For the first time since I started this blog, I’m posting a review that has nothing to do with dairy-free eating. To all of you who don’t find this topic relevant to your interests, I apologize. But have you ever had a customer service experience so bad that you just wanted to warn everyone in the world? Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday.
My beloved mom passed away recently, and yesterday we had a memorial service for her at The Langham Huntington, a swanky hotel in Pasadena. I was in charge of ordering flowers for the event. I hired Ixora Floral Studio in Sierra Madre because (1) they had done events at the Langham before, (2) they had a five-star rating on Yelp, and (3) they were conveniently located to the venue. The photo gallery on their website showed beautiful work.
I started to have doubts when I noticed that the owner, Lisa, didn’t respond to my emails or phone calls in what I would consider a timely manner. But I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. After we had settled our contract and paid the bill, I asked Lisa several times whether she had any questions for me. She told me we were “all set.” I expected to arrive at the Langham on the day of my mother’s memorial to see the flowers set up as we had discussed. What followed was a catastrophe.
My family and I arrived at 2:00 pm to start setting up for the 4:00 pm service and were alarmed to find no flowers whatsoever. I called both of the phone numbers I had for Ixora and had to leave messages because no one answered. (I was not given an emergency number to call.) We were stressed out and panicking when guests began to arrive and still no flowers. All of our guests were seated and waiting for the service to begin when the Ixora delivery person finally showed up at 4:20 pm (although later Lisa would claim that he arrived at 3:40 — a lie). The man arrived 20 minutes after the service had officially begun. He had to set up the flowers around my mother’s urn and portrait in front of all of our guests. We were horrified that our grieving guests — not to mention my poor grieving father — had to watch a sweaty delivery man in T-shirt and shorts handling my mother’s cremains. The man also set up the flowers so that they half obscured my mother’s portrait!
And by the way, by the time the delivery man brought in the bouquet for the reception table, every single guest had already arrived and was seated inside — so no one even saw the reception flowers. What an utter waste.
The last thing a family needs is to be anxious and worrying about logistical details while trying to interact with guests and deal with their own grief over the loss of a loved one. My father trusted me to handle the flowers for my mother’s memorial. I felt a tremendous responsibility to fulfill his wishes and I was mortified that this was how it turned out. It was nothing short of a nightmare.
Later that night after the service was over, I checked my email to find a message from Lisa that was clearly a cop-out trying to dodge responsibility for their mistake. She claimed that the hotel had given her the wrong start time (6:00 pm). Even if this were true, my question is: Why didn’t she ask me, the client, what time the event started? This seems like a critical piece of information that she should have confirmed before telling me we were “all set.”
When you hire a florist for a special event like a wedding or a funeral, you’re not just paying for flowers — you’re paying for a service. Ixora did not provide the service we paid for. I put my trust in them, and one of the most important days of my life — the one in which I was to honor my mother’s memory and share my grief with family and friends — was ruined by what the owner of Ixora glibly called a “communication breakdown.”
When Lisa finally called me today, she apologized but still tried to put the blame on the hotel. I demanded that she make this right and she has agreed to give us a full refund. However, this disastrous experience will live on in my memory, forever tied up with the memory of my last goodbye to my mother. For that, I will never forgive Ixora, and I will do everything I can to make sure no one goes through what my family and I went through yesterday.
IXORA FLORAL STUDIO, 35 E. Montecito Ave., Sierra Madre, CA 91024