NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Flower shops are filled to the brim with blooms as workers prepare for the Valentine’s Day rush.

These days, most people call in their orders or order online. That’s what Susan Hatch did when she wanted to send flowers to an out-of-state relative.

“Went to Google. Googled local florists in Park Ridge, Illinois, and they came to the top of the search engine.” She’s talking about Troys Florist, a company whose website touts it as “the best Park Ridge florist you trust.”

“They had a whole range of flower arrangements, probably 100 different selections,” said Hatch.

She paid $100 for the “beauty in bloom” arrangement, but Hatch said the flowers that arrived were not nearly as nice. “Cheap! Really poor quality.” When she complained, Troys offered her a 10% refund. “That didn’t even cover the delivery fee,” said Hatch.

Even so, Troys Florist is “the best” in a lot of places. We searched for local florists across DFW; every time Troys was one of the top results. The best in Fort Worth, Frisco, DeSoto and Melissa. So we ordered a bouquet of our own. We paid for the “thinking of you” bouquet. A Fort Worth florist delivered a smaller arrangement with different colors to our studios. She said she had never heard of Troys.

CBS 11 News ordered the bouquet on the left. The one on the right is what was delivered to the newsroom. Not even close! (credit: CBS 11 News)

That’s because Troys Florist isn’t in Texas. The company’s address is a non-descript gray building without signs in East Brunswick, New Jersey. And it turns out, Troys isn’t a florist at all. When our colleagues at WCBS visited the business, they found a room filled not with flowers, but computers. Minutes later the workers locked the door and refused to answer the reporter’s questions.

Troys Florist in New Jersey looks more like an office. Not a flower in sight. (credit: CBS 11 News)

A former employee says Troys works as a middle man between customers and real flower shops. WCBS reporter Lisa Rozner asked her how Troys workers could find florists to fulfill orders. “The same way the people do,” said Bianca. “We go on Google, type in the address where we’re trying to send flowers to, and then nearby florists.”

She says the company kept a cut of the money as his commission. “[My boss] would be on top of us in order to make that percentage every day. Anywhere from 40% up was perfect.” For example, if a customer ordered a $100 bouquet from Troys, she says she would place an order for $60 and Troys Florist would keep the other $40.

The arrangement we bought from Troys cost $62 including tax and delivery. The Fort Worth florist who delivered it, said the order they received was for $30.

More than 350 people have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau; the agency has given Troys Florist an F-rating. According to the BBB profile, Troys operates under several names including Logan’s Florist, Paxton’s Florist, Rudy’s Florist, Americana Flowers, and Yarpo Management LLC.

The BBB issued an alert about Troys in 2015 about a pattern of complaints filed against the business. “Consumers have reported deliveries of flowers that were completely different from those ordered (type of flowers, vases, arrangements), being charged for flowers that never arrived and requests for refunds not being honored. BBB did not receive a response from the business.”

We tried to reach Troys Florist and its owner Perry Kessisiades multiple times but received no response.

When searching online for a florist, be sure to verify its physical address and look for customer reviews. Experts say when ordering flowers, make it clear that you do not want any substitutions. Most reputable florists will contact customers if changes are necessary. You can also use a local florist to send flowers elsewhere; many of them are part of a network of shops that fulfill orders around the world.