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  • Aug 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I recently returned from Italy where I was very excited to explore the wineries, vineyards, and restaurants. I am a manager at Ladera Winery in the Napa Valley of California and I attended college at Cornell’s school of Hotel Administration. I have been working in the wine industry for many years. I did experience a serious issue in Italy that I am trying to resolve.

    Unfortunately a single experience has impacted my otherwise wonderful experience in Italy. I purchased and paid for some products at a shop in Venice. The owner promised to send it to me and did not. He simply sold me the product, and, instead of shipping it to me, as promised, kept it. The cost was $519.00 U.S. dollars—a lot of money to lose. I want to tell you the situation so that even if you cannot help me, then at least, you can warn other tourists to avoid his shop.

    My Visit to Osteria Enoteca/Rusteghi in Venice

    I visited the wine & spirits shop Osteria Enoteca I Rusteghi in Venice, Italy, on 3/16/2013 and purchased six bottles of spirits to be shipped to my work address in Angwin, California, costing $519.20 in US dollars. The owner assured me he would be able to ship the items without any difficulty and they should arrive in two weeks, around April 1st 2013. I did not receive it. I I called Giovanni, the owner of the shop to ask him why the packages hadn't arrived. He told me he was having difficulty shipping the items but would continue to attempt. He told me he shipped the package FedEx, but, he claimed, it was returned to him after being rejected by customs in California, at which point the package routed back through Milan and returned to the shop in Venice. This is the story he told me – story #1.

    Giovanni would not show evidence of sending the product UPS- he would not send me any tracking information even though I called him at the shop and asked him repeatedly to send me tracking numbers for proof of shipment. I called FedEx to ask if they had picked up any deliveries at the address of the Venice shop due to be delivered to either my work or my home address, but they had no record of any pickups at his address, nor any deliveries due to either of my addresses. I also called UPS and DHL with the same questions for good measure. It was obvious that Giovanni had taken advantage of me and had no intention of ever shipping the products from the outset.
    He simply sold the product, took my money and kept the product.

    I submitted a claim on 5/13/13 to the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PFC). They hold my Visa card-- the one I used to make the purchase.
    The Pentagon Federal Credit Union investigated my claim by talking to an Italian Bank who then spoke to Giovanni, owner of Osteria Enoteca. On July 29th, 2013 I received notice that Giovanni told a different story to the Italian Bank.

    Giovanni now claimed that I took the product with me at the time of purchase and that he no longer had any of the bottles in his possession. This is story # 2. This is not true - let me repeat - this is absolutely false. Here is what the merchant wrote to the bank, according to the document that was sent to me: "We inform you that he took goods away at time of transaction, we have no goods to be shipped!"

    As this is patently false, I called Giovanni at his shop the same day, Monday July 29th. Because I speak no Italian and his English is not very good, I found it difficult to get a straight answer out of him. He told story # 3: that the bottles had been returned and that he would try to ship them again. I asked him directly if the bottles were currently in the shop at that moment. He told me yes, the bottles are safe in his shop. This directly conflicts with what he told the bank. So, Giovanni has told three conflicting stories, still has the spirits and my money.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Aug 8, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      I'm sorry you had an unfortunate experience though I suspect no-one on VT will be able to help you. I am surprised that your card people have been so unhelpful...perhaps you should contact them again and inform them of the recent conversation you had with the shop owner?

      You might try posting an edited version of events on the VT Venice Travel Forum (use the 'Instant Answers' box directly above your comment), where far, far more people will see your post. Other US VT-ers may have ideas about what you might do to follow things up.