Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LCBO to charge wine writers 20 cents for each wine sample

TORONTO -- (GOSH Wine News Services) -- In its infinite double quest for creating a level playing field and creating new revenue streams, the LCBO, A Crown Corporation, has apparently decided to DIRECTLY charge wine writers and others who receive free sample bottles of alcohol (wine, beers and spirits) for the twenty cent bottle deposit. The LCBO will soon require all agents and wineries, breweries and distilleries in Canada to inform them of the recipient of the free bottles so that the LCBO might send the recipients an invoice for the deposit.
A spokesman at the LCBO said today, "We didn't want the Good People of Ontario, A Have-Not Province, to have to support wine writers by giving them the deposit for free. Some writers get a huge number of samples, and they are able to get a taxable benefit if they didn't initially pay the deposit. We don't believe in subsidizing anybody, certainly not to the detriment of the Good People of Ontario, A Have-Not Province. Fair is fair."
An industry source in the LCBO Accounting Department (and one familiar with the situation) said that the deposits on the samples given to some writers is large enough to constitute a taxable benefit. Having just gone through a battle with free perks and the like, with their employees no longer able to receive gifts, the LCBO is apparently going after similar situations in the outside world of alcohol beverage in Ontario.
But some writers feel that there is a certain element of tit for tat here.
Another well-known and respected wine writer feels that this is just another way for the LCBO to keep tabs on who is writing what and how much free wine they receive. After all, "Control" is the LCBO's middle name.
Still, the Canadian Wine Flacks and Hacks group wonders about the economic advantages. The bottle deposits must be recorded by the producer and transmitted to the LCBO, which then initiates the invoicing process. This last step costs a minimum of $25 for each invoice plus postage. At the end of the chain is the collection agency, which will probably be inevitable. It also invokes painful memories of the Green Permit book.
One wine blogger who also makes money off the ads on his website said that he might have to declare bankruptcy: "I'm totally dependent on the return deposit fee to buy food each month."
More as this story develops...

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