What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

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Sh@n A
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What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#1 Post by Sh@n A » September 4th, 2018, 7:53 pm

I placed orders from a well known retailer on this forum. The original order had specifications to hold till Oct/Nov (re-communicated multiple times, with implied understanding from the retailer based on conversation) and further there was a request by me to ship eventually to NJ and not ship to NY (while the retailer was pushing shipping to NY because shipping to NJ was a pain). Indeed, I was still adding bottles periodically to the order as recently as 3 days ago. And then suddenly I had a box in our mail receiving storage from today from that retailer. I don't know how this wine was shipped, but I assume it went out via a local truck delivery network and was in transit for just one day, or two days, potentially in a temperature controlled truck. Today was high of 93F, and yesterday was a similar high. The wine was delivered at some point in the day and left in an unrefrigerated storage area of a building, where the temperatures were presumably in the mid 70s. I have no place to store this wine in my apartment and temperatures outside are in mid 80s and in the apartment probably low to high 70s. Assuming the retailer can pick it up tomorrow, the wine would have (i) traveled in whatever vehicle got it here, which I assume/hope was a temperature controlled vehicle, and (ii) was in high 70s/low 80s storage conditions for a day.

This retailer (i) should not have shipped it now, and (ii) arguably should not have shipped it to me in NY. Things probably got disorganized as I was adding bottles periodically, and there were bottles I ordered off their website a couple times that were sold out. This is an order value of ~$1,000 of younger vintage reds meant for long-term aging in an offsite (going up in a few weeks).

What is my recourse? It seems reasonable to accept a full refund to me. I would take an exchange, but how do I know said retailer wouldn't just pick up the wine and send me the same bottles back? There is a chance the bottles are fine, but I don't want to pay $100-200/bottle for wine and then pay to store it offsite for years, when it was potentially a little cooked at the outset. As of now, I have yet to connect with the retailer. I sent a few emails saying this happened, and will hear back tomorrow.

What would you do in this situation?

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Randy Bowman
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#2 Post by Randy Bowman » September 4th, 2018, 8:37 pm

Go on the retailer's website and read all the terms and conditions that you agreed to by placing the order. They would probably refund your money with a re-stocking fee, plus provide you with a shipping tag to return the wine to them, OR, since the wine isn't being properly maintained by you they may refuse to accept it back. The larger the business and higher number of employees result a higher number of mistakes, missteps, miscommunication, etc. Add to that somebody who isn't placing an order to be purchased and shipped, instead held, stored and added to over several months, I can see issues like this happening.

Sh@n, was there A person you worked with? Was business conducted by general email and not an individual sales person or telephone? We have people in NJ and NY calling to have their wine shipped now because of lower temps. Most have their wine shipped 2nd day air.
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Sh@n A
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#3 Post by Sh@n A » September 4th, 2018, 8:48 pm

Thank you for the response

1) Business was conducted exclusively by email with a single individual
2) I'm not sure how I can store it appropriately when they dropped it off without warning in a mailroom lobby
3) I am currently keeping box in front of AC set at 67
4) if folks are shipping out of napa now at 80F, that sounds like a more strenuous journey than what has transpired thus far
5) the website I ordered from on invoice says cancelled orders are subject to 20% cancellation fee
Last edited by Sh@n A on September 5th, 2018, 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sh@n A
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#4 Post by Sh@n A » September 4th, 2018, 9:47 pm

duplicate post
Last edited by Sh@n A on September 5th, 2018, 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Drew Goin
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#5 Post by Drew Goin » September 4th, 2018, 10:50 pm

Sh@n,

As a resident of a hot locale (Louisiana), my window for receiving wine shipments is always small. As is probably the case elsewhere, we say, "If you don't like the weather here, wait five minutes." Fortunately, the frequency of my purchases from online retailers has just about stopped, as I almost exclusively buy direct from wineries. Of course, some wines aren't made on the West Coast of the US (Beaucastel, anyone?), and the level of customer service will always be different between a small winery and a large online retail outlet.

In the past, I have always tried to adamantly express my need for weather-delayed shipments, icepacks, etc, when placing an order. Most of the time, my requests have been honored. When they have not, I have had some good luck as well as bad when the box arrived at my place. Unlike you, my orders have never been as expensive as $1,000! For a transaction of that magnitude, the retailer had better be accommodating to your needs!!!

I think you have some advantages to work with in resolving this matter. First, you spoke with one employee, which helps facilitate confirmation of the order conditions you expressed. Second, the interactions of your purchase were via email, so all facts are recorded for posterity's sake. No one can argue about what so-and-so really said. Third, the box was delivered to a mailroom, you did not sign for the package personally (you didn't sign for the package, did you?). You can say that, had you been present for the delivery, you would have refused it out of hand. The wine was sent in a manner contrary to your clearly stated conditions. These facts are worth pointing out to the business from whom you bought the bottles.

My only concern is that the package was opened. If you were able to point out that your requests were obviously not followed so you have zero interest in the contents of the box, whatever their state/soundness. I doubt that some obscure condition of the sale involves opening the delivery as an implied acceptance of the conditions of the sale/product. Then again, I second the recommendation that you re-read all the website's "terms & conditions". That will be the starting point for your case.

Best wishes!

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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#6 Post by Sh@n A » September 5th, 2018, 5:48 am

So the latest facts:
Wine was delivered via air conditioned car, not shipped. So a positive.
Was delivered at 5PM to mail room
Unclear what temps were in mail room till my pick-up of package at 11PM (+6hrs), but 75+ is likely
At 11PM, wine was picked up//put in front of AC set to 67 and has been there since. Not sure what actual temp of wine will be over this period. Won't be 55. But will be below 75.

Retailer offer:
Will pick up wine back on Monday 9/10 (+5 days from now, presumably on regular delivery route)
Wine is OK and does not need to be changed, and will presumably deliver/ship next month

What I would want:
If the wine is not compromised, then everything would be OK
However, if the wine is not compromised, the retailer should have no issue swapping it out or taking wine back
Checking their website, however, most bottles are now sold out / not available for swap

Accordingly, either I keep the wine, push the the retailer to take it back, or pay a negotiated fee for the retailer to take it back

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Al Osterheld
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#7 Post by Al Osterheld » September 5th, 2018, 6:56 am

Given the circumstances you describe, I'd keep the wine. It's more than likely the bottles have experienced 75F in their previous history.

It sounds as if you ordered various bottles over time and the retailer lost track of conditions expressed for earlier orders.

-Al

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Sh@n A
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#8 Post by Sh@n A » September 5th, 2018, 7:58 am

This is the retailers response as well. That the U.S. distribution network is not as pristine as I think it is.

That said, if one is spending $1,000 (recognizing this is a big number to some, and quite a small number to others.. so overall a reasonable amount) on a few choice bottles, I wouldn't want the wine stored in a mail room for more than 2-3 hours and wouldn't want it stored in a wall-unit A/C room thereafter for a week.

Further, if the general assumption is the wine is OK, so I should be OK accepting the wine -- shouldn't the retailer be OK taking back the wine as well, without issue?

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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#9 Post by Al Osterheld » September 5th, 2018, 8:44 am

It sounded like the retailer offered to pick it up, but maybe only to ship to you later in NJ? Wasn't clear from your response. But, the main reason I said I would take the wine is because some of the bottles are apparently sold out.

-Al

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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#10 Post by Chris Foley » September 5th, 2018, 9:13 am

To me it doesn't seem like the wine has suffered enough heat, through the conditions you've described, to damage it or shorten its life somehow.
If it was put in the mailroom after being in a hot truck instead of an air conditioned car I might think otherwise.
Chris F.

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Sh@n A
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#11 Post by Sh@n A » September 5th, 2018, 9:54 am

Retailer agreed to take it back, so we are good and stress free [drinkers.gif] - there is a reason folks on WB shop from them!
I will steer more purchases to this retailer in the future (and just note to be extra clear on shipping requests with their assistants)
And thank you folks for your thoughts, as the opinions / advice are helpful to me at times like this. grouphug

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Randy Bowman
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#12 Post by Randy Bowman » September 5th, 2018, 7:30 pm

Sh@n, in 17 years of shipping wine, we've lost more bottles, (24), to cold temperatures, (20) UPS handling, (12), train wreck, than heat, (7). If shipped in styro it holds up a little better and we can add ice packs in summer for 2nd or 3 day delivery. If the wine is still in a styro shipper, your A/C isn't doing much for it because the styro is holding internal temperature. Put ice packs in the shipper, one per case. Change them every three or four days. You'll know how long they last. I wouldn't be surprised that there is nothing wrong with wines you received, but if you have a problem with it, do what you have to do.
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#13 Post by Doug Schulman » October 5th, 2018, 3:57 pm

The wine is perfectly fine. If you think a few hours in 75-80 degrees is not okay (especially in a shipper, but even without), you should never buy anything that's been through the 3 tier distribution system or has been imported from Europe by any means other than flying on a plane with you. I am totally serious and not exaggerating. It is okay. I would keep the wine and not worry so much.
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Re: What's my recourse for wine shipped in the heat?

#14 Post by YLee » October 5th, 2018, 4:05 pm

I agree with others. From your description the wine are fine. I don't think wines are entirely shipped in best environment from the vineyard to destination anyways.
-Yong

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