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Friday
Sep282012

No More Ebay Booze Auctions

I've received a few emails over the past few days about this topic, so I thought I'd type up some quick thoughts here.  I've posted a few things here and there on various websites to help people understand what's been going on, but I might as well do it here too.  As of a few days ago, the craziness that was the Ebay liquor auction world has been shut down. Many are blaming the hysteria surrounding a 20/20 news story about a kid who was able to purchase vodka via the website. That may have sparked the attention of the TTB, but underage drinking is not the reason these auctions were eventually halted. I'm not 100% sure of this, but I'm going to put myself out there and say that these auctions were stopped because selling alcohol without a license is entirely illegal.  Not only is selling alcohol illegal for private parties, so is shipping it!  Regular people cannot sell alcohol without a license. Regular people cannot ship alcohol without a license.  If you walk into FedEx, UPS, or the post office and tell them you're shipping alcohol, they will not do it for you.  If someone out there knows otherwise then please send me an email, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works. Then there's the huge minefield that is state law.  Some states allow booze to be shipped in.  Others do not.  There is enough obscurity in these laws to feed a small legal firm for the next ten years, so it's really difficult to understand all the ins and outs. However, California law is pretty clear:

Given that only licensees may engage in activities for which a license is required, all sales transactions involving Third Party Providers must ultimately be conducted by and under the control of a licensee. This includes decisions concerning the selection of alcoholic beverages to advertise or offer for sale, the pricing of those beverages, and the ultimate acceptance and fulfillment of the sales transaction.

Now that these auctions have been shut down, what does that mean for demand? Since scalpers were purchasing these bottles, looking for a return on their investment, what will happen now that their main forum has been closed?

I don't know to tell you the truth. Most of the people I talk to are drinking their Pappy or giving it to friends, but I don't really know what actually happens once they leave the store. I don't think it's going to end the demand, however.  People still want these bottles like nothing else.  The poor Van Winkles can't win no matter what happens.  First, people were upset that the sky-high prices on Ebay were keeping everyday consumers priced out.  Now, people are complaining that Ebay was the only way to actually get a bottle.  No matter what happens, you can't please everyone.

I'd expect this madness to continue. Trophy hunting is more about bragging than profiting, isn't it?

-David Driscoll