great Valentine rip-off
Where to find gifts at prices that won't break your
heart - and the bank. Juliet Shedden reports
Juliet Shedden - Guardian online
Saturday February 9, 2002
It's the great Valentine's rip-off. On a normal week
the Interflora website allows you to buy your loved
one a dozen red roses for £39.50. However, for
one week only, there is a Valentine's special price:
the same roses cost £55 plus a £4.50 delivery
How can Interflora justify the 40% increase? "The
price of roses keeps creeping up. It's all about supply
and demand. The growers and suppliers of roses put their
prices up threefold in this period. The delivery date
defines what you pay," says Phil Carey from Interflora.
This Thursday, love-struck Britons are expected to
spend a whopping £503m on romantic gestures.
According to Yorkshire Bank, we will spend £18.6m
on cards. Chocolates, a firm favourite, will set us
back £35.3m. And we'll splash out nearly £140m
on those roses and other bouquets.
St Valentine's Day is now reaching a commercial fever
pitch. Businesses everywhere are hoping to cash in on
what was previously a profits bonanza for Hallmark cards
and Interflora only.
Even banks are trying to get in on the act, with one,
Yorkshire Bank, promoting Valentine's Day loans - although
only at its normal rates. There's not an awful lot of
romance about sliding into debt, so this week Jobs & Money set out to find the best value Valentine's gifts.
Unfortunately, opting for a single rose rather than
a bouquet will still put a thorn in your wallet: Interflora
charges £20 plus delivery.
Thorntons, the confectioner, advertises presents on
its website from £2.99. But a closer look reveals
that this only buys you some "love potion cubes".
The "ultimate Valentine's heart" will set
you back £11. And if you want to send a Valentine
hamper, this will cost the best part of £35.
Thorntons has a florist service too, but the cheapest
bouquet seems to be the "love and kisses"
arrangement at £30. Opt for the real thing - it
will be cheaper.
Flowers2send, the UK's first virtual florists, is more
reasonable for a single rose: £14.99 including
delivery. Its "delight bouquet" is £39.99,
but if you splash out on the "spectacular"
bouquet at £59.99, a free box of Belgian chocolates
is thrown in.
Any attempt to say I love you in a more unusual way
will see your costs soar. A "lovers' leap" tandem bungee jump, from Activity Superstore
is £99, which includes champagne afterwards -
if you can stomach it.
Lovers of chocolate may enjoy a 24-hour chocoholic
experience costing £199. And a romantic champagne
balloon flight for two will be £349.
For those who haven't yet plucked up the courage to
approach that special person, Activity Superstore is
offering flirting lessons for £129. Unfortunately,
there is no mention of a money-back guarantee if your
new flirting techniques fail to impress.