Temporary Suspension of Wine Club Operations - Update!

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We thought you might appreciate an update about how things are going at the LCBO from our vantage point and where we stand in respect to resuming operation.

Let us start off by saying it has been much worse than we had imagined when we first decided to stop placing orders. It has been so gnarly and wretched that George J. Soleas, Executive Vice President of the LCBO sent out this notice to agents and licensees. It is not quite an apology for the trials and tribulation they have inflicted upon us, but it is the closest thing we have ever had to one.

Basically, it would seem that they didn’t give much if any thought to how their agents were going to cope during the protracted implementation process of their new operating system. For example, as soon as their staff started flailing away with the new ordering process, they stopped sending copies of purchase orders to the agents. As the number of input errors rose dramatically and order processing times grew exponentially, we were completely in the dark unless we asked our winery to send us a copy of the purchase order. Domaine Roger Sabon received an order for one case of 2013 Rhône By Roger Sabon when it should have been for twenty-five cases. And so it goes.

They used to send us copies of their invoices before we picked up our wine. But this ceased; so we now have no way of checking the accuracy before we appear at their counters at 33 Freeland Street.

Suddenly the LCBO lab is taking bottles from our orders, even though you have waived the lab testing ritual. So far, the bottles they take have simply disappeared. Our current Château Rives-Blanches order is missing nine bottles! We are waiting despondently to find out what has happened to them.

Cases of wine are disappearing on their way to outlying LCBO stores, never to be seen again. Deposit payments are being taken twice for the same order (a phenomenon that takes weeks to resolve). We receive avalanches of meaningless email reports (that one day might make sense once we start working with the new system). And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We don’t want to leave you with the impression that our confreres at LCBO Private Ordering aren’t trying their best. They are and we believe that they sincerely want to work with us to simplify and improve the administrative joys of dealing with them. However, they are just now beginning to roll out the system to a couple of the largest agencies and it is going to take months till they get it out to the rest of us (another several hundred poor souls!). May the good times roll!

We are going to give it another try in the next couple of weeks. Christmas, New Years and many other festive occasions are sneaking up on us and it would be cruel and unusual punishment if we didn’t provide you with the opportunity to load up on the fine elixirs from Champagne Forget-Brimont. Your prayers and good wishes will be greatly appreciated. 

http://forget-brimont.pagesperso-orange.fr/images/news4.jpgPlease continue to bear with us as we work through these most interesting times with our partners at the LCBO. As Mr. Soleas says, “Once fully implemented, this new program will simplify and streamline order placement and delivery, while giving agents increased control over order generation, purchasing and pick-up.” One can only hope.


Important Note
The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

LCBO Delivery Notices!

The LCBO has started to mail out delivery notices to all our Members who order wine. This notice is being sent when the wine has arrived from overseas and has been cleared for delivery by the LCBO. The form letter is two sided, one with the numeric details of the transaction and the other with pick-up instructions. Please note - the pick-up instructions do not apply to our Members.

Why?

First, they instruct our Member to pick up the wine at the LCBO’s warehouse loading docks at 33 Freeland Street in Toronto. Our Members don’t have to do this – we either cause the wine to be sent to an LCBO retail store that is conveniently located near our Member or we personally deliver the wine.

Second, they infer that our Members owe them for the wine and warn that they will be penalized if the wine is not picked up within a prescribed period of time. Our Members have already paid for their wine and don’t owe any additional money. We look after payment for them.

Please disregard these form letters when you receive them.

We have requested that the LCBO either correct the message or not send it at all. We also asked that they send the message electronically (they have the e-mail addresses of everyone who orders) to save money and be environmentally responsible. They have thanked us for our suggestions and we hope they will act on them.

Why is the LCBO sending out these notices?

When we inquired, we were told that this has always been their procedure; they just haven’t been following it.

We can surmise that it is in response to last year’s ruling by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario (IPC) ruling that the LCBO stop taking personal information from wine club customers. In a subsequent Ontario Superior Court of Justice appeal hearing, the case was remitted back to the IPC for reconsideration, i.e., the LCBO and the other involved parties were told to work out their issues between themselves. A key point in the ruling was, “it is not clear whether the IPC actually made a clear or consistent finding on the issue of whether the LCBO's customer is the club or the club member.” Since then, the LCBO has been determined to make certain that we are all fully aware that it is they who control the customer relationship when it comes to the purchase of beverage alcohol in the Province of Ontario.

To reinforce this point, they have instructed us to prominently post the following wherever we display our prices:

The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

If you have any comments for the LCBO, please address them to Margaret Plant, Supervisor, Private Ordering (margaret.plant@lcbo.com) and copy Archie Karanxha, Acting Manager, Specialty Services (arqile.karanxha@lcbo.com) and Geoff Allaire, General Manager Operations, Toronto Retail Service Centre, Vintages Warehouse (geoff.allaire@lcbo.com).

All this reminds me of a very old joke. It seems that a little devil was involved in a most unfortunate tangle with one of Toronto’s Red Rockets that resulted in his tail being severed. He was rushed to the Toronto General Hospital but was refused admission. The ER receptionist explained, “I am afraid you will have to take him to the LCBO ... they are the only ones in Ontario allowed to retail spirits.”


Kate joins the team!
We are delighted to announce that our eldest daughter Kate (shown here with a bottle of Penfolds Grange from her birth year!) has officially joined the Arthur Sellers & Company team. She is an avid wine enthusiast with a very fine palate and is renowned for her frequent thirsty assaults on Arthur’s Cellar. Kate will be assisting us with the day-to-day operation of our wine club and will introduce our fine wines to her market demographic (recognizing that this old tippler needs a little help marketing to the younger aficionados of the fruit of the vine). Please join us in welcoming Kate to our wonderful world of wine.

Where’s My Wine??
Generally, it will take three to four months from the time you order your wine till it is delivered. To find out where your next treasure is on its long journey from Europe, just click on Delivery Status in the side bar to the left. We update it regularly.

About our website

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