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Bloomex is an online florist, based in Ottawa, that offers same-day delivery across Canada.
But the company has strict policies on returns and refunds. And customers say they can't escalate their complaints when things go wrong.
Colleen Clarke ordered two plant arrangements on the morning of Dec. 31. One was going to Calgary, the other to Edmonton.
"Bloomex guaranteed same-day delivery, which is why I chose to use the company," she says.
The Calgary basket arrived on Jan. 3. The Edmonton basket didn't show up by Jan. 4, when she left for an overseas trip.
Her aunt in Edmonton said the flowers were upside down and out of the basket when they finally arrived. Bloomex has a policy that customers can't get replacements unless they send photos by email. But not everyone can comply.
"My aunt, who's over 75, told them four times that she didn't have a camera and had no way of taking the picture. Finally, she told them to forget it," Clarke says.
Back in Toronto on Jan. 21, she tried to speak to a Bloomex manager. She reached only a call centre.
On Jan. 28, she got her Visa bill showing a refund for the Edmonton order. Bloomex had picked it up from her aunt's home on Jan. 15.
But she was still charged $9.95 each for the two late deliveries.
"At this point, I am spitting mad," she said. "I want the two delivery fees deleted and an apology for the horrific treatment, live on the phone by a management person."
I found many Bloomex complaints online. The Better Business Bureau had processed 37 complaints in midwestern Ontario and 63 complaints in eastern Ontario. (There's no BBB in Toronto.)
"The company has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB due to its decision not to accept or respond to complaints from the BBB," both bureaus said.
When I called president Dimitri Lokhonia, whose name I got from the BBB website, he called me back right away. He said Bloomex delivered 10,000 orders a month. By cutting out the middleman, the company could offer fresher flowers and lower prices.
Clarke should have read the terms and conditions, posted online and sent by email to her, he said.
Bloomex doesn't deliver on Sunday and statutory holidays. Nor does it offer same-day delivery in Edmonton. That's available only in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
Because she'd placed her order on Dec. 31, she couldn't expect same-day delivery.
"Some people are not happy. As a consumer writer, you can understand that," Lokhonia tells me. Posting a comment at the On Your Side blog, he tries to explain the many complaints.
"We compete against all local overpriced flower shops and sometimes owners of these shops put their comments online, pretending to be an unhappy customer."
He sends me Clarke's file and I can see why she's angry. All the communication is at her end and she never gets a response.
On Jan. 23, she asked for someone in authority to call her or she'd go to the newspaper. A note on her file said: "Order was picked up. She was refunded. Nothing we can do at this point."
Bloomex boasts about caring for customers and uses firstname.lastname@example.org as its email address.
But if Lokhonia truly cared, he would pick up the phone when customers asked for a manager, stop badmouthing complainers and start co-operating with the BBB.
Then, he'd see his online business really start to bloom.
Write to email@example.com