Jon Thomas
Jon Thomas
Communications Director and Groupon Join Forces to Ruin Valentine’s Day

Valentines-Day-RuinedValentine’s Day is one of the 20th century’s oh-so-special holidays. Husbands and boyfriends rush to their computers to put the least amount of time (and money) into purchasing flowers while the single crowd turns to their social networks to gripe about a holiday they claim was created by greeting card corporations (it’s wasn’t) and, of course, the devil (plausible).

However, this year Valentine’s Day conveniences didn’t stop at floral and chocolate ecommerce sites. Oh no. partnered with the über-sensitive folks at Groupon to offer a super-sweet deal: $40 worth of flowers for $20. Other than a promise ring, what could be better? Apparently, a lot.

Local mom-and-pop floral shops rejoiced as they heard the collective sobs of sour suckers who took advantage of the Groupon offer. For starters, paying $20 for $40 worth of flowers was apparently a bad deal when compared to standard offers available on There was also some speculation that had inflated prices to recoup their losses, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. Things got so bad, in fact, decided to end the Groupon deal early.

If only it stopped there. Then maybe male shoppers could have preserved some of their dignity. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Already out a few bucks, Groupon shoppers waited patiently for the jubilant calls from their significant others thanking them for their annual bouquets. Only, for many Groupon customers, those call never came. That’s because their flowers never showed up, and many of those that did were wilted and near death.

Is it St. Patrick’s Day yet?

Of course, wasn’t the only online florist that under-delivered on Valentine’s Day according to a post aptly titled, “The Consumerist’s 2011 Valentine’s Day Garden of Discontent.” However, it was the only online florist to leverage Groupon’s daily deal nationwide in order to bolster sales and ride the wave of other successful Groupon campaigns. With such reward comes the risk that they face-plant on their surfboard. And that’s exactly what happened.

Regardless of how hip, trendy, and forward-thinking commerce-based online technologies seem, businesses never will have the opportunity to slack on customer service and quality. It’s the essence of “Great Content Wins.” If your content is not great, you will not win — at least not in the long run.’s Groupon experience only magnified the risks of online floral purchases and the difficulty of satisfactory customer service.

Is it worth a little extra to receive face-to-face customer service, accountability, and quality from your local florist? Could web 2.0 actually work in favor of local businesses, which need foot traffic and phone orders to survive? The comments are yours…

Image courtesy of WhatDaveSees on Flickr

  • Anonymous

    Good article.

    Groupon keeps making mistake after mistake. Superbowl, FTD pricing and now FTD delivery issues. At what point do you think these missteps actually hurt them?

    I am already fatigued by all these supposedly “social” offers, but others seem to continue to embrace them. Once every business has done a Groupon, will there still be any value in using their service?

  • Jon Thomas

    I’m not sure you can blame Groupon for the delivery issues, as I’m sure they’d wash their hands of that. The same way you can’t blame them for a bad massage if you buy a one-hour massage at half price from them.

    Though Groupon has certainly made missteps – If you’re business model is based on providing your customers with unique daily deals that are supposed to save you money, well then, they should spend a little time fact-checking that indeed those deals actually save money. They offered full refunds, but that’s never enough. Time has already been wasted and the trust has been broken.

    I actually don’t use Groupon, but do get Living Social emails in my inbox, which are more local. Most don’t apply to me, but a few have, including $10 for $20 of food at an eatery just down the block from my office that I frequent often. I see the value both ways, but I hear more and more about the salespeople from “Daily Deal” sites being very aggressive with local businesses and also that local businesses are losing money when too many customers redeem the offers.

    I’m interested to see where 2011 takes this type of service.

  • Patricec

    oof. The moment I saw the deal was going to be valid for Valentine’s Day, I started to feel bad for all the FTD/Groupon Customer Service personnel.

    Years back I worked for a company that tried to run a Valentines Special just in Manhattan that resulted in me having to personally call 5 wives and 3 girlfriends and explain when their gifts had been purchased and that the company not their partner was at fault. One man sounded near tears when I spoke to him…Valentines is not a game.

  • Jon Thomas

    Haha! Yes Patrice, Valentine’s Day is certainly not something to mess with, both from the male and female perspective.

    Now that I look back on it, I’d be very very weary of a deal that will undoubtedly attract numerous orders that all need to be fulfilled on a single day.