A lesson in the dangers of complacency

Never say your life is boring…it likely won’t be for long. Case in point:

December 20, 2011

Tastings Import Company
910 W. Van Buren Street, Suite 5000
Chicago, IL 60607-3557

Dear Sirs:

Please find enclosed a copy of the $5 rebate check for Funky Llama wine that you sent to me on 12/2/2011 and that I then cashed. Big mistake. Not only was the check returned by the bank, which charged my account the $5, it also charged me $12 for a returned check.

I tried to contact your company at 312-226-9438, only to find a recording that told me to call another number (847-733-7173) that is now disconnected.

I now have little hope of recouping my $17, but if an actual person receives this letter, why in God’s name did you even send the $5 check at all, months after I submitted the rebate information? Just like to mess with people during the holidays, do you?

I hope I am the only person dumb enough to painstakingly remove and send in a half-dozen wine labels to get a lousy $5 rebate that ended up costing me much more. On the other hand, how ironic, as I will need to drink a bottle or two of wine to relieve the absurdity of this situation.

Thanks a million — or at least $17.


I made three calls to the bank trying to understand what had happened. It was made more puzzling by the fact that although I cashed the check, the bank arbitrarily charged my mother’s checking account, which I have my name on and handle for her, the $5 and $12 fees. (Ummmm, sorry Mom?) Actually, the $12 fee took a few days to appear, and the bank then earned my sincere gratitude for waiving the fee after I called for the third time and asked if there was anything they could do, under the circumstances. So, thank you for that, PNC Bank! I do appreciate it!

As for the rest of it…seriously. Have you had anything this absurd happen to you? Coincidentally, I have a $3 rebate check in my purse for something totally different that I am now afraid to cash. So much for pinching pennies. But I do think I’m going to go drink a glass of wine — just not Funky Llama.

If you wish to keep your affairs secret, drink no wine.
~ Author unknown


  1. facie said,

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Grr! I hope you get a reply from those jagoffs. I almost never do rebates–too much work. My laziness feels somewhat vindicated by your post, though! 🙂

  2. robbie said,

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Did you try contacting the Funky winery directly? Or the liquor store? It shouldn’t promote rebates if they’re bogus! I’ve never heard of a bad rebate check. We recently received an $800.00 rebate check at work for software – no problems thank goodness!

  3. Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Oh Chris! How funny, I just posted today about a bizarro charge via Macy’s. Weird things afoot!

  4. j traf said,

    Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 8:20 am

    You have company – I had the same thing happen to me…and my sister, we both mailed that rebate in…hope someone out there can tell us how to get in touch with them.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Monday, December 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Well, I’m kind of glad I’m not the only one, but sorry you got stuck too! I sent that letter…

      • j traf said,

        Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 8:16 am

        Hve you gotten a reply to your letter or was it returned? I called the bank it was wriiten from – MB Financial Bank at 888-422-6562, but they gave me no information. I also called the store I bought the wine at – they suggested reporting to the Better Business Bureau. I have considered going to the post office to see if it’s againt the law – maybe interstate mail fraud or something. But I wanted to see if they responded to your letter…if they send another check, is it worth the risk of it bouncing again?

  5. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 8:52 am

    j traf — I haven’t gotten a reply or a return, but it’s been less than a week since I mailed the letter. I thought the same thing about it possibly bouncing again if they sent another check. This has turned out to be a lot of stress for a lousy $5.00 rebate. (And, by the way, the extreme hassle of trying to get the darn labels off the wine bottle in the first place!)

  6. Flowerman said,

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Happened to us too. Same check date. My check was for $24….you how many labels THAT is?? I also got charged a $12 returned check fee. My bank is Bank of America so I doubt they will do anything for me, but I will try.

    Not sure where else to go with this situation, maybe my state’s Attorney General or Funky Llama. As a matter of fact I was trying to get some Funky Llama corporate info on Google when I came across your letter.

    I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks, Flowerman. I can imagine how much fun you had getting all those labels off only to have this happen.

  7. BabinPA said,

    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    You all are not alone. I was ripped off by the same scam. My bank (Citizen’s Bank) charged me $20! I found Anne and Charles Laverick’s home number. It is 847-491-0648. They are the owners of the company and the writers of the checks. They don’t answer that number either but I have left them messages. I doubt the crooks will call back! I don’t know how to reach Funky Llama directly either. My guess is they submitted to the vineyard for the rebates and ran off with the money.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks for letting me know. What a scam! I wonder how to get “the authorities” involved — whoever they might be. This is crazy.

      • BabinPA said,

        Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        After reading your note and realizing I was not alone, I reached out to the PLCB (as I am in Pennsylvania) via email at RA-LBConsumer@pa.gov. They emailed back saying they have an investigation under way. They added my name to the list of complaintants.

  8. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you again! I will add my own name to that list.

  9. BabinPA said,

    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Good News! I heard back promptly from the new importer. He is working with the PLCB to right the situation of all who were wronged.
    You can contact him directly at melcline2@msn.com. His name is Mel Cline and his company is Majestic Wine and Spirit. Mel seems like he is saddened by our mutual experience and hopes we will continue to enjoy Funky Llama!! Cheers!!

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Great! Way to be a smart consumer! And thanks for sharing the results of your efforts. (This calls for a glass of wine!)

  10. j traf said,

    Friday, February 3, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Thanks Babin – I emailed Mr. Cline and he responded very quikly – maybe we’ll get checks soon. I hope the PLCB or Majestic go after The Tastings Import Company – they really shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this. I just filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, I report their response.

  11. WritingbyEar said,

    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you all commenters! With your assistance, I received a $5 rebate check yesterday from the new importer, Allied Beverage Group, L.L.C. And a big thank you to Allied Beverage for righting a wrong they had no hand in creating. Very much appreciated!

  12. BabinPA said,

    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Glad to hear. I got my $25 check yesterday as well. So happy that there are still honorable people in the world! Closing the book on this chapter with a restored sense of faith. Cheers!

  13. Gloria R. Hamilton said,

    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Funky Llama was a trademark of the Tastings Import Company. Curious, isn’t it, that Tastings Import Company sent out all those bouncing checks right before they filed for bankruptcy, on Jan 4, 2012.

    I just got an unexpected, and much appreciated, rebate check from Allied Beverage Group, L.L.C., too. It came with a very apologetic letter. Cheers indeed!

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