From the REPublic: Highway Robbery

February 15, 2012 · 5 comments

Hoo Boy. Trade events held at accounts can go one of two ways to help or hinder our standing relationships with Winebuyer. It should be all good, right? I mean, we’re showcasing their business… we’re paying them for food or service… but many times there’s a bump or hiccup or a rash misunderstanding of the terms and costs involved. Here’s an example of when it can go TERRIBLY WRONG. An ugly reminder to all of us Reps to get our agreements down in writing before said event takes place… 

Note: REPublic posts are reader-submitted.

Dear Mister Sommelier,

You know, I really do appreciate your business and it’s nice to sell you some wine when you’re in a buying mode/mood.

But it seems to me I’m the one who’s “getting the business” most of the time in our rather unequal marriage or partnership here.

Why don’t you simply be up front with all the reps and hand us some sort of manifesto explaining how things work.  You know, how you’re going to routinely squeeze the Bee-Jesus out of us in your on-going effort to get free goods, special considerations and such.

I mean, you’re always lobbying for “special events” to be held at your restaurant, on top of asking for by-the-glass pricing on all of a 6-pk of some hard-to-get wine.  You want best pricing and you don’t want to (or can’t) pay in the allotted 30 days.  You want the trophy wines, without having to help a brotha’ by offering some of
the entry-level wines from that winery.

Want, want, want!  Demand, demand, demand!!

Really, I ought to simply stop calling on you, but I ought to do so after calling the cops.

Let’s see?  How did this go???  Oh yes.  A winemaker visiting from The Old Country is in town, so we scheduled a trade event at your dining establishment.  I brought a number of wines to be poured as I hoped to showcase this guy’s wines and generate a few new placements and sales.  You didn’t pay a dime.  You even joined our little group, sitting down to join  us for a nice little meal. Thank you so much!!!  The winemaker explained his wines and politely engaged the assembled multitude in witty wine-speak.

Then you hand me the bill.
Like I said, I oughta call the police!

I’m billed for everyone’s meal, including the winemaker’s and, WTF!, yours!?!?!  And then, what’s this?  That’s not “corkage,” my friend.  That’s “screwage” you bag of….you’re charging me your wine list price for the various bottles of wine, even though I effin’ brought them myself!?!

There goes my expense account budget and samples allotment for the week.

Thank you so much.

I so look forward to doing business with you again soon.

But I’m bringing the cops next time.

Sincerely,

A Frustrated Wine-Schlepper On the Frontlines

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

ProducerX February 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Oh. My. God. That is just horrible. I wish we could out all the people who deal like this. I and all of my colleagues with a shred of pride and ethics could tell our reps “never sell to this douchebag.” Then the only wines on their list would be from other douchebag producers – deservedly.

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wineauxrep February 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Wow, the entitlement of the winebuyer is audacious, however I can’t say I am surprised. This type of bad behavior happens a lot unfortunately. I hope this jacka** does not ruin the reputation of the good winebuyers out there who do not charge a winemaker for a meal especially when he / she brings their wines. This is one winebuyer who forgets that a good business relationship goes both ways. You have to be a good rep and the winebuyer has to be a good winebuyer. There is not a single one-sided relationship that has ever worked. This jacka** won’t last, most of them don’t. We simply tolerate them until they go away.

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Tony the Wine Guy February 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Mister Sommelier and his superior, Esteemed Restauranteer, ought to be ashamed of themselves. Hundreds of douchebags like them have unabashedly requested free wine (by the case, mind you) and uncompensated (i.e. no free meal, even) special events from this winery/distributor during the past twenty eight years. Hair salons, luxury automotive dealerships, and upscale clothing stores regularly offer the same deal – because “exposure” for my wines in their business is obviously crucial to the success of my brand, apparently. There’s always a douchebag lifestyle winery who has money to burn on such events, but I offer the same reply to each query. I’ll gladly give away free goods in your establishment after you give away free goods in my tasting room.

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Jaded Importer February 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Unfortunately, the current state of the market seems to dictate this sort of behavior. Chances are that if they are screwing wine reps, they are also screwing their customers. I am still waiting for the market to move back to being demand driven. And waiting.

Even if it were legal, we would not offer free goods. Want that bottle for a staff training? I’ll send the rep over or do it myself. Want a bottle for a tasting? Who is coming, how do you publicize it, how do these things usually go? Are you willing to buy to cases to get the bottle? Do you have any skin in the game? Do you care? I will help you if you help me, and hopefully we can both be successful.

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Lousy Grapes February 19, 2012 at 4:43 am

Wow. I’m a Somm who was a winebuyer for a restaurant before i got my current gig as a rep and I’m ammazed at this bullshit. This is sheer greed and lack of respect for the fellow man. As a rep i would never call on this piece of shit again. Luckily I rep wines that most Somms would punch themselves in the nuts to get. Then, after I ignore them for a bit they call, “where you been? I need that juice!” and I get to say “you just go and fuck right off.” It’s a pretty good feeling…

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