Don Quixote and the Wine Wholesalers’ Ride to the Rescue in the UK
It really was quite quaint. Our own Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America sent a little letter to the H.M. Revenue and Customs agency in the United Kingdom suggesting all their problems over across the pond with alcohol could be solved by implementing a U.S-style three-tier system in that Kingdom.
I’m hoping the folks at WSWA don’t hold their breath waiting for implementation of their magnanimous suggestion. They may as well have written to Her Majesty’s agents the following:
“If you’d would like to turn over your alcohol distribution to a bunch of middle men who with their state-imposed monopoly will go about screwing the consumer, leave it us. We’ve got a plan!”
That’s not exactly what showed up the comment the WSWA’s president Craig Wolf put over his signature and sent over the pond. However there were some real nuggets in the press release they issued directly upon sending their comments to the Queen’s agents.
I haven’t had the chance to do it in a while so I thought I’d take this opportunity to set the good folks at WSWA straight on a few things. And if the Queen and her agents read this blog (turns out 2.6% of its readers ARE from the UK) then they to can find the following corrections to what was written in the wholesalers’ comments
“the three-tier system was designed to accomplish several objectives. The first was to ensure an orderly marketplace by preventing one tier, or one company or type of business within a single tier, from dominating the marketplace and exerting undue influence over other members of the industry or consumers, to the detriment of the public.”
That’s gonna be a hard sell, particularly when you consider that in state after state wholesalers completely control the wines that show up on store shelves and along the way use their state-granted power under the three-tier system to continually thwart needed reforms that consumers and producers and retailers regularly beg for. The Three Tier System is the very definition of a system that allows one tier to “dominate the marketplace and exert undue influence”.
“Second, the system facilitated distribution while discouraging over-consumption and encouraging responsible consumption.”
No one has ever figured out what this means or how the three-tier system accomplishes this, but the wholesalers keep saying it does much like the little boy with chocolate all over his lips continually claiming he didn’t eat the chocolate chip cookie.
“Today, the U.S. three-tier system delivers adults the widest variety of products available anywhere in the world.”
Actually that would be the system of direct to consumer shipments from producers and retailers that created access to the widest variety of products in the world. The three-tier system’s purpose and the role of the wholesalers over the past 20 years has been to disrupt access to as many products as they can.
Despite their erroneous claims, I wish the wholesalers luck helping the Queen and her Agents institute a three-tier system in the UK. I’ve got a copy of Don Quixote I can lend the wholesalers as they pursue that dream.