Is TWS trying to get rid of customers?

I had a very strange call from someone at the wine society yesterday. The call started off with them telling me off for ordering from my wish list saying that we shouldn’t be doing this as it causes them lots of problems. I have only done this for the burlotto and pataille rose so was quite annoyed to be called and told off for this. I suggested that they need to communicate this to customers properly if this is the case and that if due dates didn’t keep changing then customers wouldn’t order from their wish lists. This turned into a bit of a debate with me suggesting that they remove due dates to better manage customer expectations with the person saying if they were to do so they would be providing customers with less information to which I replied of the dates keep changing it’s not information. After the call I called member services to cancel the order that I had placed from my wish list for Pataille Rose.

The topic was then changed to cancelling orders that are to be placed into reserves and that if an order that is to go into reserves is cancelled it causes big problems as the placing of an order into reserves is a two week process that is kicked off at the point the order is placed and there it can only be cancelled once it has gone into reserves. I had also recently had to cancel a coupe of orders that went into reserves due to quality issues - one of which Château des Rontets, Pouilly-Fuissé Clos Varambon 2018 of which I have had two bottles a few weeks apart. In my opinion this wine is faulty as it taste like cider. I drink enough Pouilly-Fuissé to know when it doesn’t taste right.

I was told that the way that I was placing my orders wasn’t working for them. Needlessly to say at this point I was very angry with the whole conversation and my response was that I didn’t ever have any of the problems I have had with TWS with Berry Brothers and perhaps the easiest thing is for me to just order from Berry Brothers and I said goodbye and hung up the phone.

I have been a member of TWS for more than 12 years and spent a lot of money with TWS, particularly the past few years. I have always found member services staff brilliant so googled the person who called me after the call ended and discovered their role was “wine specialist”.

I would really like to have a chat with someone from TWS who is responsible for the customer experience side of things to discuss this call. I know that if you call TWS you get a message “this call may be recorded for training purposes”. I do hope this is the same for calls that are initiated to customers so this call can be used as training material on how not to treat a customer.

I’d also be interested to hear if other members have had a similar experience.


I’ve had a couple of similar experiences recently but not as bad, as the people I spoke to were quite polite about telling me I was being a pain.

It made me wonder whether the Society really means its Promise. Are they happy for us to use those rights or are they something that will be implemented grudgingly and with low muttering at their end?

My understanding is that I can return a wine if I don’t like it, with no questions asked. If it will take a few weeks thanks to their systems, that’s fine by me but I really wouldn’t expect to be told off for it!


I have done both of these things and not been subjected to this sort of call. These are both faults of their system(s) that they’re passing on to you.

The wish list ordering is a feature/bug in their website. It’s been know about and discussed here for several months (and used by several of us, including me). If they don’t want people doing that, then the answer is to fix the bug, not shout at customers.

They offer a storage service, they have a no quibble promise in place. It can’t be that rare an occurrence and they should have some kind of process in place to deal with it. If a wine in reserves is faulty (or even not to your taste), it’s faulty (or not to your taste). I understand that it might be more of a faff, but again, not something to push blame onto the customer for.

Actively phoning a customer to give them bad customer service is other level too. I wish I was surprised.


It seems pretty obvious that the ability to order wines from the wishlist that are due in is an IT loophole which TWS should close (if they can).

If I’m wrong and this is a new feature then it may just be lack of internal communication.

Either way its not very likely the wine specialist in question intended to induce hurt feelings.

So my answer to your question is - no, probably not

That might well be true. However the whole notion of calling selected customers to tell them off for things that are not their fault is at least weird. I am also guilty of the practices mentioned, but did not even get an email.


Getting a call from a business where you’ve placed an order online which has run into some kind of problem seems like good practice and not weird at all (to me).

I got an email the other day from the TWS saying I’d ordered the 2018 vintage of a wine where only the 2020 was available, asking if I wanted to cancel the order. I checked my records and found I had in fact ordered the 2020 and so responded to the email that I was happy to take delivery of the 2020. A call would have been fine as well. Perhaps its a sign of very good customer service that TWS is phoning its clients over order issues and not the reverse.

Wow …. I’m kind of speechless .
I know Isobel Cooper used to be head of member services but has moved roles . She really was lovely .
None of the issues you have explained are your fault and calling you up to “discuss” your ordering habits is just ludicrous.


So why not send an email to those who ordered from the wishlist explaining the situation and cancel all orders placed from the wishlist, rather than calling people seemingly randomly.

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Except he did !


Probably because that is more trouble than its worth for most orders of that kind.

However there’ll be a few items which sell out quickly where its undesirable to have the entire allocation sold via an IT loophole.

That Pataille has been due in for ages and the list of pending to reserves orders must be lengthy.

Some people are too easily offended

If you had had the call I had had you would have been offended. I didn’t post everything on the community.


Doesn’t matter. If the recipient of the call, not unreasonably, thinks you were offensive - then you were indeed offensive.


I find that comment deeply offensive (nah - not really). Who knows the answer to this conundrum (not me)

You didn’t receive the call to make that judgement. If Nicola says she was offended , then she was offended ! End of story .


There’s at least 4 things here:

  1. Whether I can reach a judgement on a conversation I did not participate in. I think I can - partially (just my view and that partially matters)

  2. Whether hurt feelings can be measured objectively (I believe they can but its admittedly a thorny and complicated subject)

  3. Whether fundamentally the customer is always right (I think not)

  4. Whether TWS should revoke wishlist orders for in demand (due in) stock - I think they should and to be honest this is the only really important issue in this thread

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@NicolaR Dear Nicola, I was very disappointed to read your post. The Society’s Promise has not changed. If you remove a wine that you had stored in Reserves and find it to be faulty or not to your taste, we will refund it without quibble. This is a genuine promise. I’m sorry that this message was confused.

And on the separate matter, it is correct that there is a fix required in our systems around the wishlist which is creating a loophole by which wines can inadvertently oversell. As you pointed out, this is our problem to solve and it would never be my intention to make a member feel responsible for such an issue.

Please rest assured that your feedback has been noted and I will be in contact with you to help clarify the situation further.


Was this the Ar.Pe.Pe? I received the 2020 having ordered the 2018, but rather than telling me the order form that came in the delivery was changed to show 2020. I know I ordered 2018 because a) I double checked it was the vintage I’d just enjoyed a bottle of and b) the email I got when I ordered says 2018

I wrote to flag this up, not heard back yet (only 2 days later to be fair) - it’s not the end of the world, I’m sure the 2020 will be a lovely wine too, but not the level of incredibly good service I’ve come to expect and also not entirely honest which is disappointing

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Yes - it was that wine.

I hadn’t noticed this until you prompted me to check but it seems I did order the 2018 (according to the email I received when I placed the order)

The funny thing is that when I checked my order online it showed the 2020 so I assumed I had ordered 2020. I checked online as soon as I received the second email asking me if minded 2020 instead of 2018 so it does indeed seem a little sneaky…

I think I too would have preferred the bottle age of 2018 but its not a hanging offence.


I will second that view of Isobel who is a lovely person who called me a couple of times after significant issues. She would never have acted like the person @NicolaR had on the phone.

Perhaps that person who called would be best advised to call their own IT and website teams to discuss how these matters have escalated to this stage in the first place! That’s where the problems lie as we all know, not with the members…

My reaction to getting this call would have been pretty direct…and probably unprintable!