David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery Winemaker's Diary

Week 22
May 28, 2000 to June 3, 2000 

Tuesday, May 30, 2000 

I want to do something different tonight. I want to bring in to the discussion a retailer I love. I have bought many thousands of dollars of merchandise from Best Buy. I really like their store in Santa Rosa. It has everything I need and want, but I am having a dispute with them that I hope will be resolved. The employees in the Santa Rosa store have not looked too happy over the two years I have bought goods and when I have tried to return something they have been less than friendly, but I have been tolerant of their personalities somewhat and have had little trouble returning products that did not work for me until recently.

I tried to return two items that I had bought 10 days earlier. I bought a modem and a communication software program and neither would work properly. Let me make this clear!! Both products locked up my computer and thus wasted a whole day of my life!! I know many or most of you have had this happen before, but we put up with it. As far as I can remember I have had no trouble returning such products. The dealer has always given me a refund. Well, obviously the policy of Best Buy has either changed or I have never tried to return a piece of software. They were willing to accept the return of the modem, but were not willing to accept the return of the software. Get this, the software will not work without the modem, but they can not relate that. I bought these two products to work together, but I could only return one. 

I pleaded respectfully at first, but I was told "we do not give refunds on software because you might have copied it. In other words, as I told an assistant manager--I was stealing it? Oh no we don't mean that!!--We mean that we can't let every one in this store think they can buy software and return it.

---Do any of you understand that? Many of you know I am a righteous kind of guy! I get into trouble at times! This was right down my alley. I like confrontations unlike my wife or most of you. I asked for the store manager. Art Meyer from Santa Rosa showed up to confront me. I had met my match!! One bully against another!! He was in complete control. I assumed later that he had been through this before. He was prepared. I was told I could not return any software no matter what. I could get the same software product if that product was deemed defective. In other words I had to accept this software product even if it did not work in my computer. I got upset!!! I insisted on a refund!!! I saw my refund go up on the register for the modem which was acceptible (I guess it was not software??). But I would not be credited back my software. I stormed out of "Best Buy" saying that I wanted the software credited to my account (they had my receipt). I could hear Art Meyer yelling louder than I: "Are you abandoning your product? Do you want me to throw it away?" This guy was yelling loud enough for everyone in ear shot to hear. This is the store manager!! I assumed they would at least let me know if I wasn't credited. 

In the next few days, I saw no credit to my account, even for the modem. (Remember I saw the modem credited back up to my account through their register.) I made the 30 mile trip down to Santa Rosa 5 days later to check out what was going on. I was told by Art Meyer that I had abandoned my products and that they had thrown them away at the end of the day. I can't understand this. I would never treat a customer of mine this way. I have purchased close to $5000 this year alone at that store and they treat me like this. I even mentioned this to Art Meyer and he said he did not care. The policy of the store is to not give refunds on software. 

I did call the regional manager a few days ago and did get a message back this evening. In his message he did seem up- beat and said he was sorry he missed me and he would try to make time in-between meetings to call me back tomorrow. I plan to fax him this diary message for his information. 

I'm long winded tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

The next subject is more serious. I canned my distributor!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was pricing my wine too high!! 

Actually to be honest, Rand the president of "Estate Wines LTD," has had more trouble selling our wine lately. It seems that since we sell "Futures" our wine sold at retailers is selling slower. Of course the reason that the wine is selling so slowly could be that there is a good amount of quality wine out there and we are just another kid on the block. I hope that the reason that the wine is not selling as fast is that customers are finding out that we are selling wine at "Futures" prices at half as much as they were paying. Since we are having no trouble selling wine on our "Futures" program, I think most likely our customers have discovered that they do not have to pay such high prices for our wine. Also I feel that Rand or "Estate Wines" has been trying to place our wine in too many locations across the State of California. 

I appreciate what Rand has done for me!!!!! I could have never accomplished what he has done!!!! Just look in our "buy" section to see how many great establishments Rand has got our wine into!!! I must believe that we (meaning Brendan and I) have to try to be more selective in who we sell our wine to. We don't need to sell to so many establishments. 

As I have said many times before: wine is too expensive. It does not cost that much to make wine. I am not going to gouge my customers. Some wineries are charging a great deal  for their wine because they can get it. I have been told many times by my customers who do not want me to go out of business that I am not charging enough for my wine. I respond that I have a finance degree and know that I do not need to charge any more. According to Rand ("Estate Wines"), by charging as little as $12 a bottle I am hurting my reputation. I am told I could charge much more for my wines, especially my Aca Modot, Pinot, Estate Cuvee, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Block 4; but I refuse to do so. I would lose many of you. I would have less people through my winery maybe, or at least a different type of clientele. I really like people thinking I am producing great wine at reasonable prices. 

That brings me to a new offering, or rather, a past offering: our 1998 Neighbors' Zinfandel. We have been sold out of this wine since September. At that time I sold 300 cases to "Rand." At this time it is still showing better than my 1998 Estate Zinfandel. I wanted to make one zinfandel as usual, but some of my customers wanted to keep the Neighbors' separate from the Estate. Both wines are good and I feel they would have been better blended as one as I have done in 1999. The Neighbors' is from bought grapes and the Estate is from our own vineyard. I made an offer to "Rand" to buy back any wine he had not sold. Thus we have purchased back from him 76 cases of Neighbors' Zinfandel. We are able to offer this wine at a more reasonable price without a wholesaler and retailer in-between. The wine will improve, but is showing well now. If you have an opportunity please come by to taste this wine. 

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