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 This is going to get interesting ......we'll see where this goes.

                         House Bill 2212

Sponsored by Representative KOMP (Presession filed.)

                             SUMMARY

The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's
brief statement of the essential features of the measure as
introduced.

  Restricts amount of consideration floral order facilitator can
receive.
  Requires floral order facilitators to pay delivery charges and
other amounts to direct providers of floral or plant arrangements
or related services within reasonable time.
  Makes violation unlawful trade practice.
  Declares emergency, effective on passage.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to floral order facilitators; and declaring an
  emergency.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
  SECTION 1.  { + (1) As used in this section:
  (a) 'Consideration' means compensation paid to a floral order
facilitator, whether in the form of a fee, charge, commission or
other form of payment, or any combination thereof.
  (b) 'Delivery charge' means an amount paid by a purchasing
floral consumer for delivery of a floral or plant arrangement or
related service to an ultimate floral consumer.
  (c) 'Floral order facilitator' means a person that, for
consideration, transmits orders of purchasing floral consumers to
persons other than the floral order facilitator that are direct
providers of floral or plant arrangements or related services to
ultimate floral consumers.
  (d) 'Handling fee' means an amount paid by a purchasing floral
consumer to a person that is not a floral order facilitator as
compensation for taking an order for a floral or plant
arrangement or related service and transmitting the order to a
floral order facilitator.
  (e) 'Person' has the meaning given that term in ORS 646.605.
  (f) 'Purchasing floral consumer' means a person that purchases
a floral or plant arrangement or related service, whether at
retail or wholesale, whose order is transmitted to a floral order
facilitator.
  (g) 'Ultimate floral consumer' means a person that is the
direct recipient of a floral or plant arrangement or related
service purchased by a purchasing floral consumer.
  (2) A floral order facilitator may not charge or receive
consideration that exceeds five percent of the amount paid by a
purchasing floral consumer for any single order of floral or
plant arrangements or related services. For purposes of this
subsection, the amount paid by the purchasing floral consumer is
the cost of the floral or plant arrangements or related services
plus any delivery charge, but does not include a handling fee.
  (3) A floral order facilitator must pay to the person that is
the direct provider of a floral or plant arrangement or related
service to an ultimate floral consumer, within a reasonable time,
the following:
  (a) Any delivery charge paid by a purchasing floral consumer;
and
  (b) An amount equal to the amount paid by a purchasing floral
consumer, less any delivery charge, handling fee and any
consideration received by the floral order facilitator under
subsection (2) of this section.
  (4) A person that violates subsection (2) or (3) of this
section commits an unlawful practice under ORS 646.608. The
requirements under subsections (2) and (3) of this section are
subject to enforcement and penalty as provided under ORS 646.605
to 646.652. + }
  SECTION 2.  { + Section 1 of this 2011 Act applies to purchases
of floral or plant arrangements or related services made on or
after the effective date of this 2011 Act. + }
  SECTION 3.  { + This 2011 Act being necessary for the immediate
preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency
is declared to exist, and this 2011 Act takes effect on its
passage. + }
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The elections have me thinking about promises and politics and how it applies to the small business owner and customer relationships.

The past few weeks I’ve had a few customers call and express outrage that we charge for delivery.  I’ve been so mystified by their anger that I haven’t really known how to respond. I really can’t understand how someone would expect me to insist my delivery driver work for FREE,  or insist that I pay him at the expense of my company being able to make a profit.  Delivery does have expenses associated with it,  things like  gas, insurance & repairs. I guess I could give FREE delivery and just absorb the costs, or I could give FREE delivery and hide the costs in the price!  Neither option seems very smart to me.

Now that I’ve  had a little time to think about it,  a few questions come to my mind.  I Hope you don’t mind if I share the questions with you and I really hope someone will give me a little feedback and share their thoughts.

1. If you see the word FREE,  do you automatically want to buy the advertised item just because it is FREE?

2.  If you see two advertisements, does the one that says FREE make you want to buy it more than one that doesn’t say FREE?

3.  Do you think FREE  is really FREE or do you think promotions  have  some strings attached to it?

FREE  is a VERY good price, and it will always bring people in to get the FREE  item. The problem is, just getting people in the door no matter what it costs is not why we’re in business.

We do need customers, but we also need to make a profit on those customers. Our ultimate job as a business owner is to make some money,  give superior  service and give our customers more than they expect!

I’m wondering if at some point this FREE  kind of marketing devalues the product in our customer’s eyes. Why should you pay $5 for this item today when it’s going to be FREE tomorrow? If a company offers a FREE  promotion for any length of time, then don’t you as the  customer grow to always  expect it?  Will you become angry when we decide it’s time to stop offering the promotion? Just wondering about the reasoning behind some business owners and their marketing schemes..it’s just makes no sense to me.  Am I missing out on something grand here?
I really believe that people value paying a fair price for a good product!

Absolutely Free

Maybe I’m crazy in love….it’s to be expected! It’s Valentines week, I’m a florist and I am in love!

I loved this Super bowl commercial by Google.  There were quite a few good ones..but none touched me as much as this one.  Enjoy spending time with the one you love!  Congratulations to the Saints! Great football game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw The fun theory! Don’t you just love the concept!  I don’t think this needs any further explanation.  It’s all about how we choose to look at things.   Brilliant marketing that I wish I had come up with!

Everyone knows the tough economic conditions are affecting business owners, especially small business.  I’m optimistic by nature and I really believe things will eventually be alright.  The thing that is really bothering me is how nasty and dirty competitors are becoming.  I don’t know if it is just in my industry but I can’t believe how ugly it is becoming.

I am sure that the average consumer has no clue as to the kind of tactics that are being used to manipulate consumers  to try and steal business away.  I really feel that it is important to bring it out in the open and hopefully educate the consumer on this important  matter.  First let me say, that this has nothing to do with “fair” competition because I believe that competition is what makes our system so great for consumers.  But it has everything to do with business owners that lie to the public, who are cheating the cities out of the much needed tax revenue, & using the internet to make bogus false claims & reviews.

It is just plain common sense to assume that every city out there needs all the tax revenue they can get,  right?  So tell me why, the city can’t collect taxes from a business that claims to be located in my city and tricks people into buying because they think they are ordering from a local business?  When I ask the city, they tell me that they can only collect tax if they have an address in the city.  Now they have a local phone number, so they appear local, they say they are located in our city, but are not, so because the crooks know the loopholes in the law, they get away with stealing business from the local “real”  business, that is located in the city,  you know the kind of “real” business that pays rents, and wages, and taxes and donates their services to the community and the city.

So here is an example:  A so called Kirkland company has registered more that 6 local business locations on Google Maps and other review sites this past week, all supposedly  located in Kirkland Washington, with 6 different names.  The problem is that this business is located in a different city, and operates under a different name.  Actually to be more accurate, they operate under 100’s of different names, in my state alone.   It would be fine with me if the consumer knew that they were ordering from the shop with XYZ name located in XYZ town, but instead they use the names of legitimate local business owners and claim to be us and post bogus business names and phone numbers.  I have yet to find a way to solve the problem.     Is this okay,  I don’t think so!

Now this is not personal, because this particular business pretends to be every other business in our state as well.  They change one letter or add a dash or  a period.  They  add an  “S” to Brittany, or they add a dash  between Brittany and Flowers.They claim to be in Bothell, and  in Woodinville, and in Redmond, in Seattle, in Duvall, the list just goes on & on.  I point this out to  suggest  that when you order on the internet you check the spelling carefully and also be careful you are not being forwarded to a call center or a legitimate business that is using deceptive practices by pretending that they are local.

I recently had someone try to call and thank us for a job that we had done, but it did not go very well, this scam person was advertising in Google sponsored links, and using my company name, with their website information, and phone number so when the customer tried to call me, it went to this fake Kirkland store, which is not in Kirkland at all.

The terrible results of this problem affect us all. I had a lady call me the other day, and she was so cautious but I was actually I really proud of her.  I almost had the order done, when she got nervous because I asked her the address for the Hospice Center where she was wanting to send flowers. She thought I was a fake flower shop. I am sorry but I can’t tell you how to get to every facility in my town and I certainly don’t remember the addresses of every business or home we deliver to.  I was so offended when she said, “I’m getting the feeling  that I need to call a local florist.”   Wow!!! That really surprised me!  I understood it completely, but honestly I was so offended and ticked off!  This lady has obviously been stung a few times when ordering online.   I felt really sad, because this is the fall out of bogus business listings on the internet.  I’ve even had customers that have ordered from this bogus store, call and complain to me that their flowers were not delivered.  They thought they had  ordered from us because this bogus advertiser was using our name on the Google sponsored advertising. I don’t know the answer, but something needs to be done to stop this kind of thing from happening.  Check out Blumenthals blog, ( check my link on the right hand side of the main page for his site ) as he has some great examples of similar things happening to other business owners and even individual families who are falling prey to people who have something against the person, or think it is a funny way to get back at someone personally.  All these review sites, like Fave, Merchant Circle, yelp, etc, all have the same kinds of problems.

There are numerous flower shops located in our town , some of which are  located in their homes,  three true retail florists, and numerous florists who are located elsewhere but who deliver to our town.  I don’t object to someone using their favorite florist that delivers to Kirkland,  I deliver to Seattle and elsewhere, but every one of my customer’s knows what city I am located in, and just where I will deliver my work.  My customer’s actually call me to send flowers out of town because they trust me and they appreciate  my style, they know that I will do just as good of a job out of town as I do in town.   They also know that I always tell them up front if it is too far for me to deliver. I have friends in the business that will take care of it for “me”  and the wire service charges a fee.  It costs you the consumer  an additional 5-10 dollars for me to handle it nationally and you have my guarantee that if the other florist doesn’t carry it off to excellence, you can call me, and I can take care of it for you.  Call me, always, and I will “give” you the name of a local florist, just so you don’t fall prey to these bogus marketers! Call me on my 800 number if you are in the USA and I will find you a legitimate florist!

I am so happy that our local wire service “Teleflora” recently decided to terminate the membership of  this local online nationwide scam artist.   I am continuing the fight, and a group of florists have contacted the Senator in our state who wrote the original bill against deceptive advertising and we are pushing for a law that covers online advertising as well. I’m really tired of the deceptive advertising  and the harm to both the consumer and small business.   Wish us luck, I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.  If you have suggestions, please comment as well.

http://blumenthals.com/blog/2009/05/28/google-maps-guidelines-what-has-changed/ I just came across this on my Twitter account, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about these new changes to Google Maps! In fact if you could have been in the room when I read this article, you would have had to plug your ears due to my screaming and whooping!

Now if you haven’t had the unpleasure ( is that a word) of having a business, a brand, a reputation, something that you have put your life’s work into, maybe you won’t be as excited as me and other’s like me. This is the best news for small business, since Google began!

Let me recap it…life for me and thousands of other small business owners like me, had only one way to compete with large competitors, it was called an advertising budget. When we began, we had one, but it was small.  What can I say..smalll business, small ad budget.  Then came Google with their unique algorithms ( don’t ask me to explain, as I have no idea, how it works  cuz that is their job) but suddenly, people started becoming aware of our small family business across the world! How can you argue with a premise like that?

Until recently, it has worked amazing! I have been one of their biggest fans, since my girlfriend in California sent me a ” hey join this unknown gmail thing” when I  asked her why,  she said, because my brother works there and it is cool! I trust her, so I accepted her invitation to join gmail.

I’ve never been disappointed in Google until recently…  I really even hate saying that out loud.  But this new move by Google makes me so happy that they have found a solution to the problem that exists out there in Google maps land that I had to share it!  And thanks to the twitter buddy who shared it with me!

You can read the article above, and I won’t waste your time recapping it, but  I will share with you how it will impact me  and other small business owners like me immediately and why I am excited.

I have recently been a target of a competitor, and I am not alone in this quest, actually it has been happening for quite a while.  I think the economic downturn has helped all of us analyze our business plans, so we have been  looking at things we didn’t normally look at.  Recently,  I decided to Google my company name, and boy was I surprised!  I spent most of one evening looking well into the search results, maybe 40 or more  pages into the Google search results and I’m talking about spending the most of one evening looking at the results.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered tons of my business listings, with bogus phone numbers, bogus addresses, bad information, etc.. I just couldn’t figure out how this happened.  To make the long story shorter, let’s just say that I found out that a few competitors were going onto Google maps ( tech savvy ) folks, and changing business listings, and redirecting business to themselves with bogus numbers, websites and address listings.  One of my competitors even went into Safeway Stores listing and used the Safeway address ( so she could have a legitimate address in my city ) and changed their name to hers and the phone number to hers! Can you believe it!?  So she suddenly looks legitimate because she is in Kirkland, and she does have a business by the name she is using and the phone works.  This new effort by Google Maps is going to fix many of the problems and help the with the  internet integrity issues and I am so excited!

Google gets a HUGE applause from me and I am sure small business owners across this country and the world! I can tell you that Google has been the only person to act on the problem.  I know so many small business owners who have spent  tens of thousands of dollars in Attorney fees , sent numerous compaints to the State Attorney Generals, contacted state and local officials, even the local police.  Not one thing has happened until TODAY!  Google deserves a BIG APPLAUSE for stepping up to the plate to be the first to take a stand on the problem.