Wine Club Debacle
- TonyO May 18, 2007 04:48 PM
A few months ago I joined a wine club with a producer that I really like but has limited availibility in our state. I signed on for the "all wines club" (red and white). A few weeks later, I received 4 bottles of red at $175 (fair price for the quality of the wine including shipping). A few weeks later, I was charged $325 and soon received 8 mixed bottles of white and red. I inquired and was told the first shipment was in error (should have been red and white) and I could return it for a refund. I decided to keep it in addition to the second delivery. About one month later, I was charged another $325 and received no wine. I contacted the winery via email and received a reply from the owner telling me the charge would be reversed. Nearly a month passed and I checked my account and noticed yet another charge of $325 ! I called the winery and was told by the owner that his wife had made an error. I have no reason to believe this is anything beyond a mix up and expect to be fully reimbursed but this has certainly lessened my view of this winery which is unfortunate as I have been a big fan and have turned many people on to their wines.
I view this as an opportunity by this winery to restblish my loyalty by doing the right thing and am interested in how others feel this should be handled. I will update any further significant developments (good or bad including the name of the winery) when I feel this has been resolved.
Unfortunately, many wineries--especially small family run operations--are lured to the business by the romance of being vineyard/winery owners and don't put as much time or thought into the marketing and operations as we might want as consumers. Having worked for small wineries before, clear vision of marketing and sales strategy is a thing that turns out to more rare than common. It appears you are taking exactly the right approach. While it is frustrating that they continue to be ham-fisted in their approach, I doubt as well that there is any tomfoolery going on. They are probably just unorganzied and don't fully appreciate how important you could be to their business ongoing. I know, it seems like a no brainer. So let them know. I know that there is this outside chance they'll get really hot and you don't want to make them mad because you love the wine and want to stay on the list, but they need to hear it from the very people who keep their lights on today. If you love the wine let them know that too and they'll love you for it. If they are doomed, well there is nothing you can do. But if you can help them now, you just may be able to continue drinking some wines you really realy like.
I agree with Stingray that sometimes dealing with any small business can mean dealing with certain incompetencies, especially when it comes to finances. However, it might be a good idea to let your credit card company know that some of the charges from this particular company are in question. Give them a heads' up so you have grounds for reversing the charges if the winery doesn't do so in a timely manner. You've got to look out for yourself.
Seriously. Out $1250 for a case of wine is a bit much. And crediting a card isn't any more difficult than charging a card when you don't have the card physically in front of you. Mojoeater is right, let your credit card co. know so that you establish a foundation for future issues should you need to address them.
I agree with most if not all of the points made above. It is dissappointing to me when a company has a great product but drops the ball and makes and endorser (like myself) become a potential former customer. I truly hope that they take a few simple steps such as returning the funds quickly, send a note of apology and appreciation for my business, and maybe go to the "above and beyond zone" and send a complimentary bottle of wine as a peace offering. We would all win in that scenario !
Not meant as an excuse for incompetent service, but one small online retailers perspective......
Many small business uses unsophisticated credit card terminals that require touch-screen commands. Big fingers + little screens can cause problems if you're not careful. Whenever I have to switch from my computer-based point-of-sale terminal to the little machine I am open to problems. Occasionally I'll hit the wrong key and getting the transaction straightened out can get complicated if you're not paying attention.
You'd think, though, that they'd be much more careful with a specific customer after the first mistake. They can't be too big to remember whose account they made so many mistakes with.