Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Service of Ordering Online During a Pandemic

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press

Chances are you may have ordered something online during the pandemic even if it’s not something you normally do.

Small Business

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press

I wanted a special card to send a college grad and liked one I saw on a Greymount Paper & Press sponsored Facebook ad [photo above]. The well-designed website was promising.

I prefer feeling the paper and ensuring that the printing is crisp, but these days that isn’t in the, uh, cards. I took advantage of a promotion and bought four. They arrived promptly from the artist/owner of the press, Carlene Gleman, along with a professional invoice with a cheery handwritten note on it and two bonus surprise cards.

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press

I dashed off an email to thank Carlene and tell her how much I liked the cards. She responded: “It’s always lovely to meet a fellow quality-aholic. Thank you for your kind words! Customers like you are one of the reasons I get out of bed each morning with a smile. That, and my sweet little family who are currently trapped in the house with me for Week #4,900! Ha. From one upstate New Yorker to a downstate New Yorker, stay safe and be well :-)”

I forwarded this note to a friend who also loves–and sends–the best cards and she said she ordered some from Greymount too. I gave Carlene a heads up, said that my friend had recently been furloughed and she wrote “Thanks for letting me know about ___, I am going to sneak a few extra goodies into her package as a cheer-up.”

Big Business

In contrast, a friend’s experience ordering flowers from 1-800-Flowers on May 4th for delivery Mother’s Day weekend was inexcusable. Not once did the company update her. She had to waste her time tracking them down in countless follow-ups.

The arrangement was meant for her best friend and her friend’s mother, who is deathly ill. Hers was a hard deadline, possibly more imminent than Mother’s Day, which she made clear each time she called customer service as each subsequent promised delivery day came and went. The upshot: In spite of her diligent surveillance the flowers never arrived, the company returned her money and she ordered a bouquet from a local florist. During her last conversation a 1-800-Flowers customer service supervisor told her the delay was because of Covid-19. If a company has no mechanism to update customers and if they cannot fulfill an order they should not accept one.

These examples of a generous small business that nurtures customers and an overwhelmed big business is statistically insignificant. But I wonder if such differences in customer service might augur the future of success of the retail landscape during the pandemic–what do you think?

1-800-Flowers

Service of the Legacy of Passionate Hobbies

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

 

Photo: nytimes.com

My family was besotted by The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle and bridge. I was interested in neither and that’s never changed. I’d cringe when someone would ask: “What’s a five letter word for X?”

However, I have always had plants, like my dad. In fact, I have a third cousin of a dracaena that he nurtured since the 1960s and an asparagus fern that was his. [He died in 1985.] The fern thrived in the country. I had to split it in two for the move and I’m resuscitating it in its new home. I also play a lot of solitaire on my computer either during long conference calls or as a quick break. My dad played with cards almost every night.

When I recently asked a friend, who lives in a house in the suburbs, what flowers she’d planted in her garden this spring she said “none.” Her mother was a zealous gardener. She thought her lack of interest in flowers may have been related. She works on the Times‘ Sunday puzzle, she said, something her father also finished weekly.

I mentioned all this to another friend who shared a different twist. Her mother was an expert knitter who made countless magnificent, complicated Irish knit baby sweaters. After her husband–my friend’s father–died she stopped cold. Eventually my friend asked her why she didn’t knit anymore and her mother replied, “I don’t know how.”

Are hobby choices as much psychological as they are related to a person’s druthers and abilities? Do you share hobbies with a parent? Have you turned away from or added a hobby?

Service of Receiving a Flawed Shipped Gift: Whom to Tell?

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Frozen flowers

Retailers—traditional and e—make it increasingly easier to send wonderful gifts. But what if the gift arrives damaged? Does the recipient tell the gift giver, the vendor, both or none?

Photo: pinterest

According to family legend my great Aunt Frieda called a fancy food purveyor—one of the best in NYC in the day–to ask them to remove a brace of over-ripe, too-long dead pheasants gifted her by well-meaning friends. I remember hearing that they smelled horrific but I don’t recall if she ever told the friends about the rancid poultry or merely thanked them.

More recently, Erica sent her newly widowed aunt armloads of spring flowers. Her aunt lives in Minnesota. The delivery man left the blossoms in the [very] cold outside her front door where they froze therefore hurrying them to their demise. Erica’s mom urged her aunt to tell her. Aunt hesitated as she didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She wrote: “I think they would be very lovely if they were not frozen. Your Mom asked me to send you a photo. Love.” Erica immediately called ProFlowers—that never before had disappointed her—and sent them this photo [above] as evidence.

A florist doing business in Minnesota should know to call–especially in winter–before delivering to a house to ensure that someone is home to accept the fragile package.

Photo lakesiepottery.com

Sometimes it’s not the fault of the vendor. My father told a story of a stingy millionaire who visited a well known Paris boutique and chose, for a wedding gift, an important porcelain piece by a manufacturer of luxury brands. He found it on a clearance shelf, broken. Its condition was reflected in the price. Not wanting its reputation tarnished or to be left holding the bag by having to replace an object that might appear to have been broken in transit, boutique staff carefully wrapped each of the broken pieces separately and placed each shard, with Monsieur Stingy’s card, in the boutique’s distinctive gift box. I love this story. I don’t know if it really happened or if he was sharing a lesson about what can happen to the tightfisted.

Have you received a shipped gift that was somehow flawed? Did you notify the vendor, the giver or both? Under what, if any, circumstances would you NOT tell the giver? How did you feel when someone reported a problem with a gift you sent? Would you have preferred that they notify the vendor and keep you out of it?

Photo: farmboxdirect.com

Service of Self Restraint

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Photo: jbsa.mil

Many stretch their money to give a little or big something to family and friends at this time of year. If you don’t put self restraint to work, you literally pay the price. I had a great idea for a gift for 2 good friends but to implement it meant spending a ridiculous sum. It’s not every day you think of the perfect gift for people who have everything but common sense said “move on.” I did so far.

Photo: foodiesnyc.com

There’s a new bakery that also sells sandwiches and salads near my office. I’ve been in twice to reconnoiter and I’ve left empty handed. One small beautiful pastry, that may or may not be tasty, costs what a scrumptious, though not as glam, cake does at Trader Joe’s. The price of an éclair, gone in two bites–far smaller than standard size–is $4.95.

Photo: yelp.com

I love flowers but daily pass by the many delis that sell tempting sunflowers and roses in peach, yellow and magenta. It makes no sense to buy them for myself. In summer, our apartment gets too hot when we’re not home so they don’t last long and in winter, the shock of the overheated apartment, when they come in from the cold, kills them pronto. And anyway, I have a collection of orchids, many of which, as I write, show signs of blossoms to come. When they bloom in winter I’m enchanted. In spring I cut daffodils, lilacs, peonies and daisies.

Self restraint isn’t any easier if faced with dietary restrictions. It rarely fails: people are forced to give up things they most love to eat. Was anyone advised to avoid grouse or liver ? [the two foods I most dislike].

Are you good at self-restraint? What are your tricks for avoiding temptation?

Photo: cartoonmovement.com

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