n April 8
, Chairman Rosen
and the SLA hosted a meeting
of wholesalers and retailers. The
event took place in the full board
room of the Authority’s Lenox Avenue
office with video links to Albany and Buf-
falo. It was also webcast.
Chairman Rosen began the meet-
ing by explaining that he had attended
a meeting of The Retailers Alliance
at which he had been asked a series of
questions, the answers to which were
based upon wholesaler policies and pro-
cedures rather than state law. In turn,
the Chairman decided to bring the in-
dustry together to discuss these issues in
an open forum.
The Chairman asked the representa-
tives of the wholesalers to explain their
policies with regard to returns due to
breakage and claims of unsalable. After
the wholesalers, who were present, each
gave a short summary, retailers explained
the types of problems they experience.
For example, when they discover a bro-
ken bottle months after delivery, or when
a consumer returns a bottle of wine and
claims that it was corked.
The Chairman asked wholesalers to
post their policies on their websites and
to include them in appropriate written
documents. Chairman Rosen also asked
wholesalers and suppliers to discuss this
issue to consider whether it was practical
to arrive at an industry norm.
The retailers complained about the
charges for Bill and Hold. Chairman
Rosen explained that it is illegal for a
wholesaler to provide free or discounted
storage. Under New York’s gift and service
rules, the wholesaler is required to charge
the retailer fair market prices for any stor-
age services provided.
The retailers would like to be able to
pay with credit cards. The anticipation is
that the wholesaler would pass the cost of
the credit card back to the retailer. The
Chairman appointed a committee under
the direction of General Counsel Jacque-
line Flug to review the issue.
Chairman Rosen brought up the issues
of the allocation of wines and spirits
which are in limited availability. As a
general rule, New York law does not
permit discrimination among retailers.
When goods are limited in availabil-
ity, wholesalers are permitted to allo-
cate. They must use a method which is
fair and reasonable. Historical sales is a
reasonable method, provided that some
Much Ado of the SLA
Unsalable Returns, Allocation, 500-foot Rule Among Topics
BY KEVEN DANOW
ABOVE: Representing the SLA: Dennis Saville,
Senior Attorney; Jacqueline Flug, General
Counsel; Paul Karamanol, Senior Attorney;
Dennis Rosen, Chairman; Thomas Donahue,
Special Counsel RIGHT: Keven Danow and
Members of New York's wine & spirits trade in
attendance at SLA hearing.