I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Yesterday, we took our second delivery from the WSJwine club, and the whole process has been a real pain. Our first order with the company was a couple years ago. We didn’t get what was advertised (a couple of the dozen bottles were out of stock and swapped out at WSJwine’s choosing), but the wines were mostly okay. The experience was mediocre, so we ignored all of their promo mailers until recently.
A few months ago, some of the WSJwine collections were supposedly on sale, and they offered us $50 off, as well. After some deliberating, we placed the order for 6 bottles of reds, 6 whites, and 12 cans of pinot grigio. The WSJwine site gives a delivery estimate for each state, so we anticipated a wait of up to 10 days. Nineteen days later, the box was out for delivery and, before it reached us, an exception popped up: “Parcel damaged, returning to shipper.”
We waited a few days for some sort of update, and nothin’. After sending three emails to Customer Support over the following two weeks, one response finally popped up in the inbox. The gist of that message: “We are seeing the box was delivered to you.” It wasn’t. We looked again at the tracking info, and the last entry was clearly the return to the distributor in Napa, 400 miles from here.
Considering the time it took to get an email response, we started calling for an update. The first time, the hold music played for an hour and a half, with no one ever answering. The second time, and with more determination and patience, the hold music played for over two and a half hours, and still no one picked up.
From there, I turned to social media. WSJwine is on Twitter and Facebook. They had recently posted a message to their customers on the latter site, which addressed the delays and included the line “We are here for you.” In the comments section, I joined the chorus of frustrated customers, and I think I broke the camel’s back. My comment asked WSJwine to explain exactly what they mean by “We are here for you,” when customers can’t get answers via email, phone, or social media. I also pointed out that, whereas they cite “unprecedented times” as an excuse for their issues, comments from last year speak of customers waiting over a month for delivery. The longest expected delivery time for any state is 16-18 days (Indiana only).
A day after leaving the Facebook comment, a private message came through on that platform, apologizing for the issues and saying we would receive an email from a “Personal Wine Advisor” shortly. A few hours later, an email update did arrive. I went to respond to the Facebook message, to say “thanks for pushing this through,” but the reply box said “You cannot reply to this conversation.” The WSJwine page looks to have been either deleted or made private, as well.
For fun, I looked up this company on the Better Business Bureau site. There’s a newly-accredited page for WSJwine in Waco, Texas, with 104 customer complaints. Then, there’s a page for “WSJ Wine” in Largo, Florida that now leads to a broken link. However, put this page in the Wayback Machine, and the snapshot from a couple weeks ago reveals “89 complaints closed in last 3 years” and “62 complaints closed in last 12 months.”
So, after 47 days, we finally received the fully-intact shipment of a dozen bottles and a dozen cans. A note was included saying some wines were out of stock and replaced by selections of “equal or greater value.” In all, 9 of the 12 “Summer Dozen” bottles were swapped out, including a chardonnay. WSJwine has a preferences list, and chardonnay is the only varietal on my wife’s list to never send us. They still did.
A lot of these wines being offered through this service/club are hard to research, but here are the details for the $164 deal…
What we were expecting to receive:
reds Schroeder Malbec Guesta, Portugal Sarcosa Toscana, Italy St Pete Zin, California Le Prince Rhone, France Koffieklip, Africa
whites Sauv Blanc, New Zealand Palha Canas, Portugal Antonio Vino Bianco, Italy El Enhebro Blanco Les Belons Sauv Blanc, France Beaujolais Blanc, France x12 Pezzo pinot grigio cans, Italy
What we actually received: reds Grand Fleur Red Blend, California Envuelto Tempranillo, Spain Benedictus Reserve Sacree, France Stones and Bones Red Blend, Portugal Sarcosa Toscana, Italy Black Saint Pete Zin, California
whites Les Belons Sauv Blanc, France DeLoach Chardonnay, California Silver Puffs Sauv Blanc, California Spotlight Sauv Blanc, New Zealand Roma Bianco, Italy La Nuit Cab Blanc, France x12 Pezzo pinot grigio cans, Italy
My biggest curiosity has been about the canned wine. We recently found some scratch-and-dent cans of Crafters Union pinot grigio at our local Ralphs grocery store. They’ve been pretty enjoyable… The one can of rosé we bought, not so much, but the pinot grigio is nicely balanced and a great deal at 50% off. With that as our foundation for canned wines, we thought the *NEW* Pezzo pinot grigio 250ML cans might be a good addition to the standard bottles ordered from WSJwine.
Pezzo turns out to be one of those companies (if it’s even a company, so maybe it should be called a “brand”) that seems to have popped up out of nowhere. Perhaps it’s a fly-by-night “white label” or “private label” entity that worked up a deal with a distributor and, by the time enough reviews are out, the brand name changes and the distributor suddenly has “an exciting new wine” for you to try.
The point is, I haven’t been able to find any reviews about Pezzo, and it’s not good. Do you remember the “bitter beer face” guy from the Keystone beer commercials in the 90s? My face had to have looked something like that after my first sip of this wine. It’s really tart and completely missing the slightly sweet essence I liked about the Crafters Union pinot grigios. Conversely, my wife likes wines on the dry side, and she made a face after trying the Pezzo wine, too. We thought maybe some berries would cut the bitterness. Adding a large strawberry did nothing. We don’t like this canned wine, and I’m guessing it will be a rare crowd that finds it palatable.
Here are the details from the can:
“A crisp and fruity Pinot Grigio, perfect to enjoy on its own or paired with your favorite risotto, sushi or salads. Salute!” Packed by 10000711 for GI S.P.A. Trento, Italy Imported by Lionstone International, Lake Forest, Illinois
So, between the Pezzo and the chardonnay, at least we can rely on the WSJwine guarantee: “If ever a bottle fails to delight, you get your money back.” An email has now been sent about that. At this rate, if it takes 42 years to get a partial refund, I wonder if they’ll also pay us interest.
Finally, be advised, the WSJwine operations are pretty murky. I can’t determine if the heart of it all is a small business/offshoot from Wall Street Journal, partnered with a larger wine logistics company, or if the larger wine company just runs the whole thing. Part of that question comes from the fact that the NPR and Macy’s wine clubs have their unique offers then, digging further into “their” respective sites, the other collections are the same as WSJwine’s. If any representatives from these clubs happens to see this post, I’d love to hear more about how your business works.
This review falls under the “fair use” doctrine.
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