State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced today that a new law he sponsored to protect consumers from being scammed by out of state florists when they order flowers over the phone has been signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer.
The new law makes it illegal for out-of-state floral companies to misrepresent themselves as a "local" business in any phone listing or directory assistance database. A florist whose name suggests it is a local business, but is not located in the area, does not identify its out of state address, and has a local number that is forwarded to an outside area would be in violation of the law. The New York State Attorney General will have the power to take action against any business that violates this law.
"When someone orders flowers from a local florist, they expect that their delivery will arrive quickly and in good condition. However, some out-of-state companies, in an effort to tap into the local market and increase their profits, have tricked local residents into thinking they are buying from a business in the area, and then failed to provide the services for which they were paid. This new law will protect local residents from this type of fraud and deception," said Senator Fuschillo, Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee.
In some cases, out-of-state florists misrepresented themselves as a "local" business by creating a local sounding name and setting up a local phone number for residents to call and order flowers. However, the calls to the "local number" were actually forwarded to an out-of-state location without the customers’ knowledge.
Since the business did not have a local distributor or partner that could arrange and deliver the flowers, the delivery had to be sent from out of state, with customers often being charged for the extra shipping costs without their knowledge. Because of the longer shipping time, consumers often received their flowers late, in poor condition, or, in some cases, never received them at all.
Tracy Smith, a local florist who owns the Merrick Flower Shoppe, praised the new law. "Companies that engage in this type of deception are not only taking advantage of their customers, but because they are not a local business, the customer cannot visit the store and get the matter resolved. These businesses reflect poorly on the many local florists who take pride in their work and the services we provide to our customers. I thank Senator Fuschillo for passing this new law to protect consumers who want to shop locally from falling victim to this type of fraud."
The new law takes effect on October 1st.
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