The downside of shopping wine online


What kind of customer are you? Faithful to a retailer and hence having built up a healthy relationship where a mutual trust exists? Or are you constantly looking for good buys which results in buying from several different stores?

It’s 2013 and I dare saying that most of us today knows that it’s difficult finding a shop offering all the stuff you’re interested in. Hence we buy from several sources.  I do, although I have my favorites where I am a trusted customer. But most of all, we’re buying more and more online.

With online shopping a new world opens up and it is obvious that ethics amongst shop owners differs. The main dilemma as I see it, is the handling of defect wines. A majority handles it excellently, at least the ones I’ve had to contact when popping a bad bottle. Others don’t even respond when being informed about a cork tainted bottle, not even after repeated emails.

A mould stenching bottle of Cos d’Estournel, also on the inside. Would I have bought it if I could smell this had been cellared with bad company? Should the online shop have told me ahead? In the end, it’s all about ethics….

Naturally, all countries has their legislation but as in my case, buying from EU countries there is a set standard that should be implemented in the domestic ruling. Still, there are lots of unanswered questions such as:

  • Can an online shop demand you send back a defect wine? Who is to pay the costs for this?
  • A buyer can’t examine the bottles in advance; the ullage and indications on how it has been kept in general. How much information is an online store supposed to specify online – or should we just trust that a listed wine seems visually ok?
  • When is a wine a ‘caveat emptor’ – that is, the buyer’s risk? Should it be stated when presenting the wine online?
  • Should a customer accept a voucher or can he/she demand a reimbursement?

Customer or online retailer; what’s your take on theses issues? I know there are risks from both point of views but without a buyer, there is no shop.