Here's my experience with one of the six shipping companies I've evaluated so far.
First, someone always answers the phone there. It's the receptionist, she's not very helpful, but the phone has been picked up every time I call. She claims to take a message every time as well. So far 25% of my calls have been returned from them.
In addition I received an email response from them to one of four emails I sent.
That makes them far and away the most responsive of the six companies.
One company, I finally got through to a live person, I said, " I'm inquiring about opening a new account, I'm a small winery...ect.". She transferred me to someone's voicemail in ........ accounting. New account, accounting, hey it was close. A very nice lady in accounting did call me back and said, "sorry, I'm the wrong person, you'll get a call from so and so." So and so never called back.
They are in second place right now as the second most responsive.
In third place is a company, that I managed to get a call back from in December. This was after three phone calls and an email. They didn't want to fax me pricing, since they had new pricing coming out in two days. They promised me they'd fax the new pricing in two days (this was in mid-December), I've not heard from them since. Three more phone calls, two more emails, nothing.
If this is the level of service these companies provide, I'm afraid I'm in for a whole lot of headaches in the shipping area. Everyone's been telling me it's bad, and it's a headache, but I didn't think that the level of unresponsiveness could be this bad.
Another bad thing is it looks like I won't be offering single bottles. I really wanted to do that. Since we're a new winery I wanted to offer people the chance to taste and try a single bottle if they wanted. The pricing is just too much. It would be at least $17 to ship a single bottle from any of these companies. I had planned on eating some of the shipping costs, but at that rate it would still be $50-$55 a bottle to try a single bottle.