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Garrison Private Ordering – The Credit Card Crisis

February 22nd, 2010 · 4 Comments

Last year we set up a 2nd private order of Garrison beers to follow on the heels of the successful first one.  We would offer basically everything that Garrison had to offer, and it took a while to get all the orders in.  We had about 2 pallets of beer ordered by customers – the excitement of the first order had waned a bit but we still had lots of interested beer lovers who wanted to get in on it.

The basic process for a private order is as follows: I collect orders on behalf of customers who complete a private order form for the LCBO.  I assemble all the forms and submit to the LCBO.  The LCBO then charges a deposit to the customers and a private order request goes to a brewery.  The brewery ships the beer to Ontario and is then distributed to customers as they pay the remaining price of the beer.

That’s a simple outline, but it takes a lot of time to get everything together.  As this was a larger order, we had more customers that had to complete their order forms.  Around the end of the year, I was able to track down everyone to sign and fax in their order forms to me so I could submit to the LCBO.

There was an important change that the LCBO implemented in between the first order we did in the spring of 2009 and this second order.  With the first order, the LCBO private order form had an area for customers to write in their credit card information.  This made it easy for the LCBO to charge the customer deposit.  When I submitted the forms the first time around, all the credit cards were there.  (Here’s a post about the security procedures I undertook to protect this data). But I was later informed that the LCBO would no longer have credit cards on the forms – presumably to avoid storing numbers when they kept the private orders on file.  So with the second order, I expected the LCBO would contact the customers directly to arrange their deposit payment.  I was wrong.

After I submitted the order to the LCBO, I was informed that is was still my responsibility to collect credit cards for them to charge deposits.  This was unfortunate as it meant I needed to go back to all the customers and get their credit card information – after I had just asked them to sign and fax back their forms.  And asking for credit cards is not as easy as a quick e-mail when personal data security is always important.

So, I quickly created a secure web form that would allow customers to submit their credit cards to me.  After another round of going back to the customers, I was able to collect them all and submit to the LCBO for the deposits.  And once they charged the deposits, the LCBO destroyed the numbers so as to not keep them on file.

But this step wasn’t without its controversy.  On the very day that I received the last credit card number and was ready to drop them off at the LCBO, the private ordering department directly contacted all the customers asking for their credit cards!  This was certainly a bit frustrating as I had spent a few weeks getting all this together after the LCBO told me it was my responsibility.

Further, when the LCBO contacted all the customers they CC’d everyone, exposing all the e-mail addresses of the orderers, much to the frustration of some of the individuals who participated.  And from my standpoint, this revealed all of my private order consumers which was certainly not ideal.  However, I do believe this was a case of unintended error and crossed lines of communication rather than malicious intent.  But, damage was done.

After all this, the LCBO was able to successfully process the deposits and the order is moving forward.  Time could have been saved with a clearer indication that it was still my responsibility to collect the credit card information from customers up front.  This is personal learning for future orders – customers will have to submit this at the beginning, so this added step can be saved.  However, private ordering is proving to be an incredibly time-consuming process – we will see what other unexpected surprises are around the corner.

Tags: Brands · Government · Importing · LCBO

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sar // Feb 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Holy incredibly unprofessional batman! Can the LCBO be any less responsible? They really need to get their s*%t together over there. Un.BUH.lievable.

  • 2 Northernlight // Feb 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Having a pretty good understanding of how the LCBO works, you are unfortunately just getting started. The LCBO forces importers/agents to store their goods at their warehouse. You get a certain space allotment and if the product is not sold in a certain amount of time, it gets seized by the LCBO and sold at a discount in strategic stores and they get paid twice. The inability to warehouse your own product is just one of the tools the LCBO union uses to employ lots of people. They get paid exorbitant amounts of would be alcohol tax revenue dollars to push paper, drive forklifts, stamp papers and take leisurely coffee/smoke breaks. They justify this under the pretense that if importers were to warehouse their own product, it would lead to social decay and rampant alcoholism. For doe-eyed Joe Ontario whose only concern is whether they have the latest free magazine, they don’t know and don’t care that they are getting robbed by a union and significantly limited in the selection of decent wine and beer that would be available if it was privatized. Wine agencies have been dealing with this bureaucratic quagmire for years.

  • 3 JonasOfToronto // Mar 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Northernlight, thank you – and I find these revelations shocking, but I appreciate them.

    Do you really mean that the LCBO system – a publicly-owned crown corporation – operates solely in its own interests, and at the expense of our interests – we, the general public?

    Is it really possible such cynical Statism lurks so comfortably within a cushy, tax-fed organization whose stated mission is to be responsible for – and also to – US?

    Goodness. I hope this is an isolated occurrence, not an indicator of much deeper problems we have with the attitude of our governments towards Ontario people.

    And I will allow – I have spoken to some great overseas wineries who find business dealings with the LCBO unreasonably difficult, and can see why the better, more successful international product suppliers simply take their business elsewhere. One, they can already sell their product. Two, the mass-buying power the LCBO wields is less important if you are NOT a mega-producer supplying Cools or Yellow Tail mass-products you need to dump lots of.

    Heavens, I really hope the LCBO’s business practices do not limit product selection because of this. Are we consistently getting the straggler products the international market won’t so readily take, and the second-rate products that producers are eager to push? God forbid!

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