Don’t you just hate it? You pop the cork on that bottle of wine you’ve been saving only to find that it’s corked or flawed in some other way.
That happened to me last night: I opened a 2005 single vineyard designated Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley. Out of the glass came smells of onions, garlic and chives – the aromas of mercaptans. Like TCA taint, there is nothing I can do to make this $35 bottle of wine enjoyable.
This was a bottle I received as part of a wine club shipment. It’s also almost 4 years old. I’ve done tastings of aged Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay in the past so I know that this bottle is not oxidized or past its prime. It is also not lightstruck because it was stored in absolute darkness from the day I received it. This bottle of wine was clearly flawed.
If this had been a bottle of wine I purchased at a reputable retailer, I could go back to the store and get the bottle exchanged. Most wine specialty stores make it their open policy to replace flawed bottles.
But what recourse do I have as a wine club member?
What can a winery do to ensure I don’t drop out of the club?
Here are my recommendations to wine clubs:
- Replace the bad bottle as soon as a member tells you about it. A quick response and replacement goes a long way in the customer satisfaction department.
- Carry the cost of shipping of the replacement bottle(s). The customer already paid for your flawed product and its shipping. They should not pay for shipping on the replacement item.
- If the wine the customer wants replaced is sold out, dig into your library, offer them the same wine from a more recent vintage or offer an “upgrade” to a higher priced wine.
- Make your replacement policy public
- put it on your web site
- make it clear on your club sign up forms
- make it a selling point of your wine club
- Keep track of issues with wines – this is a vital part of quality control and maintaining customer satisfaction
Some of these recommendations may seem like jagged financial pills to swallow – particularly for the small, boutique or artisan producer. Ultimately, though, you have to do right by the customer and honor the money they spent on your product. The point of this is to keep club members from dropping out. This is a Burger King economy where consumers want it their way and retention is the name of the game.
Email & Share