that she would do the right thing). Obviously this is not able to be resolved with her. Etsy let me know that the dispute process would take time and to not expect it to be resolved before the wedding, I requested to speak to the highest level manager with Etsy’s Dispute Resolution team and the process cannot be expedited.
I paid through PayPal but found out that custom orders are not eligible for Buyer Protection.
So that is the long, sordid story. BUT THE TRUE ISSUE AT HAND RIGHT NOW – 15 DAYS BEFORE THE WEDDING – IS WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE FLOWERS?
What would you suggest Bee’s? Any solution is welcome. As well as your opinion on the entire situation. Am I crazy? A Maid-zilla? I feel like what I requested to fix this situation was reasonable – especially after I inspected every single purchased piece and documented how each piece is damaged. I’m not looking for something for free or to take advantage of this seller. I only want what I purchased in the condition it was to be provided. I know I asked for a partial refund – knowing this is not uncommon, especially in a circumstance where additional time and money will have to be expended to somehow make the flowers useable. I love my sister. She has done more for me than anyone else in my life and I want her wedding to be fantastic. I cringe at having to explain this situation to her and the embarrassment she may have carrying hideously deformed flowers on her big day, having pictures of them for the rest of her life, and providing them to her large wedding party. Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking and blips are going to happen – but this is just unacceptable on so many levels. Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for your thoughts. I have attached pictures documenting the condition of the flowers received (unfortunately they are not all posting. Good grief! I can’t wait for this all to be over with and I can go back to my own regularly scheduled problems!)