There are still a few good wire services but they are more the exception than the rule. One of the good ones is BBrook's Fine Flowers which is based mainly in the USA but does have members around the world. Although this company tends to be more on the high end they are also very discriminating with their membership and only the best florists are allowed to be members so you know the gift you send will be of the highest quality.
The major wire services don't have strict standards for their member florists. In fact you don't even have to be a florist anymore to be a member. These non florist members are called "order gatherers" .They have websites and take orders so they can get the 20% commission but they don't go anywhere near flowers and most of them wouldn't have a clue how to design a floral arrangement. The wire services not only condone but encourage this because it means more money for them from the membership fees and the cut they get in every transaction.Some of these order gatherers also "pretend" they are a local florist by having multiple city names attached to their websites . If you see a website domain name that has a / at the end with a name of a city chances are this is an order gatherer website. Some examples are XYZ Florist.com/Florist+Victoria BC, or XYZ Florist.com/Victoria-Flowers, or XYZ Floral.ca/Victoria. Avoid these type of websites - they are not florists - only somebody that wants to get 20% commission of your money.
Fortunately there are now forums of real honest florists that are banding together who will no longer accept orders from these order gatherers and it is getting harder and harder for them to find anyone that is willing to fill their orders. Hopefully it is just a matter of time before they cease to exist.
Many years ago there was a reason for a wire service to exist but today with easy access to the internet and the prevalence of toll free numbers there is no reason to not order directly from a local florist and to get 100% of what you pay going to the flowers and delivery rather than supporting middlemen along the way.
All it takes is a few extra minutes to find a local florist that best fits your needs. If you are really rushed for time there are some better alternatives to the major wire services where you will still get full value for your dollar. Two examples of these are the Flower Shop Network and Direct2florist. Florists pay the Flower Shop Network a yearly fee to be listed but you go directly to the local florist's website to order and no extra charges are incurred. There is a small charge of roughly $6.00 when you order from Direct2florist but that is a lot less than the traditional wire services which can add up to as much as 37% of your order.
If you have the few extra minutes to research a local florist yourself you will find it will be well worth the effort. Simply google the local florist by searching "cityflorist" for instance if you need a florist in Victoria BC simply search" Victoria BC florist" and a list of local florists will appear. The next step is to confirm that they are a real local florist and not a "pretender" (order gatherer) by checking their contact page. I have Mapquest installed on my contact page so you can see exactly where my floral design studio is located in Victoria but the florist should at least have a local address and phone number with the correct area code.
Most local florists display their own designs on their websites rather than the basic wire service designs so you will be able to see which florist you prefer.You will also find it is more personal dealing with a local florist and that if you have questions they will be answered in a timely manner rather than having to be relayed through the wire service.
Many independent florists offer added benefits. We found that most people that order flowers are from other cities and they never get to see the actual gift they purchased. We do up the arrangement for you and before the delivery service picks it up we take a picture. Later that day after all the deliveries have gone out we email you the picture. When your mom or Aunty Betty calls you and says the flowers were beautiful you will know because you have a picture of them.
So why order directly from a local florist? Just a few reasons are - the best value for your money, personalized customer service, speedy replies to your enquiries, originality of the floral designs, and often added benefits such as an emailed picture of your order.
This year order direct and I'm sure you will be happy that you did. Why not save the florist's website in your favourites and then the next time you need to order flowers you can save even the few extra minutes it took to order the first time.
Example of an original design that you won't find through a wire service: