By Stephanie Cavanaugh
A FEW WEEKS ago I wrote a column about buying flowers online and gave a particular mention to Urban Stems, which a friend used to send me a bouquet, a sympathy gift when my sister passed away. The flowers came without a container, packed in a jolly box. I have plenty of vases, so no problem. The flowers were joyful, a fantasy of color and composition. I loved them.
The next week I received another incredible arrangement from friends, also from Urban Stems. This one came in a simple white ceramic vase. And again, it was a pleasure. Actually, too great a pleasure: The arrangement was so enormous it overwhelmed my tabletops—all of them, except the kitchen counter. Much as I liked seeing them as I chopped liver and flipped crepes (not the same meal), it was a bit crowded. So.
I gave half the flowers and the vase to Baby, who is heavily and imminently expecting Baby Boy Dos, and could use a lift. She set the vase on the oak dining table in her kitchen (oh, the envy—a kitchen table. Sigh).
Then! The following week—where are we now, ummm, about 10 days ago—another arrangement arrived, a big beautiful bunch of lilies in tight bud. No vase, but again, no problem. (Have I mentioned how much I hate the phrase “no problem”? But in this case, no problem is what it was).
I clipped the bottoms of the lilies’s stems (you need to do this to restore the stems to their function as drinking straws), put them in water, and waited and waited. Still waiting. And waited. And the buds never opened, instead browning at the tips and beginning to shrivel.
This was disappointing.
The Urban Stems website has a customer-service email address, which I figured might or might not respond, as these things go. They requested a photo of the problem, which I sent along with a note about how delighted I was with the two other bunches I’d received previously.
And lo! Within minutes, there was an email from a “Smile Server” with the unlikely but divine name Czarina, offering me either an immediate replacement or a credit that I could use whenever I felt the need for flowers. I took the credit, with thanks.
Then! Baby told me the vase they sent with the flowers I had shared leaked, which she hadn’t immediately noticed. The table, which My Prince made many years ago, and so is a treasure, had a thick protective coating—thankfully—so there was no damage. But if it hadn’t been coated, oy.
Expecting nothing, simply wanting to alert the company about the issue, she emailed Urban Stems, told them exactly what had happened, including that the vase and flowers had been regifted by me.
And lo! Within minutes she too received a credit. This left me feeling guilty for five minutes or so. It didn’t sit right . . . but then, if I had kept the arrangement and the vase and had set it on a wood table and it leaked . . . oy.
SO! Despite two out of three orders having issues, Urban Stems made good. These folks really know how to handle customer service. Swiftly, graciously, one might even say beyond the call.
Standing ovation, please.
By the way, checking their email address just now, I notice they have a 15%-off spring special.