UPDATE January 2014
Below is the original post from a couple of years ago, but I wanted to update it to reflect the changes at Simplywinesdirect. They have now opened a wine shop round the corner from their convenience store so they must now be holding some stock, although I somehow doubt it is the 9000 wines they claim to offer!
They offer a “click and collect” service but you can’t actually collect the wine until they’ve been able to buy it in. And they still stipulate 10 working days to do this which in this day and age is excessive. They also mention sourcing these wines from their various warehouses around the country, which is no doubt a simple and genuine grammatical error, as the warehouses are not “theirs” at all, but are the warehouses of the various agents and importers who they try to source the wines from once an order has been received. But it does make you think they must be a big successful company doesn’t it!
They’re still displaying banners and listing wines from loads of wineries who they do not represent, and can’t buy from. That is most annoying for the customer.
Still, they’re in their fourth year now so may well be on their way to becoming an established wine retailer. They must be giving good service to some customers or they wouldn’t still be going. So if you’ve had a good experience from them please leave a comment!
While happily browsing online this morning I came across a high profile wine retail website Simply Wines Direct which according to their impressive company profile “is one of the leaders in the wine industry” and “is now global, importing products from the world’s great wine regions, dealing directly with producers whenever possible”. Sounds impressive?
Well I then saw their prices – very very expensive! And ten working days for delivery- who would put up with that these days? So how have they got so big in such a competitive market?
I also checked out their product range. As far as I could tell the wineries they list are represented by agencies in the UK so they wouldn’t be dealing direct. This made me think immediately of Everywine.co.uk who have now gone out of business – it is exactly the same business model. Advertise thousands of wines they don’t actually stock, at very high prices, then if somebody orders something try to source it in the UK and allow yourself ten working days to find it and sell it on!
As a business model in itself that’s fair enough so long as you are transparent and honest about what you’re doing. But claiming to be a “leader” and having gone “global” and “buying direct from wineries” implying that you have their support and you’re cutting out any middle men, is plain dishonest and therefor technically illegal.
Sadly for the customer there is no real protection. We tend to believe whatever is written on these flashy websites, and the Advertising Standards Agency and Trading Standards are not much help at forcing them to take down these lies. So if you’re planning on buying your wine online do a little bit of research while on the retailer’s website. Just check the address and Google it for streetview, see if they have genuine photos of their operation and look like a real business. There are plenty of people trading wines online like this so be very careful!
If you check the address of Simply Wines Direct you get a convenience store in Reading! The Global headquarters of a leading pioneering wine importer!
Then if you check the company records for Simply Wines Direct Ltd at Companies House (which is registered to this address) you’ll find no trading accounts filed – a technically active but dormant company. Presumably any sales are processed through Mr Mukhtar’s sole trader shop?
There was a similar operation a while back which has also gone out of business called “Wines Buy the Case”. Exactly the same modus operandum only run from the proprietor’s house!
So if you want to buy wine online – which is definitely the best option offering the widest choice and best prices – do a little bit of googling to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable business. Simply Wines Direct is anything but direct – in fact the wine is about as indirect as it is possible to be, shipped to Reading first to then be shipped back out again! Mr Mukhtar is presumably just buying these wines from the same place you could buy them from yourself, saving yourself a lot of time and money.