In our continuing effort to provide online wine consumer education, included in this segment is a break down of different wine shipping state classifications. We also have included wine delivery tips to ensure your bottle arrives as if it came right from the warehouse.
Buying Wine Online – State Shipping Laws and Delivery
Reciprocal States: Forming strategic alliances, many states now allow incoming and outgoing wine shipments to consumers from member states. Bills passed in these states ensure that consumers and retailers can ship between their borders for the common benefit.
States that form this reciprocal agreement include: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Limited States: These states can receive incoming wine shipments, but are still under regulation. Common limits include a maximum quantity allowed and the exercise of extended taxation.
States with limited wine shipment include: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wyoming.
Prohibited States: These states may require a special license for receiving wine deliveries. Depending on the state laws, receiving wine from carriers may be deemed a misdemeanor or a felony if note a special permit holder.
These states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah.
International: Using air freight shipping, many stores now offer international shipping. The most common and compatible international destination is Japan.
But I live in one of these states and these laws haven’t affected me?
As with any relatively new industry, retailers are finding ways to effectively skate around the law. By utilizing middlemen and coming to warehousing agreements, retailers are finding new streams to get your order to your door the safest way possible. Utilizing multiple warehouses in multiple states provides the retailer the option to accept more orders and comply with differing state legislations. Even though you order from a store in Pennsylvania, your product could be shipped from a partner or subsidiary warehouse in California to comply with laws.
Third party logistic companies are a growing trend to satisfy the markets shipping needs. A prime example is New Vine Logistics who can legally ship wine to 43 states.
Another reason to the lack of uniformed shipping policies on retail sites is the means in which they transfer ownership. The most common phrasing seen on most retailers Terms & Conditions is similar to:
Title to, and ownership of, all wine purchased on this site passes from ‘retailer’ to the ‘purchaser’ in the state of ‘retailer’s state.’ The purchaser takes all responsibility for shipping the purchased wine from ‘retailer’s state’ to his/her home state. By arranging for transportation of the wine, ‘retailer’ is providing a service to, and acting on behalf of the ‘purchaser.’ By using transportation services from ‘retailer,’ the purchaser is representing that he/she is acting in a fashion compliant with his/her local and state laws regarding the purchase, shipping and delivery of wine.”
This allows them to say they sold the goods to you in their home state and helped you arrange a shipping service to mail the wine. A purchase is recognized when they charge your credit card in store, which is prior to the item being packaged and shipped. This allows them to pass title and ownership of the wine to the purchaser in the retailer’s state. Using these terms allows them to bend the current wine shipment laws, by attempting to release themselves from any association to the goods once title is transferred and they are in the courier’s hands.
Please note however that not all sites are worded like this. Some retailers adhere to the strictest shipping and sales standards. Using a service such as this makes the good transferable upon receipt at your location. For example Wine.com, recognizes the legal transfer of goods once you sign and accept the package. They handle any courier discrepancies or insurance claims directly. Shopping through their site may limit your range of shipping options and product availability to your area, but they maintain policies to keep in accordance with local laws.
We have compiled a list of authorized online retailers and the states they will ship to at ClassicWines.com.
Common carriers that ship most online wine orders are FedEx, UPS and DHL. By law, alcohol cannot be shipped to PO Boxes nor APO/FPO Addresses. Standard practice for these authorized shipping companies is to require and adult over the age of 21 to sign for the package with photo ID required. Couriers will not leave packages unattended at your location for any reason. Package comments such as “leave at front door” will be ignored as these couriers are specially trained to handle alcohol deliveries.
Aside from age and signature verification, the shipping process is the same as with common goods. In the process, as with UPS and FedEx standards, your courier will provide three (3) separate delivery attempts on consecutive days. After this time, packages are held at your local distribution plant while the courier will research its status with the sender or receiver.
On day five (5) the package will be marked as ‘Undeliverable.’ This means the shipment will be returned to sender. Upon return, most retailers will pass the return shipping expense to your credit card on file as is customary in most online ordering policies.
Don’t fret there are ways to avoid this route.
1. Try having the packaged shipped to your business or another residential location where someone over 21 can receive the package.
2. Use the online tracking tools available by your courier. These can help you make sure someone is available to receive the on the date estimated by your provider.
3. Go express! Express delivery services can guarantee what day the item will be at your door. Specialty services can even guarantee a time frame at which they will arrive.
4. Even though a delivery attempt failed, most packages are sent back to the distribution center in the early evening.
These locations can be found on the shippers website and most are open and staffed until later in the evening. They welcome walk-ins, but make sure you bring the tracking number and any documentation left by the courier at your door.
Many sites offer more than wine, such as stemware, accessories and gift baskets. Any shipment that contains wine adheres to these shipping policies; however, other items can be shipped to virtually any location.
Buying wine is similar to any other web purchase. Being an informed consumer will help ensure your online shopping experience is fun and secure.
www.ClassicWines.com is the leading online guide to buying wine on the internet. This means that, at ClassicWines.com, you will have access to both online retailers and pertinent wine information, as well as all the latest wine news and links to other wine sites, as well.
By Mark Spanger