Flowers from Minneapolis/St. Paul… or Somewhere

Sean McGinnis pointed me to a couple of really good posts last night – one regarding out-of-state call centers posing as Chicago florists, and then Matt McGee’s take on it labeled appropriately, when local search isn’t really local.

So, why not see how Minneapolis/St. Paul fares? I did a quick Yahoo Local check for florists in Minneapolis. Luckily, it passed the test – kinda’. The listings are all local, but the sponsored ads on the top and bottom are all “serving your area” national florist call centers.

Update: Please see the comments in this post. Cathy, who runs Florist Blogs caught some things that I did not and gives really good insight about it.

I suppose ad money is ad money, but it doesn’t ensure trust. I was hoping to see the Vanderbloom result closer to the top. They’re right down the street, they have a good buzz about them, and a local merchant gets the local dollar.

Yahoo did better than local.com though. That page is… busy, and as an added bonus they serve up some local pay-per-call ads, “serving your area”. If you search for anything mortgage or real estate related, you’ll get the same type of results. Looking at it closer, I’m actually really surprised on how irrelevant and loud all those ads are!

Looky what I found though!!

Pre-”Interweb”

I absolutely forgot that the same thing happened before the “Interweb”.

Soon… going… to… recycling… bin

The book has since been disposed of properly 🙂

add to YahooMyWeb add to del.icio.us

Advertisements

20 Responses to Flowers from Minneapolis/St. Paul… or Somewhere

  1. Cathy says:

    Hi –

    Hate to tell you this, but right on the first page of the Yahoo Local Minneapolis results sits Minneapolis Florist-Same Day, (612) 339-4023, 381 5th St Se, Minneapolis, MN 55414. There’s no flower shop at that location. The calls are just forwarded to an ‘order gatherer’ in Issaquah, WA called Cascade Florist.

    Now the owner at Cascade will likely tell you she has a real flower shop – and she does – except it’s in Washington state. She’ll earn a commission and a wire service rebate while siphoning off dollars intended for local Minneapolis flower shops. Disgusting, huh?

    The second Minneapolis results page shows Florists of Minneapolis, (612) 827-6356, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Nope. Not a real florist either. Calls are forwarded to ‘Flowers With Gifted Elegance’ of Randolph, NJ. Again, they’ll take a service fee and a cut of the order before getting a real local flower shop to make and deliver the flowers.

    Yahoo Local may not know the listings are deceptive, but the phone companies do – since they sell the numbers and remote call forwarding services in the first place. These bogus locals look even more convincing when the city, state and a local zip code are added.

    Who keeps these kinds of scams running?
    1) Phone companies that allow anyone to name themselves ‘Your Town Florist’ and then sell them remote call forwarding.
    2) Ad publishers. The more listings, the more competition, the higher the ad revenues from real locals trying to be found.
    3) Floral wire services. Anytime a consumer calls a florist direct, they’re out of the loop. These phony locals keep orders moving through the wire service system and make local florists dependent on them for business.

    Of course, orders churned through phony local florists leave shoppers paying more and getting less. But the only people that seem to care are real local flower shops and consumers.

  2. Paul says:

    Wow! Yeah, deceptive AND disgusting. Thanks Cathy! I’m gonna’ update the post in hopes that people will read your comment.

    That 5th Street SE address is under a mile from here. Come to think of it, that’s a block off a busier street, and could be a residential address, or maybe it’s just a bogus address altogether.

  3. aaron says:

    Wow, Cathy … great info. Gotta love when a comment is a post in itself. Paul, I’m disappointed you had a book to look in. 😦 But glad you tossed. Wouldn’t it be great to have complete trust in your results whether on paper or on screen? Maybe someday with the right sites …

  4. Paul says:

    Yeah, the YP book is now ditched. It’s amazing how much new drawer space it creates. 🙂

  5. Apologies for the shameless plug, but I think TrueLocal holds up pretty well in this test. I’d appreciate any insights from Cathy if we don’t.
    http://www.truelocal.com/search.aspx?q=florist&cs=Minneapolis

    Thanks,
    Colin Carmichael
    Director, Product Development
    TrueLocal Inc.

  6. Simon says:

    Colin,
    In case you are reading this, the first listing is for Kabloom and has their web site listed, I purchased the store from them and it is now called Chez Bloom and the web site is http://www.chezbloom.com. I tried to change this by adding our info, however it now lists as Chez Bloom with the Kabloom logo and web site listed. Is there any way to update this and remove the old info? Sorry to post on here, but I had no idea we were listed incorrectly until I read this post today! The other listings do indeed seem to be keeping it real. Thanks

  7. Cathy says:

    Thanks, Paul. 🙂

    Aaron, just an FYI – Buffalo Best Florist (on the Yahoo Local Buffalo, MN results) calls are answered in Waukesha, WI by an order gatherer. I’m guessing you’d know they were fakes based on the street address, but folks from out of the area probably won’t.

    Colin – I see one error right off the bat. The #1 result, Chez Bloom, is an independent flower shop and no longer affiliate with the KaBloom franchise. Their name and address are correct but their web address is http://www.chezbloom.com/. AFAICT, a search of the KaBloom site shows no franchises in Minnesota.

    The rest of Minneapolis looks pretty good and it appears you guys have done a fine job of culling out the junk that makes its way into so many local search vehicles. One company has managed to get three bites out of the apple by using different business names but at least a shopper will get a local florist.

    Did spot one pure phony –
    Florist In Saint Paul
    426 N Oxford St
    Saint Paul, MN 55104
    (651) 778-3423 winds up at the same order gatherer as the Buffalo listing mentioned above.

    Now about my home town of Anaheim – I was going to take you to task for the results seen this morning (lots of irrelevant advertisers) but they’ve been cleaned up now. Thanks for listing the national affiliate marketer ads separately from the true locals instead of mixing them in like the example in the post.

    Trust and credibility keep users coming back to the most successful sites. Can anyone name one search site that’s grown successful by deceiving consumers for ad dollars?

  8. Cathy says:

    Ooops, Simon was faster with the Chez Bloom info. I started this post earlier but got interrupted with work. 😉

  9. Paul says:

    I just saw one of the phonies you mentioned in Google Maps, too. From a consumer point of view, it kinda’ takes away trust for all the “search online, purchase offline” types – including myself.

    Colin, I’m a pretty big fan of what True Local has accomplished, and have even got the chance to meet a few of you during search conferences. Plug TL all you want! 🙂

  10. BOSS says:

    The sad reality is that today hurried consumers are at a loss to really know what or who is truly “local”.

    The yellow pages are part and party to the deception as you can see here http://www.floristdetective.com/wst_page11.aspx and when I have spoken to them, their answer to fighting this is to BUY and out pay the “national advertisers” which for every true Real Florist is not an option based on cash available.

    Until the laws already on the books in many states, are enforced it is really up to the consumer to attempt to ferret out if a shop is really local or not, and most consumers don’t even know there is a problem, until sadly, it is too late and they have paid their money.

    Funny, that the first three letters of the word consumer are CON.

  11. Thanks to Cathy & Simon for their input and to Paul for the opportunity and kind words!

    We’re working hard on the issues that have been raised here.

    Colin

  12. Julie says:

    One of the interesting elements to your choice of florists to look at is that the idea of ‘spending locally’ has a greater issue in that industry.

    If you order from a florist in Waukesha WI or Washington State, as Cathy references, they get a wire-service fee, and the local florist who fulfills the wire order also gets a cut of the take.

    So that’s two people taking money from the total value paid in. That’s money that won’t be spent on, say, FLOWERS FOR THE RECIPIENT.

    When you buy flowers directly from a real local merchant, you either save money on a similarly sized bouquet, or you get a bigger bouquet.

  13. Simon says:

    For one day, True local updated our information from Kabloom to Chez Bloom, then after several hours it was removed altogether. Gee Thanks…..

    Simon

  14. Paul, sorry to use your blog as a customer service tool, but I just wanted to assure Simon that Chez Bloom has not been removed from TrueLocal’s database as was feared. It can now be found here: http://www.truelocal.com/search.aspx?q=florist&cs=55416&p=5

  15. sam says:

    Well, Local.com recently has a re-design.
    http://corporate.local.com/press_center/release.asp?pressid=184

    It is not as busy… More importantly, the result is relevant. And it has Vanderbloom at the top.

    http://www.local.com/results.aspx?keyword=florist&location=Minneapolis%2C+MN&setlocation=on&newsearch=true

  16. Paul says:

    Thanks Sam, I haven’t seen that release yet.

    Indeed! It’s looking slick and thanks for keeping us updated!

  17. […] in their listings with bogus addresses and fake user reviews. In March 2007, I posted about local florist results and noted that the Yahoo Local listings were pretty relevant in Minneapolis. It didn’t take […]

  18. Simon says:

    Yahoo local listings are getting better, but if you are ever in doubt that the flower shop you are about to order from is legit, ask them if you can pick up your arrangement at their store. Any real brick and mortar flower shop would love for you to come in. I know we would! If they are not a real shop, hang up, you are about to get charged a bogus “service fee” that you will be paying a call center, not a florist. Call a real local shop, like us, or the many other great local florists around Minneapolis

    Chez Bloom

  19. Idetrorce says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  20. Simon says:

    To Idetrorce,
    Why even post a comment like that? If your going to make a comment such as “I don’t agree with you”, perhaps you could be a little specific, otherwise its just a waste of our time to read your post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: