The Rest Of The Story…

We have been saying a lot about the situation a local Boise beer market has run into with trying to ship product to customers from internet orders for the business.  Well the story is clarified by Rick Boyd, Owner of the Brewforia Beer Market.  Like many who take the time to write extensive and substantive comments to us on the Beer and Whiskey Brothers, we are giving his well penned and informative comment a more substantial viewing, rather than being buried in our comments.  Without further adieu…

“I have bad news … It’s illegal in all 50 states to ship spirits and it is expressly prohibited by both UPS and FedEx to ship beer or spirits direct to you as a consumer. Even though its illegal and even though their policy prohibits it they obviously allow it to happen so you have to come to one of two conclusions. Either they have a policy they can’t enforce therefore they should change it or so long as you have a contract they just don’t care. Either way this is a major problem that puts hundreds of businesses around the country at risk of being shut down at a moments notice.

Let me give you all a bit of background on how exactly all this happened. When we set up our UPS account back over a year ago we told the customer service rep exactly who and what we were and that we would be shipping beer direct to consumers. She said no problem just select adult signature required on every package to make sure no one underage can get the delivery. Done.

Everything was fine until this past October when we had a package damaged and UPS discovered that there was beer inside. They called us up and told us that we couldn’t ship beer unless we had a beer and wine contract with them so we said fine, send us a beer and wine contract. They said they couldn’t do that it would have to be generated by our sales rep. Well in almost of year of business this was the first time we’d ever been told we had a sales rep so we asked for his phone number or email address only to be told they can’t give that out but they would send him an email and ask that he call us. Weeks pass with no contact from the rep and we repeatedly attempt to contact him.

In November we opened our holdiay store near the mall and arranged for daily pick ups by UPS in the store. On the front of our store is a great big sign with the name “Brewforia Beer Market” in giant red letters, the store is stocked with 400 different beers and we would ship out 20 to 50 packages containing beer every day via UPS when their driver would come inside and pick them up. We continued like this until early February when UPS told us we were shipping beer without a contract and that we were cut off from shipping any more.

I spent the next two weeks calling anyone I could get a number for at UPS and asking that we get this resolved but every person I spoke to gave me a different answer and no one was interested in helping get it resolved. Finally I’m told by a supervisor in Salt Lake City that they would not extend a contract to us because we had attempted to decieve UPS by shipping beer without their knowledge. This was when I lost it. So according to them when we set up the account using our company name with the word beer in the name or when their driver came in every day for 3 months and picked up packages in a store filled with beer and talked with me about the beer in the packages that we were shipping they didn’t know we were dealing in beer because we were attempting to decieve them so they would not offer us a contract.

Right now there are hundreds of companies shipping beer and spirits via UPS in violation of their policies yet they operate uninterrupted while we are being punished and risk being put out of business because we were upfront and honest with them about what we were doing. Had their customer service and sales team actually made an effort a year ago to contact us and provide us with a contract all of this could have been avoided. Now, UPS has opened a can of worms that I don’t think they are at all prepared to deal with.”

We will keep up to speed with this issue as new developments and opinions present themselves.  Thanks Rick!

-Don

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Categories: Beer, Official Business, Whiskey

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9 Comments on “The Rest Of The Story…”

  1. March 10, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Great post.
    I tried to ship homebrew via a UPS store and they turned me down…so I boxed it myself, printed labels at work, and dropped them off in the collection bin. They got to the recipients via. slight of hand. I was bamboozled, because my wine snob boss gets cases of wine EVERYDAY…delivered to our office from the same services that declined me.

    Yeah, that stinks for Rick. I would be mad as heck if I were treated like he was, and accused of deception. he is right…UPS is holding an open can of worms.

    • Don
      March 10, 2010 at 9:51 am #

      That is what really irks me about this whole thing Nate. Winos can ship but Beer Geeks can’t. There is no sense to it in the least, and like you say if you want to be deceptive, you can ship, but if not you can’t. It makes law breakers (OK maybe only “Policy Breakers”) out of normally honest people. Why not just allow it.

  2. mikemoriendi
    March 10, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    What really boggles me about this is if it is against UPS policy then why did they even offer a beer and wine contract to Rick after first finding out?

    • March 10, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      Contract actually doesn’t allow retailers to ship to customers, just other retailers. Having said that, those retailers shipping with said contract seem to have less of a problem shipping via UPS and FedEx direct to consumers. Even though that contract still doesn’t state that you can ship direct to consumers. CRAZY! BAFFLING!

      • mikemoriendi
        March 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

        Aha, thanks for explaining that. So it is just a loophole pretty much.

        • Don
          March 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

          Pretty much!

    • Don
      March 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

      That is a good question Mike. Seems like you get a different answer depending on who you talk to. One thing that you have to remember is that UPS is huge. It is second only to the US Postal service in home delivery in the world, and being such a huge company it is very bureaucratic, and policies are written and ignored almost daily. So I imagine that some bean counter somewhere was reviewing their policy on what to do when there is breakage and they came across this obscure policy that is widely ignored about shipping beer directly to the end consumer, and the whole thing blew up. Another frustration is that no one seems to know what to do to fix the situation. Stupid!

  3. March 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    @Nate, when UPS store has to ask you, they are required to follow policy or risk their store. If you just drop it off, the store has no liability.

    The discrimination is amazing, Although I bet the rule/policy is on their book because of a lobby pushing their anti-alcohol (beer, spirit) agenda on everyone they can. Can of Worms, i know….

    I feel for Brewforia, while I’ve never ordered beer from them, I have from other retailers. It is a vital necessity for me as a Beer Blogger to be able to get regional beers. Were not using these carriers to act as the second tier of the 3 tier system.

    I feel myself gettign worked up… maybe I’ll right more later.

    • Don
      March 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

      Do it Peter! We’re trying to get traction, and the more we can focus attention on this stupid policy, the more likely it will change.

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