I have a favorite hot sauce ... well, a favorite hot sauce for a couple of things that I make (I'm also fond of Siracha, and a couple of others, but for different stuff) ... which is El Yucateco's "Kutbil-ik" "XXXtra hot" habanero sauce, which is purportedly made from an ancient Maya recipe.
I first discovered the El Yucateco sauces back when I used to go down to the Yucatan every year (it's been a LONG time - 20 years or so, sadly - since I've been there), as every little chicken stand out by the ruins would have a bottle of the bright green sauce out on the tables. As the years went by (and NAFTA took effect), line extensions appeared, and they showed up intermittently on the shelves of grocery stores up here. This led me to trying the "Kutbil-ik" sauce, which is awesome.
Due to being VERY hot (11,600 Scovilles), I end up using it fairly sparingly, so a 4oz bottle lasts several months, but I figured I'd have no problem getting it again, as a "gourmet" grocery store a few blocks away had 3-4 of the El Yucateco sauces on the shelf the last time I picked up a bottle. Well ... I was recently down to the dregs of a bottle and went to go get more ... and it was gone. Gone from the store I'd previously gotten it from, gone from two of their other locations, and gone from five other grocery chains I'd checked. GONE! When I was checking with a sixth chain (that I was unfamiliar with, but had been pointed to by a Twitter contact), they indicated that they used to have it, but it currently wasn't even in their computer, which suggested that the previous local distributor had stopped carrying the brand.
Now, this has a retail price of about $1.50 a bottle, when it's on the store shelves. So, when I went looking for it on-line, I was shocked to see it being listed for as much as $7.95 for the same little 4oz bottle! Nobody had it at reasonable rates. I eventually poked around and found the Amazon listing over there ===> for what is CLEARLY three bottles (note the per-bottle price break-out), plus $5.49 shipping. I figured that a total of $7.50 for three bottles was only a buck more each than what I'd be getting it for in the store, so I placed the order.
When I first ordered this, the vendor was listed as "unknown" ... I wonder if they have listings up that various vendors bid to fill, but it was obvious that the vendor in question thought they were selling ONE bottle of sauce ... which is what I got in the mail. I was very quick to point out to the seller (and Amazon) that the listing was as shown here, and that I would have never paid $5.45 to have one damn bottle of sauce shipped to me.
Fortunately, Amazon has what they call their "A-to-z Guarantee" deal on these sorts of orders, and they very quickly acted on this. I, obviously, did not want to ship back the one bottle of sauce, not did I really want to make the vendor double up on shipping costs to send me another 2 bottles, and instead told Amazon that I'd be OK if the vendor simply refunded the shipping charge. Amazon evidently figured that I was right and the seller was wrong, and they eventually simply refunded the cost of the whole order.
It does piss me off, though, that it's suddenly so hard/expensive to get the El Yucateco sauces here. What I guess I need to do is go find a Mexican grocery somewhere (that I can get to via public transportation, and preferably on one transfer), as I'm sure they have different distribution channels than whatever stopped carrying these for the "gringo" chains.
P.S.: This venting brought to you via NaBloPoMo ... I'm going to try to do this again for January ... so you're likely to be hearing a lot from me over the next few weeks!