Monday, April 9, 2012

A Little Whining About FedEx

Kids, don't try this: Ship wine from California to Mexico. Apparently, unlike in many states of the United States, individuals in Mexico can't take delivery of wine at their casa. If a winery wants to ship wine to an individual in Mexico it must first go to a distributor or dealer in Mexico. I'm learning this the hard way.

A California winemaker said he wanted to ship to me in Baja California Sur a couple of his newly released wines. I advised against it. A past attempt to have wine shipped directly to me in San Jose del Cabo eventually worked out, but only after the parcel wandered around the north of mainland Mexico for a couple of weeks and only after someone claiming to be a customs agent said I'd have to pay an approximate $50 fee to accept delivery, this for a bottle of wine with a suggested retail price of about $10. I reluctantly agreed to pay the fee, but the delivery guy seemed so relieved to hand over the package when it finally arrived a few days later he didn't say a word about any charge. And you know how bad my Spanish is, so I didn't have a chance to ask him whether he wanted the additional levy in dollars or pesos.

Now, another California winemaker who sees challenge or fun or both in attempting to get wine to someone in Mexico has dispatched a package containing what I believe to be two bottles. I've been tracking its progress, marveling at the wonders of contemporary shipping. FedEx picked up the parcel March 26. It arrived in Oakland that evening, and left the next morning for Memphis, where it arrived a little after midnight the next day. In less than two hours it took off again, bound for Toluca, Mexico, back across the continent, where it landed less than four hours later. Pretty impressive. Since then, however, it's languished in Toluca because of an undefined "clearance delay." The package's original anticipated time of arrival in San Jose del Cabo was March 30, then it was updated to April 2, now it's disappeared altogether.

We got a call last week from someone saying he was with FedEx in Toluca. The package can't be delivered to San Jose del Cabo, but it could be returned to the winery for an additional charge of $68. Only in Toluca, apparently, did FedEx realize the parcel contained wine, which, again, can't be accepted by private individuals in Mexico.

I contacted a FedEx representative in the U.S. to see about our options. At first, she said it could be returned to the sender or "abandoned," which I believe is Spanish for "beach party." When she then mentioned that wine shipped to Mexico must be delivered to an authorized dealer, I asked if I could arrange to have a distributor accept the package. She said someone would get back to me on that in one to two hours. In the meantime, I asked a local wine distributor if he would accept delivery of the parcel. "Sure," he said. In the meantime, I've received no call back from FedEx, whose "one to two hours" has now stretched to six days. FedEx generally is good at getting parcels delivered; clearly, however, it isn't so good at other aspects of customer service.


  1. Hi Mike: I hope you are enjoying Mexico, even without samples. Cheers, Kurt Burris

    1. Thanks, Kurt. We did enjoy it. Returned to Sac last night and look forward to getting reacquainted with the foothills in short order.

  2. I thought you were going to whine about FedEx in the US. It's the most obnoxious of the delivery companies for recipients, unwilling to do anything to help someone get a package at one's home.

    A FedEx man gave first my apartment building manager, then me, a lecture last week that the shipper had requested an adult signature, and it was not possible for anyone but the person living in the apartment to sign for it, because it's Alcohol. Like the building manager is going to do what, distribute the wine samples to children on the street?

    I called to complain about him and FedEx hung up on me.

    1. I don't get many samples, Blake, but I have noticed that an apparently small company - Golden State Shipping, or something to that effect - looks to be picking up more wine-related business, and it could be because of the untouchable attitude that larger corporations like FedEx have assumed in recent years.

  3. Good information to know! Thanks

    Andrea Jackson
    Indepedent Wine Consultant
    The Traveling Vineyard