Talking Wine – February 2013

I am reproducing this letter with permission of a colleague in the wine trade in response to a complaint that a customer could buy his Champagne cheaper at source!

Dear Augustus,

Firstly I must ask you to meet George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer! We all in this Kingdom are sorely miffed with the high rates of Duty, currently £29.21 per dozen bottles of Champagne and about to increase again.

Next, I refer the honourable member to the answers I gave many times before to others who compare Duty Free buying in France with UK shopping:

  1. 1. Shipping and storage has to be added. In your case, you went over there and no doubt like all people you will not have considered that you spent money on travel there and possibly food and accommodation whilst there. Were you to go to his winery each time you needed more Champagne I guess the real cost of the bottle would be €15 plus say €5 to take in those overheads, perhaps even more.
  2. Yours truly has to make a margin in order to cover all the overheads of shipping and selling the stuff but also to scrape a humble living, rather than grovelling around in sackcloth.
  3. By law I am compelled to charge VAT on the entire total of the wine, the shipping, storage, delivery and the excise duty. Of the £22.99 or so I would charge you for a bottle, the following is not mine:
    • VAT = £4 (nearly)
    • Duty = £2.44
    • Shipping and bond charges £0.76
    • The actual price I pay for the Champagne £11
    • Leaving for me £4.79 without taking into account my admin charges, postage, cost of office, equipment and a quill pen etc. In addition it took you 2 months to pay me last time which took another letter/statement and two calls.

I would not want to cast aspersions upon your quality of life and the style that your business allows for you but I would guess that working in banking gives you better return that I receive. Nonetheless, if it helps you I will concede a bit more of my £4.80 and trust that I am unlikely to meet you in the soup kitchen!

Best regards,