What do you say to a customer who...

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Roberto Rogness
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What do you say to a customer who...

#1 Post by Roberto Rogness » March 26th, 2011, 12:50 pm

Complains that he was "humiliated" by a bad bottle of expensive Brunello at a tasting dinner?

When asked "Was it corked? We'll replace it no problem." his answer was "How should I know? Your employee must not have any training if he sold me a corked bottle..."

When asked if it was a style thing and trying to explain that there were differing camps of both winemaking and criticism thereof which could explain why, for instance, Soldera might not please folks used to Banfi or Argiano he insisted that there was an absolute standard to which all wines should adhere...
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What do you say to a customer who...

#2 Post by c fu » March 26th, 2011, 12:56 pm

To some extent he is right that there is a quality that all producers should adhere to but it doesn't seem like he makes the distinction between poor quality and different styles.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#3 Post by Roberto Rogness » March 26th, 2011, 12:59 pm

The part about how we might KNOW a bottle was corked and sell it to him anyway with a big recommendation was was stunned me: A) How could we know? B) What would be the advantage?
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#4 Post by c fu » March 26th, 2011, 1:33 pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:The part about how we might KNOW a bottle was corked and sell it to him anyway with a big recommendation was was stunned me: A) How could we know? B) What would be the advantage?
yeah i was gonna continue but was on the phone when I replied. I assume he had no clue there are differing palates in wine if he would say you guys aren't trained enough to notice corked wines.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#5 Post by Peter Tryba » March 26th, 2011, 1:38 pm

Sounds like you over explained the possible problem.
"Sorry about your awful experience. It sounds like you had a corked bottle. It happens almost 10% of the time. Darn shame nobody can tell without opening the wine. Bring the bottle in and we'll refund the price. Next time, pull the cork before you get to the party, just to be safe."
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#6 Post by Roberto Rogness » March 26th, 2011, 1:46 pm

He was the one who started in with "All the other guys had 95-100 point wines..." and I asked "Scored by whom? Italian and American critics often have VERY different ideas on what is a great Brunello..." That's when he started with the "absolute standard" part....
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#7 Post by Rick Gregory » March 26th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Why explain anything to someone like that? He's an idiot. Treat him as such - say innocuous things in soothing tones while backing away.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#8 Post by Roberto Rogness » March 26th, 2011, 1:51 pm

Well, he was expressing himself quite loudly in front of other customers....
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#9 Post by Rick Gregory » March 26th, 2011, 2:17 pm

Tranquilizer gun. Always keep one handy.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#10 Post by Matthew Brown » March 26th, 2011, 2:27 pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:He was the one who started in with "All the other guys had 95-100 point wines..." and I asked "Scored by whom? Italian and American critics often have VERY different ideas on what is a great Brunello..." That's when he started with the "absolute standard" part....
That's when you give him the 'inside tip' about subscribing to Ebob. He'll be much happier hanging out there...

I've had situations like that where someone is factually wrong on all accounts and rails up and down because you disagree with their 'facts' and how unprofessional you are for trying to correct them, no matter how politely you do it and despite your best intentions of spreading a little knowledge around, and then they leave proclaiming your ignorance in the wine profession (it reminds me of why I got out of teaching...). The instant you feel crappy, inevitably a good customer that was in the store during the tirade comes over and says 'God, what a f*#kwad", and all is well again.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#11 Post by PeterJ » March 26th, 2011, 11:47 pm

I thought I remembered this article and Google found it:

Wine Spectator Grand Award Winner Has New Machine to Detect Cork Taint
Sampling from air around the cork and foil, Restaurant Latour's machine can tell if highly prized wines are cork-damaged
James Molesworth
Posted: July 26, 2007

http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature ... Taint_3672

I have no idea what ever happened to this device, but the idea is definitely interesting.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#12 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » April 4th, 2011, 11:23 am

Roberto--I guess I'm unclear what the customer meant when he said the bottle was "bad"--was it corked, was it not to his preferences stylistically, was it too obscure to compete with the scored/reviewed wines?

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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#13 Post by Roberto Rogness » April 4th, 2011, 11:38 am

He couldn't really articulate that and got very blustery when I started asking specific questions to find out.

Off to VinItaly to find more unscored but delish wines in an hour...
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#14 Post by Bob Wood » April 4th, 2011, 4:02 pm

Roberto Rogness wrote:He couldn't really articulate that and got very blustery when I started asking specific questions to find out.

Off to VinItaly to find more unscored but delish wines in an hour...
You're only going to be there an hour? [wow.gif]
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#15 Post by Kathleen Carter » April 5th, 2011, 10:18 am

@Matthew - yup, the good customers make it all worthwhile... [cheers.gif]

@Peter - I always start off with "I'm sorry about your bad experience..." too. Seems to smooth the ruffled feathers a bit.

I don't understand why customers (in any kind of a retail shop) think that tantrums will change the past. Channeling their "inner child", I think.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#16 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » April 5th, 2011, 10:57 am

Kathleen Carter wrote:I don't understand why customers (in any kind of a retail shop) think that tantrums will change the past. Channeling their "inner child", I think.
I suspect that for some retail customers, when they throw a hissy fit they often get what they want. The retailer doesn't want a dissatisfied customer, and especially doesn't want a scene. I think that's when the retailer needs to act the part of the adult and let the customer thrown his/her tantrum. Trust me, as a customer/bystander, I can quickly tell when my fellow customers are being unreasonable and throwing a fit to try to bully the retailer......

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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#17 Post by Kathleen Carter » April 5th, 2011, 11:42 am

Agreed. I am very customer service oriented, and because of that I have many loyal buyers. The managers at my store will do whatever the customer wants (1) to pacify them and (2) to prevent a negative feedback email sent to the corporate office. Because I work at a large retail chain, these kinds of events are a tiny fraction of the Cost of Doing Business.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#18 Post by Ken V » April 5th, 2011, 1:00 pm

If you took out a gun and shot just one of these annoying customers, word would get around and they'd be better behaved. [snort.gif]
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#19 Post by JIMCOH » April 9th, 2011, 5:56 am

Ken V wrote:If you took out a gun and shot just one of these annoying customers, word would get around and they'd be better behaved. [snort.gif]
Just one I think would be looked upon as an unfortunate accident. I think that you would have to drill at least two to really get the word out [snort.gif]
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#20 Post by Matt Price » April 27th, 2011, 6:34 pm

From someone who has sold wine in a high end steakhouse in a ultra conservative ( cheap ) town, I have had a handful of situations very similar to that. Its been my finding that even a "perfect" bottle of wine can be sent back by a patron who is looking for something free. And in true scumbag fashion, he would then blame one of your employees for their "lack" of knowledge. Someone who truly understands what a corked bottle looks and tastes like should be able to accurately describe what his or her concern is. Sounds like you got that "guy". Luckily we are in a industry where that "guy" is in the minority!
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#21 Post by Mike S. » May 14th, 2011, 10:13 pm

Roberto, I have been just as loud in your store about the amazing bottles of Champagne you have sold me.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#22 Post by Roberto Rogness » May 14th, 2011, 10:14 pm

Thank you verrrrrrrrrrrrrry much!
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#23 Post by Scott VZ » May 23rd, 2011, 11:42 pm

Matt Price wrote:From someone who has sold wine in a high end steakhouse in a ultra conservative ( cheap ) town, I have had a handful of situations very similar to that. Its been my finding that even a "perfect" bottle of wine can be sent back by a patron who is looking for something free. And in true scumbag fashion, he would then blame one of your employees for their "lack" of knowledge. Someone who truly understands what a corked bottle looks and tastes like should be able to accurately describe what his or her concern is. Sounds like you got that "guy". Luckily we are in a industry where that "guy" is in the minority!
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#24 Post by GregT » May 28th, 2011, 11:47 am

There are just so many ways you could have handled it. To be nice, you could have told him it was a 98 point wine and he brought something that was way too sophisticated for his friends. Then he'd feel superior and you'd retain him as a customer. That might be worth doing because a jerk with money to spend can be a prize if you can get that money out of his pocked w/out too much headache.

If that didn't work you can tell him that you're going to remove him from the store if he doesn't shut up and that you're fed up with him constantly coming back into the store complaining about wine he bought and this time you're just not giving him yet another replacement bottle. His tantrum is about theater so you just need to out-act him and get him out of the store while keeping the customers on your side.

Or you can take a few bottles of Yellow Tail, soak the labels off, and keep them in the back of the store in a special box. Take him back there, tell him that you have a few bottles direct from Italy that you got as barrel samples and they're going to get a thousand points in the next WS or WA or whatever but you can't sell them because they're unlabled, etc. Tell him you're sorry about the experience but you want him to have something impressive for the next time and this one will be on you, please take a bottle and enjoy it.

Or you can pee in the bottle first and then do as above.

There are just so many ways to deal with jerks - it all depends on your fancy at the moment.
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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#25 Post by loren.grossman » June 9th, 2011, 10:15 am

I think the key was the word embarrassing, plus the corked comment. It is clear this person was buying a bottle to impress or at least hang with a group of folks who probably knew something about wine - at least more than him, which is clearly not very much at all. The wine, for whatever reason, failed to accomplish what he was seeking. He thus made a bad showing. As someone who had put himself as a novice in the hands of your store, he felt that you were to blame. Asking him questions around the specifics - given his lack of knowledge to begin with - I would think would only rub salt in the wound.

This is more of a question about your policy than it is about the individual. As an example, Neiman Marcus takes back merchandise no questions asked. Always. There is a famous story about them taking back a set of tires from one disgruntled customer - and they don't even sell tires. If you are looking to nurture this guy's and others' interest in wines about which they initially know nothing (and more importantly nurture his relationship with your store), then it would make sense that you offer a no questions asked replacement guarantee - if you don't like it, we clearly did not understand your need (assuming the bottle is not flawed) and thus bare responsibility. Of course if it was flawed...same result. If instead you are looking to sell predominantly to the more sophisticated folks who know more about wine and want they are looking for - well then tell the guy to get lost.

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Re: What do you say to a customer who...

#26 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » June 9th, 2011, 6:18 pm

loren.grossman wrote:...If you are looking to nurture this guy's and others' interest in wines about which they initially know nothing (and more importantly nurture his relationship with your store), then it would make sense that you offer a no questions asked replacement guarantee - if you don't like it, we clearly did not understand your need (assuming the bottle is not flawed) and thus bare responsibility. Of course if it was flawed...same result. If instead you are looking to sell predominantly to the more sophisticated folks who know more about wine and want they are looking for - well then tell the guy to get lost.
If you spent five minutes in Roberto's store, you'd know which of the two groups his shop is aiming for.
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