Policy: Customer Returns, Refusals, Cancellations of Special Orders, and Retail Pricing

To our valued licensee customers:

Today, many of you are opting to purchase beer, wine, and spirits from ABS retail stores as opposed to having product delivered directly from the warehouse to your place of business. These purchases are occurring at the same price you pay when buying directly from the warehouse and this practice has created several issues:

  • Licensees often request that our retail stores carry wine & spirits products for their convenience, so they can be purchased one bottle at a time through our stores instead of ordering full cases through the warehouse. As our retail stores are only permitted to purchase by-the-case from the warehouse (the same procedure that licensees must follow), this causes our stores to carry excess inventory for long periods of time without seeing a positive return.
  • Similarly, several of our retail stores have become mini-warehouses given their desire to accommodate as many special product requests from the licensee community as possible. This excess inventory is interfering with their efficient operations and negatively impacts our ability to serve your needs along with the needs of our retail consumers.
  • Some licensees are also choosing to make large purchases of beer on Friday evenings or before special holidays. These large beer purchases are not done in a consistent manner, making accurate forecasting nearly impossible; and, most retail stores are not large enough to accommodate additional beer inventory. As a result, out-of-stock situations frequently occur in our stores resulting in a negative impact on customer service for our retail consumers.
  • Approximately 10% of retail store sales come from licensee purchases, however, these purchases are occurring at the same price you pay when buying directly from the warehouse. Additional labor and handling costs incurred at the store level – receiving, picking licensee orders, etc. – are not being recouped.

For these reasons, the ABS is changing its pricing structure for licensee purchases at retail. Effective March 25, 2019 the following price changes will go into effect:

  • All beer purchased by a licensee through a Montgomery County ABS retail store will be
    1. 10%-off the retail shelf price, or
    2. The retail sale price, whichever is lowest
  • All wines and spirits purchased by a licensee through a Montgomery County ABS retail store will pay the wholesale price plus an $0.80 per bottle surcharge.

For example: assume a 30-pack of beer has a retail shelf price of $27.99 and is on sale this month for $23.99. Since $25.19 (10%-off the retail shelf price) is higher than $23.99 (retail sale price), that would make your price at retail $23.99 for this 30-pack of beer.
Another example: assume the wholesale cost of a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon is $10.69.

  • The price you will pay in our retail stores for one bottle of this wine will be $10.69 (wholesale cost) + $0.80 (bottle surcharge, one bottle), for a total of $11.49.
  • The price you will pay in our retail stores for two bottles of this wine will be $21.38 (wholesale cost) + $1.60 (bottle surcharge, two bottles), for a total of $22.98.

Please note, these changes only apply to purchases made at ABS retail stores; when ordering through the warehouse your cost will continue to be the wholesale price for beer, wine, and spirits.

This new policy ensures the County recovers the additional labor and handling costs caused by selling to licensees in our retail stores – yet, still offers you the convenience of purchasing small quantities of products when not ordering through the warehouse. This model is consistent with industry standards and many other jurisdictions throughout the U.S. follow this practice, either by adding a broken case charge through the warehouse or electing to charge a bottle fee in their retail stores.


Dear Valued ABS Customers:

We appreciate your business and support as we continue to improve our warehouse and delivery operations. In order for ABS to comply with Maryland Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Administrative Release No. AB-17, delivery polices were updated for: Customer Returns (return of product after delivery is completed), Customer Refusals (refusal of product at the time of delivery), and Cancellation of Special Orders. These policies became effective on Monday, June 18, 2018.

Customer Return Policy
Below are the guidelines for a licensee to return product after delivered and accepted by the licensee. The allowable reasons listed below are the only reasons a return will be accepted by the ABS.

Allowable reasons include: 

• Nonsalable product due to breakage, leakage, or deterioration only if identified at time of delivery.
• Varietal, vintage, bottle size, or label discrepancies between merchandise ordered and delivered, identified within 10 days of delivery date.
• No returns for overstock, slow movement, duplicate or erroneous ordering (whether ordered by the licensee or a sales representative on their behalf), or seasonal products that remain unsold at the end of the season.

Customer Refusal Policy
Below are the guidelines for a licensee to refuse product at the time of delivery. The allowable reasons listed below are the only reasons a refusal will be accepted by the ABS. Business Decisions will no longer be justification for a refusal.

Allowable reasons include: 

• Discrepancies between the merchandise ordered and merchandise delivered.
• Discrepancies between quantity ordered and quantity delivered.
• Nonsalable product due to breakage or leakage.
• For beer only, delivery date is within a reasonable amount of time before the manufacturer's expiration date (30 days for packaged product and 15 days for kegs).

Please note: no refusals will be allowed for lack of funds, overstock, duplicate orders, or erroneous orders (whether ordered by the licensee or a sales representative on their behalf). This policy applies to both stock and special order products.

Customer Special Order Cancellation Policy

Only allowable reason:

• Sales Orders placed by licensees or sales representatives for Special Orders that have not been sent for fulfillment to the wholesaler or manufacture may be cancelled. Please refer to iStore or call our Communication Center for the status of the order. If the sales order has reached the wholesaler or supplier for fulfillment, the order cannot be cancelled.

Return Policy for Class C One Day Events

Class C One Day event license holders may return only stock items that are full cases, unchilled and/or untapped kegs.  Partial cases, product that has been chilled, and/or special order items may not be returned.
All returns must be brought to the ABS Warehouse pick-up window following the next pick-up window opening day from the day of the event.  The pick-up window is located at 201 Edison Park Drive, Gaithersburg, MD 20872 and is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.