'This job has probably got the most screwing-up potential in the world' Larry Speakes

How not to order wine online or screwed-up wine delivery

‘It has been a dozen of calls from a wine company and a delivery company, I feel totally exhausted and at the point of just wanting my money back.’

Or ‘it has been a few weeks of ‘missed’ deliveries, when noone even bothered to inform me when my case of wine would be delivered and by whom.’

Sounds familiar?

Some of us already had these types of wine shopping experiences, where we are down to arguments, sheer dissatisfaction, may be even losing money, feeling nervous and wishing ‘I’d never deal with them again’.

Online wine retail is not yet as developed as the traditional one, but I fail to agree that you and me should pay for these inconsistencies – let’s explore this problem further on and find out who does a good job in terms of wine delivery and who is to be avoided online.

Many retailers will argue that when the wine leaves their premises they have done their job. Legally it may be correct (are we all reading all those lengthy Terms and Conditions on their websites?), but for you and me as consumers it doesn’t simply cut it – we want our wine, stress free and hassle free. If it is not happening like that, we will feel disappointed and frustrated, not even to mention a possible loss of time and money. Who wants that?

Luckily, our UK wine market in not in its infancy and we have got plenty of choice.

Let’s explore who are those screw-ups and share the most astonishing and hard to believe stories. I sincerely hope you find it useful as we should not blame those wine deliveries – the ones who do it wrong should simply be avoided!

Majestic Wine has their own delivery service and that is why they are great. Imagine this – I once had an occasion of ordering a case of wine on Sunday morning, they rang asking about a delivery and as soon as I have been at home in the next couple of hours they have delivered it then. It was up to three hours between the order and their delivery, simply fab! It is what I call a very smooth integration of personalised service (contacting by a telephone) and a smooth Internet transaction. 10/10!

The Wine Society is doing quite well as they also offer their own delivery service (subject to availability), so make sure you choose that during checkout as failure to do that will mean they will otherwise use a cheap third party (last time I checked it was Parcelforce). Parcelforce is a division of Royal Mail and even though I use them to send anything abroad (simply because of the rates), their delivery service is below average as they can turn out at anytime during the day, which means you need to be in the whole day and your 30 mins trip to a nearest supermarket can also mean you’ve missed them and got a calling card. Their own WIne Society van service arrived on the day with a 4-hour window during which I must be in (no exceptions possible as they cannot rebook this service). 8/10

Vintage Roots is a specialised retailer (and wholesaler actually) for organic wines. ‘The Organic Wine People’ as they call themselves (and what they put on their recycled boxes) are my current favourite retailer because of their range of organic wines, but also because they do ring you up to follow up on your order and try to accommodate your additional requests as you can indicate yours during checkout. I have specified that I do not want either Parcelforce or APC service, but preferably DPD, I got a reply that they are using APC, but can send it overnight with a morning slot (that will trigger an additional £2.5 charge), so I know I do not need to wait the whole day for the delivery. It was very helpful and I do appreciate them trying to make me pleased. 8/10

Waitrose Cellar as part of Waitrose offers a separate wine delivery service (will not be a part of your grocery delivery) that offers a more expensive ‘name a day’ delivery service so paying an extra of up to £5 you can specify a day, which is quite useful. Yet they still use an above mentioned Parcelforce, which means no commitment to any time slots. Yet they provide the tracking and you at least know when your wine is coming. You can pick the date at The Wine Society, so Waitrose Cellar may have dropped this charge altogether I think. 7/10

Laithewaite’s Wine and Sunday Times Wine Club are operated by the same processing centre, so I have grouped them together. Online system is simple, but fully adequate as they do inform you about the status of your order and then advise on an approximate delivery day. Again, no certainty is provided here, but there were no major issues so far and they do follow up nicely with the delivery company, so they at least call if there are issues. My own faultless experience (including some generous welcome offers, for which I recommend visiting my Wine Clubs page) is one thing, but definitely a lot of room for improvement to keep us all informed on what is happening and when the wines are suppose to arrive. 6/10

The Sampler is a fantastic retailer with an impressive service in their shops, the wines are different and I was really pleased with the range. Yet upon placing an order I haven’t received any communication about it at all – no delivery dates, no tracking etc. I was lucky to be in basically. The good thing was that the packaging was thorough, expensive and spot on. The delivery was left to a sheer luck, so it is just 5/10.

'This job has probably got the most screwing-up potential in the world' Larry SpeakesFinally the ones that do not get even to an average mark or shall we call them screw-ups?

One of the bottom scores was triggered by my interaction with the Spanish focused online retailer deVinos. I was quite interested to try some of the wines and decided to try this relatively a no-name company. Again, there was not any communication about the delivery. When I received a card, and tried re-scheduling it, they did not acknowledge it and after a second one I have made an attempt contacting the retailer that they cannot do anything and they also did not pay for a possible Saturday delivery, so I cannot re-schedule it for that day. The end of the story was in rude-ish emails from their customer service (they decided to remind me that for future orders I must be in!), and that ended up with the bottles arriving completely damaged and some even broken. I call it a poor delivery, but even poorer service from that retailer to make sure their customers actually get the products. Nerve-wracking, 4/10 simply because I have got the wines at the end. No excuses, no regrets from their side though!

Finally a company that managed to open a fifth store in London, but did not manage to care about a customer service much – Bottle Apostle. What happened is that I had no communication from the store within a week (!!!), and I mean no emails or notifications about my order, when it would be shipped and delivered and by which delivery company. All I had is just ‘processing’ status that did not change for a week. To my further surprise, after sending a very polite message through their contact form (which said that the response time can be long as they are busy tasting wines! – should anyone care really?), I had no response whatsoever! Horrific service. So after waiting for another week, I’ve decided it was time to give them a call. Mind you, an assistant was very polite and tried to help, but after a few days of calls back and forth, she had informed me that the wines were probably stolen as the driver delivered it to my address (around the time I used the contact form). The problem is that there was a call from a driver indeed, asking for directions, and I have allowed him to drop a package at my place. After getting back home, I did find a card (‘two packages near the flower pot’), and the two packages were there  – yet not the wines, but plants that I have ordered. So at the end I am left without wines, and the solution from Bottle Apostle was to offer me 10% on my next order! Do you think it can be remotely acceptable? Bottle Apostle as a wine merchant has failed to inform me of anything with regards to the delivery, I had no communication prior to actually trying to sort things and get to know where my bottles are, and they now expect me to take this ‘offer’? No freaking way! It is 1/10 for some time spent by that girl over the phone – she was helpless, but not entirely rude to be fair.

   To sum up, Majestic Wine is a true leader in terms of offering an exceptional delivery service. They do it themselves, so you are guarantee a time slot and a very helpful approach. Surely not everyone can offer that as it is a lot of cost and infrastructure to bear, so there are other companies like Vintage Roots which offer a top-notch customer service.

I must add that I’m working in digital marketing for almost 10 years now and it makes me an expert on quality of online marketing and delivering on the promise. My wine knowledge (WSET certified) is of no relevance here – you and every other wine drinker – we order wine according to the tastes, willingness to try something new or for a special occasion.  The above mentioned retailers, both delivering good service and those who completely screw this up, are mapped using just one criteria – a quality of their delivery service. I hope you will avoid the latter bunch and stick to the ones that go extra mile to serve their customers, making them happy and thus loyal.

Cheers to happiness!

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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