why won't wine.com ship to me?

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maureen nelson
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why won't wine.com ship to me?

#1 Post by maureen nelson » August 16th, 2019, 7:44 am

I live in DC. DC law specifically and expressly permits an out of state retailer to ship to a consumer in this "state." I had a search for a particular wine entered into wine-searcher. Last night I got a hit - three bottles at wine.com. So I got online and tried to buy them - but when I told the system I live in DC the three bottles became unavailable! I just did a chat online with wine.com and the person kept telling me to tell the system I live in DC and I kept explaining the problem. His response was they basically only ship locally due to restrictive state laws. But when I made the point that this isn't applicable to DC he told me to go to wine-searcher to find the wine locally!

Has anyone who lives in a "good" state ever managed to get wine.com to ship something located in say, CA, to them? How?

You know I have to really want this wine if I'm (1) on this site while I am at work and (2) trying to buy wine for my overstuffed cellar!

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Markus S
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#2 Post by Markus S » August 16th, 2019, 7:47 am

Perhaps because you live in a District and not a State (and they can only ship to "states")? [whistle.gif]

Weird reasoning, but I've heard worse.
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Scott G r u n e r
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#3 Post by Scott G r u n e r » August 16th, 2019, 8:01 am

As I understood wine.com (take that as a significant caveat) the way they structure things is state to state, each state having a separate inventory (and presumably warehouse facility) enabling them to comply with rules for each state. So if you say shipping to CA you will get a very different inventory than shipping to WA or DC. They arent’t structured as a single inventory that can ship to all legal locations like a K&L, etc

Maybe you can ship to someone in the allowed state and re ship?

Note: I have always felt that this setup is silly and opposite of economies of scale, but they organized to work around the archaic shipping rules vs true efficiency of operations, hence why they have always been in the highest pricing tier as well and a generally a pass for me.
Last edited by Scott G r u n e r on August 16th, 2019, 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
//Cynic

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#4 Post by maureen nelson » August 16th, 2019, 8:04 am

well, my point is that because it is legal to ship here, the "store" can comply with the rules while shipping wine from CA to me.

Shipping the wine to someone in DC for reshipping to me is burdensome for whomever agrees to take charge of it for me - and of course more expensive although that's not really the issue.

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#5 Post by Scott G r u n e r » August 16th, 2019, 8:10 am

maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 8:04 am
well, my point is that because it is legal to ship here, the "store" can comply with the rules while shipping wine from CA to me.

You are correct, but that is outside of their model, hence the resistance. I would guess they have a very firm company policy against making exceptions, regardless of actual legality as they want to protect their model. I would also guess (pure speculation) that they are not an advocate for enabling more open shipping as they have invested heavily into the bastardized current system and want to preserve that advantage. Last I checked they can theoretically ship to more states than any other wine “etailer” with the caveat that selection for each state varies
//Cynic

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#6 Post by Kevin Porter » August 16th, 2019, 8:15 am

With the same caveat my understanding is the same as Scott's. I had the same experience as you - found wine; specified shipping state; wine disappeared. I chatted and was told it was due to the warehouse location of the wines and they weren't will to ship from the 'wrong' warehouse. It was not a legal concern but instead one of logistics. They will ship wine to you - just not the wine you want.

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#7 Post by Doug Schulman » August 16th, 2019, 10:10 am

Scott is correct. They can, but they don't. By the way, Wine.com has been one of the major forces behind preventing interstate shipping laws from opening up.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#8 Post by Loren Sonkin » August 16th, 2019, 10:28 am

I was told that wine.com considers each state a separate sales territory and they will not ship from one store to another territory. Almost like a franchise model. This was a while back but from a wine.com employee. It wasn't about shipping laws. At least that's what they told me. Maybe someone in that state can get it for you and then get it to you?
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#9 Post by GregT » August 16th, 2019, 11:13 am

It's a hybrid that evolved to accommodate the worst features of wine selling in the US.

According to their press release last year, they have six fulfillment centers and each has a particular region, so partly it depends on which one serves you.

Berkeley, CA
Westbury, NY
Miami, FL
Houston, TX
Maplewood, NJ
Avon, MA

They call their model "3 Tier E-commerce" and support the three tier system, but at the same time want to reduce restrictions on interstate shipping.

The original Wine.com failed because you can't be a national wine store, which Amazon also discovered. So a few industry people bought the name and URL, assuming customers wouldn't know what was up anyway, and they set up these regional hubs. But it's not national inventory, as you found out.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#10 Post by maureen nelson » August 16th, 2019, 1:44 pm

Well thanks for the explanations. Makes sense I guess. One benefit is I am prevented from buying wine I want but certainly don’t need.

OTOH, it’s three bottles of a great premier cru at half the cost of Fu’s $200 price tag.

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#11 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 16th, 2019, 2:44 pm

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 8:01 am
As I understood wine.com... they structure things is state to state, each state having a separate inventory (and presumably warehouse facility) enabling them to comply with rules for each state...
Who the hell fronted them the money necessary to build/buy/rent warehouses in 50 different states?

That's a staggering amount of seed capital for a dot-com.

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#12 Post by John Morris » August 16th, 2019, 2:53 pm

maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 1:44 pm
OTOH, it’s three bottles of a great premier cru at half the cost of Fu’s $200 price tag.
That really is a drag to lose out on, then.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#13 Post by Scott G r u n e r » August 16th, 2019, 3:27 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 2:44 pm
Scott G r u n e r wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 8:01 am
As I understood wine.com... they structure things is state to state, each state having a separate inventory (and presumably warehouse facility) enabling them to comply with rules for each state...
Who the hell fronted them the money necessary to build/buy/rent warehouses in 50 different states?

That's a staggering amount of seed capital for a dot-com.
Well turns out I was wrong about a warehouse in every state, as there are regional hubs...
//Cynic

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#14 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 16th, 2019, 3:38 pm

GregT wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 11:13 am
Berkeley, CA
Westbury, NY
Miami, FL
Houston, TX
Maplewood, NJ
Avon, MA

They call their model "3 Tier E-commerce" and support the three tier system
So you can only order from wine.com if you're in CA, NY, FL, TX, NJ, or MA [in which case you also pay sales tax on the order]?

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#15 Post by Dale Williams » August 16th, 2019, 3:47 pm

They are in lots of states, but probably have 6 locations where they (or affiliated or subsidiary companies) have distributor licenses.
Then they (again, or affiliated) have retail licenses in each state.
Inventory will be similar within each region.
And you pretty much pay sales tax everywhere now anyway

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#16 Post by David_K » August 16th, 2019, 4:33 pm

maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Well thanks for the explanations. Makes sense I guess. One benefit is I am prevented from buying wine I want but certainly don’t need.

OTOH, it’s three bottles of a great premier cru at half the cost of Fu’s $200 price tag.
You probably dodged a bullet; I wouldn't trust them with Burgundy. If the price is that good, dollars to doughnuts it's the wrong wine.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#17 Post by maureen nelson » August 16th, 2019, 5:03 pm

David_K wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 4:33 pm
maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Well thanks for the explanations. Makes sense I guess. One benefit is I am prevented from buying wine I want but certainly don’t need.

OTOH, it’s three bottles of a great premier cru at half the cost of Fu’s $200 price tag.
You probably dodged a bullet; I wouldn't trust them with Burgundy. If the price is that good, dollars to doughnuts it's the wrong wine.

Well I sure hope not because I figured out a work-around and bought them!

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#18 Post by David K o l i n » August 16th, 2019, 5:07 pm

maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 5:03 pm
David_K wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 4:33 pm
maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Well thanks for the explanations. Makes sense I guess. One benefit is I am prevented from buying wine I want but certainly don’t need.

OTOH, it’s three bottles of a great premier cru at half the cost of Fu’s $200 price tag.
You probably dodged a bullet; I wouldn't trust them with Burgundy. If the price is that good, dollars to doughnuts it's the wrong wine.

Well I sure hope not because I figured out a work-around and bought them!
I didn’t know that you needed more wine, Maureen. Hope all is well

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#19 Post by maureen nelson » August 16th, 2019, 5:36 pm

Need? Ha! But this one of the best 2010s i have had and I’ve been looking for more.

Hope all is well with you. Still practicing? Ever get to dc?

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#20 Post by David K o l i n » August 16th, 2019, 6:11 pm

maureen nelson wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 5:36 pm
Need? Ha! But this one of the best 2010s i have had and I’ve been looking for more.

Hope all is well with you. Still practicing? Ever get to dc?
Done practicing for 2-1/2 years now. Taking our youngest to college this weekend - probably won’t make the District until next year. Hope to see you then.

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#21 Post by GregT » August 16th, 2019, 8:27 pm

That's a staggering amount of seed capital for a dot-com.
But they aren't a dot com.

The original business was started by a few guys who jumped into online sales during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s, hoping, like people in the pet food industry, grocery industry, and so many other industries to emulate Amazon. And remember, back then Amazon was only in books. The wine folks immediately found out that wine was going to be unlike books because books had already been upended by big box stores so couldn't mount any kind of coherent opposition, but wine was regulated as alcohol and sales could not be easily scaled up.

Remember that in 1998 and 99 and 2000 it was pretty easy to find money for any hair brained dot.com idea. They basically went bankrupt and sold out to another company that had also started trying to sell wine online. I don't remember exactly how many mergers and acquisitions occurred but basically a number of companies who planned to become the Amazon of wine were eventually picked up out of bankruptcy and combined by some Wall Street guys. The name Wine.com had been acquired at the first bankruptcy so that was given to the combined entity.

Meantime, little upstarts like Gary V were figuring out that they could sell wine online without being a "dot.com" company. His model made a lot more sense.

Somehow wine.com has continued. I think it's because of the name. But they are doing OK these days.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#22 Post by John Morris » August 16th, 2019, 8:48 pm

If you can make sense of this Wikipedia summary of the three foundings, the multiple founders, the mergers, bankruptcies and turnarounds, you're smarter than me:
The company now known as Wine.com was originally founded as Virtual Vineyards by Robert Olson in Los Altos, California in 1994 with co-founders Master Sommelier Peter Granoff[1], and Information Architect Harry Max. Virtual Vineyards sold its first bottle of wine online via its custom-coded, secure, on-line shopping cart January 24, 1995 and went into full production a couple of weeks later[2]. The current Wine.com business was founded by Mike Osborn in Portland, Oregon as eVineyard in 1998.[3] In 1995, David Harmon founded wine.com and in 1999 sold the information site Wine.com to Virtual Vineyards for over $10,000,000. In 2000, VirtualVineyards.com and WineShopper.com merged under the Wine.com moniker.[4] In the spring of 2001, eVineyard purchased the assets of the combined business prior to their bankruptcy and became known as Wine.com.[5] After being acquired, Wine.com moved its corporate offices to San Francisco, CA.[6] In 2006, Rich Bergsund joined Wine.com as CEO, seeing the company through a financial turnaround.[7] According to Internet Retailer, the company has grown to become the biggest online wine retailer in the United States.[8] Wine.com is majority owned by Baker Capital, a New York–based private equity firm.[9]
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#23 Post by GregT » August 16th, 2019, 11:16 pm

Wow. That's about as informative as nothing.

I remember WineShopper. They were around for like a minute.

Don't know Baker but I guess they're the original Wall Street guys who figured they could make a business out of it? But I thought they sold out years ago. Or maybe they tried but couldn't find buyers?
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#24 Post by Victor Hong » August 17th, 2019, 5:52 am

Add an assault rifle and three loaded ammunition belts to your shopping cart. Then, shipping will be as easy as pie.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#25 Post by Jeff_D » August 17th, 2019, 6:18 am

————-
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#26 Post by scamhi » August 17th, 2019, 6:25 am

I had the same experience and ended up shipping to a friend in CA.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#27 Post by Scott G r u n e r » August 17th, 2019, 9:04 am

I loved evineyard.com until the wine.com transition screwed it up. Prices immediately jacked up and they started charging sales tax. :)
//Cynic

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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#28 Post by GregT » August 17th, 2019, 10:37 am

Interesting articles Jeff. I can't believe that they are still getting those kinds of investments. Wine Searcher has pretty much made it pointless to try to become THE online wine retailer.

BTW, did anyone notice that Amazon is opening a second brick and mortar store for spirits delivery as part of Amazon Prime? It will be a distribution center and also a walk-in.

I'm thinking that spirits is going to be where the real battles are. People are much more brand loyal than wine buyers, the margins are better, and the inventory doesn't age out.
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Re: why won't wine.com ship to me?

#29 Post by Nick Gangas » August 19th, 2019, 8:08 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
August 17th, 2019, 5:52 am
Add an assault rifle and three loaded ammunition belts to your shopping cart. Then, shipping will be as easy as pie.
why do you hate Merica ?

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