Where have all the flowers gone?
“LOVE means never having to say you’re sorry.” It is an inane catch phrase from the 1970 movie Love Story that has been pilloried ever since.
An apology, when due, is always welcome, especially if sincere. It is a sign of humility, which leads to forgiveness and strengthens relationships.
But there was not much love lost for Netflorist this past Valentine’s Day. The online flower and gift retailer’s failure to deliver about 500 orders on the day led to a severe bashing on social media.
Customers’ anger was directed as much at the perceived lack of response to the non-delivery as the failure itself.
The first thing Netflorist managing director Ryan Bacher pointed out to me was that 17 500 orders had been successfully delivered that day.
Suggesting that thousands of customers were given great service is an understandable response, but it is certainly not soothing to those who were left in the lurch.
Netflorist’s problem appears to have stemmed from a massive increase in orders, up from 13 000 last year. But it was an increase the retailer had anticipated. When it reached the 18 000-order mark at 2pm the day before Valentine’s Day, it closed orders.
The company, which employs 200 people, hired 800 temporary employees for the day, and its rental car hire was greater than the capacity at OR Tambo International Airport for the same day.
So why did 500-odd recipients end up broken-hearted on February 14?
Reasons varied, Bacher said, but they included a driver going awol with 27 orders, 24 orders not being captured on the system owing to server problems, and an entire batch of roses being sub-standard. Sweltering heat across the country
I would have preferred a dedicated hotline for affected customers
also meant that many of the flowers that were delivered were wilted and chocolates melted.
“An extra challenge,” said Bacher, “was that it was Friday and people left their offices early, before deliveries were made.”
Why did Netflorist not post an immediate apology on its website?
“That’s difficult . . . [but] we sent out email apologies the same night to all the customers where we’d messed up deliveries,” said Bacher.
A few days after Valentine’s Day, Netflorist’s Facebook page posted an apology saying that of 180 temporary drivers interviewed, it had passed 130 but only 20 had arrived on the day.
“If you have any queries, feel free to inbox us. Once again, we’re so sorry for the inconvenience and we’ll try our best to get you out of the dog box.”
I would have preferred to have seen customers thanked for using Netflorist, an acknowledgement of the failure being a “big lesson” for the company, options and processes to be followed for compensation, and a dedicated hotline for affected customers, some of whom claim they have yet to be refunded.
A goodwill gesture for each “victim”, perhaps a voucher to use on their next order, could have been offered.
And Netflorist should not have limited the official hand-wringing to Facebook.
Word of mouth has a far wider reach. So, too, should any apology.
BE MY VALENTINE: Unlike this woman, hundreds of people were left disappointed after online retailer Netflorist could not deliver all of its orders