What's a fair resolution to a shipping snaffu?

I’ll try for the short version and leave the retailer’s name out since they haven’t explicitly denied anything in particular - still “working on it:”
-Order placed for (2) bottles totalling ~$1k over a month ago – bottles were a 1991 and a 1986, which is to say presumably more delicate in terms of shipping than a brand new 2018/2019.
-I paid something like 60 bucks or something for FedEx cold chain which I know is typically a 2-4 week service (and I’m ok with that) … retailer is in CA and I’m shipping to DC.
-I called end of last week just to check in since I didn’t have shipping notification yet.
-They say so sorry no idea why it hasn’t shipped yet, and not being able to know when the next cold chain shipment will go out, I’m going to send it FedEx Priority Overnight. I say great thanks, please wait till Monday so it’s not over a weekend.
-As promised the box shipped on time yesterday and followed the very familiar Oakland to Memphis route and landed in plenty of time to make two different early morning flights to the DC area per FlightAware (both of which operated it seems like, and having shipped lots of stuff to DC, this is the normal routine… normally lands in Memphis around 1am, takes off for DC around 3-4am, and it’s on a truck by around 8am and delivered by 1030).
-Inexplicably, the package sat in Memphis all day today where it was over 90 degrees for 5+ hours and over 80 basically all day.

What should be done by the retailer? How much responsibility do I bear? What is a fair resolution?

They should make you whole - no ifs ands or buts - they can seek relief from Fedex

Retail customer deals with retailer, who deals with Fedex.
Do not let the retailer divert you to Fedex. Retailer makes you whole. That is the deal; just follow the contractual linkages.

I would also add that on the few occasions I have had to ship in Summer, more than half the time there has been some kind of problem. I am sure that is why most retailers will ask you to sign a waiver.

UPS and FedEx notified shippers several months ago that there would be not guarantee shipped items will arrive on time due to Covid 19 and when you login to ship something, the warning was emblazoned on form page. Many business websites also have the caveat posted. In the last three months, two thirds of the shipments to us have arrived a day late. So far for the last three months, fifty percent of our shipments via UPS have arrived at their destination a day late.

Talking with our UPS person, he talks about trucks/trailers that arrive and sit because there aren’t enough employees and many new employees quit after a day or two. So the package gets to Memphis in plenty of time, but there isn’t enough people to unload it. Add to that the number of people at home, not working, ordering online so they don’t have to go to stores, plus the increase in Amazon orders.

Your retailer should have known and warned of a possible delay unless it was a big retailer that has shipping separated from retail and retail staff isn’t informed of the delays. The retailer should and likely will make you whole IF there was damage to the wines, which haven’t been mentioned, only assumed. The retailer will also eat the cost as UPS/FedEx already told them about the delays.

Everyone should be aware by now that UPS and FedEx are totally overwhelmed and there are no guarantees these days, so I do think there’s at least some degree of shared responsibility. Yes, the retailer’s best practice should have been to warn you and I’m fairly certainly they’ll stand up and make you whole since they are the more knowledgeable party in this scenario, and it’s reasonable for customers to trust the retailer to make good judgement calls or at least discuss the risks; but there’s also some responsibility that we as consumers should take when we chose to ship in hot weather, especially when delays are quite common. Even in good times, I’m pretty sure every wine savvy person who chooses to ship in the summer knows it’s not a great idea. I feel sorry for the retailers, who have no control whatsoever over UPS/FedEx delays - my feeling sorry for them doesn’t absolve them of all responsibility, mind you, but I think it’s important to recognize what they can and can’t do.

I think the lesson during these times is clear: don’t have anything shipped if a delay would be disastrous. Period.

This 100x.

Been mentioned on some other threads, too.

I’m surprised that retailers don’t mention it, but I am also surprised that people are surprised snafus in shipping are happening during this Covid period. They happen during food times too, but problems are now amplified exponentially.

“The retailer should and likely will make you whole IF there was damage to the wines, which haven’t been mentioned, only assumed.“

So for this, is this based on visual inspection (ie: cork sticking out?) or opening the bottle? If its a bottle intended to be cellared, it could be years before you plan to open. I’ve had some retailers ask I open a bottle and if its been damaged they will make it right, but those were everyday bottles, so not a big deal to open. Surely they cant expect a buyer of expensive bottles (in the OP’s situation) just to figure out if it is cooked or not.

In terms of provenance, would you consider it a black spot if it was shipped in high temperatures during the summer? (Assuming there was any intention of selling later) or would that be being brutally honest? I always see “purchased directly from winery, stored in climate controlled cellar”, but nothing about whether its ever been shipped vs picked up directly from winery.

I never ship have my wines shipped in the summer.

Lesson: never ship in the summer, no matter what.

I think the lesson is “do not ship in summer”. If anything about modern, recent history informs us is that: supply chains can break down, there are no guarantees in life or business, “1-day” does not mean One-day. You pays your money and takes your chances.

I did it recently and in my head assumed I’m 100% at fault, risk on me. Sent overnight, first AM delivery, with a cold pack in styrofoam. Still not smart but I wanted it.

I had a retailer erroneously ship across the country in the heat of May/June this year. I notified them immediately but it was already in Fedex hands. They said they would recall the package, but they didn’t and it took over a week to go coast to coast. They were wines to age, so I asked them to take it back and replace them with other bottles. I’m always concerned about what happens to the bottles that go back to them (do they re-sell them after 2 cross country trips in the heat?) especially given that they obviously don’t care enough about the heat to stop shipments in the summer. Their website mentions that they care about storage conditions and temperature, but they don’t automatically do summer holds (you have to request it), and when I talked to them about why my package got sent out when I asked (and they confirmed) that it wouldn’t, they said the vast majority of their customers don’t request a summer hold and so they ship by default.

For proper care and provenance, out of respect their next owner, ship those bottles back to the retailer during cooler weather. [snort.gif] newhere cheesehead


On a board devoted to drinking, a sobering post for all to reread.

Sorry to hear of your troubles. I’m surprised the retailer shipped overnight instead of sticking with cold chain; did you tell the retailer you needed the wine by a certain date? With the on time “guarantees” being eliminated, I imagine it will be more difficult than normal for the retailer to get their money back from FedEx. Personally, I would not ship any wine now when the temps exceed 75 along the route, unless it is something that I could stomach as a total loss. Particularly cross country. I hope you are made whole.

Did the wine arrive today?

I cringe at the number of cross country ground shipment requests we get. I’ve gotten in the habit of calling to let the customer know there is some risk involved. Particularly for larger orders, we can’t consistently shoulder all the risk. Half the time, they agree to let us hold until the fall. Our policy is traditionally to stand behind the delivery, but we have to use some caution and rationality.

Amusing case: recent shipment of 6 Prisoner Red to CA - broken on the CA end and returned (i.e. back and forth to FL). Came back this week. 4 of 6 returned by FedEx after repack. Bottles beat up and stained but capsules loose. We opened one and tasted. It was normal so far as we could tell. We sold the remainder as “scratch and dent” at half off.

Vinfolio recalled the package from FedEx and committed to making me whole. There is another of one bottle available through them, but not the other. The consignor increased the price of that one bottle, so they’re going back to him to see if he’ll lower it back to the original price. They’re going to credit my account for the other bottle, which seems fair enough.

I did not indicate that I needed the wines by a specific date. I would’ve also been fine with a refund for shipping (maybe some token store credit since they goofed in not getting it out the first time?) and just having Domaine pick it up in a refrigerated truck or doing cold chain again. Their customer service has been great … I really just wanted to know what I should be comfortable asking for if they did not respond quite so nicely.

Glad to hear they made good. Fair play to them.

I suppose I can imagine circumstances in which it is unavoidable, but they’d have to be pretty extraordinary to get me to ship in anything close to this weather. And if I did, I would assume things might get screwed up and would discuss it with the retailer before pulling the trigger.

Having said that, you paid extra for special service and didn’t get it. I’d expect the retailer to make it good and to seek relief from UPS/FedEx. If as noted above the shipping companies have warned users off their services, it is even more incumbent on the retailer to make good.

And I would not take those bottles now no matter what they look like at this point.

BTW, am I not correct that coldchain only gets you to the depot, and then the package sits on a regular delivery truck for final delivery? No bueno. Not interested in that at all.

Yes, you’re basically correct on cold chain but I think the Depot may have refrigeration. Had two shipments go cold chain. One arrived before 9 AM as scheduled, no problem. Second didn’t arrive until 5 PM and bottles were 80, not too happy but seems to be sound. My summer shipping days are over, especially with this heat.