The etiquette of complaining to your homebrew supplier

We’ve been let down by homebrewing suppliers in the UK on several occasions now.  You place your order, and hear nothing.  Perhaps a week later they may ring you up to explain that they don’t have everything you wanted, and is it OK if they wait a week or two until the rest of the stuff is supplied?

By which time, a precious weekend or two has passed, and you’ve had to postpone your brewing plans.

Now I appreciate that if you’re a small business, you might not be able to afford a just-in-time stock system on your website to make sure we don’t order stuff you don’t have.  You may not have the particular obscure liquid yeast strain we want right at that very moment.  But I don’t see why you don’t ring us up to explain the situation and discuss ways around it.  Instead, we can’t brew at all, because you’ve held up the entire delivery.

This has now happened on three occasions, with three different (small) suppliers.  And although I‘m willing to complain about a bad pint, I’ve never yet managed to explain my displeasure to one of these suppliers.  Possibly because they seem mystified that I might object to additional delivery charges, and seem to think I should feel grateful that they’re bothering to supply me at all.  Instead, I cross them off the list and try another one, next time.

So, homebrew suppliers, if any of you happen to stumble across this: if you really want to compete, you’re going to have to pick up the phone occasionally and attempt to please your customers.

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant but we’ve been waiting three f*cking weeks for the last delivery and can’t even bottle our latest batch because we’re waiting for caps.

PS – sorry, I know The Session was tonight.  Unfortunately, there are very few pubs in London that serve Barley Wine, and we weren’t in one tonight.   We were in a lovely Sam Smith’s pub, serving all sorts of BJCP-compliant styles such as brown ale, pale ale and oatmeal stout. But that’s neither here nor there.


4 replies on “The etiquette of complaining to your homebrew supplier”

I had suspected as much.

I’m very envious. Our beautiful witbier is sitting on a load of old yeast, no doubt getting worse by the day. This particular supplier is so bad, I might have to name and shame.

have you tried the hop shop in plymouth? i’ve never had anything but an excellent and very prompt service (2-3 days normally, i think a week is the longest i’ve waited). on one occasion when i ordered a malt uncrushed by mistake they called before dispatching the order to ask if it was a mistake and did i want it crushed like the others. (and no, i’m not the owner- i’m another london home brewer dependent on mail order- can you believe there isn’t anywhere in london you can get homebrew kit?)

M — we have tried them. We found them very nice and extremely helpful, to be honest, but there was a bit of a wait (a couple of weeks, if I recall) for one of our orders. To be fair, this may just have been bad luck on our part.

We did trek out to one homebrew shop on the outskirts of London only for Boak to be patronised to within an inch of her life by the proprietor: “There’s no difference between ale and lager yeast, really. Buy this. It’ll do.”

Comments are closed.