Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buy your VinoTemp at Costco or not at all.

Last year I bought a Vinotemp wine refrigerator thing. We had shopped around a bit and we needed one. Storing our wine collection in the semi-converted linen closet wasn't working. I'm kind of a conservation freak and the house gets to 80-90 inside on summer days when we're not home and I won't leave the AC on, so we were losing very good wine as the corks just can't handle that. We looked at a bunch of different brands and decided the Vinotemp was the best price-capacity-look combination for where we needed to put it.

BTW - tangent here - There are people who like these and people who don't. Vinotemps let the temperature fluctuate about 8 degrees. Wine aficionados don't like that. I'm not an aficionado. I'm a drinker. So I don't mind. The vinotemps are also noisy, so you don't want one anywhere in your house you don't mind a little noise.

Ok - back to Costco. I was going to buy the thing from off their web site. Then my wife and I were at Costco and we saw it sitting there. I didn't want to deal with putting it in my truck, etc., so I went to and sure enough it was there. We saved about $150, delivery was free, etc. Perfect.

Fast forward one year and two months. The thing died. I called Vinotemp. 'Sorry, it's over a year old. We can't do anything for you.' (no lie - pretty much that abrupt). (actually makes me want to start another company that makes these things so I can kill them with good customer service as theirs is simply horrible in every respect - but that's yet another tangent). Then about 15 minutes later I got another email saying that "as a goodwill gesture they MIGHT be able to arrange a call with a service tech so he can tell me what parts I need to fix it myself." Huh? I emailed them back and said, "Can I just pay for someone to come out and fix it?" "no." SERIOUSLY?

Anyway ... (breathing now as this all happened yesterday and this kind of stuff really does get under my skin.) (anyone want to start a wine cooler business with me? We'll call it "Don'tbuyaVinotempbecausetheydon'" (I have a degree in marketing so I'm really good at coming up with catchy names like that.) (do I have enough hanging ('s in this now?)

About 3PM yesterday it dawned on me - while I was meeting with the lovely and wonderful Sara France - that I had ordered the damn thing from (not that while I was meeting with Sara I was thinking about other things. Of course, I was only thinking about fun, new, catchy things to put on the Pictage Blog!) I went to their website and found a number and called them. A very helpful customer service rep said, 'oh - yes, you bought that through us, of course you can return it for a full refund.' I had two options, I can take it to the warehouse or they'll stop by and pick it up. Either way I get my money back - no questions asked. I decided to take it to the warehouse because the thought of the thing bouncing around in the back of my truck makes me smile.

Now I have to figure out what other options will work? Moral of the story? Don't by a Vinotemp unless you're going to buy it from Costco.


Sarah said...

I can't believe some places are so rude! I always see complaints as areas that I could improve in! Why aren't they begging for you to help them!?
I'm glad you got it from Costco!

Anonymous said...


It does sound to me like the person on the phone was stuck with their policy and TRIED to give good customer service by doing.. well, trying.. to do ..something.

You might note that our writer wasn't asking for anything free. He just wanted the damn thing fixed and there is nothing indicating he expected a free ride. It IS pathetic that Vinotemp didn't want to send someone out to fix it.. of course, we know it would have cost MORE than the poor thing probably cost in the first place and THAT is probably why the simply wash their hands of the out of warranty units in the first place.

I suspect that Costco no longer accepts these out of warranty. Things change. Costco got tired of the merry-go-round with "customers' who continued to return items for full credit and buy the newest, slickest version of same. Of course, the rest of us who buy responsibly were the ones paying for that.

Vinotemp. Sorry to hear about that. They don't sell them at .com anymore. I saw a couple at my local store and was wondering about them.. So now I know. THANKS- it is worth knowing about this.

Anonymous said...

karen here.. I just finished a conversation with Vinotemp....they will replace my vinotemp but the warranty will be the original warranty which expires in 14 days. In other words, the warranty on the new replacement unit will expire before I receive the new I am returning the original to Costco for a full refund or new product with full warranty...How do they stay in business???

Anonymous said...

Me. Same problem. 23 months old and just quit working. You would think we could get better products these days.

Jim Collins said...

It's funny. This is the blog post that wouldn't die... It gets more reads than pretty much any of my posts. Several thousand to date. I'd like to think that means that several thousand people didn't buy Vinotemps.

To answer a few questions that were posed here on the blog.

1. I wasn't rude to anyone on the phone for two reasons. One, I run a company with my own call center and I know the challenges my team have. Two, when I tried to figure out how to call for help I was told by the receptionist that there was no help line. It would appear that they've addressed this. I sent an email to a distribution list at an address the person on the phone gave me. My email simply asked if there was anything that could be done as my unit was dead. I have the original emails from both sides.

2. When I attempted to contact Vinotemp I was not looking for anything for free. I wanted to be referred to someone who I could pay to come out and service my then dead unit. The answer I got was a very simple no. Since the new unit would require new refrigeration I would not be able to install a new cooling unit myself. In the State of California (where Vinotemp is located) you can't use refrigeration chemicals unless you're licensed.

3. Yes, I am a 'boomer.' Not sure that that has to do with anything.

4. I bought a new unit and it has been working perfectly since I bought it. It is quieter than the Vinotemp, is the same size, IMO is slightly more attractive, holds more bottles without scraping off the labels. The brand is: N'Finity by Wine Enthusiast.

5. No. I'm happily married and have been so for 22 years. But thanks. I love you too.

Joe Doueihi said...

I bought a vino temp 142 bottle capacity. I bought it from Costco and 3 years later it died. We took it to Costco and received a full refund. I'm just wondering if I should buy wine enthusiast brand instead.

Any recommendations?


Anonymous said...

Joe I still have that N finity that I bought through Wine Enthusiast, and it's still working perfectly. I would strongly recommend this over any Vino Temp product.

Athalia said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work and please tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject?

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