About our business

helloLCBO

helloLCBO is the first-point of contact for internal and external LCBO customers seeking customer service and support. helloLCBO supports several channels of communication by phone, fax, email, live chat and our multi-channel support portal helloLCBO.com

In 2013-14, helloLCBO staff assisted with 140,000 customer interactions through our various business channels. In addition, helloLCBO.com has over 500,000 customer visits annually.  Go to www.hellolcbo.com.

VINTAGES

VINTAGES (www.vintages.com) is the fine wine and premium spirits business unit of the LCBO. Our experts shop the world for fine wine and premium spirits of exceptional value, inviting you to discover our latest through an ever-changing product assortment. This year, VINTAGES will introduce over 5,000 new and unique products through the LCBO’s store network plus hundreds more through our Classics Collection, Bordeaux Futures, Special Events, vintagesLatest Offers and Shop Online program. VINTAGES hosts more than 30 events annually for collectors and oenophiles. Full program and event information are available at www.vintages.com.

Return Policy

Customers may return any product that is in saleable condition to any LCBO store within 30 days of the purchase provided it is accompanied by the original receipt.

“Saleable” means that the product must be unopened, the label and seal must be intact, it’s clean, there is no damage or signs of tampering, and that the product is in a container that appears to be original and authentic.

All product returns require a customer’s name, address, postal code, telephone number and the customer’s signature, and customers are asked for identification (i.e. a driver’s licence) to verify the information given. This information is used to minimize fraudulent transactions and ensure product quality standards are not at risk.

Private ordering

The Private Ordering department of the LCBO responds to requests from our customers to import products from around the world that are not available in LCBO stores. We source the product and provide the customer with cost and delivery information. For certain brands we also verify whether or not the supplier has a local representative who promotes the brand as part of their portfolio. Once an order is placed, the import process may take up to six months depending on the product's point of origin.  See private ordering FAQs.

Pricing policy

In setting retail prices for the products it sells, the LCBO strives to balance several key elements of its mandate.

  • Promoting social responsibility in the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol
  • Providing excellent customer service, including offering customers a broad product selection and value at all price points
  • Generating maximum profit to fund government programs and priorities.

The LCBO also ensures that it meets the legislated requirements under the Liquor Control Act concerning minimum price and uniform price. (Minimum prices are the lowest prices that products can be sold and uniform price requires the price for a particular product to be the same throughout the province)

To achieve this necessary balance among the key elements of its mandate, and to meet public sector standards of openness, fairness and transparency when it buys products for resale, the LCBO uses a standard mark-up pricing structure. Mark-ups vary by product category (among beer, wine, fortified wine, spirits, liqueurs for example) and there is an additional charge on imports to cover supplementary costs associated with those products, but otherwise the mark-up is consistent for all products. For example, all domestic whiskies are marked up at the same rate and all imported whiskies are marked up at the same rate.

This standard mark-up pricing structure, established by the LCBO in consultation with the Ministry of Finance many years ago, allows suppliers to be confident that the LCBO provides fair and equitable treatment to its business partners.

As a result of the LCBO’s fixed mark-up structure, when LCBO buyers and suppliers discuss possible purchases, they focus on the product’s final retail price. The payment to the supplier for the products follows automatically from the application of the fixed mark-ups and other elements of the pricing structure (for example, freight costs and currency exchange rates if the purchase is in a foreign currency). As part of the agreement to purchase, the supplier must provide the final quote or cost to the LCBO, usually per case.

While the quote is derived from the agreed-upon retail selling price, suppliers occasionally make mistakes in the quote price due to changes in freight or currency rates or as a result of calculation errors. The LCBO’s practice had been to ask suppliers to correct any errors. Beginning in 2012, when suppliers provide a quote that is lower than that required to meet the agreed-upon retail price, the LCBO accepts the lower price. This encourages suppliers to be diligent in providing accurate quotes. If the price quoted is higher than that required to meet the agreed-upon retail price, the supplier is asked to provide a lower quote.

LCBO buyers make every effort to get the best products in each price band, whether for sub-$10 wines, or super-premium spirits. They review more than 50,000 submissions annually and negotiate with suppliers to make the best of these products available at good prices. The LCBO is an attractive customer for manufacturers and there is fierce competition for listings. As a result, suppliers frequently submit products to the LCBO at prices lower than those charged to other jurisdictions.

The LCBO’s social responsibility mandate means that pricing strategies practiced by some private sector retailers or retailers not selling beverage alcohol products are not appropriate to the LCBO. For example, private retailers sometimes choose to offer some products at below cost or at a much reduced mark-up as “loss leaders” to attract customer traffic. This strategy would be inconsistent with the LCBO’s mandate to promote socially responsibility in the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol.

For more detailed information on LCBO pricing, see the LCBO Customer Service portion of the website: www.hellolcbo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/570/kw/pricing

FOOD & DRINK

FOOD & DRINK is the LCBO’s own lifestyle magazine which is distributed free of charge through its entire store network six times a year: Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Autumn and Holiday.

The food section features recipes that interpret today’s food trends for busy lives, balancing taste with simplicity, and using readily available ingredients. Menus are found mostly in the feature section, while department articles often take an in-depth look at specific food products and styles. A regular element of the food section, Food Flavours, profiles a particular food, providing background and a variety of recipes.

The drink section helps readers develop their knowledge and increase their confidence when buying, serving and enjoying beverage alcohol. Articles take an accessible approach to beverage alcohol education providing relevant facts, entertaining tips, drink trends and responsible-hosting knowledge. In addition to regular columns on wines, spirits and beer, Drink Matchmaker demystifies matching beverage alcohol to food. foodanddrink.ca

Agency stores

Agency stores operate in established local retail businesses, in partnership with the LCBO, to provide cost effective, convenient access to beverage alcohol products for rural consumers in a socially responsible manner. The LCBO has authorized 217 agency stores throughout Ontario which were selected through a competitive public tender process.

Agency stores select their products based on local customer demand and in collaboration with their supplying LCBO store. Operators are encouraged to work with the supplying LCBO store manager to determine what products they should offer at various times during the year, in part based on LCBO consumer research.

LCBO provides its agency stores with signage to assist in promoting Ontario-produced products. Agency stores are required to sell according to the LCBO’s Challenge & Refusal policy to ensure that alcohol is not sold to minors or intoxicated person.

The Agency Store Program also brings additional revenue to host communities and helps support their overall business base.

For further information please visit www.doingbusinesswithlcbo.com/sdre/AgencyStores/GeneralProgramInformation.shtml