A Greene County judge has ordered a Xenia florist to pay more than $100,000 after authorities say she failed to provide flowers on couples’ wedding days.
Greene County Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter ordered Desiree Pace to pay $50,000 in civil penalties on top of the $54,000 she was ordered to pay the Ohio Attorney General. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed the complaint against Pace, who operated Flowers by Des, and was to take the money and distribute it to the 48 consumers it was representing.
“Defendant engaged in business in Ohio while ignoring the state’s consumer protection laws,” an order filed in May in the civil case says. “She convinced at least 48 consumers to make payments in exchange for goods and services that were never delivered. She refused to make refunds to consumers and has ignored attempts to address their concerns. To properly deter defendant from engaging in this conduct in the future, the court imposes a $50,000 civil penalty against defendant.”
The total amount owed by Pace is $104,036.67, court documents say. A message to Pace was not immediately returned Thursday.
The situation started last year when many brides filed complaints with the attorney general’s office against Pace, saying that they were left looking for flowers for their wedding day.
The court records include email exchanges between couples and the business where some of the couples were alerted that their flowers wouldn’t be at their wedding “due to unfortunate circumstances.” The brides asked for refunds and, in signed affidavits, say they never got one.
“How are we receiving refunds?” a bride asks. “I invested a lot of money with her for my wedding tomorrow! Now I am scrambling to find other options and need my money back!”
Whether Pace has paid the ordered amount is unclear. A message seeking comment from the Attorney General’s Office wasn’t responded to Thursday.
“Weddings are meant to be a celebration of love, not a chance for a heartless grifter to leave couples empty-handed and upset,” Ohio Attorney Dave Yost said at the time the case was filed. “This action won’t take the sting away from that day, but I vow to help these couples get some payback.”
Court records say Pace required consumers “make a substantial down payment of 50% or more” for her services when the contract was signed, and then required that the remaining balance be paid by the wedding date. It also says that for some couples, she confirmed services in advance of the wedding date but failed to provide flowers.
“For some consumers, defendant contacted the consumers and canceled the floral services just days before the consumers’ wedding or other events,” the court document says. “For some consumers, defendant never contacted the consumers and failed to provide the flowers on the day of the consumers’ weddings or other events.”
It says that she failed to deliver on services and then didn’t pay the money back.
“Consumers requested refunds from defendant for goods or services not provided and defendant misrepresented the status of the consumers’ refunds.”