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Transfers from other members & TWS promise

Hi All,

Just before Christmas I purchased a case of Ampelia 2015 from another member via Wine Owners. They transferred it from their reserves to mine. I then had them delivered from my reserves.

Unfortunately the second bottle we opened was corked. The first and subsequent ones were great.

This morning I reported the fault on the website. Members Services responded to say that the value will be credited to my account however, because it was a transfer from another member a colleague would have to opine on what the amount should be.

However, I have just had a subsequent e-mail from members services indicating that in fact, because it was a transfer from another member no such credit will be made and I should take it up with the other member:

”Further to my colleague’s correspondence please allow me to apologise for the faulty bottle. However, since this has been sold by a third party the wine is no longer covered by The Society’s Promise and any recompense must be sought from the seller. I am afraid we are unable to issue a credit for the bottle”

This wine was recently offered on sale so it seems to me that an approximate price could easily be arrived at, so it doesn’t seem to be a practical issue.

I was just wondering if anybody had come across this before?

My gut reaction is that I am a bit miffed and disappointed. Is that unreasonable?

Obviously not the end of the world, but will certainly make me think twice about buying on the secondary market from other members.

Finally, I understand that members should buy with the intention of drinking the wine (Lord knows I have that intention for every bottle). But the transfer facility is there and people’s circumstances change which can force sale.

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I see your point - that you are both TWS members and so to all practical purposes TWS should be able to offer you a refund at the price originally paid. Had the original purchaser asked for this, it would have been provided.

However equally the wider secondary market operates on a caveat emptor basis. And TWS is very clearly keen to discourage a secondary market in wines it has sold.

My view is that on balance - caveat emptor. But it is definitely a strict interpretation of the rules.

I have wines gifted to me in my reserves. I wonder if a non financial transfer affects the society’s guarantee in the same way?

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I suspect there might be a procedural issue here and TWS can only refund the original buyer (after all they don’t have any way of knowing what price you agreed with the member in question). So I suspect, pain though it might be, that the other member would need to claim and then you get it from them.

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Because I haven’t said it for a while, I will say again that this also why I think TWS should have a platform for members to trade from their reserves peer to peer, but only at the original purchase price plus cellarage, and with the guarantee intact. Some people will be prepared to endure the hassle of using a third party to secure a higher market price; many other people who have just overbought would be able to recoup their outlay in a framework that remained consistent with the society’s values.

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I don’t think you are being unreasonable. I too would be a bit irked about it when the wine presumably never left TWS custody till it was transferred to you. It may indeed be a strict interpretation of the rules/procedural constraint led. Hopefully TWS would be ok with the principle of refunding the original purchasing member under the Society Promise and said member refunds you. I would ask the Q of TWS and if they are game then engage with the member. It’s worth an email.

JCBL’s suggestion sounds good to me. That is the way it should be I agree.

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To my mind, when wines go from one member to another, all the benefits should go with the wine (including TWS promise).

After all, they delivered them for free which I would argue falls into the same ‘benefits’ bracket to my little mind.

Also, I can’t see anything in the T&Cs for the promise that carves out transferred wines. Harrumph.

Moving on…I like the idea of the P2P exchange for member’s wines. I doubt that we will ever see it because I think TWS would think it would potentially take demand away from new offers and EP offers.

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I sort of see your point, if TWS have a transfer facility, store it for you and will deliver it for free.

But on the other hand, you bought it from a third party (presumably to their profit?) via a fourth party website, so from TWS’ point of view, why should they have anything to do with it? I would guess in terms of consumer law that your contract lies with the seller and it is them you should take it up with?

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FWIW, I don’t think there was any real profit in it. I think I worked out at the time that I paid 11p per bottle more than when TWS offered them for sale 6 months earlier.

I think that TWS are clearly keen to draw a line as to what is covered by the promise, and I can understand and support that principle. As others have said, caveat emptor applies…

There may be legal/contractual issues which we are not fully aware of too.

I would rather that TWS sorted the functionality of its existing website and IT first before setting up an internal market, and maybe a cost/benefit undertaken too.

The fact that an external brokerage service was used here, and the price may have been different from the original purchase price are factors too. I agree that the former is inevitable unless you either know the willing seller personally, or TWS set up an internal market.

It might be worth asking them to explain the rationale for the decision e.g. concern that it might apply to any brokerage transaction involving wine originally sold by TWS, or concern that TWS might be on the hook for current market value rather than cost…

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My personal view would be that it seems fair that the promise only applies to the original purchaser, although in this instance I can see that it seems that the difference to TWS being based on who opened the inherently faulty bottle makes it seem a somewhat a grey area. However it is quite normal for warranties not to pass to subsequent purchasers of second hand goods.

I do think TWS are actually going above and beyond in some ways by allowing transfers - they are covering the admin costs of this for free and there is no other way to get wines bought elsewhere into reserves. If it becomes too burdensome I should imagine they will just give up.

I guess they would cover replacement value if they were to be damaged when shipped?

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Just to play devils advocate here … so what happens when you split a case with another member ?
This is seemingly not frowned upon amd somewhat encouraged .
If the other party purchased the case, had half transferred to you and you paid them your share, are you then covered by the promise ?
As, strictly speaking you didn’t make the purchase?

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I was about to ask this.

Mostly because rather than just playing devils advocate, I’m in this situation with last summers White Burgundy EP.

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Yes, I have a box like this set to arrive in my reserves in Spring. I am the initial purchaser, so am not worried for myself. However, if there is a faulty bottle and any doubt as to how TWS would settle, I would just report the fault, claim the refund and send the cash over.

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Maybe there is some other bottle that you bought from TWS, but did not really like recently…

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Because essentially… that’s what will happen :grimacing::wink:.

I actually didn’t know you could split cases between members reserves in that way - I had assumed the original purchase quantity (case/limited number per member) would mean that wasn’t viable. Interesting!

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It is an interesting Q and all other things being equal and acknowledging the various points made, it is questionable that the Promise evaporates into thin air on the transfer of title from one member to another (howsoever the means and price), particularly when the wine is sat precisely where it was up to delivery to a domestic setting.

It feels fair that whatever would have been been done absent the transfer should still be done. Maybe it needs to be the original member who claims or whatever, which is something members can agree between themselves at the time perhaps.

This facility would be excellent to have, and perfectly consistent with the Society’s principles. Would it be an administrative nightmare in the reserves warehouse, though? Would they need rules on minimum swap sizes or on how often we could do it? Would they therefore need to charge a fee to cover that admin?

… and would they permit potentially significant profit to be made? Or only permit sale at original price plus storage. Obviously as things stand now they have no information on the price being paid in any transfer between members but if they were handling the whole transaction would profit be allowed? It could be argued that even between members making profit on the sale/transfer would be against TWS principles.

TWS should stop the ability to trade one’s wines. If you buy something, you should retain a one to one link between yourself and the seller (TWS) and not include any third party involvement.

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