Turn To Tara: Complaints mount against Long Island-based florist accused of duping customers
A Warwick man Turned To Tara after falling victim to an alleged scam involving a Long Island-based floral delivery company. It turns out that he may be just one of more than 100 people across the tri-state area who allegedly got duped after trying to place orders with the same company.
Greg Galluccio says he wanted to order flowers for his mother in Charleston on the day of her birthday. He says that 1-800-FLOWERS couldn’t provide same-day delivery, so he did a Google search – which led him to Sarata Flowers.
He says that the website looked legitimate, and his order initially went through. However, after several hours, Galluccio received an email from Sarata Flowers that said there was a problem with delivery and that a full refund would be provided.
"There was just no refund," he says. "I realized that this was a game they were playing."
His story isn't unique. It's one of 131 similar complaints that have landed on the desk of the Better Business Bureau involving the Sarata Florist Company.
"So, we had a situation where you had a very polished looking website. People were ordering flowers. They weren't getting them," said Rosenzweig.
Better Business Bureau Metro New York CEO Claire Rosenzweig says her team started to investigate, only to discover two other Long Island-based florists registered to the same Broadhollow Road address in Melville as Sarata. That location is home to a Bank of America branch - not a florist company.
The allegations have been mounting for those other two business as well. Rosenzweig says that to date, there are 1,578 complaints against Roger Florist and another 109 involving Baby Blue Florist - the same company that showed up on Gallacio's bill.
"The complaints are coming from all over the country," she says.
The Turn To Tara team also tried to contact the company, but could not reach them.
Rosenzweig offers tips to avoid getting duped ahead of Valentine's Day:
- Research the seller.
- Go online see what others are saying about the consumer experience.
- Read reviews.
- Verify the seller's contact information
- If they're claiming that they have a brick-and-mortar, go on a map app and see where the location is.
- When paying for your flowers, credit cards will offer the most protection. If something goes wrong, it's the credit card company working with the vendor. If you're using a debit card or wiring money, that money is gone.
She says it's important to report all incidents of fraud to the Better Business Bureau, the state attorney general's Consumer Affairs Office and the FBI's internet crime complaint center, known as IC3.
"It was really frustrating because I'm usually good at spotting the setup," says Galluccio.