A CONVENIENCE store owner has been cautioned for selling fake booze.
The Village Stores in High Street Shoebury was reported to Southend Council in the summer by a customer who paid £6 for what he thought was a bottle of Jacobs Creek wine. His wife took one sip however and spat it out as it tasted vile and the couple took the bottle to trading standards.
Following an investigation the wine was found to be fake and two more bottles from the store were seized but the owner believes she may have been duped by a supplier.
Mrs Holden, who declined to give her first name, said: “I have no idea how they got there. They didn’t have a price sticker on them, just hand written prices. Either someone has a grudge against me and put them on my shelf or maybe they switched a couple of bottles in the delivery.
“Trading standards asked me to sign a caution and I signed it in good faith but I don’t know how those bottles got on the shelf.”
The customer who bought the wine asked not to be named. He said: “I wouldn’t normally buy wine from a corner store but we had friends round and had run out of wine. I couldn’t drive as I had already had a glass or two so I took a chance on the corner shop.
“I thought I would be alright with a well known brand but I poured a glass for my wife and she took a sip and actually spat it out. She said it was disgusting, sickly sweet, like sugar water and nothing remotely like wine. Luckily we tried it before we gave it to our guests.”
The Shoebury resident checked the label and discovering Australia had been spelt Australin.
Carl Robinson, Southend Council’s Head of Regulatory Services, said: “We received a complaint from a member of the public who purchased Jacob’s Creek wine from this store, but became suspicious after tasting it.
“We sent it for further examination, and the manufacturer confirmed that it was a counterfeit product. On visiting the store we found another two counterfeit bottles which we seized, and we launched a full investigation.”
Mr Robinson added: “In view of the small quantity involved, and the fact that the owner of the premises had no previous offences recorded against them, we have dealt with this matter by way of a formal caution.
“This is an official caution which can be cited in court – much like a police caution in the magistrates’ court.”
A spokesperson for HM Revenue and Customs said: “The majority of illicit alcohol is sold to the consumer through licensed premises - usually independently owned or franchised, and principally in the off trade.
“Many fraudsters are able to infiltrate wholesale suppliers so that retailers may be unaware that their stock is illicit.”
These are points the organisation warns consumers and retailers to look out for:
Too low a price – the duty and vat (20%) on a 70cl Bottle of 37.5% vodka is £7.50 and for a 70cl Bottle of 40% whisky is £7.99. If you paid less than this the spirits are suspect.
*Bottles of spirits should be lot coded so they can be traced in the event of a recall. Lot codes can be ink-jet printed onto a label or the bottle, or the code may be laser etched into the glass. Counterfeit spirits are often not lot coded.
*Counterfeit labels are often poorly printed, common mistakes are spelling errors, print misalignment of colour logos and feint printing.
*Genuine spirits should be labelled with a name and address. For EU manufactured products this could be as simple as a name and post code. Products with no name and address are suspect.
*Counterfeit labels may be stuck on crooked or creased.
Anyone with information relating to this type of crime should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000
Anyone with information relating to this type of crime should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 and help us to stamp it out.