Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gli Fiori

"The customer is always right"-  an indoctrinated attitude held by most Americans and an old adage perhaps completely foreign to most Italians. Recently, I experienced a hybridization of these dogmas.

Giulio just had a birthday which gave me another opportunity to consider how grateful I am that he is alive by commodifying my gratitude with something purchasable. Unfortunately we were forced to spend the day on separate hemispheres so I was limited to what I could send (Italian customs are notoriously greedy).

I opted for flowers and ordered them through an American company that commissions local Italian florists. I decided on a bouquet of wild orchids as they happen to be my favorite flower and are also of sentimental value to Giulio and I. To indulge a little extra in highlighting my affection, the package was also meant to include a "box of goodies" and a bouquet of balloons. 

The afternoon of Giulio's birthday, he called to thank me for the roses. "ROSES? what!?" Giulio is the first to know that roses happen to be, like, my least favorite flower (next to carnations). He himself even mentioned that he didn't realize they were from me until he opened the card because I would never send him roses (except maybe as a punishment). Trying not to sound confused and frustrated, I asked Giulio about the balloons and he naturally replied by saying "what balloons?" In my imagined glimpse of the imminent future, I likened myself to a violently angry parent publicly ruining his child's birthday by being overly fanatic at Chuck E. Cheese's; trying to remain calm,  I inquired into his "box of goodies", at which point he dangled a cheap plastic bag of conspicuously shitty candies in front of the skype video cam. I was horrified, so I wrote a letter. (a precautionary note- as it is my preferred intention to story-tell rather than be a consumer critic, I have changed the signature names of the flower company.)

Dear Sir or Madam,

I recently ordered flowers to be delivered to my boyfriend in Milan today. I have had several positive experiences with your company on previous occasions and so, have remained a loyal customer.

Today I was surprised to see that what my boyfriend received was not at all what I ordered. I paid for a bouquet of exotic orchids and Giulio instead received 8 pink roses. This was the first assault as he and I both know how much I have always disliked this particular flower. Secondly, the "box of goodies" that was to be delivered with the flowers was offensively cheap and reminded me of something that would be used to stuff a pinata. Thirdly, I spent fifteen extra dollars for this package to include a bouquet of balloons and he did not receive even one single deflated or inflated balloon.

I would like to continue my relationship with your company and so am asking you kindly to please remedy this issue in the way you best see fit.


This is what I received in return:

Dear Liv

Thank you for sending us a picture of the flowers and chocolates delivered to Giulio. We have forwarded the picture to the outlet and will keep you updated once we hear back from them.

Warm regards,

The following day, this arrived:

According to Giulio, the above card (mirror imaged as taken by the camera on his laptop) was a "hardly intelligible, hand written piece of toilet paper with: 'we apologize and we hope that you like the bouquet this time', as to suggest that I was, in fact, acting spoiled." 

So, as you might expect, I wrote another letter:

Dear Flora,

Thank you for your efforts following through with this matter. 

Attached are more pictures of what I suppose to be a reflection of your commissioned florist trying to ameliorate. Yesterday they sent a new bouquet, balloons, and an apology letter- something that should theoretically elicit my gratitude. Unfortunately, the replacement bouquet was still not orchids, rather gerbera daisies saturated with baby's breath (another flower I happen to dislike), three miniature inflated balloons and three non-inflated balloons (a far cry from the usual helium ones to which I am accustomed and are featured on your website), and an apology letter addressed to "Guido" instead of Giulio that sassily read "we hope you enjoy the bouquet this time".

I would very much like to keep relying on your company which is why I am once again requesting your attention to this matter.


After several days, I received their final attempt to remedy:

Dear Liv

We are extremely sorry as the flower arrangement delivered to Giulio was substituted, the box of goodies was offensive and the balloons were not delivered. The redelivery was also no upto your expectations. While we cannot make up for the lost moment, we have issued you a partial refund of 50% on this order. Credit will reflect in your account within 3-4 business days. In addition to this, we are also offering you a discount of $10 for your next order with us. This discount is valid till 3rd of September 2011. We are committed to you as a valued patron, and we hope that taking these immediate corrective steps will regain your confidence in us.

Warm regards,

I ended it there as I could understand that this was as far as I would get with them. Through  this, I have arrived at the conclusion that in the space where Italy meets America, the customer is always 50% right, 50% of the time. 


The Schumanator said...

ok, that is HILARIOUS. Methinks they were just fresh out of orchids. But who the fuck sends deflated balloons???

Oh well, hopefully Guido appreciated the gesture.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! What in the hell is in the "bag of goodies"?? Deb

Anonymous said...

Look at it this way: you were given the opportunity to write a fabulously witty story and you and Giulio will never ever forget his 25th...