Wine Talk

Snooth User: JenniferT

Ever break a bottle of wine inside a store?

Posted by JenniferT, May 14.

Hi guys:

I was at a local wine and liquor store today; I buy quite a bit of stuff from them but don't really know any of the staff. It was quite warm and I was out running errands. I decided to stop by and pick up a few bottles of inexpensive wine (sub $15) that I can use in part for cooking.

I guess maybe my hand was a little sweaty or something because I just dropped one of the bottles I was holding on the floor while I was standing in line. I really don't know how I managed to do that. (Clumsy, I know.)

So I proceeded to profusely apologize, although it wasn't well received. They didn't get angry or anything, but they didn't say anything in reply either.

When I got to the front of the line, I apologized to the cashier again and said that I could buy the bottle if I had to. She didn't thank me for offering or say anything, but just swiped the 2nd/replacement bottle twice without a word.

I was wondering if this kind of thing has ever happened to you guys. What is the standard?

I must say I personally felt somewhat offended. It was enough of a scene without my apologies being largely ignored. And I felt that I should have been thanked for my offer to purchase, and that's IF the common policy is to charge for such an accident at all?

Thanks! 

 

 

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Replies

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Reply by dvogler, May 15.

Jen,

This couldn't have been a BC liquor store (government one), they would not charge you for it.

If this was a private store, I would seriously consider writing to management.  Clearly it was an accident.

 

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Reply by outthere, May 15.

Sure have. Just recently as a matter of fact. I was at the local market and rolled my cart up to the meat counter. They had a bunch of wine bottles stacked on top of the cases rather than in the boxes at the base of the meat counter. My cart bumped the stack and 4 bottles fell to the floor. "Cleanup on aisle 16!" Very poor merchandising decision.hey knew it and promptly cleaned up the mess. No mention of me paying for their mistake. But then again I didn't drop the bottle from my hand. Your crew seemed awful rude though.

The next time I was in there the display was moved.

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Reply by dmcker, May 15.

Jennifer the response by the person at the register was unacceptable. And I thought Canucks were generally polite?

Writing to management is the way to go at this late date (and you could even include copies of our responses, or at least a link to this Snooth Forum thread as a wakeup call). The shop shouldn't have charged you, especially for such a cheap bottle (if it had been a several-hundred-dollar bottle then rationales and responses might have been justifiably different). Obviously the clerk doesn't know the first thing about 'customer service' (and generating repeat business), other than just perhaps either having had a bad personal day or generally being snotty.

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Reply by JenniferT, May 15.

Thanks, guys! Nice to see I have some company, OT :) 

It was a private store in Victoria (Harris Green). I might write management, but I feel fairly done with buying from those guys anyway. The attitude and poor reception throughout actually bothered me more than being charged for the bottle. Truthfully, being charged still felt kind of strange...but I'm admittedly unsure of normal protocol. Regardless, it was only something like 13 bucks anyway. Ugh.

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Reply by dvogler, May 15.

Geeze Jen!  What possessed you to go in there!?  Just kidding.  Perfect spot for cooking wine...that's where all the rubbies hang out!  If your time is more valuable than the principle, then just don't go there!  Listen, we need to go wine shopping one weekend!

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Reply by JenniferT, May 15.

I used to like it for it's location (proximity to Market on Yates). To be fair I think someone who buys for them might be making an effort - every so often I find interesting bottles that I don't think I would find elsewhere.

Also I did offer to pay for it because it definitely seemed my unacknowledged apologies were inadequate. But to have them wordlessly go ahead and charge me twice at the register for such a cheap bottle, and still fail to reciprocate whatsoever...well, I was pretty put off by that! It was worse then just getting charged.

I'm sure their staff have their share of stuff to deal with, but you could probably say the same for a number of stores in and around the downtown area.  

I could do with some wine shopping sometime, but it's the cheaper everyday type bottles that I need to find more of right now (maybe you can give me some advice in that respect). I'm hoping that inexpensive can still be interesting and educational, but that's kind of hit or miss.Tonight I opened Jackson Triggs Merlot as I wanted to use 3/4 of the bottle for a sauce, and I thought it was fairly awful.

Thanks though guys, I'm in a better mood now. I think I'm going to open a nicer bottle of wine. :)

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Reply by JonDerry, May 15.

Never happened to me but Ive often thought about how precarious holding a bottle can be.

Sorry you were given the passive aggressive/ silent treatment by the staff. They are more than likely just miserable with their lives and find it a good time to exercise their discontent. I'd have rubber floors in my shop ; )

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Reply by dmcker, May 15.

Different horror stories in my experience. One example being about a dozen years back when I and a friend in the wine industry were carrying six bottles of Bordeaux first growths to an event. These were famous labels, famous years (as in '61 and '59). The corks were original, and had not been replaced, so were roughly 40 years old in the bottles. We were crossing a street and a crazed driver almost ran us down. I dodged easily, my friend had trouble and stumbled against the curb, going down on his knees and tearing his pants. He didn't drop or smash the bottles against the pavement, but did give them the equivalent of the Mollydooker shake. The corks popped out of two of his bottles. and the wine frothed and splashed within the carrier. Problem was he was bringing the bottles to someone at the event who was going to pay for them (I and my friend had the route for the bottles the other guy wanted). So my friend shows up with otherwise superb classics, but with aged corks flopping around in red wine suds within the carrier. Since both my friend and the recipient were Japanese it became particularly embarrassing. My friend didn't feel he could charge for the bottles even though the recipient offered to pay all, then perhaps half. I ended up covering part of my friend's costs, and the recipient the rest. Fortunately the event (small and intimate) was a great success, notwithstanding.

 

Anyway, Jennifer, you should write the owner of the shop even if you decide not to go there anymore. And post a link to this discussion. In this networked day and age a snotty clerk can have real impact on a shop's business.

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 15.

I have my two experiences to add, but neither one was myself or Sandra breaking the wine bottle; in this post I'll discuss the first one:

(1)  My wife Sandra and I were at a vertical tasting of the famous Octagon and associated red wines down at the Barboursville Vineyards in the southern part of Virginia last year - October actually.  It was a fun event with lots of food and decent pours.  I was standing at a table near the counter where they were selling bottles, and suddenly I heard a loud crash.  I didn't see it because my back was turned, but when I spun around, there were two out of three bottles broken on the tile floor, looking like a large pool of blood.  Some guy had just purchased three bottles and was carrying them in a thin cardboard box when apparently the bottom fell out.  These were $60 to $80 bottles mind you.  I felt bad for the guy and it took a few minutes before an employee showed up with some paper towels to help clean up the wine and glass.  I have a few pictures of course (this is Really Big Al after all), so I've uploaded one of Sandra getting a taste and one of the broken bottles.  By the way, I believe they replaced his bottles and there were no hard feelings between the buyer and the winery employees.   Oh, please use Internet Explorer to view the pictures or they might appear rotated.  As usual, iPad's aren't recommended for viewing either...

 

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Reply by vin0vin0, May 15.

Jenn, can't say I've ever had a similar experience but don't let one bad employee keep you from going to a store that you like. I'm with everyone else here, write a letter or call the manager and give them an opportunity to make it up to you.  If they do, you both are happy, if they don't then you have a validated reason for boycotting.  Good luck.

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 15.

(2) So our other viewing of breaking bottles occurred in late February 2014, my first month of retirement.  We were down in South America, just starting our 2-week vacation tour of Chile, Argentina and Brazil.  The event was our personal wine tour of two wineries that we did on our first full day in Santiago, Chile.  We arrived a day early so this was an opportunity to do something on our own before the tour started.  We had a limo take us to Veramonte and then Casas Del Bosque, both in the Casablanca Valley of Chile.  At Veramonte, we enjoyed our personal wine tour and then a nice tasting inside.  While we were sampling our wines, a small tour group arrived and proceeded to look around.  In this room there were several barrels placed on end, with bottles of wine sitting on top of them in a nice display.  You just knew something like this was going to happen - a few ladies posed for a picture near a barrel, and sure enough, one of them bumped into the barrel and a bottle fell over and smashed on the concrete surface.  The lady just walked away!  Sandra and I looked at each other in amazement.  That lady did not tell an employee, and we saw a pool of wine start to form around the base of the barrel.  I went up and told an employee at the counter but I never saw the lady responsible for the accident again.  Perhaps there is a different way of behavior down there but I can't see someone just walking away from broken glass and a mess.

I don't have a picture of the broken bottle in this case, but I do have a nice picture of Sandra and myself doing the wine tasting - about 15 feet from where that barrel was (off to Sandra's right in this picture):

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Reply by dvogler, May 15.

Great photos Big Al! ;)  Really.  The top one though makes me very sad.  It was a death of sorts.

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Reply by outthere, May 15.

Two can play at this game. At least when I recognize my mistake I repair it.

 

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Reply by Really Big Al, May 15.

Oh you just need to keep rotating that iPad fast enough that the picture appears stationary.  Then adjust your viewing perspective to accommodate and you're good to go!

 

That landscape picture should have appeared just fine on your iPad.  I think you rotated it upside down....

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Reply by outthere, May 15.

You're right. It Is a case of user error ;)

 

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Reply by gregt, May 15.

Jen - in your case, you broke the bottle. In the other cases relayed above, seems like it was someone else's fault.

Bottles do break and you did the right thing in offering to pay.

There's no rule that the owner has to waive the charges, especially since his cost of the bottles is not going to be covered by whatever you buy, but most stores have some account for breakage, etc., and most places probably would not have charged you. Some places will post signs, particularly near expensive bottles, saying that if you break it, you bought it. Lots of times those places also tie down or otherwise protect those bottles.

Charging you by not saying anything but simply swiping the bottle twice is downright rude, although it's kind of funny.

Anyhow, you don't owe those people anything more and since they seem to be jerks, I wouldn't return. I was in a store last weekend and a guy dropped a whole 12-pack of beer. Every bottle broke. He wasn't even going to buy it - just wanted to move it to get to something else. They just cleaned it up and told him not to worry. No rule that they had to do that, but they'll keep him as a customer and everyone else in the store felt good about the place too.

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Reply by dmcker, May 15.

 "Oh, please use Internet Explorer to view the pictures or they might appear rotated.  As usual, iPad's aren't recommended for viewing either..."

I'm having no problem with any of the three browsers I use (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) on desktops or laptops, nor on the iPhone nor on the iPad. 

Now regarding IE, that's just plain an embarrassment to the IT and web community as a whole. As I've mentioned before they've had debates within MS about getting rid of it, and none of their engineers ever want to use it, even during business hours. Every time I see it on the screen I imagine I'm back in the last century. And that's for all sorts of other reasons than the fact that it's an ongoing security nightmare...    ;-(

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Reply by JenniferT, May 15.

Super helpful. Great stories, guys! OT's sounds particularly spectacular, since it involved a shopping cart! And DM - your bordeaux story, I don't have the words.  Also love your pics, Big Al!

I had no idea that places would tie bottles down - I feel that's valid if the price tag is sufficiently high, otherwise it seems kind of strange. I love picking up a bottle to glean whatever I can from the labelling. I've noticed the very high end bottles in most stores I've been are usually just stored in a temp controlled display case (which makes sense, and is great for oogling!)

This store is really not too upscale and not even primarily a wine store. They probably sell a lot more liquor and beer than wine. The location is less than desirable, and I've no doubt the staff has had to endure a lot from the equally less-than-desirables that wander in under the influence, etc. Still there were 3 staff there and nobody made an effort to be nice to me whatsoever, despite my numerous apologies/offer to pay,etc. I even offered to help clean up the mess (I was thinking that might make things worse given glass + insurance issues, etc). 

I buy most of my wine from more wine specific places (more educated staff and better selection). I can't imagine such a thing happening in any of them, honestly. It's also useful to know that all the non-private govt stores here (the majority) have policies where you would not be charged for such an accident. 

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Reply by EMark, May 15.

Well, I'm pretty late to this party, and all the good stories have been told (my best story involves a half-carton of eggs) and all the good ideas have been suggested.  I am going to agree with GregT on this one, Jennifer.  (No surprise there.  I agree with GregT more often than not.)  Just don't go back to that store.  It sounds like they are OK with surly employees.  So, I really think that composing a letter in the spirit of trying to improve their face to their customers is, pretty much, a waste of your time.

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Reply by JenniferT, May 15.

Well I'm glad I offered to pay. I was not sure if I should as we both figured small accidents like that would normally be absorbed as a cost of doing business. Now I've learned that is the rule with most stores here, but probably not the case in general.  

The bigger issue was me being unhappy with how I was treated by staff for a small yet somewhat embarrassing accident. (I think it was the reaction that made it feel worse and much more serious and embarrassing). I guess someone at the store must care, but I'm still quite happy to take my business elsewhere after that.   

Now I'm going to be paranoid whenever I pick up a bottle for awhile. I'm sure that won't last. :) 

And a big thanks for letting me whine and use you guys as a sounding board. :)

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