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Sep 13, 2013 01:22 PM

Privatization of LCBO

I took a trip to Boston for the long weekend. The city reminded me much of Toronto in many ways. We enjoyed some spectacular meals. The prices on the wine list were so radically lower than Toronto restaurants that it made me long for privatization of the LCBO. Sigh ... And we loved being able to take home unfinished bottles of wines. Do you think widespread use of that option will be on the horizon in Toronto anytime soon?

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  1. Yes. Probably. Maybe. Possibly. No interest in whacking the LCBO pinata.

    1. The option to take home unfinished bottles of wine is already available in Ontario. See the FAQs about "Take Home the Rest" on the AGCO page:

      Relatively few restaurants seem to be actually offering it to patrons but the option is open.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Jacquilynne

        It's not that simple. Before allowing a patron to take home, the restaurant must put the cork back into the bottle flush with the top. This cannot be done by hand and requires a corking machine which most restaurants don't have nor care to purchase. Without this condition, the option is NOT open.

        1. re: syoung

          T-corks fit many bottles.
          And there are cone shaped corks around for anyone who wants to offer this.
          No where does the legislation say it must be the same cork.

          1. re: estufarian

            However, according to the AGCO:

            "Restaurants offering THTR are required to reseal the bottle in such a manner that it cannot be readily re-opened and consumed while in transit."

            A T-cork would not fit this requirement. The requirement to reseal of the cork flush with the top of the bottle is so that it cannot be readily re-opened without, say, a bottle opener.

            What it doesn't say is what happens if the original seal is a screw cap and there is no cork. This would be an interesting, if not frivolous court case.

          2. re: syoung

            I have no difficulty whacking a cork with the heel of my hand and making it flush with the top of the bottle

              1. re: kagemusha49

                I've done and seen this done with undesirable results and if I was a restaurant owner, I would not recommend my staff risk injury by whacking bottles. It needs to be done properly with the right tools or not at all.

                1. re: syoung

                  Um - I'm 64 and have shoved corks in many many bottles with the heel of my hand and have never ever had a problem. It's not the bottle that gets whacked, it's the cork by a soft part of my hand. What's next? Federal regulation of reinserting corks and a required 3 year program before we are allowed to do this?

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. Privatization would do nothing about the price of wine and booze. Our prices are primarily determined by the level of taxation not by overheads introduced by the retail channel

              By way of comparison, our usual vin du pays currently retails for $9.95 in Ontario, previous vintages of the same wine have been as cheap is $7.90. I checked several wine stores in Edmonton, the same wine ranged from 9.95 to 12.99

              The nicest and biggest liquor store in Edmonton is about the same as any large LCBO, more tightly packed, less organized, a different selection of stuff but not more stuff just different. The worst liquor store I've ever been in in Calgary was a joke, they had exactly 36 SKUs of Canadian wine and no wine of any sort cheaper than $15, but they did have 190 proof Everclear.

              6 Replies
              1. re: bytepusher

                How much was the Everclear? Was it kept under the counter, or behind the cash as in the US?

                1. re: Dean Tudor

                  I don't remember what I paid for it sorry

                  I think it was just out on a shelf, but I'm not 100% certain, the bottle I bought in Tennessee (only to have the TSA confiscate it from my checked luggage, grr) was just out on the shelf too

                  More recently in the places I went to in Edmonton if they had it it was in a locked cabinet with the $$ scotch

                2. re: bytepusher

                  According to LCBO, taxes and levies represent about 33% wine prices and LCBO markup is about 30% with the remaining being product cost, so privatization could impact prices by adjusting the margin, in theory.

                  I say "in theory" because of regulation by the Liquor Control Act that gives the LCBO sole power to set prices according to Section 3(1)(i). In fact, the LCBO also has sole power to control what products are sold, storage, packaging, marketing, etc., basically the entire supply chain and administration.

                  Thus, privatization without deregulation makes no sense. Without deregulation, private retailers would just be a front for the LCBO. In other words, pointless.

                  1. re: syoung

                    If the markup is only 30% why do they charge 102% on imports? It's the same legislation.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Sorry, I should've been more precise... I meant LCBO markup is 30% of cost of a $10 bottle of wine according to LCBO themselves. I don't have inside info.

                      1. re: syoung

                        That computes to a 43 % markup - still lower than the LCBO themselves admit to in the link supplied by dubchild below.
                        And 'taxes' are on top of that!

                3. Our wine prices are a reflection of our tax system.

                  That being said, it is time to ditch unionized public sector companies. To believe the only pitch that they somehow are better at "protecting" us, is insulting to any non-union worker.

                  As Martha might say "It will be a good thing".

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                    I would disagree with you on this. I'm a public, unionized worker and I can tell you that the union does a couple things. First and foremost, it makes it easier on the employer to deal with the work force as a single unit rather than, in my case 700 hundred individual units. There are also multiple different bargaining units where I work totaling tens of thousands of employees.If they dealt with them individually, that's all they'd have time for.

                    Secondly, and I can already see a few eyes rolling, is it's about balance. Unions can help keep the gov't entity in check. As we know, we love big government up here. Every time they point at us and say "We can cut this" we point back and say "You can cut that" if you get what I'm saying.

                    Anyway, there is no perfect system but I believe a massive work force should be unionized. It's just simpler.

                    Anyway, we already pay through the nose at the LCBO. Do you really want to privatize it?? Now who ever owns it will have to raise costs to make a profit. Every dime we pay goes to costs and taxes. Nothing towards profit. (or if there is one, it goes to the gov't coffers, not someone's pocket)


                    1. re: Davwud

                      I have nothing against Unions, just don't like them when they are in a monopoly and I don't have another option.

                      Privatize the LCBO, Ontario will still collect taxes and license fees, and I will have some competition to select from.

                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        Your other option would be, in my case anyway, cheap and lousy work. We contract out work to the lowest bidder all the time. The amount of money we spend to fix their pathetic work is more than they saved.

                        Privatization of the LCBO may lead to better selection but it will come with higher prices.
                        And making regular trips south of the boarder, outside of price/value, I DO NOT find the grass any greener.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          That is exactly why we should relieve the Ontario Government from the responsibility of managing liquor sales.

                          Let the multitude of new owners manage the unions and their businesses, and let us decide which ones are doing the best job.

                        2. re: PoppiYYZ

                          And then you woke up...Your recipe would indeed affect prices and I doubt you'd like the direction they'd take.Read syoung and Davwud above.

                          1. re: Kagemusha

                            Yeah, I guess you are right. Competition always screws things up, Unionized Monopolies rock.

                            I placed special order for a French wine and the LCBO charged me $152.70Cdn per case and foolishly attached a copy of their invoice showing they paid $41.13Cdn per case. A 371% mark up.

                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                              Can you post a copy of the invoice?

                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                Hi K,

                                Yes I can. I also have the LCBO "Purchase Order Terms and Conditions" and the "Supplier PO Requirements" issued to the winery. LCBO price was 31.80 Euro per case of 6 bottles (Cdn $41.13 at that time). Minimum order was 5 cases.

                                The PO has the LCBO employee names and phone numbers on it so I am a little uncomfortable posting it. I did call and raise hell about their rediculous "mark up", and was snarkliy asked "Do I want the wine or not". It was a special wine for a special occasion so I reluctantly sucked it up (pun intended).

                                Still have some of the 30 bottles left and having a bottle tonight in fact....

                                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                  If you've actually got the PO in question, just redact those parts. Otherwise...

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    Just post the relevant numbers, showing how the original cost got converted to the price you paid. If I can find one of my originals I'l do the same - except it's probably 10 years since I gave up on private importations.
                                    Somewhere I also have the 'calculation matrix' provided to me for 'personal' importations (i.e. those brought in as accompanied luggage). While not the same (no shipping cost or brokerage fees) it does show the major compomnents.

                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                      Otherwise what ? You won't believe me ?

                                      I have it. The PO has the PO number, my name, the wine name, the date, the store it was shipped to, supplier number (likely new), item number (very likely new), price, total value, and all traceable to me.

                                      Plus this from the PO :

                                      33 Freeland Street address,

                                      LC Private order in the top left corner,


                                      Please acknowledge receipt of Purchase Order within 72 hours. You must also notify us by separate communication, of the exact date that goods will leave your warehouse. When sending telex/fax messages, acknowledgements and documents, please quote our purchase order number. Note carefully the Conditions of Purchase on the reverse side hereof, which form part of this Purchase Order. We hereby request delivery of the products listed below in satisfactory condition.

                                      ** EX CELLAR ** the supplier will make goods available for pick-up at their designated loading point. All charges from this point, for export clearance, haulage, insurance, etc., will be for the account of the LCBO.

                                      ** FOB ** (PORT) the supplier's invoice price includes all charges (ie. customs clearance, transport) up to and including loading on board vessel at designated port of shipment.

                                      **FCA** the product being delivered by the supplier, at their own expense and cleared for export, to the LCBO freight forwarder's warehouse for consolidation and shipment.

                                      I don't lie.

                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                        I wonder if they had to test the wine? I know that each new wine has to go to their lab for testing.That's not cheap.

                                        1. re: mariecollins

                                          If it's less than 5 cases (on a private importation), one can sign a waiver on the testing.
                                          Above that, it must be tested.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            Interesting. They didn't mention testing, provide results, or offer a test waiver. Their minimum order was the 5 cases though.

                                            Thanks, will know to ask if there is a next time.

                                2. re: PoppiYYZ

                                  The mark up is on the landed cost - so it's in the LCBO interests to pay as much as possible for shipping. I can't locate my last importation but I think the mark-up on the landed cost was about 130%. And I know there was also a 'Broker Fee' (unavoidable) to handle the paperwork for clearing customs & Excise - the mark-up might also have been applied to that.
                                  My rule-of-thumb is that landed cost is about 2.5 * original cost - but I probably bring in (or used to - the cost was just too high so now the Ontario Govt gets zero from me) more expensive wine, which gives a lower % mark-up as some costs are relatively fixed.

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    Really ! Does the LCBO have their own shipping company ?

                                    I gotta believe they are making something off that angle too. Interesting to find out who they use and who owns the freight company.

                                    Any CBC reporters following...

                                    Edit : Just ran down to check my two remaining cases (sadly both not full) and there is a packing slip from France on one of them but no mention or markings on the cases who did the shipping. Very Interesting.

                                    I would love the opportunity to deal with a liquor store owner who I felt had MY best interests in mind. Not the current system.

                          2. re: PoppiYYZ

                            The important thing about LCBO is that the profits go back into the government coffers, thus in the long run reducing general taxes. If you privaitsed LCBO those profits would be lost and our taxes would go up.