14 February 2014 | Will Green
Love may be in the air today, but for buyers Valentine’s Day presents a world of potential pitfalls.
Interflora must have thought it had a winner on its hands when, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), it came up with the “Ultimate Love Bouquet”, advertised for £195 on its website with a Union Jack symbol indicating a British source.
The description included the phrase “mainly British-grown”, but eagle-eyed growers pounced after noticing some of the flowers were out of season and could not have been grown in the UK.
In an exchange on Twitter Interflora claimed that 60 per cent of the flowers were from the UK, and the RHS defended itself by saying 50 per cent of flowers in the original bouquet were from UK sources. Any reference to origin of the flowers on the website has since been removed. But Interflora may have the last laugh, because the website also indicates the item has sold out.
Meanwhile, flower growers in New Zealand are complaining their livelihoods are being put at risk because 50 per cent of roses sold on Valentine’s Day are imported, and customers should be made more aware of where their flowers come from.
All this illustrates how the provenance of goods is becoming more and more of an issue for consumers. Before the information age arrived, it would not have been possible for your average joe to quiz a company on where it sourced its inputs, but with everyone’s eyes on Twitter, firms that do not enter into such discussions risk greater reputational damage from a deafening silence.