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Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009
False Advertising (15 June)
In the past I have been critical about Get Wines Direct marketing practices. The criticism is mainly revolves around misleading advertising and taking reviewers write-ups out of context.
As far as taking reviews out of context is concerned, these guys have been pushing the envelope on that one for years. I have had a go at them for taking my notes out of context, and I know for fact that James Halliday is not happy with the way GWD have used some of his notes in a way that is not a true reflection about what they are advertising.
A good example of misleading advertising by Get Wines Direct was published some time ago on TORBWine.
“This example (thanks to Brian's research) shows just how much rubbish and how misleading advertising can be! Get Wines Direct is advertising a "Possums Shiraz 2003."
It states, "Absolute stunner of a wine this wine was made for the US market where it was retailing for $US27.95 a bottle and has a link to a US site (not the cheapest one for this wine mind you,) but the US site is actually specialling it for $23.99 USD. (It's also available in Australia from another merchant for $19.95AUD.) More importantly, the 2004 vintage is selling in the US for half the price of the 2003. Having said all of that, the Get Wines Direct Price of $9.95 may be a good price, it's just disingenuous advertising as the US market prices have no relationship to those in Australia. It's typical of "creative advertising" and designed to make it look like consumers are getting a huge bargain (which is not always the case.)”
Now these instances are travelling close to the wind, but GWD have not been caught out crossing it completely. Its probably not the first time they have crossed it, but it is certainly a bloody obvious case of false advertising – and they have been caught red handed by an astute retailer.
In this advert (which was pulled) GWD had lifted the advertising commentary from the producer’s website for the clean skin wine. Well what the problem with that you ask? Nothing if it’s honest. But in this case its not! It states, “Heathcote Shiraz Cleanskin 2006
THE BEST VALUE HEATHCOTE SHIRAZ IN AUSTRALIA. GOLD MEDAL WINNER. OUTPOINTS AUSTRALIAS' FINEST SOME UP TO $200 A BOTTLE.”
Amongst other things, it goes on to say this cleanskin was a Gold Medal National Wine Show Of Australia and won a Silver Medal in the Jimmy Watson Class at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show” Only that's wrong. It didn't!
The copy was lifted from the Tyrrell’s site for the Rufus Stone 2006 Heathcote Shiraz. According to an email from Tyrrell’s, “The 2006 Heathcote Shiraz that is available on Get Wines Direct website is from the Rufus Stone Heathcote vineyard however it is not exactly the same blend as the branded Rufus Stone wine. As you may appreciate our vineyard has different sections that produce slightly differing parcels of wine. These are kept separate until the final blending so you will get slight variations. The wine available from get Wines direct is close to the final Rufus Stone blend but not the exact same wine.”
So, we have two wines; not one. Also, based on what I have experienced from many barrel tastings, there can be a marked difference in the quality of fruit parcels across a whole vineyard. So how close is close? I don’t know because I have not tried the two wines involved, but they are two different wines, not one. The wine that GWD is selling did not win a gold medal at the National Wine Show and advertising it as such is blatantly false advertising. The ACCC needs to have a look at GWD.
And consumers should be aware of their misleading and now false advertising.
Feel free to submit your comments!From Ann Page: Monday 16 June
Anne, you are right the ACCC won't go near anything unless it's "bigger than Ben Hurr" but that does not mean that they should not investigate this mob.
In regard to your comments about the wine, it is more likely to be a case of the fruit in the cleanskin was not up to scratch so it was declassified and bottled as a lower grade (different) wine.
Agree with your comments on 06, they are "suspishus" (love the spelling). As far
as a Tour Diary is concerned, fear not, there is one on the way. Later this week
will see Chapter One go up.
From Bruce Routley:Thursday 19 June
I just read your comments about Get
From Chris Pellegrinetti:Thursday 19 June
Rufus Stone isn’t Grange, but it’s a
decent drop established reasonably priced around the $16 point – why on earth
would Tyrrells trash whatever value the brand has by flogging it off as a
cleanskin? Did they become part of McGuigan while we weren’t looking?
I doubt most consumers would think we are over regulated. You also say that Tyrrell's would have consented to the advert, do you know this to be a fact or are you now guessing? You also make intimate the clean skin is not the same wine as the bottled Rufus. Do you know that for a fact or is that another guess on your part? Do you think that Tyrell's would deliberately lie about this situation?
From Mark Cohen: Thursday 19 June
(Mark is in the wholesale business)
Let me be the first to say, that as a supplier to GWD, they are a very ethical
bunch. They buy well, sell at tremendous value prices to the consumer, and have
been a very good out-let for those with excess inventories.
From Tony Sells at GWD: Thursday 19 June
In relation to your swipe at Get Wines Direct
misleading customers and false advertising.
TORB Responds: Thursday 19 June
Your comments are noted and as you can see, have been posted for all to see. If you wish to sue me, go right ahead, please take a ticket and please join the queue. I posted the facts. You even confirm this in your own correspondence. However, if you really want to sue someone, then I respectfully suggest that you sue the agent for the misleading information which lead to this situation. It's ironic that this still shows what happens when "the truth is stretched " when selling goods, at any level.
From Bruce Clugston:
Thursday 19 June
From Chris Maul: Friday 20 June
A storm in a teacup. Finally, it seems that GWD has been taken for a ride.
From Brian: Friday 20 June
From Gilbert Labour: Saturday 21 June
Good to hear your views on Get Wine Direct... I got stung by their hype and had to financially wear the cost of a case which I had purchased for one of my friends, as I was too embarassed to charge him after tasting the wine. I have since deregistered from their site.
From Len May: Saturday 21 June
I have just read your latest article re GWD & related emails.
Interesting question, I will see what I can dig up.
From Brian: Monday 23 June
Gilbert, you should have just sent the wine back. You have to give GWD credit
for having a good “no questions” return for refund policy if you don’t like the
wine, I’ve used it a couple of times.
From Ryan M: Monday 23 June
AFAIK, Individual bottles do not have to be labelled if they're being sold as a complete, sealed case. All of the relevant information by law has to be on the outside of any case sold. This information must contain Grape Variety or Style, ABV% (possibly also std drinks) things that make people have allergic reactions.. ie 220, and producer details. Those 3 are rock solid-definates, others i'm 95% on are volume, country/region of origin. So if it's a straight doz sold with that information on the outside of a sealed box, individual bottles don't get to wear a sticker. Single bottles are illegal if not labelled as above.
From MIchael Gill: Tuesday 24 June
When will they wake up that this is a very poor way to promote yourself in the market, but I guess there are plenty of folk out there who are willing to believe either through ignorance or stupidity - I prefer to give others the benefit of doubt and call it uninformed ignorance. I reckon that GWD have just lost me as a customer. I'm over the cow manure, especially as there are so many other reputable sites on the web.
Saturday 28 June
I am glad you are a satisfied customer of GWD, they must have plenty of them, or they would not remain in business.
Now to address the points you raised. I too have worked in retail; 15 years of it. Prior to that I spent many years in marketing; some of it at an international management level and was responsible for advertising budgets in the millions of dollars, so I do know just a little about this subject.
In regard to your comment when you say there is a huge difference between misleading advertising and false advertising, in some ways you are correct and in some ways you are not correct. Let me explain. False advertising is illegal. No ifs, no buts and no may be. But did you know that a number of corporations have been prosecuted by the ACCC for misleading advertising? They have been forced to print retractions, apologies and even make refunds to consumers. It all depends on how misleading the statement is perceived to be, and that will determine if prosecution is warranted or not.
In the example you quote, “50% off storewide” I must admit that when ever I have seen signs outside a store like the one you mention; they normally state “up to 50%” off. I don’t remember ever seeing a sign that says “50% off storewide”. If it did, and it was “up to 50%,” it is not misleading advertising, it’s false and subject to prosecution.
In regard to your comment about the “average punter” I disagree with your comment about their savvy. The average punter normally does not read fine print and normally just scans publicity, if they look at it at all.
You then ask/state “I don’t know why James Halliday is complaining they used some of his notes in a way that is not a true reflection about what they are advertising.” How about because it’s true? Do you think I would use Halliday’s name without knowing that the statement was completely factual? For the record, I have it in writing and Tony Sells is aware of this comment ,as we discussed it via email some time ago.
You say, “I wouldn’t blame him in wanting to sue you for slandering his business.” I agree with you, there is no doubt he may like to, but before you sue someone for slander and go to all that trouble and expense, it would help if you had a remote chance of winning. Slander means, “malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.” There was nothing false in what I reported. You can’t win a case against someone when they have told the truth. Also, my comments were not malicious. Here is part of what I wrote in an email exchange with Tony a few days ago. “Now to set this straight. So please take a deep breath and read this with an open mind.
I have nothing against you or GWD and am not out on a crusade to get you. I just hate the bullshit that surrounds much of this industry and the over-hype that many ITB carry on with, because in the long run, it cheapens the credibility of the industry. And that was what this whole thing was about.
I have, and will continue to slam anyone and everyone that steps over the mark, moral or legal.
What gives me this right? Nothing, just a love of wine and a platform that allows me to do it, and a readership that appreciates it.
As you have probably seen, if I get it wrong or even if my readers' think I have, they let me know very quickly and in no uncertain terms. All their comments are posted without exception and without editing.”
You go on to state that I was “dismissive of Tony’s comments.” They were posted on the site and I acknowledged the content. You may have noticed that I don’t respond to every one of the readers comments on this site. What did you expect me to say?
You say “I also noticed that you omitted the tasting notes sent to him by the broker that he willingly provided you with. I would have like to have seen that! Interesting! If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to hide the real fault here because you appear to have a beef with GWD??? Does this mean you won’t post my comments too?"
You use some interesting phraseology and nuances here. On one hand it seems as though you are suggesting I am trying to hide something, and on the other you state that you know better. Not sure what you are getting at, as one contradicts the other. There was nothing interesting about that tasting note at all. It was the tasting note for the award winning wine. There was no conspiracy on my part to hide anything. As already stated, I have no beef with GWD as such.
I guess from reading your lengthily response, for which I thank you, that you are not a regular reader of this site. The reason I say that is that is for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am TORB, not TORP. Secondly, you would know that all responses, no matter how much they disagree with my point of view are posted (provided they are not profane etc.) Not only have I put it up, your name is in flashing lights. Finally, welcome to TORBWine, where all wine lovers are welcome; even those who drink c-though, cleanskins, and especially those who disagree with me.
From Brian: Sunday 29 June
McDonald: What date were you phoned? I think you’ll find it was only after
mention here and on my site followed by return requests that the action was
taken. GWD may well have been conned on this one, another merchant was offered
the same wine, without the “same wine” explicit claims and simply checked with
Tyrrells to get the correct story. I guess Tony won’t trust this particular
wholesaler so much any more. It’s the old story- if it looks too good to be
true, it probably isn’t. It was also disingenuous to claim anonymity for the
producer and to publish details that were readily identifiable on a cursory
From Steve Burman: Wednesday 9 July
Funny all the spurious stuff Tony Sells threw up, at the end of the day he is
responsible for what is written on the website, we as consumers have no
relationship with the middleman or wine company.
From Roy Nixon: Monday 14 July
Ric, you are to be congratulated on the very robust exchange of views on this issue which we know is very important to red wine lovers everywhere. You have also presented the for and against in a balanced way. It is basically up to us as customers to come to our own view about the various claims made.
My experience with GWD like many of your readers has been very good. I indulged myself on both the Viking 2005 and 2006 offers which were amazing. Their delivery time was very good so no complaints there. It is very easy to get worked up about these things but I was comforted by the comments about the no questions asked refund policy of GWD and the after sales service when they discovered the error on the Rufus cleanskin. I grant you that the possible bad press may have had something to do with that but at least they did it. The totally unscrupulous retailer would not have. I am still keeping an open mind on them and will certainly not be "cutting off my own nose to spite my face" if other good offers come along from them - which they will!
From Chuck Haberman: Monday 23 February
Good exchange of views. I’ve bought from GWD many time but only after carefully reading the hype. The wording can be a little tricky- some friends confused Grampians for Gramps - but on the whole I have been happy with what I’ve got. In a few cases very happy. Some of the cabernets have been excellent; I generally steer clear of the shiraz as I’ve never had a good one. Compared to most $10.00 wines they stand head and shoulders above. They are my midweek wines; something to wash down a hard day’s work. Uncomplicated and generally well made.
Copyright © Ric Einstein 2008