Why Ava’s Flowers & Trust Pilot are 2 Online Sites Consumers Should Avoid
This post discusses two online businesses I encountered recently that operate deceptively and who’s business practices aren’t focused on building customer satisfaction. The sites I warn against using are:
- Trust Pilot – This is a Business That Purports to Operate a Consumer Review Website
- Ava’s Flowers – Their Website Represents Them as a Local Florist That’s Conveniently Well Situated in Every Single City, Town & Village in the USA
Rarely do I have occasion to write such a negative post. In fact it pains me to do so. Who wants to expend energy on negativity?
What vsatips & vsatrends are all about…
The focus of my websites has always been on sharing amazing things I’ve discovered and have slowly grown to depend on because they continue being amazing. Or, I write about tips for using tools or resources that I love. Last I like to share ideas on how to accomplish challenging tasks using technology or occasionally I write about something that doesn’t fall into any one of those usual groups but that I just ran across and thought was cool enough to want to share.
What vsatips & vsatrends are not usually about is…
Writing about businesses or companies who’s poor practices garner so many customer complaints they appear to be intentionally ripping off their customers. Or, that their treatment of customers is so poor that claims of harassment aren’t infrequent. Their sole business is serving customers yet it appears they are failing monumentally and at every perceptible level. Yet their failure’s seem to not be negatively impacting their bottom line. Quite the opposite in fact appears to be the case. They appear to be financially healthy and quite possibly even flourishing. Which leads to the inevitable perception that their business practices must be balancing precariously upon a very fine line between appropriate and borderline criminal behavior.
The Sequence of Events Leading Up to My Writing These Profoundly Negative Reviews of Ava’s Flowers & Trust Pilot
Sending Mother’s Day Flowers has Become a Time-Honored Tradition
Mother’s Day this year presented some high’s and some lows for me. Included among the highs were:
- I was the proud and happy recipient of flowers from my son’s
- This was a first since they’ve both recently entered young adulthood.
- Talking to them both on Mother’s Day caused me to recognize that they’ve both completely crossed that invisible line which leaves childhood fully behind and which opens up new doors for relationship bonding and exciting new avenues to explore
Some of the lows were:
- The biggest low was that they were unwittingly scammed by a website calling themselves Ava’s Flowers.
- Ava’s was supposed deliver a beautiful flower arrangement on Mother’s Day…instead they delivered a sorry arrangement of half browned out flowers not on Mother’s Day, but a day earlier.
- While most florists would own up to their errors and correct them, Ava’s never even returned any of the 4 calls I made in which I left messages explaining what the problems were.
- After discussing the problems with my son’s, which was something I’d hoped to avoid, I discovered that they were misled by Ava’s website into believing that Ava’s was a local florist.
- Spending a lot of time on Mother’s Day and subsequent days trying to reach a resolution to the problem
Ava’s Flowers is Scam Website Tricking Innocents Into Believing That They are ‘Local’
My son’s put forth some time and effort into selecting who and where they’d choose to do business for their 1st flower delivery. After reviewing the multitude of choices they selected Ava’s because they were local. Not just to my metropolitan area but to my actual suburb too. It appears that Ava’s has gone to great lengths to present their services online as local…no matter where in the USA you may reside.
I’m not quite sure how Ava’s pulls this off, but you can visit their website and see for yourself, which leads to my warning:
Buyer’s Beware of Ava’s Flower’s
Ava’s Flower’s is not a local florist. Not unless you’re from Mahwah, New Jersey.
According to a recent local Better Business Bureau report…Ava’s Flower’s is not a reputable business. The BBB has amassed a huge number of complaints about Ava’s.
They’ve received so many complaints in fact that they published a report about Avas. You can read the BBB’s PDF report regarding Ava’s Flower’s here.
But is Deceiving Consumers into Thinking Ava’s Flowers is Local Their Only Crime?
Sadly, no. if that were the case I wouldn’t feel compelled to be spending this beautiful spring Saturday indoors writing this negative blog post. The flowers that were delivered were substandard…over half of them were brown, broken and dying. After getting over my initial shock that my boys even thought to honor me on Mother’s Day in such a kind and loving way, I called the delivery phone number left on the little delivery card. There was nothing but a number to call.
That call led to me spending the rest of Mother’s Day trying to figure out how to remedy the situation so I could happily report back to my boys that the flowers were AMAZING and HOW MUCH I loved and appreciated them. My calls…4 of them in total weren’t returned. The only form of communication I ever received back from Ava’s Flowers was a ‘cease and desist’ order from Trust Pilot.
The Evidence Stacked Against Ava’s Flowers
ConsumerAffairs.com Lists their top 456 complaints about Ava’s Flowers on their website. If you’d like to read them on a PDF I’ve copied around the first 40 onto a PDF document you can download here.
ReviewsTalk.com is apparently a REAL review site. I say that because I found a review there which explained to me a lot about how Ava’s operates and what their true business practices are. I’ve placed a red box around the enlightening section in the screenshot below:
An online petition was signed by 411 supporters at change.org asking the City of New York to investigate all the negative complaints against Ava’s or the alias they use in NY New City Florists.
The Trustworthiness of Trustpilot’s Reviews is Questionable at Best
In case you’ve never heard of them (don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either) Trustpilot is a website purporting to be a review site for consumers. It was Trustpilot’s site that I choose…or really, that chose me as my place to register my unhappiness given the abysmal flowers I’d received from Ava’s. I say ‘chose me‘ because I searched for reviews of Ava’s and Trustpilot was the only review site alternative appearing in my search results. So I created a user account at Trustpilot purely so I could write my negative review for Ava’s Flowers.
What I discovered after receiving 4 almost immediate upvotes for my review was that within hours of my posting it…Trustpilot was contacted by Ava’s Flowers and told to unpublish my review…probably along with thousands of others I suspect…until I could prove my claim. Which I’ve spent the last few weeks attempting to do.
Restoring My Trustpilot Review Proved to Be a Time Consuming & Ultimate Utter Failure
Why, you might wonder? If Trustpilot wants to protect consumers, why would they side with the large businesses that their user base is generally writing about? That’s a great question (and one I also wondered about.) It’s one that’s been answered several times in the following articles:
Companies from Hell | Are Trustpilot Reviews Reliable?
The Guardian’s Fake Reviews Plague Consumer Websites
BBC New’s Navigating the Potentially Murky World of Online Reviews
Tech CR unch’es Trustpilot Raises $4.5m To Scale Up Trust Ratings For Shopping
David Naylor’s Google How Can You Trust Trust Pilot?
It was this third link, while reading through the comments section, that I got the answer to my question in the form of
Trustpilot’s Business Model
Rachael dale’s comment: “Everyone knows TrustPilot business models – Trustpilot takes money from businesses to show fake positive reviews about other companies, ‘ John Lewis ‘ for instance pays a monthly fee for Trustpilot’s fake reviews and they earn a monthly fee from John lewis. Would they want to piss off John Lewis by showing bad reviews from them? No they would only want to show positive reviews about them. So they put fake reviews for such companies.'”
“If you notice there’s a pattern. After every 1 bad review there are 5 fake positive ones (only for websites they take a monthly fee for the rest its just a string of bad reviews) so as to bury a negative one on a pile of good ones so that people think OHH it does not matter they have one bad one but 5 positives.”
So in the end conclusion it’s all Lies on the Trustpilot website!
Lest you think I’m not being thorough in my research regarding Trustpilot…let me put your fears to rest. No, I’m not basing my opinion upon a handful of negative online articles. Quite the contrary in fact…I’ve spent far too much time researching this topic and fear overwhelming my readers with tons of useless data that you’d need to slog through in order to arrive at any useful kernels of wisdom.
Below PlanetMaketing ‘s comparison confirms what we’ve already learned and adds a bit of new information about Trustpilot’s business practices.
PlanetMarketing’s 2015 Comparison of 3 Reviews Websites as Business Alternatives Doesn’t Recommend Trustpilot (refer to the screenshot below)
What’s a little scary to me is how huge Trust Pilot actually is…granted this was found at their own website!
In fact, if their advertising is to be believed, the web building engine I use for vsatrends, WordPress.com is a client! Which makes me think that most of their clientele are garnered using ‘threat based’ motivation versus positive.
Above: Some of Trust Pilot’s Business Clients
But their business model does seem to be the guiding force behind their representation of consumer’s reviews. When you first arrive at Trustpilot’s site as a new consumer you’re met with the screenshot below…which is actually a constantly changing update of their most recent reviews. I watched it for a while to see if there were ever an instance of negative reviews outweighing positive ones in numbers…but never encountered that phenomenon.
In fact I’ve compiled so much compelling evidence proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that both Ava’s Flowers and Trustpilot are websites that consumers should try to veer completely clear of in order to remain safe online, that I’m adding an Additional Resource section below for anyone who might be interested in additional information.
Fear of Identity Theft is Just One Reason Why Consumer’s Should Steer Clear of Trustpilot
The following screenshot is taken from Wikipedia’s article on Trustpilot.
Florists are The Perfect Business Partner for Fake Online Review Websites
Why do I say that? Because it dawned on me as I’ve been researching and writing this, that florists provide a product which their customer’s generally don’t have a lot of recourse for when the florist fails to deliver. One big reason is because the recipient isn’t generally the purchaser. Therefore websites like Trustpilot which consider a purchase Receipt as the gold standard for proof when one of their business clients objects to a consumer’s negative review, can easily unpublish the unhappy person’s review…which is exactly what occurred in my case. What evidence can a flower recipient really provide to one of the big review scammers?
In my case the ‘proof’ I provided to Trustpilot when requested included:
- Several photographs of the actual Flowers which could be verified with EXIF and META data because I left that information intact
- The paper documentation I received along with the flowers, which included a ‘typed’ Mother’s Day message from my sons, my address, the date of delivery (which was the wrong date…they were supposed to be delivered on Mother’s Day but were actually delivered a day earlier.)
- The New Jersey Better Business Bureau’s report of Ava’s poor customer relations (included in the resource section at the end.)
But none of my evidence was proof enough for Trustpilot. I’ve also included all of my email correspondence with Trustpilot in the Additional Resources at the end of this post.
So Ava’s sells a product in which they mislead consumer’s into believing will be provided locally that they have absolutely no motivation to actually provide…because the recipient has no means of recourse if they don’t deliver. I’m learning that most of the big review sites operate with business models like Trustpilot’s, so their motivation is purely to please the businesses they have as clients or to present the most advantageous picture possible to potential new clients.
It’s no wonder then that almost all of the florist reviews that you see online are positive bordering upon glowing.
The UK’s Register article Is iFlorist the greatest website in the universe, ever?
A PDF showing pages and pages of negative reviews of Ava’s Flowers on Trustpilot specifically surrounding the date for Mother’s Day 2017
It wasn’t easy now that I understand Trustpilot’s leanings towards always displaying deceptively positive reviews at the consumer’s expense…but I finally figured out how to use their website to see the ‘true’ reviews of a business. Which is how I was able to find all the negative ones contained in this PDF.
Please feel free to leave me any comments below.