Online flower businesses can be risky, but shoppers should know they still have the same rights under consumer law, according to the Office of Fair Trading. (Source: Flickr, Liz West)

By Anna Eyears

Produced for online by Jorja McDonnell

With Mothers’ Day just around the corner, the Flower Association of Australia is reminding people to check the terms and conditions when placing flower orders.

FAA executive officer Shane Holeorn is also advising customers to double check delivery times to avoid any last-minute disasters.

“If you’re going to order, go into a florist’s shop if you can. If you are ordering online, just be careful not to go to an order-gatherer. They’re just a large call centre, and not an actual florist. To find out, on their website, they should have a contact number as well as a physical address.”

Many delivery services will have different cut-off times during peak trading periods, and Mr Holeorn says leaving orders to the last minute may leave you out of pocket, but empty-handed.

“[Some sites] had a problem on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago where everybody ordered overnight, and there were thousands of unfilled orders because was no stop mechanism on a lot of them.”

When it comes to consumer law, the rules for physical shops also apply to the online businesses. The Office of Fair Trading says there are options available as long as customers hold on to documentation such as receipts and order confirmations.

Also, when ordering, it is recommended to place orders before close of business on Thursday, to allow time for florists to prepare all of their orders.

Despite the larger companies’ peak trading time issues, online markets remain a dominant force in the industry.

Enoggera Flowers owner Deanna Burn says the online businesses and call centres have left local florists struggling to compete.

“The online call centres have definitely made a big impact. You only have to drive around and see how few flower shops are left. It’s a really sad state of affairs unfortunately.”

Ms Burn encourages shoppers to buy local this Mothers’ Day.

“We’re not dealing in just flowers, it’s emotions that we’re dealing with too. It’s always lovely to play a small part in significant life events for people. As florists, that’s what we love to do.”