Shame on Them! 1-800-Flowers Denied Contest Prize to Dog Rescue?

The multimillion-dollar flower company tried to deny a prize to Lucky Dog Rescue, according to the rescue's owner. Why would they do that?

1-800-Flowers and Lucky Dog Rescue
1-800-Flowers.com says the contest prize was not awarded due to “miscommunication.”

Editor’s Note: 1-800-Flowers has announced that the prize WILL now be awarded just as the winner had hoped — to Lucky Dog Rescue! Actually the prize was doubled. Yay. Find out more in our updates below the article.

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When I saw the post on Facebook, I got shivers.

Would a major, multimillion-dollar flower-delivery company deny a contest prize to a registered nonprofit rescue? If so, why?

Let me run down the details for you, as recounted on Facebook:

  • In March, a woman named Maria entered her dog Stacey Mae, a therapy dog, in a photo contest from 1-800-Flowers.com. The contest was called “There’s a New Bunny in Town Photo Contest.”
  • Stacy Mae
    Stacey Mae

    Maria decided to dedicate her prize to Lucky Dog Rescue, run by her good friend Ashley Owen Hill, who does amazing work with rescues in Mississippi. Lucky Dog Rescue is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. The grand prize included a year’s worth of dog food, something Ashley says her dogs “desperately need.”

  • Maria won the contest! Then… crickets chirped. Tumbleweeds rolled by. Months passed, and Lucky Dog Rescue saw nary a nibble of kibble. What was going on?
  • Maria placed some calls to 1-800-Flowers, but no call was returned, she says. So Ashley from Lucky Dog Rescue called the company. Representatives from the company denied there was even such a contest, she claims. One person laughed at her and said she must have “invented” the contest, according to Ashley. Finally, after a series of transferred calls, she spoke to someone who acknowledged that the contest existed. But…
  • 1-800-Flowers then told Ashley that the grand prize was nontransferable, she says. Yes, Maria had won it, but she couldn’t transfer it to the dog rescue. Therefore, he said (according to Ashley), the prize would be null and void, as stipulated by the contest rules. It’s as if Maria never won it.

Ashley maintains that the rules were never clearly stated. It’s hard to know, because apparently Sunday evening 1-800-Flowers removed any mention of the contest from its website. How convenient. Here are some details as listed on another site, though. And I found this screen grab of the contest, where you can see a link to the Official Rules, which I circled for emphasis. BUT… without being able to see those actual rules, there’s no way to know if they were “clearly stated” or not.

Then again, how much does some rule technicality really matter in the scheme of things? I mean, really?

Ashley wrote in a note on Facebook on Sunday:

“You mean to tell me that a very generous person entered and won your company’s contest, on behalf of a CHARITY, and your company would choose to willingly deny that animal charity the chance to receive a year’s worth of free dog food for dogs in need??? Not to mention… this person promoted your company’s contest –and therefore, YOUR 1-800-flowers COMPANY NAME– on a Facebook page with more than 18,000 fans… which was then shared by my pages, with more than 500,000 fans… but your company is unwilling to honor those earned and promised winnings, because the winner wishes to donate those winnings to a charity???”

His response, according to Ashley:

“Yes ma’am.”

Ashley says, “I’d never expect them to send enough free dog food for all of my dogs, but even one bag per month would change my world here.”

There's a New Bunny in Town Photo Contest - 1-800-Flowers
Screen grab of the contest on the 1-800-Flowers website, late March

It’s sad that a company with nearly $700 million in revenue last year is apparently taking away a contest prize from a dog rescue that needs the food. If you’re as outraged as I am, you’ll call or write 1-800-Flowers and find out why they did this. Post your comment on their Facebook wall.

1-800-Flowers boycott 2012
Someone created this logo, which is now showing up online.

I’m told that negative comments are being deleted on the 1-800-Flowers Facebook page. But the comments are coming in ferociously fast, faster than they can be deleted: here is a screen grab. 1-800-Flowers may be hoping this will just all go away.

Also, a Facebook group has now been created to boycott 1-800-Flowers.

And when this is all over, I’d like to see Ashley’s rescue get her food, and I’d like to see a GIGANTIC bouquet of roses delivered to Maria, who entered the contest only so that she could do something amazing for a charity and a friend.

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Updates to This Article

UPDATE #1: Wag.com, one of the contest sponsors, has responded. Wag was the sponsor that was supposed to be providing the year’s supply of dog food. Here’s what Wag said late Sunday night (about 11:15pm Eastern time):

“Hi everyone, We are disappointed to hear about this. Please rest assured we are looking into this and we will do everything we can to help. We will provide an update as soon as we can.”

And Wag also said:

“Thanks to Ashley and all her supporters for alerting us.”

UPDATE #2: Wag.com has now responded that “The food will be taken care of”!

That’s great news! Here is what they wrote on Facebook, just after midnight:

Wag.com's response on Facebook

The 1-800-Flowers crew could certainly learn a few lessons from Wag.com, which appears to be genuinely concerned and not trying to hide anything. All we want are answers, after all, not dust thrown up in our faces.

UPDATE #3: Early Monday morning, it appears that 1-800-Flowers has stopped deleting comments posted on their Facebook wall. Meanwhile, someone claims that she received the following in response to her letter to the company:

“Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. We are looking into the matter immediately and our Corporate team is following up as well.”

UPDATE #4: Around 8:30 Monday morning, 1-800-Flowers finally spoke out, releasing this statement:

1-800-Flowers statement on contest

However, even though the company appears to be taking steps to rectify the situation, some people aren’t impressed with the wording:

  • Karri V. says: “‘Misunderstanding’… nice.”
  • Connie V. says: “Please don’t spin this with words like ‘misunderstanding’ and ‘appropriate’… WE are not the fools here.”
  • John B. says: “‘Look into it’? Do what you should do… award the promised prize.”
  • Dawn F. says: “Follow up with ‘the winner’… hmmm… no mention of Stacey Mae or Lucky Dog. Maybe I’m just overly suspicious, but once bitten, twice shy.”
  • Paula G. says: “Gee, I recognize that smell.”
  • Sarah G. says: “‘Following up’ and actually taking action are two different things.”
  • Josy K. says: “Kudos to Wag.com for stepping up when 1-800-FLOWERS is still ‘looking into the matter.'”

UPDATE #5: I’m a little concerned now about Wag.com’s response. On Sunday night someone from the company posted on Facebook that “The food will be taken care of. No worries.” But Wag has grown suspiciously cagier since then.

Early Monday morning Wag gave no more mention of the dog food being “taken care of.” Instead, there was a lot of “we support the rescue community.” Then, later Monday morning, around 9:30, Wag appeared to go silent, even as people left more comments begging for some sort of official statement or confirmation that Wag would make good on the prize delivery. No reply from Wag during the past three hours.

Here’s the last thing I’ve seen Wag say:

Wag.com comment, Monday morning 10:30am Eastern

So, what gives, Wag? You’re not having a change of heart, are you? Are you going to stand by your word from Sunday night?

UPDATE #6: At about 1pm, Wag resurfaced, making this new statement in response to a question about whether they will still honor the prize, as they seemed to be saying Sunday night:

“We’ve contacted Ashley and spoken to 1-800-FLOWERS and the issue will be resolved today. More to come. We promise.”

UPDATE #7: Road Trip! While we’re waiting for the corporations to decide on their next course of action, Pets Adviser is in a fortunate position to help Lucky Dog Rescue. Our managing editor, Kristine, lives about three hours’ drive from the rescue and will be personally delivering a healthy supply of dog food and toys there on Tuesday. Ashley tells us she’s more than happy to accept the delivery! Pets Adviser is able to provide this donation thanks, in part, to advertising on this website. (Find out more about how we support animal welfare causes.)

To Lucky Dog Rescue, from Pets Adviser

UPDATE #8: Another contest sponsor, Planet Dog, has made a very supportive statement on Lucky Dog Rescue’s Facebook wall:

“To those of you wondering about our involvement in the 1-800-Flowers.com contest, we wanted to let you know that we did donate a year’s supply of Planet Dog products for the Grand Prize. We sent our prize to Maria Mandel, who won the contest for an image of Stacey Mae, her service dog. When Maria informed us that her dog loves toys that squeak, we were happy to add some of our squeaky toys to the dozen other products we committed to.

We are extremely disappointed to hear that 1-800-FLOWERS.com would not send her other prize (a year’s supply of dog food from Wag.com) to your organization as Maria so thoughtfully requested. We were even more disappointed and shocked to learn that Wag.com did not even know about the contest, but we were thrilled to hear that they will honor the prize anyway and lend a paw to your shelter dogs in need.”

UPDATE #9: Victory! At about 2pm on Monday, 1-800-Flowers announced resolution of the contest, and the prize WILL now go to Lucky Dog Rescue! Here is the company’s full statement, which places the blame on some sort of “miscommunication” mishap:

“We apologize for the miscommunication regarding the prize fulfillment for our recent contest ‘There’s A New Bunny In Town’. We pride ourselves on offering fun and engaging contests; especially, contests that promote the well-being of pets. We are happy that we were able to correct the matter and we look forward to fulfilling the prizes to the winner in support of Lucky Dog Rescue.”

UPDATE #10: You just knew this story would eventually have a happy ending, right? Wag.com has promised to fulfill the prize of one year’s worth of dog food, plus there’s a new matching contribution from 1-800-Flowers. Now another company, Mr. Chewy, wants a piece of the giving action, graciously matching a year’s worth of dog food. That’s now three bags of dog food per month for a year, which will help Ashley feed her many dogs at the rescue. (Not to mention, Pets Adviser is hand-delivering seven bags of food to Lucky Dog Rescue on Tuesday.)

This is heartwarming:

“Dear Ashely & Lucky Dog,

Just to show that not all e-commerce companies are driven by brain dead corporate clowns, MrChewy.com would love the honor of donating a year’s worth of pet food to your charity just because we think what you’re doing is awesome.”

UPDATE #11: On Monday evening, Ashley posted this note of gratitude and cautious optimism:

Ashley Owen Hill, Lucky Dog Rescue, Mississippi

UPDATE #12: This seems like an appropriate way to close this out today. Here is my favorite comment in reply to what Ashley wrote above:

Julie Runion Facebook comment

Latest Update:

Hat tip: BlogFourPaws on Facebook; top photo: shiftdnb/Flickr used under Creative Commons

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