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TWS ordering system failures


#1

Seeing another thread on the error with the 2016 Clos de Papes magnums (of which I am also a victim), I thought I’d start a separate thread to flag recent failures I’ve experienced recently with TWS online ordering system.

Most recent case in point I’ve ordered a few wines from the Christmas bin ends sale. I placed the order right before the Christmas Day so it must have been shortly after the sale started. I was away so booked the delivery for tomorrow. This afternoon I received an email that two of the wines are not available and got offered substitutions. One of the unavailable items was a single bottle of McForbes RS19 Riesling and the other was 6 (!) bottles of Lemelson’s pinot noir. Now, I understand that one bottle could be explained by a malfunction of the tracking system, but I struggle understanding how 6 bottles wine could go unaccounted for such a long time (I.e., i’d have more sympathy if I got the substitution email a few days after I placed my order rather than the day before the delivery was due).

I have called the Member Services and they did their best to remedy the situation, but I did not get any explanation of why this happened or what could be done next time to minimise the risk of this happening again.

I had three similar instances in the last year or so:

  • another online bin end order with a longish delivery date had a few bottles substituted at the delivery time (on that occasion, without a prior warning);
  • an online order for a mixed case of 2016 ports didn’t get recorded and I only got an apology after the fact without an explanation;
  • an online order of a particularly hard to source 2016 Bordeaux didn’t get recorded similarly to the port.

Has anyone else experienced this or am I particularly unlucky? An apology is nice, but it would be great to understand why this keeps happening. Needless to say, this is extremely frustrating - for some reason the errors get uncovered weeks after the order was placed, by which point it’s often too late to source that particular wine from elsewhere. And being a geek, I spend a lot of time doing my research and picking what wine or vintage to order, so substitutions are not especially helpful although the gesture is appreciated.


#2

Which Lemelson was on sale?


#3

Just a quick comment with regards to En Primeur orders (guessing the Port and Bordeaux were bought En Primeur)- its not really an order its a request for allocation as there is only a limited allocation of wines from some producers for in demand wines so no guarantee of the wine if it has a higher demand vs supply.

Was it this Lenelson PN?


#4

Yep, that’s the Lemelson Pinot Noir. I ordered the 2014 vintage that was on sale at the time and had it substituted for the 2015 that’s currently available on the website.

Both the port and Bordeaux were indeed requests as part of en primeurs. I was prepared for not getting any because demand exceeded the quantities available but it’s more disappointing to not have the request logged in in the first place because of an error. Especially if the error only gets discovered by the time the relevant en primeur finishes in the market.

I’m a huge fan of TWS more generally but I’m wondering if instances like that could be investigated better to enable the processes to be improved?


#5

Hi Andreel,

I’m really sorry to hear about the issues you’ve been having! I’ll let you and your fellow members chat about this here, as you’ve every right to discuss all aspects of membership and we welcome that openness and honesty. :slight_smile:

As this isn’t a Member Services channel, there’s not a great deal I can do further in terms of the specifics of your orders, however it does sound like there might be more our Member Services team could do to explain what went wrong/how they deal with errors like this. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to refer this back to them so they can help you further.


#6

That must have been frustrating for you, @andreel. It sounds like there might be two issues there, one concerning logging of en primeur applications, the other with straight orders.

I’m only adding this as there can occasionally be issues such as mis-filled cases (a bottle short) which might lead any merchant to have fewer bottles in stock than they thought. I’ve had a couple of cases short on that way, one from a prestigious Bordeaux chateau, so it can happen. Or of course, there may have been an accident with a forklift truck!

I might also add that I have never had any of these problems with orders from the society, only ever a rescheduled delivery date.


#7

The issue described (online orders not able to be fulfilled due to missing stock) has happened to me 3 or 4 times in the past couple of years - always when ordering from bin ends or very low stocks. The risk of non-fulfillment seems to rise in direct relation to the delivery lag and stock levels. One solution I adopted was to order to reserves (if able to) as a way of guaranteeing delivery and then to sort out delivery separately at a later date.

Although TWS are not infallible they do always act in good faith - I assume for example that they sold you the 2015 Thea’s Selection at the 2014 discounted price?


#8

There was a long thread on a similar problem many months ago, and since I experienced it happen I think this is what happens.

  1. You make an order today for delivery/collection in x-weeks time
  2. That order is recorded on the system with delivery/collection in x-weeks time
  3. In x-weeks minus 1 or 2 days that order is packed ready for delivery/collection.

Thus at x-weeks minus 1 or 2 days those wines must still be in stock.

If, instead of
2) That order is recorded on the system with delivery/collection in x-weeks time
the system was to be
2) That order is packed ready for delivery/collection in x-weeks time
then such issues wouldn’t occur because it seems wines that have been ordered are not packed or otherwise earmarked as sold and are sold to other members who have an earlier delivery/collection date.

The only other explanation I can think of is that orders do not update the stock control system in real time, and until the stock control system is updated the same wines can be sold to others.

@cgoldin has it

and overcomes this by getting wines moved into reserves.

As I say, I’m just guessing.


#9

I had issues in my last company with the ERP system - and it was around delivery lag…it didn’t “reserve” stock correctly that had been sold for future delivery if the order hadn’t been fully processed (in this case passes through a certain stage prior to picking for delivery)

Might be something along these lines ?


#10

That appears to be the case judging by my recent experience with the mixed case of reds from SW France - when ordered it was apparently still in stock but their records did not record stock levels correctly meaning that when it came to be delivered it had in fact sold out .

I was annoyed then to be sent a revised selection without anyone contacting me which I understand is being considered as an issue in such cases and learned the lesson not to delay delivery of an order as I did till after Christmas as due to this error the case you have bought may then be sold and delivered to someone else as the system is showing it is still available - when it comes to be picked for you in those circumstances it no longer is.


#11

One result of this discussion is that when I order wines to collect after an interval ( I have twice in the last few months ordered before going away for a couple of weeks because I wanted them available when I got back), I will specify an early collection date a couple of days after the order. This will mean that the order sits in the back of the showroom, presumably getting in people’s way, but it seems now to be a necessary insurance. (Some of the wines I ordered were low stock, now 0 stock, but I seem to have been lucky so far.)


#12

There’s a danger of getting slightly carried away with what is actually an issue that affects a minuscule number of orders.

As you said, pre-ordering for collection but then not coming to collect for weeks will indeed cause issues to our hard-working Showroom team, who already have a limited space to store members’ orders, so I would urge you to consider this.

This discussion is certainly helpful and informative for us, but it’s worth stressing there is in no way a widespread problem with this issue.


#13

I have also noticed that orders take time to appear in my orders when I order some time in advance. It would be helpful if a staff member could confirm at what point stock is definitely allocated to someone who has ordered, but not yet taken delivery.


#14

There seems to be several distinct issues here, probably exacerbated by Christmas volumes, and in some cases possibly some systems issues?

Firstly, as already noted en primeur orders are only requests until confirmed, and in some cases high demand wines are flagged as such and there are pretty fair allocation systems in place.

Secondly, and probably where there is room for some general clarification, there appears to be cases of low stock/bin end wines being ordered and then not available by the time they are through the system. @peterm makes a pretty good attempt at surmising what happens here, but it might be worth WS confirming what does happen?

I experienced some issues when ordering some Weinbach Alsace in November immediately after a tasting dinner (both to get the discount and ensure that I got wines I wanted which I knew would be in short supply). I asked for the mixed case I bought to be put into my Reserves. It took ages to go through on the system, and when I wanted them delivered with another pre Christmas order they couldn’t be found on the system. Ended up well, thanks to the help of Member Services on email and phone, but the order had to be put back a week for delivery. That seemed like a systems issue, but not quite sure. My main concern was that they got sold to someone else!

Thirdly, there appears to have been the odd and I think rare, human error in some cases e.g. the magnums.

I have noticed more than usual system ‘creakiness’ of various kinds in the last couple of months. I have about as much IT technical knowledge as my neighbour’s cat, but there have been various things raised on here. I wonder if volumes have been higher than usual and some systems work has been done at inopportune times?

Overall, I think some folk have slightly unrealistic expectations at times and in comparison to many other organisations things are not bad at all.


#15

Hi Laura, sorry for the delay. If you don’t mind referring this back to the Member Services that would be great. I completely understand a bottle or two may go missing due to discrepancies, broken cases, etc., but 6 bottles of the same wine missing is a big discrepancy. Perhaps as @peterm suggested above the wine doesn’t get correctly reserved and continues selling to others? If TWS’s systems could be improved in that respect, that would surely be a good outcome for the members. Thanks again.