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When the bias becomes scientific: How WSWA works to destroy DTC Shipping

The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) has developed some sort of rapid response team to come to the rescue for their positions on DTC shipping.

Lately, they have succumbed to using mothers to do their bidding and picking on Jarrett Dieterle of R Street Institute. ( R Street, is a free market think tank and Mr. Dieterle has authored pieces calling for more market reform in the liquor space.)

Recently, WSWA authored pieces that explained how mothers support the three-tier system and how Jarrett Dieterle, from the R Street Institute who wrote an article, “The Truth About Alcohol Delivery and Underage Drinking” is wrong about the public wanting a rethinking of beverage alcohol laws.

The Moms and what they want

First, I want to tackle the issue about moms being for the three-tier system. WSWA published two pieces with stats to back up their theory that moms are supportive of the three-tier system and skeptical of DTC shipping.

As anyone knows, polls which like the one WSWA ran, can be manipulated to get the results wanted. Whether it is how the question is framed or what is included or not included in the question, it is easy to manipulate poll results.

The credibility of polls becomes incredibly suspect when the group touting the results actually runs the poll itself. The polls that WSWA touts in its two writeups, are run by the WSWA Education Foundation in partnership with Morning Consult. So could it be that WSWA was running a poll not based on gaining empirical evidence, but based on telling a biased story.

Somehow WSWA is trying to sell the public that bias intentions equates with scientific findings.

If the question was asked in these polls whether mothers like the convenience and safety of ordering alcohol online or would they rather have alcohol sales limited to brick-and-mortar stores, I would imagine the results would become in favor of DTC shipping. Further, if the follow-up question was whether they believe a liquor distributor is necessary for the health and safety of society, they may not give an overwhelmingly positive answer

Problematically, as manipulative as these polls are, WSWA will trot these polls out in legislative hearings as a justification to impose draconian measures to combat expanding economic opportunities, all in the name of economic protectionism for the wholesalers.

They will portray the bias as scientific, as means to influence important policy decisions.

Change is desired and so is the safer method

Second, let’s look at their attacks on Mr. Dieterle.

WSWA makes the claim that somehow the pandemic didn’t change the way people thought about alcohol, because only one state, Kentucky, changed its laws on DTC. What this piece doesn’t mention is there were efforts in other states, such as California to introduce DTC spirits shipping, but the wholesalers spent a lot of time and resources to fight DTC advancement. The political muscle of the wholesaler lobby defeated many DTC bills and not the will of the general public.

Keep in mind that cocktails-to-go laws exploded throughout the country, so there is evidence of people desiring change in the liquor system

Next, WSWA launches into a tirade against Mr. Dieterle for failing to consider the other convenience for getting alcohol directly to consumers, same day local delivery.

Now, full disclosure here, WSWA invested heavily and took an ownership stake in Drizly, which helps coordinate between customer and retailer same day retailer delivery. The point is WSWA has a bias and an economic interest in promoting same day delivery.

Even with a bias intact, there really is a line from WSWA’s write up that puzzles me.

“Same day local, delivery through a licensed retailer has safeguards in place to prevent underage access and clear liability should alcohol products reach the hands of teenagers – the same doesn’t exist in the DTC spirits or wine shipping models Dieterle advocates for.”

Really, let’s compare the two situations.

Under same day delivery in Illinois a retailer can farm delivery out to a third-party, who can have someone 18 years old delivering the product. And there is no record requirement or anything digital required of the person delivering alcohol. So that’s right, an 18-year-old up all night getting stoned and listening to Mott the Hoople, can go out the next day and deliver alcohol on behalf of Joe’s liquor store.

Now not that there is any underhanded activity happening in Illinois, but we know there are retailers that sell to minors in their stores, it is a safe bet that these retailers will deliver alcohol to minors

Let’s juxtapose this to licensed DTC shipping, which most often is delivered to the customer through a common carrier, which is usually FedEx or UPS. These carriers have a lot at stake, if they are not following the rules, they can become sanctioned by the states and lose their license to do business.

Their employees are trained at positively age verifying the recipients and often times there is a requirement that adult signature is required.

The comparison between in-state retailer delivery and delivery via common carrier, demonstrates one thing, WSWA is right there are more safeguards for one method over the other.

Problematically, WSWA just picked the wrong method of delivery to justify their conclusion.

Closing hypothetical

But before closing up shop on this post, I want to draw a hypothetical for all the mothers out there.

Would you be worried about a situation where your teenager could get alcohol deliveries delivered by an 18-year-old friend, who could deliver without having to provide proof to the authorities of who he or she delivered to? Or would you rather have safeguards in place of a driver usually over the age of 21, who is well paid and well trained at their job, and needs to record the transaction with the person he handed the product to, and could get fired from this well-paying job if they sell to minors?

If you asked mothers across the country, I am sure they would prefer the safeguards for the latter method.

But again, this demonstrates the peculiar conclusions of WSWA that seem to reach an opposite conclusion, and seem to demonstrate what WSWA’s goal really is, which is to make the bias seem scientific.