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‘A handful of little carnations’: Customers complain Bloomex’s bouquets don’t always arrive as advertised

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When Pat Hodnett’s sister-in-law passed away last year, a bouquet of “cheerful” flowers seemed the perfect way to honour her memory.

“Betty was a gardener … she loved happy, cheerful flowers,” said Hodnett.  

Hodnett looked online and came across Bloomex.ca. With Betty in mind, she selected a bouquet of 50 daisies — an arrangement called the Voyage of the Doves — and paid a total of $73 to have the flowers delivered to the church.

“I just thought she would love them,” Hodnett said.

But when she arrived at the funeral service, her daisies were nowhere to be found.

“I looked at the cards … and when I got to the end, it was a little vase: It had a handful of little carnations.… I looked at the card and it was from me,” said Hodnett.

“It was just very cheap-looking … I was so embarrassed,” said Hodnett. “I just wanted to hide it.”

5 bouquets

Billing itself “Canada’s official florist,” Bloomex advertises that it purchases flowers directly from growers and suppliers in order to deliver a fresh product to customers for a better price.

The Ottawa-based company also claims to be Canada’s largest florist and operates nationally, shipping products from eight warehouses across the country. Bloomex also sells other products, like gourmet gift baskets and balloons.

To test the quality of Bloomex’s products, Marketplace ordered five different bouquets from the online retailer to be delivered within the Toronto area.

None arrived within the selected delivery window, even though Marketplace had paid extra for them to be delivered at that time. Delivery confirmation emails for each bouquet also arrived prior to any of the bouquets being delivered.

Marketplace also showed all five bouquets to Don Waltho, a longtime florist and founder of the Canadian Institute of Floral Design (CIFD), a private career college registered with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, asking him to compare the delivered products with the flowers that were advertised on Bloomex’s website.

Overall, Waltho graded all five bouquets as a “fail” due to the poor quality and condition of the flowers; he also identified many flowers that were missing or where others were substituted in.

Bloomex’s substitution policy states that “due to our order volume fluctuation, we reserve the right to substitute with similar product of equal or greater value.”

But with the bouquets Marketplace received, Waltho said that wasn’t always the case. He noted all of the greenery in the bouquets was leather fern, for example, what he described as a cheap substitute for the greenery shown in the images.

“If I was your husband [and] I gave these to you … you’d say don’t send me flowers … let’s just go out for our anniversary, let’s go to dinner,” he said.

“I’m ashamed of people in my industry sending this kind of material out to consumers.”

Waltho said he worries that the quality of the Bloomex’s bouquets could tarnish the floral industry — and he’s not alone.

Don Waltho, who has more than 30 years experience in the floral industry, graded all five Bloomex bouquets delivered to Marketplace as ‘fails’ due to the poor quality and condition of the flowers. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

Marketplace shared footage of the bouquets with other retail florists and floral design instructors, specifying only that the flowers were ordered online, without naming the company they had come from.

“I was actually completely taken aback looking at them,” said Becky De Oliveira, the owner of Blush and Bloom Flower Studio in Toronto. “After 20 years in flowers, I was both mortified and embarrassed.”

De Oliveira has worked in retail shops that offer online ordering and said it was often difficult to meet client expectations and replicate bouquets exactly as advertised, noting factors such as what was in stock and seasonal availability come into play.

But she called the differences in the flowers ordered by Marketplace “astounding.”

Customers are usually not picky about flower substitutions, De Oliveira said, adding she would inform her clients when swaps needed to be made.

But she said the substitutions used in the Marketplace bouquets “clearly compromised the design greatly.” Marketplace received no notice of substitutions for its orders.

Wilting reviews

Marketplace has also tested Bloomex in the past. Since that 2010 episode, dozens of unhappy customers have been in touch with the program, complaining of poor-quality flowers, late delivery, or no delivery at all.

“I ordered flowers for my grandmother’s 81st birthday a few days in advance and paid the extra shipping to make sure it would be delivered on her actual birthday,” said Sage Daniels. “My grandma finally got the irises after two weeks. They never opened … and died with in three days.”

Bloomex offered a credit for the late flowers, Daniels said, but refused to cover the additional delivery cost.

Because of a Bloomex bouquet, Katrin Chitaroni said she spent much of the funeral for her best friend’s parents picking up petals off the carpet.

“The chrysanthemums were so dry and old that they had their heads hanging down.… It was embarrassing.”

JudyAnn Jensen said she used Bloomex to send a “gourmet” gift basket and planter to family friends who just buried their parents. The items that were included were digestive cookies, sour soothers, Bigfoot candies and a box of Triscuits — none of which are pictured in the baskets advertised on Bloomex’s website.

JudyAnn Jensen calls the products Bloomex sent as a condolence ‘gourmet’ gift basket on her behalf ‘absolutely embarrassing and unacceptable.’ (JudyAnn Jensen)

When Jensen complained, Bloomex told her that in the “unlikely event” the company is sold out of a particular product, “we are able to substitute with another similar product.”

Jensen calls that explanation unacceptable.

“I don’t believe digestive [cookies], Triscuits and sour suckers are remotely close to ‘similar products,’ let alone the nature of sending such items to a family who just buried both their elderly parents.”

Marketplace shared the findings of its delivery test with Bloomex, including photos and general delivery locations. The company declined an interview, stating it needed more information. But in letters sent through a lawyer, Bloomex stated that “flowers are perishable” and the company “makes every effort to get flowers delivered in good condition.”

The company also stated it “endeavors to address all complaints quickly” and that their policy requires customers looking for replacement flowers or refunds to send a photo of what they received.

As for Pat Hodnett, when she reached out to Bloomex to complain about her bouquet, she said she was hung up on by Bloomex staff in mid-conversation.

“I told her how unhappy I was, that I was embarrassed and that it wasn’t what I ordered and that I wanted my money back,” she recalled.

Hodnett was told she’d need to email the manager, but when she asked for that contact information, the response was a dial tone.

After refusing Bloomex’s offer of a discount off her next order, it took a complaint to Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to receive a refund.

Ultimately, Hodnett says, it’s not too much for customers to expect to receive what they paid for.

“Be truthful. Do what you say you’re going to do, and be upfront about it.”

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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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