The Thorny Road of Our Flower Delivery Driver

Published: Sunday 9 April 2023

The Thorny Road of Our Flower Delivery Driver

It's Kerry here and I’m Alstonville Florist’s delivery driver for deliveries to unusual or out of the way places.  There are many joyous moments of surprise and elation when flowers are delivered, and there are many challenging and occasionally funny experiences for the delivery driver.

One of my near life-threatening experiences was a flower delivery to Goonellabah in a semi-rural area along Skyline Road.  The gate was padlocked, the house was in sight, rain was coming, I could not contact the sender or recipient and it looked like a simple walk to the house …. so, I carefully placed the bouquet of flowers on the ground just inside the side of the gate, climbed over the gate and started walking with the bouquet toward the house.  Dogs I anticipated, but not a horse, a pony and a goat charging toward me! 

Yes, I made it back over the gate but left a shoe behind which I recovered when I finally contacted the recipient to organise another delivery time!

Learning 1 – don’t climb over padlocked gates to deliver flowers!

I encountered another locked gate with a flower delivery to Meerschaum Vale. I had delivered flowers to this address before and not seen any livestock, knew the residents were an older couple celebrating a significant wedding anniversary, had no mobile service, and as I was wearing sneakers, felt it was ok to walk around the side of this gate and take the flowers up to the house. It was a much longer walk than I anticipated, and a steep hill … and yes, the recipients were thrilled to receive their flowers … and I was very glad it was downhill to the car.

Learning 2 – find a better way to provide good customer service than climbing up hills!

Another challenge is working out when to say no. 

In the past there were occasions when I would personally deliver flowers to Lismore to an elderly lady who frequently asked me to come in and peal the pumpkin!!!!  It only took a few minutes of my time, and over the years we developed quite a friendship.  My delivery ‘duties’ were extended to preparing other vegetables, bringing in the washing, and on one occasion writing the addresses on envelopes containing Christmas cards.  Our team thought this was hilarious and created a series of pumpkin pealing  (and other) jokes at my expense.

Learning 3 – find a better way to provide good customer service than pealing pumpkin!

A year or two ago a customer ordered a flower delivery to Bangalow including a rather expensive bottle of scotch.  Our courier delivered the flowers and gift-wrapped bottle of scotch to the address on the requested Monday afternoon, and with no-one there to receive it, left the gift in a safe location near the front door.

The sender phoned us the next morning very upset that her gift had not been received and demanding a refund because her gift had not been delivered.  I asked her to confirm the delivery address and spoke with the courier who advised the gift had definitely been left at that address.   Our customer was adamant that it was the right address … so I drove to Bangalow to find out what had happened. 

The manager of the B&B where the gift had been left (which was the address given to us by the sender) had found the flowers and bottle of scotch and delivered them to the recipient who lived a few doors away on the Tuesday morning.  I called to see the recipient to check that everything was ok with the delivery, and, yes, it was.

When I contacted the sender she still demanded a refund because the gift had not been received on Monday, even though she had provided and confirmed an incorrect delivery address.

Learning 4 – with a little research into consumer law I ascertained that when an incorrect address is given and confirmed, and a delivery has been made to that address, it is the customer’s error, and we are not legally required to provide a refund.  However, if we inadvertently deliver the gift to someone at an address which is different to the address advised by our customer, we are responsible for the error and need to either replace the flowers or provide a refund.

Incorrect delivery addresses can be a problem, and not a week goes by without our couriers contacting us to advise the recipient has not lived at that address for years, or that number does not exist in that street, or there are six units at that address, or there is an apparently vicious dog at the premises and they do not think the delivery can be safely left.

Last week we received a phone call from a customer who let us know she had given us the wrong address for a flower delivery to Lennox Head which was delivered the previous week.  She asked if we had delivered the flowers to the correct address or the one she had given us!  She hadn’t heard from her friend! 

We did look into this (with our best customer service foot forward) and found out the person who had received the flowers at the incorrect address knew the intended recipient and had delivered the flowers to her.  We are so appreciative of kind-hearted people who step in on occasions like this.

The week before, we had a call from someone who had received flowers at number 10 X street in Lismore and phoned us to advise that the recipient did not live there. A phone call to the sender and a quick trip to redeliver flowers to Lismore, saw me collecting the flowers from number 10 and walking them around to number 12 X street.  The neighbours did not know each other.

The biggest problem with incorrect or incomplete delivery addresses is the delay in delivery, and also the cost of redelivery.  While we usually do not charge a redelivery fee when we know there is a genuine mistake, it is a cost in time and often $s to our small business.

Learning 5 – always double check the delivery address on an order with our customer, and ensure we have the phone numbers for the sender and the recipient.

And we make delivery mistakes.  Last Tuesday I was checking to make sure all orders had been filled and found we had sent a flower delivery to Ballina on Tuesday that should have been sent out on Thursday.  I phoned the sender to apologise, and she let me know her mum had already been in touch to thank her for her gift.   

This is the review Jo left us on Google.

Google Review

Learning 5 - Mistakes happen. I’ve made them, you’ve made them, and we're bound to make more. What is important is rectify things if we can and to learn from our mistakes.

It would take a while to explore many of the other delivery dilemmas I’ve experienced, and the following list is not exclusive …

  • dogs who like to either love you or ferociously protect their home and attack you
  • inside cats who want to be an outside cat when the door is opened
  • 3 to 8 point turns to get out of a driveway
  • poor weather conditions and flooded roads
  • the poor state of many of our rural roads and causeways
  • rural properties with no numbers
  • rural roads with conflicting number sequences
  • bush track driveways, corrugated or mud
  • needing to open and close a series of farm gates
  • flat tyres
  • Google insisting that the road goes over the river when there is no bridge
  • Google advising it is a 20-minute delivery from Alstonville Florist to that address when in reality it’s 40 minutes
  • a recipient refusing to accept flowers sent by a particular person
  • the police intervening when you deliver flowers to person A from person B
  • the sender recontacting us to request we do not use XYZ delivery company as the recipient has taken out a restraining order against a driver who works for that company.

But, I do have to admit that 99% of the time delivering flowers is a very enjoyable experience. 

Seeing the smiles, genuine happiness, love and appreciation when someone receives a beautiful bouquet, and knowing in just a small way we’re spreading love and happiness is a wonderful feeling.

Smiling woman with bouquet

So, when I next deliver flowers to your door, please don’t invite me in to peal the pumpkin, and please double check the recipient’s address before placing an order.  You will make the life of your local florist/delivery person a much more enjoyable experience.


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