This Code of Practice has been devised in mutual recognition that each Member company has its own traditions, culture and approach to ‘distance selling’, both in the satisfaction of existing customer requirements and the expansion of their business by new-customer recruitment, and that no Member company is likely to wish to jeopardise their business and reputation by offending their existing and prospective customer base through unethical business practice.

It goes without saying, therefore, that each Member undertakes to offer for sale only those wines and spirits of sound, merchantable quality, using a specialised and, wherever possible, a personal service which makes worthwhile the unavoidable wait for delivery. Aspects of this service may include free advice of the kind not always available at self-selection retail outlets; the provision of a range of wines which is likely to be less widely available elsewhere; and, because of Members’ knowledge and long-established commercial relationships with producers, the opportunity for customers to purchase rare or maturing wines and vintages ‘en primeur’.

Adherence to the International Wine Clubs Association Code of Practice also commits each Member to working within the laws and statutory codes of practice under which the regulatory bodies of the direct marketing and advertising industry have agreed to co-operate with national governments in the regulation of consumer-friendly trading practices, and the acquisition, processing and utilisation of personal data for marketing products and services to the consumer. For this reason the Code of Practice is based upon various national requirements, especially those specified within the European Union and the Codes of Practice published by advertising standards authorities which are being designed to safeguard consumers and to promote and enhance the effectiveness of self regulation.

In cross border advertising and trading where for practical reasons the consumer has less protection, Members of the Association will endeavour to provide their customers with particularly fair dealing, bearing in mind and fully taking into consideration the habits, mentality and sensitivity of the public they are addressing.

‘Distance Selling’

For the purposes of this code ‘distance selling’ includes any purchasing transaction that takes place without the physical presence of the seller and the customer. It includes transactions carried out by mail, fax, Internet, interactive TV, mobile telephone or conventional telephone.


B. 1. Conformity of goods to description All wines despatched in response to orders received should conform with the description given in all advertising material, including customer newsletters and all recruitment media. Wines which are faulty, out of condition or of poor quality will therefore never knowingly be sold as of sound quality. In the absence of an unconditional guarantee by the Member to replace or refund any purchase which is not to the customer’s satisfaction, substitutes will only be supplied with the express permission of the customer, or where published Conditions of Sale indicate that substitutes may be made to fulfil or complete an order.

B. 2. Member’s address Mail order offers and direct response advertisements (customer recruitment) will clearly state in the body of the advertisement (i.e. in a place other than the coupon) the name of the company making the offer, and the address and telephone number at which it may readily be contacted by customers or respondents during normal business hours. In the case of joint promotions, this need not necessarily be the name of the wine partners, but of the partner taking responsibility for the partnership’s fulfilment of its obligations to customers and respondents.

This requirement does not prevent an advertiser from stating also in his advertisement another address to which consumers are to send their orders, and this address may be in the form of a Box Number or Freepost Number.

B. 3. Mailing and Packaging Members will carefully consider goods and their packaging in relation to the fact that children often have access to packages delivered to the home.

B. 4. Cash with order Members are under an obligation to return all money paid in advance by the customer, either by cash refund or by any other means agreed with the customer.

i) When attention is drawn to the benefit of a money back or replacement guarantee (however expressed) and no limit is placed in the advertisement upon the period during which such a guarantee is to be effective. In such a case the Member should be prepared to make a refund at any reasonable time, having regard to the nature of the product.

ii) When the customer expresses a wish to be reimbursed because of delay beyond 28 days (see 5(i) below) in the fulfilment of the order.

iii) When, for whatever reason, the product received by the customer does not conform to the Member’s description, or the Member is in breach of any published terms of business. In such cases the customer will not be expected to bear the cost of return postage or carriage.

All refunds or credits which the Member is required to make will be made promptly upon the customer’s request.

B. 5. Fulfilment of orders

i) All mail order offers and customer recruitment advertising will indicate the period within which the Member undertakes to fulfil orders. This period should not be greater than 28 days, except obviously, when wines ‘en primeur’ are offered for delivery at a mutually agreed later date. The terms of such offers will be made clear to customers.

ii) If it becomes clear that an order cannot be fulfilled within the period stated in the offer, the Member will offer, with the customer’s permission, a substitute of at least equal value, or offer a refund. If the customer then elects to wait, he/she should be given a firm date for despatch.

B. 6. Customers’ rights of cancellation

Customers will have the right to cancel their orders at any time prior to shipment. In such cases cancellations must be notified to the Member in writing, by except in the case of bespoke items or goods sold ‘en primeur or on a ‘futures’ basis, telecommunications or via email at least 24 hours prior to the shipment date.

i) European Union transactions.

Members operating within the European Union operate under the Distance selling Directive (97/7/EU) as implemented in member states via regulations. This Directive gives customers the right to cancel any order within 7 days of physical delivery and receive a full refund of the original selling price including delivery charges.

In these cases the customer must inform the Member of the cancellation and return the goods to the Member untouched, in their original packaging and at their own expense.

Members transacting distance selling business within the EU will operate within this Directive and may, at their own discretion, extend these cancellation rights by, for example, extending the right beyond 7 days or by meeting some or all of the expense of returning the goods.


The Code of Practice in this section applies to mailing list and databases used to market Members’ products and services. With regard to the obtaining and/or compilation of data, processing, management, utilisation and accuracy of lists containing personal information and individuals, Members will conform with any relevant data protection principles set out in national and international legislation. It is important that Members should obtain fairly personal information, and that personal data should be fairly processed and held in accordance with the principles.

C. 1. General Rules

i) Members will take all reasonable steps to ensure that their lists are accurate and up-to-date, that they avoid duplication of mailings to the same name and address, and that prompt action is taken, upon customer request, to correct personal information.

ii) All Members should be able to identify those individuals on their mailing list who have objected to them regarding the use of their data. Members who make their lists available to third parties should be able to identify individuals who have objected to their personal information being used in such a way, or who have not been given an opportunity to object.

iii) Members who rent their lists to third parties will satisfy themselves that the use to which their list is put, and any literature used in the promotion, conforms to national and international data protection laws and codes of practice.

iv) Members holding databases and/or using rented-in lists will respond promptly to requests from individuals for suppression of any of their personal information.

v) Requests made by individuals to receive no further promotional mailings from a Member company will meet with immediate compliance.

vi) Members will maintain records which permit official requests from the appropriate data protection authority for the source of mailing lists to be identified, in order that such information can be supplied promptly on request.

vii) Personal information will at all times be held securely and safeguarded against unauthorised use, disclosure, alteration or destruction.

C. 2. Obtaining Personal Data

i) The Member or the data user (if they are different) should ensure that the general purpose for which personal information, including an individual’s name and address is being supplied should be transparently clear at the time that such a request is made. The notification should also identify the data user of any significantly different use for which the personal information might be used, and any intended disclosure to other companies including those associated with or forming part of the same group, where such a relationship is either not obvious or not generally known.

ii) The extent to which an individual can be expected to recognise associations which exist, for example, between Member companies within the same group, should be considered carefully before personal information is used by the group as a whole.

iii) Members obtaining personal information through direct response advertisements and direct mail may use such information to make follow-up offers, except where specifically excluded by a subsequent suppression request.

iv) When it is proposed to use personal information for a purpose significantly different from that for which it was originally collected, the individuals should be informed by the Member and given an opportunity to object. A period of not less than thirty days should be allowed for such objections before personal information is used or disclosed for a purpose significantly different from that originally intended. v) Members using and supplying lists are responsible for ensuring that the lists they use or make available do not include individuals who have objected to the use of their names.

vi) Members should take particular care in using sensitive personal data (including race, political opinions, religious and other beliefs, physical and mental health, specific salaries and investments, sexual orientation and criminal convictions) so as to avoid causing offence or harm to individuals. They should also, where appropriate, seek the prior permission of individuals to the use of sensitive personal data.

vii) Published personal information which falls within the public domain can be used without informing the individuals concerned in advance, provided that such information is not used if the individuals are listed on the Suppression File.

C. 3. Mailing List Maintenance

i) Notification of the death of an individual held on a Member’s mailing list should be acted upon as soon as possible to stop all future mailings. The list user should also, in appropriate cases, promptly refer the notifier of the death to the appropriate mailing control service.

C. 4. Mailing List Rented-In

i) Members renting lists should use their best endeavours to ensure that the category of individuals is not inappropriate to the product or service on offer, particularly where there are specific criteria (e.g. age or income) which must be satisfied.

ii) In order to ensure that rented lists contain the latest corrections and suppressions, the interval between the date of supply of the list and the date of mailings should preferably be no longer than three months, but should not exceed six months unless suppressions and/or corrections have been incorporated.

iii) If individuals included on a list request the list user to refrain from further mailings, their names should be suppressed from that and, if possible, any subsequent lists rented-in.

iv) If individuals included on a rented list request corrections to inaccuracies in their personal data, the Member should inform the list owner within sixty days.

C. 5. Mailing Lists Rented-Out

i) Members renting out their lists should ensure that prospective list users:

a) give an assurance to observe the requirements of the data protection codes, both in their general and specific rules.

b) satisfy them that the form and content of the intended mailing conforms with the general requirements of the principles.

c) either return the list to the supplier or incorporate suppressions and/or corrections, if the distribution of the mailing is delayed by more than six months.

d) pass back to them all requests for corrections to an individual’s data within sixty days.

ii) Members and their list brokers should ensure that any consumer list offered for rental will not be used unless it is run against the Suppression File.

iii) Members should hold records to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the principles with regard to list rental, and make these available, upon request, to the authorities controlling advertising and data protection standards in the countries with which they trade.


The Code’s rules apply to:

  • advertisements in newspapers, magazines and other printed publications;
  • advertisements on viewdata and Internet services; and to
  • advertising material such as brochures and leaflets, whether these are mailed or delivered directly, or reach their public as inserts in newspapers or other publications, through distribution in shops or at exhibitions, or in other ways.

Members agree to adhere to their national Code of Advertising practice rules on the advertising of Alcoholic Drinks, viz that in appealing to those who buy and enjoy alcohol in moderation, advertisements avoid anything that can reasonably be seen as likely to lead to the adoption of styles of drinking that are unwise for the drinkers or a source of social and medical problems for the community. These rules are similar across most countries and normally include:

D. 1. Socially Responsible Advertisements should be socially responsible and should not encourage excessive drinking. In particular, they should not exploit the young, the immature, or those with mental or social incapacities.

D. 2 Under 18’s Advertisements should not be directed at people under the age at which it is legal for them to purchase alcoholic beverages whether by selection of the medium or context in which they appear, or by reason of their content or style of presentation.

D. 3. Appealing to the Young No advertisement should feature any characters, real or fictitious, who are likely, whether because of their apparent youth or otherwise, to attract the particular attention or admiration of people under 18 and thereby, in any way, to encourage them to drink.

D. 4. Young People in Advertising People under the age of 18 should not appear in advertisements except when their presence would be neither illegal or unusual; for example, as participants in such events as family celebrations. When they are so shown, it should always be obvious that they are not drinking.

D. 5. Adults Shown Drinking People shown drinking in advertisements should always clearly be adults; and to ensure that this impression is created, advertisers should not engage as models people under 25, or people who look as they may be under 25, if these people are to be shown in any advertisement either drinking or about to drink.

D. 6. Image of Alcohol Advertisements should not suggest that drinking, or the choice of a particular drink, leads to social acceptance or popularity; or that alcohol is the main reason for the success of any event or occasion.

D. 7. Alcohol and Particular Occasions It is legitimate to promote the consumption of particular drinks on particular occasions, or under particular circumstances (for example, Champagne at celebrations), but if this is done, the advertiser must take care not to allow the implication to be drawn that the choice of a given drink is anything more than an evidence of good taste of the drinker – that, for example, it can make him or her better liked or more successful than those who do not drink, or who drink something else.

D. 8. Alcohol and Aggression No advertisement should be capable of being understood as a challenge to people to drink. In particular, suggestions that drinking is an essential attribute of masculinity should be avoided, as should anything which suggests that the brave, the tough and the daring owe these characteristics to their drinking. No advertisement for a drink should depict or refer to it in the context of aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

D. 9. Sexual Attraction No advertisement should suggest that the femininity or attractiveness of women is enhanced by drinking or by the choice of a particular drink.

D. 10. Immoderate Drinking Advertisements should not suggest that immoderate drinking, however portrayed, is sensible, admirable or amusing. Particular care requires to be taken with advertisements for sales promotions, which require multiple purchases.

D. 11. Drink and Personal Relationships Advertisements should avoid any implication, particularly when showing men and women together, that alcohol generally, or a particular drink, offer the key to success in personal relationships of any kind, or that it can make drinkers more attractive or successful in such relationships than non-drinkers, or those who drink something else.

D. 12. Drink and Sport Advertisements for drink should not suggest the enhancement of mental ability or physical capacity. In any advertisement which features sportsmen, particular care is required to avoid the implication being drawn that their performance, or success, is related to their alcohol consumption.

D. 13. Therapeutic Properties Advertisements should not suggest that drink has therapeutic properties or that it can resolve personal problems; in particular that it is acceptable to use it as a means of removing inhibitions, resolving tension or soothing agitation. It should not suggest that regular solitary drinking is advisable though it is permissible to draw attention to the fact that regular moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial to the health prognosis of middle – aged people as this has been shown by independent research.

D. 14. Thirst and Alcohol It is legitimate to base an advertisement upon the ability of an alcoholic drink to slake the drinker’s thirst.

D. 15. Alcohol and Safety Advertisements should not depict activities or locations in connection with which the consumption of any drink whatever would be unsafe or unwise. Particular care requires to be taken with advertisements which depict powered vehicles of any kind and especially motor cars.


Members of The International Wine Clubs Association are particularly committed to the education of wine consumers in the appreciation and enjoyment of wine and the lifestyle associated with it. Its members are committed to act responsibly in this area.

  1. Accuracy of Information The accuracy of information contained in wine lists and promotional material will be subjected to regular checks. Vintages, nomenclatures, descriptions of grape varieties and wine names will be accurate and conform to the information contained on the final bottle received by the consumer.
  2. Tasting Notes Members will make available to their customers tasting notes on all the wines they sell. This may be by request but wherever possible price lists and promotional material will contain text faithfully describing the wine being offered.


The increasing use of telemarketing and Internet sales based on credit card details makes it necessary for members to be able, where necessary, to give positive reassurance to customers that their transactions are secure. To this end Members will:

i) Provide easy to use, secure, payment mechanisms, and will give clear information on the level of security such mechanisms afford.

ii) Ensure that a security policy for their systems has been developed and reviewed

iii) Identify an individual who is responsible for the security of the Company’s systems. His/her responsibilities should include:

iv) Scheduled reviews of the security system

v) Ensuring that changes to the system (including maintenance and disposal of component parts of the software and hardware) are made in a secure manner

vi) Ensuring that security-critical changes recommended by the supplier of the system or any of its components are made in a secure and timely manner.

vii) Assure the integrity and confidentiality of transactions, and information about such transactions, whether stored in computers or in transit across networks and against both internal and external threats and abuse.

viii) Ensure that contracted third parties involved in the fulfillment of a transaction maintain an equivalent level of security in respect of transactions and information about such transactions.

ix) Ensure that any contracting third party operating part of the service, operates in accordance with the requirements of the code.