Naked Whine

A few months back a couple of friends recommended I try the Naked Wine service. I’ve had trouble in the past with Virgin Whine so I was a little nervous but decided to give the folks at Naked Wine a try. I registered, asked not to be sent any marketing bumph or receive any telesales calls and ordered a case of wine. The wine arrived. It was good wine. I enjoyed it.

Shortly afterwards I received a call asking what I thought of my purchase. We had a polite brief conversation during which I asked that my records be marked so I didn’t receive any more calls. I know where Naked Wine are, I know how to get in touch, I know how to buy and drink wine and I’d really appreciate being able to manage this relationship from my end. The guy was OK with this said the records would be amended and we parted company.

I bought another case. The wine arrived. It was good wine. I enjoyed it.

Shortly afterwards I received a call asking what I thought of my purchase. We had a brief, to the point conversation about my preferences. I stressed, without being rude, that I didn’t want Naked Wine to call or email me. Thanks very much your records will be marked sorry about that good bye.

Several months of peace passed. Then I received this:

Naked wine one

I replied to the email, pointing out the previous phone calls. I received an apologetic email back from Lewis confirming I am not on any mailing lists and this won’t happen ‘going forward’ (his words not mine – can it happen going backward??). I heaved a sigh of relief – no more shall I receive unsolicited unwanted stuff from Naked Wine.

Or so I thought.

Naked wine two

I (just about) appreciate why this note was sent but given the nature of our previous correspondence it just amplified the sense of me talking with a company which ain’t listening.

I chatted through this scenario with friends at the weekend. Some told me to shut up and stop being a grumpy git, fair enough 🙂 Some said that Naked Wine are just trying to build a relationship with me and understand my wants and needs and service me better. That’s all very well but surely that should be on terms which suit us both? I run an email newsletter and everyone on that mailing list has given permission and/or asked to receive it. Sometimes folks subscribe out of the blue, and sometimes they unsubscribe. That’s cool, it’s their choice eh. I’m pretty sure if I just started adding people to my list willy nilly there’d be some grumbles and complaints – and quite rightly too.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable to expect Naked Wine to want to do business with me as I wish or is it OK to get grumpy when a supplier repeatedly ignores your preferences?


The conversation this story sparked here on the blog has been very interesting and offered different points of view. I’m grateful to everyone who retweeted the tale and who has contributed to it. I appreciate the fact that Rowan Gormley, the founder of Naked Wine has also been in touch. I wanted to share some of the twitter reaction to his participation – just to show that I’m not always a grumpy git 🙂

Naked Wine - getting respect on Twitter
Naked Wine - getting respect on Twitter

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

17 thoughts on “Naked Whine”

  1. Hi Doug, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, both as a consumer and also as a digital marketer running email marketing campaigns to c. 40k people. Many of the email management systems are run on the basis that you need to go through their unsubscribe process in order for your email address to be ‘supressed’ – however nice a chap on the phone is, if he’s dealing with hundreds of people, he could easily have forgotten to manually unsubscribe you, as per your email / phone conversation. I’m not saying this is right, but it does happen!

    I’d suggest that you unsubscribe ‘properly’ through the link on the emails you received. This manually ensures that you are removed from the mailing list.

    You’re not wrong to wish that you could manage your relationship with Naked Wines on your terms, but unfortunately, many huge companies simply don’t have the right infrastructure to manage this relationship on a personal scale – it’s not a local supplier who knows you, it’s a mass database with different employees accessing it.


    1. Hey Callum thanks for your balanced view. Honestly I couldn’t tell you for certain how my contact preferences were set up before but I’ve logged in again now and all the boxes are unchecked so I shouldn’t be getting any contact. What’s really odd is that after a long lovely period of silence (which implied that my contact preferences were set to my liking) the selling emails started again.

      I’d be interested to know how that may have happened…

      Cheers – Doug

      1. Possibly happened when they may have switched to a different email management system and the subscribers/un-subscribed/request to be blocked list did not transfer properly. Kind of a bummer but it happens.

        1. Hi Ronnie – you’ve got it spot on! See below the company founder was good enough to get in touch and explain. Cheers for your visit – I appreciate it.

  2. Doug,

    It takes two to build a relationship.

    I’m with you on not receiving calls – but surely emails no biggy – after all you can just hit the delete button.

    Plus, what if you miss out on that offer that says “Doug, check it out here’s 1 case for free….” or whatever.

    Its annoying when companies don’t listen but if you want a ‘relationship’ with a brand, it can’t only be 1 way.

    If they had sent the last email as an offer, then I think you would’ve had more of a case (excuse the pun) but as it was an email to get feedback I see no harm in that. After all surely this is your moment to highlight your frustrations…

    Maybe write a song and send it to them…. ?

    1. Hi Oli, you make a good point and others have said to me that it takes two etc…

      Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh but once Naked Wine said I’ll get no more emails I laughed, cried and grrrr’d a bit when I got another email asking how I think they’re doing.

      Maybe a little song might be a fun idea. I do like their product and they’ve always delivered on time. Maybe this is a case (no pun intended) of we all make mistakes…

      Cheers – Doug

  3. Hi Doug – great post. Personally I’m 100% with you on this one and can’t believe what I’m reading from some of the commenters – and at least one of them proposes to be a digital marketer! 😉

    It is 2011 not 1911 and CRM systems are sufficiently integrated to allow any appropriate representative from a company to be able to amend customer preferences on the fly. Or at least they are to those companies that care.

    Contrary to what Oli says, there is no two way relationship here. Naked are in a completely one way dialogue – in other words they are not listening to Doug, their customer. I completely applaud the first call – following up with a new customer on their first order and soliciting feedback is to be applauded. The guy could easily have said:

    “Hey Doug, by the way I noticed your contact preferences and going forward we shall stick by them totally, this is just a new customer call to check we lived up to expectations etc etc…”

    But he didn’t. Thats because it wasn’t a customer service call. It was a sales call, cunningly disguised as a customer service call. The worst kind IMO.

    And email no biggy? When you have this scenario x50 which is happening more often the more we buy on line, its a growing biggy.

    All that aside, what really matters is that those emails are in danger of costing them a customer. No matter what garbage they come up with to justify it, their actions killed the sale.

    Naked doing dumb things to customers….

  4. Gareth – yes, CRM systems are sufficiently advanced enough to enable people to update preferences on the fly: the point I make is that some people just don’t do this – they’re lazy, sloppy, forget to update it at a later date. I’ve also seen first-hand how customers moan constantly about the fact they ‘keep asking to unsubscribe’ (yet this is the first time they actually have asked), yet they have never actually clicked ‘unsubscribe’.

    I’m not for one moment claiming that this kind of invasion marketing is right / good, I’m simply stating that many companies don’t MANAGE the systems as properly as they should.

    Anyway, the real issue is that Doug is a customer who has had such a shoddy service, he’s been compelled to blog about it and now other people are reading it – I had never heard of Naked Wines before, but will now think twice about using them if I ever see them – THAT’s where the power of social interaction comes into play.

  5. Hi Doug

    I’m slightly nervous about responding to this, in case it looks like we are even less integrated! But here goes…

    1. Email #1 – our mistake, sorry about that. We changed email providers and the gremlins crept in. Miscreant on the naughty step with dunces hat as we speak.

    2. Email #2 – scouts honour, this is NOT an attempt to form any kind of relationship, just a genuine attempt to make sure that customers queries are resolved to their satisfaction.

    And on your question…grumpy we can help you with (a few bottles on their way to you as we speak), “old” I am afraid you’re on your own (together with me)


    Rowan Gormley, Founder

    1. Hello Rowan thanks for popping by. No need to feel nervous – the human touch is what so often is missing and you’ve added it here, and to be fair to your colleague Lewis, he did too.

      You may have already noticed that your response has been enthusiastically received on Twitter, I will add a couple of those tweets back into the blog so folks can see the whole story. I had no wish to profit from writing this blog post and your kind offer will be shared as widely as I can, along with what has become a good, positive tale.

      Cheers – Doug

  6. good post Doug and one I think you were right to have a little Monday rant about. Sorry @Oli – I too think you’re very wrong in your “it’s only an email – what harm” approach and think you’ll find plenty of others who see it as only one step away from emails sent through from people that want to help me with my erectile dysfunction or to help process a Mr Gaddafi’s millions.

    But unquestionably a great regain from NakedWines – mucho kudos for listening, and I’m sure gaining some new customers (as well as SEO brownie points) along the way 🙂

    1. Hey Alex – if you need any help with those millions I’m yer man. The other challenge I’m not up for that thanks 😀

      A good comeback from the company – we all make mistakes, how we recover from them is the difference.

      Cheers – Doug

  7. Your experience with Naked Wine reminds of an experience I had with an employee who misused email a few years ago.

    The guy sent out an email that was essentially a chain letter asking people to pray for the prosperity of the world, etc. He sent it to our entire U.S.-based email list, which was about 5,000 people. Several complained, etc…

    I reached out to the employees and explained that the company email was for business use only, and would appreciate his refraining from sending such chain emails again in the future. He was very remorseful, apologized and promised to never to do it again.

    When I got to my office, sitting in my mail box was another personal apology from said dude, promising to never bother people like that again. He sent it to me, and COPIED everyone else in the US-based email list.

    Back to his office, I went to…..

    1. …ouch! The dude seemingly felt quite sheepish after realising his error and so I hope that the second gaffe was a mix of nerves and a wish to say sorry. Nevertheless a quick chat with you and maybe the matter could have been dealt with via other channels more effectively. I bet he was pleased to see you again 🙂

      Thanks for the story

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