FTC: Direct Wine Sales Pose No Problems

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An end to state bans on direct sales of wine could save consumers as much as 21 percent on wine purchases, according to a Federal Trade Commission report released last week.

"E-commerce can offer consumers lower prices, greater choices and increased convenience," FTC chairman Timothy J. Muris said. "In wine and other markets, however, anti-competitive barriers to e-commerce are depriving consumers of those benefits."

More than half of states prohibit or severely restrict out-of-state suppliers from shipping wine to consumers, but many of these same states allow direct shipping from in-state wineries and retailers.

States that permit interstate direct shipping generally report few or no problems with shipments to minors, the report said. Some states have applied safeguards to online sales similar to those applied to bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as requirements that package delivery companies obtain an adult signature at the time of delivery.

States also have developed penalty and enforcement systems to provide incentives for both out-of-state suppliers and package delivery companies to comply with the law.

Finally, the report found that several states allowing interstate direct shipping also collect taxes from those shipments and that most of those states report few problems.

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