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Cape Gazette
Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
May 1, 1998     Cape Gazette
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May 1, 1998
 

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May I - May 7, 1998 - 19 Florist bill will root out misrepresentation; local merchants relieved By Rosanne Pack The Delaware legislature is try- ing to weed out the encroachment of out-of-state florist operations that pass themselves off as local business people when they take phoned-in flower orders. A bill, S.B.209, that passed the Senate earlier this week would make it illegal for an out-of-area florist business to misrepresent its geographic location by using a lo- cal name and/or listing in a local phone book that makes it appear that the business is physically in the area. According to legislators and area florists, a business name incorporating the local town or re- gion identification and local phone numbers are in local direc- tories, but the calls for floral or- ders actually go to phone banks in other states. Once taken, the or- ders are called in to a local florist for delivery. The phone-in busi- ness takes a fee off the top and charges the local florist a fee of 25 percent of the order. Sally Hastings, owner of Silk & Sands Florist in Lewes, said the local florists and the consumers were all losing on the out-of-state operations. She said the cost of a minimum order is $38.95, but, by the time fees are taken out and the order is referred to a local florist, the consumer is getting only $22.50 worth of flowers. "The consumer, many of whom are local, think that they were call- ing a nearby business when they look up Rehoboth Beach Florist and see a 227-number," Hastings said. "What they don't know is that the 227 exchange rings through to a phone operation in New Jersey and they turn around and call back here to place the or- der. "And when we deliver $22.50 worth of flowers, the consumer thinks that they should get more for $38.95. People need to ask if the business that they are calling is actually local, ask the location." The owner of Murrow's Flow- ers, Will Davis, said some cus- tomers have asked if they are ac- tually in the area when they call in an order. Honest-to-goodness shop? "They say, 'Are you an honest- to-goodness florist with a shop here,' " Davis said. "Some have had an experience when they called a local number or an 800 listing for a business with a local name, and they got cheated. "You look in the phone book and you see Rehoboth Beach Florist or Angola Florist listed, no street address, a local number and an 800 number. I can tell you, there is no Rehoboth Beach or Angola Florist in those towns, but if you open the phone book and see them with a local number, you assume they are local." Davis said that his business has definitely lost money because of the out-of-state florist operations that have no shops or flowers. He pointed out that even if they call him to fill an order, he has already lost 25 percent in the fee that the phone florist takes out. "Sometimes, if we know it's the New Jersey or Connecticut opera- tions, we refuse the order," he said. "If a locally placed order does not satisfy the customer, I will replace it, but I have a differ- ent feeling about something that comes from a New Jersey order. "We work hard to please, but we have to draw the line some- where." Hastings said it was coinciden- tal that she recently brought up the problem of out-of-state floral op- erations at a Lewes Chamber of Commerce meeting. She was sur- prised and delighted to hear that the Delaware Senate acted on the identical issue this week. She said it has taken area florists a couple of years to run down the problem of the out-of-state floral orders. "One florist in Harrington start- ed the ball rolling when he real- ized there were several local list- ings for Harrington Florist with no address, but a local number and an RE.ELECT JIM FORD Saturday, May 9th Proven & Experienced as your Lewes City Councilman "Thank-you For 00/our Support" Connect with Delaxvare Tech . Paid for By Friends Of Jim Ford. 800-number," Hastings said. "We started looking and saw numerous listings for Wilmington Florist and other town names. People call an 800-number and just assume that they are talking to the area of the town name. They have no idea that the people delivering the flowers didn't take the order, and the 800-number people don't know who is delivering the flow- ers. "I called one and asked where they were located, and they told me that they dealt with different florists in the area. They gave the impression that they were local." The intent of the legislation is to prohibit the phone order florists from misrepresenting where they are and if they actually have a shop. Several other states have passed or have similar legislation pending. Hastings said the out-of-state operations have avoided issues of a business license because they re- fer the orders to legally licensed florists. Davis said that concerned area residents need to notify their Continued on page 20 G E R O NTO L O GY Associate Degree, Diploma, Certificates & Workshops at Delaware Tech Baby Boomers & Beyond ... The Future Life expectancy has increased almost 30 years in the last century, and most people are enjoying better health during those extra years. The Census Bureau estimates the number of elderly people will go from 32 to 60 million in the next 30 years. Delaware is in a unique position - it has a high percentage of elderly people (16.5%); Sussex County has an even higher percentage (24%) of population over the age of 60. 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