The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Meg’s Flowers Pty Ltd for allegedly breaching the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations that it was a local florist, when this was not the case.
It is alleged that between 1 January 2019 and 10 February 2022, Meg’s Flowers represented on 156 location-based websites and in 7,462 Google Ads that it was a local florist supplying flowers in suburbs and towns across Australia.
In fact, Meg’s Flowers is a national online business which distributes flowers through its corporate warehouses and subcontractors, and does not operate local florist stores.
“Many consumers prefer to seek out local businesses to support, and many also wish to source the freshest flowers in a suburb close to the recipient’s address,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“We are taking this court action because we allege Meg’s Flowers misled consumers into thinking they were ordering flowers from a local florist, when they were actually dealing with a national business and the orders were often fulfilled from a corporate warehouse outside of that suburb.”
The ACCC alleges that seven of Meg’s Flowers’ websites, referring to Ashgrove, Caboolture and Tewantin in Queensland; Lane Cove in New South Wales; Mawson Lakes in South Australia; Sunbury in Victoria, and Ellenbrook in Western Australia included several of the following:
- a reference to a suburb or town in the domain name or in a heading on the website,
- a photograph of a florist’s store showing a scooter branded ‘Meg’s Flowers’,
- the statement “the finest quality flowers in [suburb or town]” or “direct from our [suburb or town] florist”,
- the statements “It’s the local approach” or “our fantastic local service”,
- geographical details about the relevant suburb or town, and/ or
- a copyright notice on the website including the words “Meg’s Flowers [suburb or town]”.
The ACCC also alleges 149 other Meg’s Flowers’ location-based websites made similar false or misleading representations, although they included fewer elements.
It is also alleged that Meg’s Flowers generated 7,462 Google Ads which referred to suburbs and towns across Australia. These ads included a URL which referred to the location which a consumer had searched for and the headlines “Meg’s Florist [suburb or town]” or “Meg’s [suburb or town]’, and the phrase “Same Day Local Flower Delivery”.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, penalties, compliance orders, corrective notices and costs.
Meg’s Flowers is an online retailer owned by Flowerscorp Pty Ltd that receives customer orders for floral and other gift products through its location-based websites and/or via its Brisbane-based call centre. It does not maintain local shopfronts.
Flowerscorp fulfills orders Australia-wide for its network of subsidiaries through its corporate warehouses and through several independent florists.
Last financial year, manipulative or deceptive advertising and marketing practices in the digital economy were one of the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities.
Early in 2022, the ACCC issued a warning to consumers and put the online florist industry on notice about its concerns about reports of false or misleading representations about the location of online florists.
In early December 2022, the ACCC instituted proceedings against online florist and gift retailer Bloomex for allegedly publishing misleading online star ratings and price representations.
Later in December 2022, United Florists Pty Ltd trading as Lily’s Florist and Elysium Marketing Pty Ltd, provided the ACCC with a court-enforceable undertaking in relation to misleading representations that Lily’s Florist was a local florist. In addition, florist Fig & Bloom Pty Ltd has removed potentially misleading representations from 940 web pages that may have given the impression that it was a local business in a specific suburb.
The document ACCC v Meg's flowers - Concise statement contains the ACCC’s initiating court documents in relation to this matter. We will not be uploading further documents in the event these initial documents are subsequently amended.