Shipping wine via UPS, Fed Ex or USPS

What is the current state of this for a regular guy (i.e. not a licensed wine retailer)?

A couple of times I've tried to mail a bottle or two to a friend or relative, or to return wine that was incorrectly shipped to me, and each time, the lady at the counter at Fed Ex has told me that it is not permitted. I finally resorted to putting my shipper box inside a larger kitchen appliance box so that it didn't look suspicious, and then it shipped fine.

I even mailed a hat to a friend of mind as a gift and put it inside a 6-pack Domaine Alfred wine box, and the clerk at the Post Office fussed about using a wine box to ship something (which box weighed as much as a cardboard box containing one hat, so I figured nobody could possibly confuse this for being a shipment of wine). He finally put tape all over all the places that indicated it had been a wine box.

What is the current law and the current policies of the shippers regarding the shipment of wine? I don't mean in terms of what states do and don't permit it at the moment, but simply the act of putting properly packaged wine into the mail? What do those of you who sell and ship wine via internet bulletin boards or eBay do for shipping?

Thanks a bunch for any advice/information.
Original Post
Not that I would ever do this but I have heard people say single bottles in styrofoam shippers are vases and double or triple shippers are platters. For 6 bottle shippers I suppose one could say its a statue or figurine. Once again, I dont not recomend or condone this behavior. I am simply passing along stories I have heard.
quote:
Originally posted by jburman82:
Not that I would ever do this but I have heard people say single bottles in styrofoam shippers are vases and double or triple shippers are platters. For 6 bottle shippers I suppose one could say its a statue or figurine. Once again, I dont not recomend or condone this behavior. I am simply passing along stories I have heard.


Funny, I was thinking of eerily similar tales I too have heard Cool
Other than asking you if it's wine and deciding whether to take your word that it's not, do any of them actually inspect the contents to determine what's in there? Or are you safe so long as you get them to take the package initially (at least other than USPS)?
No guarantees. I was busted once shipping wine to a fellow board member. FedEx called me and told me they had a box of wine they were going to deliver that day and that it was illegal for me to ship wine from one individual to another and that they were going to flag my account for future reference. So some way, some how, they figured it out for that particular shipment.
The sad thing is that you can't even legally ship it to yourself even though you own the wine. I tried to ship a case to myself at a vacation house I rented but the shipper wouldn't accept it. I was naive enough to answer when they asked me what was in the box. I must have looked guilty. Next time, I will be shipping vinegar to myself. Hopefully it won't taste like vinegar when it arrives.
IM conversation this afternoon:

stefania: oh, so I called FedEx before I loaded up, to make sure they weren't going to guff me, and I get the manager.... "I've got a wine barrel I need to ship". what's the first thing she says.....
stefania: Nobody can ship wine, it's against the law.
stefania: and I say, it's empty. and she continues to tell me why they can't accept wine as a package.
stefania: and I say, it's empty.
stefania: she finally shuts up long enough for me to explain it's just the barrel. it's empty.
stefania: i'm like, I'm well aware of the wine shipping rules. It's a barrel.
stefania: I didn't say it was a barrel of wine, I said it's an empty wine barrel.

Our UPS guy marks everything we ship as "olive oil". I tell him not to do that, but he refuses. "There are less problems this way", he says everytime.
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
P Monty,

It is my understanding that neither FedEx or UPS will knowingly take a wine shipment from an individual. That's their policy as I understand it.

It is flat out against the law to ship wine via USPS.


I have only shipped wine a couple of times to other board members (a bottle or 2 at a time). On those occasions, my local UPS store has knowingly done it for me. I told them what was in the box when they asked. They always reply that they can ship wine, but that they can not insure it.
Use a friend, relative or whoever that gets regular pick ups from their office from UPS to include it.

I ship and receive wine all the time and I think it mainly has to do with having a company name on it, business address building and that it is mixed in with 10 other packages the guy picks up from us everyday. He even knows it's wine most of the time and he just takes it. Corporate accounts are just heave and away, don't ask questions and get everything delivered from what I have experienced.

Don't know if that is an option for you, but I have been doing that for 10 years. Never, ever a problem. Never use the post office. I agree.
I ship lots of "olive oil" from my Oregon office to the Arizona office. They pick it up at the Oregon office with all labels on boxes, any stickers relating to other liquids are removed or covered up. Been doing it for years and no problems at all. Better to ask forgiveness than ask for permission.
Thanks, everyone, this is a big help. It sounds like double boxing and/or shipping from your office is probably the safest approach.

Paul, I'm curious why you have any concerns or issues, though. It's fine and over the board for a winery or licensed retailer to ship wine in the mail, isn't it?
P Monty,

I am set up as a wine shipper with UPS. It's kind of a long story but basically I don't ship enough for them to come pick up at the winery, so they have me take it to the UPS office nearest to me.

The guy who runs that office just always puts the contents as "Olive Oil". I tell him it's wine, but that's not what he enters into the system. It's kind of a bizarre ritual we go through. I just wish he would enter it as wine, but he doesn't.

I really prefer working with GSO, but that just covers CA, NV and AZ.
Paul;

We are set up as a business account. We pay a monthly fee (it's not that great ~ $30) and they pick-up whatever we have to ship. Since we don't ship alot, we hang a "Pickup" sign in the window to tell them we have something, and they stop.

The small payment is well worth the hassle of hauling stuff to a UPS Store or the main terminal.
Here is the story as I see it. You can only ship wine by Fedex and UPS in approved shippers. Using anything other than approved shippers you are subject to liability for damage to other packages etc. from leakage. In addition there is the liability to injury to employees from brooken glass etc, if they are cleaning up the mess. Shipping wine requires you to be approved by Fedex/UPS and that involves a signed contract, you must enter the "wine code" on your B/L, you must affix alcohol shipping labels to each box and you must get a adult signature on delivery.

In most cases the olive oil or other items will get through, but you are misrepresenting your shipments. If Fedex/UPS want to get nasty they can and at the end of the day it may cost you more than you think.

The big concern right now by them is the use of approved shippers.
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
I was busted once shipping wine to a fellow board member. FedEx called me and told me they had a box of wine they were going to deliver that day and that it was illegal for me to ship wine from one individual to another and that they were going to flag my account for future reference.


At least they delivered it. I had a shipment that showed "out for delivery", then suddenly as "undeliverable", and never got a phone call. I called them and got the runaround for days trying to get the shipment back, but never did. Two bottles of '97 Pian delle Vigne, and two bottles of '97 Valdicava 'Madonna del Piano' Riserva Brunello......I'm sure the delivery man enjoyed them. Mad
quote:
Originally posted by clone777:
Here is the story as I see it. You can only ship wine by Fedex and UPS in approved shippers. Using anything other than approved shippers you are subject to liability for damage to other packages etc. from leakage. In addition there is the liability to injury to employees from brooken glass etc, if they are cleaning up the mess. Shipping wine requires you to be approved by Fedex/UPS and that involves a signed contract, you must enter the "wine code" on your B/L, you must affix alcohol shipping labels to each box and you must get a adult signature on delivery.

In most cases the olive oil or other items will get through, but you are misrepresenting your shipments. If Fedex/UPS want to get nasty they can and at the end of the day it may cost you more than you think.

The big concern right now by them is the use of approved shippers.


Are you implying that good old wineismylife everyday Joe can just open up a FedEx account for shipping wine if I use approved wine shippers and proper labeling?
quote:
Originally posted by Foghorn Leghorn:
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
I was busted once shipping wine to a fellow board member. FedEx called me and told me they had a box of wine they were going to deliver that day and that it was illegal for me to ship wine from one individual to another and that they were going to flag my account for future reference.


At least they delivered it. I had a shipment that showed "out for delivery", then suddenly as "undeliverable", and never got a phone call. I called them and got the runaround for days trying to get the shipment back, but never did. Two bottles of '97 Pian delle Vigne, and two bottles of '97 Valdicava 'Madonna del Piano' Riserva Brunello......I'm sure the delivery man enjoyed them. Mad
Wow, that's a sobering story (no pun intended). I don't know what the % risk is of something like that happening, but if it's more than just a rare freak occurrence, that seriously calls into question the shipping of wine by us regular guys.
quote:
Originally posted by P Monty:
quote:
Originally posted by Foghorn Leghorn:
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
I was busted once shipping wine to a fellow board member. FedEx called me and told me they had a box of wine they were going to deliver that day and that it was illegal for me to ship wine from one individual to another and that they were going to flag my account for future reference.


At least they delivered it. I had a shipment that showed "out for delivery", then suddenly as "undeliverable", and never got a phone call. I called them and got the runaround for days trying to get the shipment back, but never did. Two bottles of '97 Pian delle Vigne, and two bottles of '97 Valdicava 'Madonna del Piano' Riserva Brunello......I'm sure the delivery man enjoyed them. Mad
Wow, that's a sobering story (no pun intended). I don't know what the % risk is of something like that happening, but if it's more than just a rare freak occurrence, that seriously calls into question the shipping of wine by us regular guys.

Just another example of The Man trying to keep the little guy down. Razz
quote:
Originally posted by Sandy Fitzgerald:
Paul;

We are set up as a business account. We pay a monthly fee (it's not that great ~ $30) and they pick-up whatever we have to ship.

Sandy,

The long story/drama is that we don't live at the winery, it's 35 miles from our house. UPS won't come to our home at all, it's in a residential area and our permits don't let us ship wine from the house.

They also call the winery residential, since it's located under a house in Woodside. They won't come there either, and even if we could talk them into it, we're not usually there, even to hang a sign. They've told us about the sign option, then told us we don't qualify since it's a residential address.

See drama. Smile

GSO doesn't give a rats ass. Most of the time I drop the packages off on my way to the day job. They tell me they'll come pick them up anywhere, but it's on my way so I pick up at CWT, and drop at GSO, and the CA people get there wine with a whole lot less drama.
quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
GSO doesn't give a rats ass. Most of the time I drop the packages off on my way to the day job. They tell me they'll come pick them up anywhere, but it's on my way so I pick up at CWT, and drop at GSO, and the CA people get there wine with a whole lot less drama.

And fast, too.
So I have a few cases on the way, supposed to be delivered today, and I happen to check the UPS tracking and see this as the last entry:

EMERGENCY CONDITIONS BEYOND UPS' CONTROL

Now, that's not something that you don't want to see. I am optimistic that everything will come out ok, but that is a vague if not troubling statement to post on their site.
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
Are you implying that good old wineismylife everyday Joe can just open up a FedEx account for shipping wine if I use approved wine shippers and proper labeling?


I don't know about FedEx, but I believe I recall having to supply UPS with a copy of our license.
quote:
Originally posted by Randy Sloan:
quote:
Originally posted by wineismylife:
Are you implying that good old wineismylife everyday Joe can just open up a FedEx account for shipping wine if I use approved wine shippers and proper labeling?


I don't know about FedEx, but I believe I recall having to supply UPS with a copy of our license.


Exactly.
Hey all. I know it seems like overkill to prohibit shipping wine. Something no one's mentioned, however, is that this rule protects those making deliveries. If they put alcohol into the hands of minors in the process of making their daily deliveries, they are subject to serious legal, financial, and professional repercussions since to so so would be a violation of law.

Normally, people who place alcohol in others' hands, such as bartenders (or winesellers), do not do so unwittingly, and thus verify the age of the alcohol recipients as a matter of routine. For those who sell alcohol along with general merchandise, such as supermarket cashiers, there are even safeguards built into their work tools to prevent inadvertent sale of alcohol: cash registers do not ring up alcohol items unless the cashier acknowledges prompts from the register to verify the purchaser's age.

Now, in principle there is nothing preventing such safeguards from being built into, say, the UPS delivery process. However, I would suspect that the cost of implementing safeguards is prohibitive compared to the increase in business that would be derived from however many customers might want to ship wine. Thus, it is a reasonable course of action to simply decline alcohol shipments.

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