I’ve waited more than three years for this bottle of Bordeaux. Where is it?

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By Christopher Elliott

Olivier Kunckler orders a Chateau Pontet Canet 2019 from a Texas liquor store chain. The company cashes the check, but the bottle never arrives. What happened?

Question

I’m reaching out to you as a last resort. I ordered a bottle of Chateau Pontet Canet 2019 from Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods, a local chain of liquor stores. The bottle was a Bordeaux future, meaning that you buy it sight unseen, usually a couple of years before it is available. I paid by check.

Spec’s never confirmed my order, but it cashed my check.

That was almost three years ago.

I contacted the company in July 2020 and then again in June 2021 and December 2021. Finally, I reached out in August 2022, and I included my invoice — and still nothing.

I really wanted that bottle, and still do. It would be a nice addition to my collection.

 I’ve been a Spec’s customer since I moved to the Houston area in 2013. Hopefully, you’ll be able to help me get my bottle. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Olivier Kunckler, Houston

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Answer

Spec’s should have sent you the bottle back in 2020, as promised. It’s not as if you had paid them “on spec” for your bottle of Bordeaux.

So why the delay? I’ve been mediating problems like this since the start of the pandemic, and it usually comes down to a supply chain issue. Getting wine from France to the United States is a complex undertaking, and there was a breakdown after the COVID outbreak. Remember the shortage of toilet paper? That was happening everywhere.

But a three-year delay? That would have been some supply-chain issue. It’s more likely that your initial order was delayed and then misplaced. Spec’s should have responded to your polite queries, and it’s not clear why it didn’t.

A brief, polite appeal to one of the Spec’s managers might have helped. You can find them by following the easy steps in my guide to contacting the CEO directly, which you can find on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. It looks like you tried that but never got a response. (Related: Panda Express took a bite out of my daughter’s birthday.)

In reviewing your paper trail with it appears the company first blamed its delay on unspecified “technical difficulties.” “In trying to make the future shopping experience easier for our guests, we are simultaneously working to update the processes from our end to ensure no problems with the allocation of purchased inventory,” a representative told you.

I contacted Spec’s on your behalf. The company finally responded directly to you and apologized for its “lack of communication.” 

“I receive a high volume of emails and regrettably miss some from time to time,” a representative told you.

“The first waves of our 2019 futures are incoming, and we should have everything in hand for our guests by late spring,” he added. “Occasionally, inventory takes slightly longer to ship than we would like, but we do our best to get everything stateside in as timely a manner as possible.”

You received your bottle of Bordeaux — at last. Santé!

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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