Wine Whine: Rubbish Service From Virgin Wines

Some time ago I signed up to receive a quarterly box of wine from Virgin Wines. There was some special deal, I seem to recall, and it seemed like good value.

My quarterly dose arrived yesterday, one bottle short with the other eleven bottles covered with tiny bits of glass, one of which ended up impaled in my hand (I’ll live). It wasn’t that one bottle was broken… it just wasn’t there. The shards seemed unrelated to the absent wine.

I’ve never been terribly impressed with the selection of ‘Discovery Reds’ I receive and to be one bottle short of a case was annoying so I logged on to cancel the plan and get a replacement bottle. My interactions with Virgin Wines are always online but to cancel a plan you have to phone an 0870 number.

I call up and I get patched into some call centre banter: ‘Do we do any cheap Reisling?” A colleague responded with a smart answer (that I couldn’t quite hear) which elicited some chuckles from others. They couldn’t hear me, so I called up again.

I explain I want to cancel the wine, that one bottle was missing and I don’t much rate the stuff they send anyway. I also explain that the boxes seem to arrive out of the blue despite the fact I’m supposed to have the option to amend the choices before the booze arrives.

After several attempts to change my mind (Did you know you can skip cases?) and offers of future promotional emails (thanks!) and some drivel about the ‘Wine Bank’ my message gets through: I am reluctantly permitted to cancel the plan. I’ll also get a fiver on my account for the missing bottle. I’ll be able to use that against a future purchase apparently.

Delivery with Virgin Wines costs £5.99 and the £5 is credited to me as a gift voucher. According to the Ts and Cs I can use a voucher “on orders with a minimum value of £59.88”. I can’t unlock my voucher (which doesn’t even cover delivery of any future order I place) unless I spend nearly sixty quid. I can’t help thinking that I’m funding their mistake. After all, they only sent me 11 bottles (I’ve paid for 12) and they’ve pocketed my £5.

The Managing Director of Virgin Wines, Rowan Gormley, says: ‘If you are not happy with our wines for any reason, you can have your money back. Simple.” Not so simple from where I’m sitting.

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