Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lot 18 layoffs: The Corrections

After posting last week about layoffs at the wine sales site Lot 18, I got an email from Lot 18 Editorial Director Eric Arnold, who was surprised to learn that I wrote that the editorial department had been eliminated, since he's, well, you see the title.

I invited Eric to write a response to the post, but he wrote back, "Writing a response isn't really my interest; supplying you with accurate details is. You've posted blatantly inaccurate information without checking anything. I don't want to write a response in the comments that points a finger at you for not doing your homework, since it makes me look pissy and you sloppy. That's why I'm only asking that you make corrections to your post."

Well, I'll go one better: I'll write a whole NEW post. While I did check a lot of facts in the first post (I knew little about Lot 18 beforehand), obviously I got wrong a very key point, which I heard from an unnamed source. I apologize to my readers for it, and to Eric Arnold, who must have worried that he was going to go into work Monday and see a man from security at his desk. I'm glad that didn't happen.

Eric says by email that there were five fulltime paid staffers in the Lot 18 editorial department before the last round of layoffs, and that three are still there. One of them writes most of the site's marketing emails, disproving a point from my last paragraph. Let me state again that Lot 18 is still functioning despite closing down its food and travel sections.

Eric was miffed that I didn't point out that Lot 18 offers a deal on shipping if you order enough wine. And he wrote twice that, contrary to what I wrote, "there are no coupons on Lot 18." Instead, there are something called "expiring site credits." I asked him to clarify the difference, and he wrote:

Coupons / coupon codes are what you see posted on sites such as RetailMeNot.com. For example, "Enter the code BlakeGray at checkout for 25% off." Lot18 does not use coupons or coupon codes.  Expiring credits, also used by many e-commerce companies, are sometimes given to existing members (such as yourself), in an amount of, say, $20, deposited directly into their accounts. If the credits aren't used toward a purchase within a predetermined amount of time, they expire, and the credits are removed from the accounts.
Glad we could clear that up. Incidentally, I am not actually a "member" of Lot 18, but I wouldn't call that "blatantly inaccurate;" that would be pissy.

Unnamed sources, something I'll use on the blog but would not cite in a print publication, let me down twice last week. After I wrote the first post about Lot 18, I heard that the self-proclaimed Hosemaster of Wine, Ron Washam, had been laid off by the company. I saw that he had listed Lot 18 as a previous position on LinkedIn and sent a tweet about it.

I got the following email from Ron on Monday morning.

Hello Blake,

I saw your Tweet that said I was "laid off" by Lot18. You have no idea what you're talking about.

I worked as an independent contractor for Lot18 for nine months in 2011. I was never "employed" by them on any kind of full-time or part-time basis, I was paid a commission. I stopped working for them last December. I resigned, I was not let go. And they repeatedly asked me to stay on. The wines offered on the site the past six months with my name on them were wines I procured last year and were simply reoffers. I haven't been a part of the Lot18 team since December of last year.

If you'd wanted to know about my status with Lot18, you had only to ask. It's what journalists do.

Well, what journalists do is try to get the facts right, and when we don't, take our lumps in public. This is one of those times.

What journalists don't generally do is insult the same people over and over again and, when factual errors in their blog are pointed out to them, hide behind the excuse that it's parody and satire. That would be ... no, I already used that line.

So for all the people who were reading Twitter on Saturday night when they should have been watching the Giants/A's game, the matter of Ron Washam and Lot 18 is herein corrected. He left on his own, despite their pleas for him to stay. I regret the error.

Follow me (at your own risk) on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook; ah, don't do that today, I don't deserve it. Wait for a good day.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

take your lumps and move on ( without being pissy).

the moral of the story is: "Who Cares"?

Lot 18 is another of many online wine sellers. I don't wish them additional failure, but I don't personally care if they fail or succeed. I'm sure they're nice people, but why do they rate a story on your illustrious (ahem ) blog?

Unknown said...

Golly-gee willackers! Will that Ron ever hold down a paying gig? The wine store (in which he was a partner) that he sold some time ago is not THAT big, so he can't be living off the interest off that and royalties and residuals to writers are a pittance these days....

Cork Diaries said...

Actually quite amusing. Oh well, we all move on the every changing world of wine. Cheers, I think I will just have another glass of wine.