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Ordering Flowers Online: Worth It?

Flower, hearts
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Valentine's Day is a time for flowers. In fact, more than a-third of gifts given on Valentine's Day are flowers.

It used to be that you went into a florist and hand-picked what you wanted.

Now, ordering online has become a major part of the equation, enabling people to shop for gifts from their home or office.

But, are you really getting what you ordered? Are your flowers thriving and open when you receive them? Do they all show up alive? Are the flowers you get true to the picture you ordered from?

Early Show financial contributor Vera Gibbons addressed those issues Monday, testing some of the major flower-peddling Web sites to see if you really get your money's worth.

Gibbons discussed what to look for when you order online, and how to keep costs down, focusing on what your price points should be, delivery costs, and the deadlines you should be aware of.

She ordered a dozen roses from roughly a half-dozen online florists and, on Tuesday, viewers will see whether what Vera bought is what she receives.

To read her report, click here.

POINTERS

ORDER EARLY

The first piece of advice to consumers who plan to order online: Order early. The earlier you order, the cheaper the flowers will be. A lot of people ask if the prices of flowers go up around this holiday. And the answer is ABSOLUTELY. All prices go up according to demand. In fact, the prices of flowers on V-day will go up about 30 to 50%. It's a given. But the closer you get to the actual Valentine's Day holiday, the higher the demand will be. So, if you want to save money, don't waste time. Not only do many florists offer incentive discounts and freebies when you order ahead of the holiday (and stats show you can save as much as 15-20 percent by ordering early), but the earlier you order, the more likely companies are to fulfill your order to specifications. Retailers sell out this time of year! Place your order about one week in advance; don't wait until last minute, particularly if you have your heart set on specific colors or floral combinations.

SPEAK WITH THE FLORIST

Even though you're ordering online, the best way to avoid mistakes and problems is to follow up with an actual phone call to your online florist. Also, it's a way to make sure you're getting what you ordered. When you go online, you'll see all the different arrangements, and the bottom line is that it's impossible to keep all the different arrangements in stock. So, you'll have to tell your online florist exactly what you want. Remember: If online orders are contracted out, the quality of your flowers is only as good as florist fulfilling the order. They may stuff your bouquet with whatever they decide looks best; if you don't like, for instance, baby's breath, carnations, or ferns, speak up, or you're leaving it to their discretion if you don't call them!

SAVE WITH COUPONS, CREATIVE DISPLAYS

There are lots of ways you might be able to save when you order online. Before you commit, look online for coupons or promo codes. An IMPORTANT TIP TO remember: The longer the stem, the higher the grade, the steeper the price; if you want to save, go with short stems instead of long. Also, consider incorporating other flowers into the bouquet. Another way to save, if you dare: Go with a color other than red. Since it's not as in demand, it's probably cheaper!

TALLY EXPENSES

Do NOT assume that the price of your flowers is going to be your total bill. Remember that vases, teddy bears, shipping and balloons will add to your final cost. Prices for 12 red medium-stem roses generally start at about $40, but a simple vase is another $10. Crystal vases, teddy bears and balloons are also extra. There's also taxes and shipping; they run from $12 to more than $20. Make sure you have a realistic estimate for yourself.