Don't shop for wine with teens... you might end up booze-free and ashamed

12 October 2009

Picture 144 If you’re buying booze in Morrisons and have an under-the-age-of-18 human with you, you might find yourself being asked to prove that they’re over the age of alcoholic consent – otherwise it’s ‘no booze for you!’

That’s what happened to management consultant Jackie Slater tried to buy some wine when she was shopping at a Morrisons in Leeds recently. Because she was with her 17-year-old daughter and 18-year-old niece, the two youngsters were asked to show ID. You know, in case Jackie was planning to ply the pair with drink once they were in the car park.

Jackie told The Observer: “[The checkout assistant] asked: 'Are they with you?' I said they'd come to help me carry the bags back to the car. The assistant said: 'You could be buying the wine for them. It's the policy – I have to see everyone's ID to make sure they are all over 18'."

As it turned out, Jackie’s daughter didn’t have any ID with her and so the booze had to go back on the shelf. Amazingly, Morrisons are proud of their ID policy. A spokesbloke said: "Under current licensing laws, stores are unable to sell an alcoholic product to a customer they believe could be buying for a minor or for someone who is unable to prove their age.”

This writer fell foul of Morrisons and their deranged quota laws last week when I tried to buy a bottle of kiddie medicine Calpol and a box of Calpol sachets for my teething one-year-old son. I was told by the cashier that I couldn’t have both and one of them would have to go back on the shelf.

Calpol, of course, contains a smaller than usual dose of Paracetamol and once I’d got home and done some sums I worked out that I’d need to neck five bottles of the stuff if I was planning to use it to do myself in. Mind you, it tastes nice so I can see how that might happen…

TOPICS:   Restaurants

60 comments

  • Graham S.
    I'm always amazed when I shop in Morrisons. Every time I go in they come up with a new age for selling alcohol. Last time I was in there they asked if I was over 25!! (I'm 22 so have been legally drinking for 4 years!) I just said yes anyway and carried on. When I do reach 25 I'll go in there and they'll start asking if I'm over 30! Where does it end?
  • Joff
    I hope everyone that's challenged like this refuses to play along by abandoning their shopping and walking out. There's an offy at the end of the road that'll serve you if you're under 18 as long as you say "it's for me Ma'".
  • Dave T.
    Morrisons are a bunch of twats. I had this happen to me when my 16 year old son was with me. He was packing stuff into bags. I told them to stuff it - manager came and told me it was 'policy' and would call police if I did noy pay - left the store - not been back since!
  • NobbyB
    The legal drinking age is 5 years old at home if supervised.
  • NobbyB
    DAVE T - you should tell him to call the police. If you do not remove goods from the store, you do not have to pay. Even if they have already put it through the till, they are still their items until paid for. I might go in their tonight with our one year old and see if I can buy alcohol. If they let me, I will complain, since they will be breaking their own policy.
  • Steven
    The real problem here is that there are parents that do buy drink for their kids and their kids mates. The law will prosecute the shop and the cashier if caught and the drink is proven to have come from that store. The shops fined and the cashier can sacked, fined and be taken to court. I don't really blame the stores or their staff, I blame the nanny state we live in, the law and the media tarring of ALL under 18s with the same brush.
  • Lee
    This isn't Morrisons specific at all. Every time my housemates and I go shopping together we all have to provide ID if it's one or all of us buying alcohol. Why should I need ID when my housemate is buying alcohol? How are they meant to know, or prove that i'm even with them???
  • Dave F.
    I always feel sorry for the staff in these situations. On the one hand, if a customer is dissatisfied then the employee gets it from them. On the other hand, if they do not follow strict company policy (ie ID everyone who looks below 25, which is a subjective judgement anyway) and one person underage gets served, the the employee can be disciplined by the company and fined by trading standards (up to £9k, IIRC). I can understand why a minimum wage-earning assistant is a little militant, if they can be penalised for a mistake which might not be their fault. The best thing to do, if you can be arsed, is to just leave all your shopping on the conveyor belt and exit the store. Why shop somewhere which does not let you buy their products?
  • Jenny
    The same thing happened to me in Tesco, my partner was buying alcohol and was asked to show his ID he did and then the cashier turned to me and asked if I had it too, even though he was the one buying it. Luckily I had it with me that day but I don't always carry it.
  • nonce
    once i went to morrisons and they didnt let me buy a gun. so i cried.
  • Rob
    I'm 29 and get this all the time if I'm with my wife and she happens to be paying. The best things to do are the following in order. 1. point out that you are closer to being double the age needed than the actual limit of 18. 2. Point out that it matters not how old you are anyway. 3. Point out what a 17 year old actually looks like 'there's usually a few on adjacent tills complete with acne' 4. Lastly point out that your age is infact exactly the same as their IQ, 29. I've had a few rows at Tesco over this one.
  • David T.
    I thought dictating based on assumptive perceptions belongs in a dictatorship, not a democracy. Who are they to judge you when buying alcohol??
  • Damo B.
    What is the lower age limit of the under 18 looky likey? I.e. I go shopping with my little girl aged 2 1/2 and buy the usual veg, fruit, meat, milk etc and I might pop in a bottle of wine or a few beers for the weekend. I haven't ever been asked for id, nor has my little one. Will they start asking when she looks like she is a teen or what? This is mad!
  • Damo B.
    Oh, and my 30 year old wife got asked for id when buying some scissors the other day, I think the age limit for that is 16, she was a bit p***ed off but chuffed at the same time. She still looks 30 to me.
  • Robert
    My local Tesco Express ask for ID if you look under 30! I thought it was a joke but it isn't.
  • gravy
    This is old news.... there's a long thread on MSE about people's problems with brain dead staff. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5990107/Disabled-shopper-forced-to-carry-wine-with-teeth.html - just one example
  • Dave B.
    The last time I was in Morrisons I saw a mother with a child who could not have been more than two years old. She was buying several bottles of wine and a bottle of Gin totally unchallenged. I was shocked and appalled at Morrisons lack of concern for the childs safety. The manger I alerted did not think there was the slightest problem so I left the store in disgust. I am dreading the day i find the infant lying drunk in the gutter with a half empty feeding bottle of spirit by its side.
  • Stuart
    Next time you want to buy alchohol, go to the checkout with the youngest looking operator, and when asked for I.D ask to see theirs.After all it is illegal to SELL alcohol if you are underage, and if 'company policy' dictates you should be I.D'd if you look under 25, it should work both ways.
  • Yakkity
    Try buying some Koppaberg ALCHOOL FREE Pear cider from Morrissons - they ALWAYS ask for ID! I (sadly) draw huge pleasure by retorting "Yes I do thanks, but I'm not going to show it you because I don't need to"
  • Yakkity
    *ALCOHOL
  • Alan
    @ Stuart: Contrary to popular belief someone under 18 can actually sell you alcohol however there supposed to ask someone over 18 to authorize the sale. I really cant believe some of the comments on here. The people are doing there job at the end of the day. If your all so up yourself that your so annoyed to have to carry a bit of plastic about in your wallet/purse then there must be something wrong with you. IMO they should have a system like America, everyone is required to show ID no matter there age. Forgot it? Tough! You'll soon learn to remember.
  • gravy
    @ Alan The people are doing their job.....badly. It's called common sense. Think 25 is a good idea but obviously some people could do with a bit of training.
  • Stuart
    This is all a Government plot to soften us up for the compulsory introduction of National I.D. cards.
  • Steve
    Quite simple... whenever you buy alcohol or medication, put it at the front of the conveyor. Then, if they refuse to sell it to you, simply walk out, leaving all the rest of your shopping. It will cause them a huge inconvenience, and if everyone does this, they will soon relax their draconian policies.
  • Steven
    Rob. You really are a big girl aren't you. Someone is doing their job, you happen to look like a little boy and then back it up by acting like one too. I also get ID'd every time I buy alcohol, cigarettes and even occasionally lottery tickets. My reaction? I show them my ID and continue as normal. I don't take it as a personal insult and I certainly don't start dishing them out to protect my fragile ego. What is it you do for a living? I'm always interested to know what people with your attitude actually do that makes them so out of touch with the rest of society.
  • Mike
    I had the same issue in Tesco. Was with the missus buying a bottle of wine with a weeks shop and I didn't have ID (I'm 22), she did though. Had the wine taken away. Was a little tempted to abandon all the shopping in protest forcing them to put it all back for us. The missus just went back and bought the wine while I packed the car. p.s. just spotted that "Steve" suggested the same idea above (great minds): "Quite simple… whenever you buy alcohol or medication, put it at the front of the conveyor. Then, if they refuse to sell it to you, simply walk out, leaving all the rest of your shopping. "
  • ElBuc
    Morrisons, their management and their rules are a big bunch of shit. I had a disagreement over their wanky policy and have not been back shopping since. I pity the staff. Not much though.
  • luke e.
    hi i work for the coop on the tills and as a supervisor i would also like to point out that the other day i didnt ask some one i belived to be over 25 as it turned out he was 19 and working for the coop im now faceing a disaplinary at work even though he was over 18 but under 25 asking for id is difficult as its down to your personal perception someone who looks 20 to me may look 17 or 24 to someone else
  • Brian
    Hi, my name is Brian. The same happened to me when i went shopping with my mother at Sainsbury's.
  • Jay
    Wonder what age a kid has to be when you buy alcohol for the cashier to refuse to sell you it? If you go shopping with your 5 year old will they sell you alc ohol, what about an 11 or 14 year old? At what age do they judge that a child being with you prohibits the sale of alcohol? Or is it ALL children?
  • moola
    I got ID'd when buying a can of red bull, lol
  • Alan
    @Jay I'd say teens mainly. @ gravy The problem is there not really alloweed to use common sense. Just look at Luke Ecksteins comment. It silly that despite the person being over age he is facing disciplinary action. Personally I think if the teenager is with a parent or adult no one should be alloweed to stop them. However, the law might not see it the same way.
  • stormymonday
    This case is not about selling alcohol directly to minors (asking for id in those circumstances seems reasonable) but the insane clause in the Licensing Act 2003 which makes it an offence for a retailer to sell alcohol to an adult whom they could reasonably suspect was going to give it to a child to consume in a public place (note the daughter at 17 could quite legally be served with the same alcohol at home or in a restaurant). Basically this means that the checkout staff have to second guess who is actually going to drink the booze and where they are going to do it. If they get it wrong then they can be liable to summary proceedings resulting in a fine up to £5000 and a criminal record. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the shops err on the side of caution. It is an idiot piece of legislation passed by imbecile MPs at the behest of a half wit government. The offence should lie with whoever actually supplies the drink directly to a minor.
  • Mark M.
    Some people really are over-reacting here. If it is company policy then so be it. I would be quite peed off if it happened to me, but I wouldn't stamp my ikcle foosie wootsies and berate the staff. I did argue once because they limited the amount of booze I could buy as it was a special offer, but they relented and let me get some. How about a nice dose of reality here
  • David
    I am one of these checkout staff who has the unfortunate job of having to ask people for their ID. If a member of staff suspects that the person who is possibly drinking the alcohol is under age then they are legally obliged to ask for ID. Would you be at all shocked if 3 or 4 teenagers went through a till and the cashier were to ID them all? Or should the cashier just ID the one who paid? And what does berating the staff gain? They still wont sell you the alcohol (as once they have asked for ID, if you have none they legally cannot sell it. If you asked an 80 year old for ID and they did not have it then you would be unable to serve them). If you walk out, it's no direct loss to the member of staff. simply a good story to tell in the staff room! Realistically. how hard is it to carry a piece of plastic in your purse or wallet? I am 20 and I am never without mine.
  • james d.
    David you seem to be missing the point here. While I agree you are just doing your job and should not be berated for it the issue is that Adults like to buy alcohol and often shop with their children. This policy makes it very difficult for parents to be able to do so. It is not about proving your age, what if I have picked my 15 year old son or daughter up from school and want to get a bottle of wine. In my opinion it is ridiculous to prevent me from doing so. My theoretical child "is" underage so I cannot carry anything to prove otherwise. Besides which, if someone is purchasing alcohol for an underage person who is with them they would simply ask them to wait outside. This policy is not going to prevent underage people from getting hold of alcohol because it is so easily circumvented. This is simply going to irritate genuine customers, drive them elsewhere or force them to leave their children in the car.
  • kev
    imo they should just sort this all out by changing the legal age to 21
  • David
    In the eyes of the law there is no difference between and 18 or 19 year old buying drinks for their under age mates and a 40 year old doing it, so in the eyes of the cashier there should be no difference, as long as they believe that the child might be the one who drinks the alcohol they should refuse to serve them if they have no ID. They are only protecting their own backs and can you blame them for that? I'd rather cause someone a small inconvenience than be fined, sacked and have a black mark on my criminal record. The easy answer is just to buy some sherry, they'll never accuse a 15 year old of getting their parents to buy them that! As a side note, I wonder what the rule is for chocolate liqueurs is. If I suspect the child may have one I guess legally I should ID them to prove they are over 16. So hey, the law is not quite right but at least it's trying to go in the right direction. It is not an initiative designed to annoy parents, it's an initiative designed to deter under age drinking. And yes, there are loopholes such as a parent buying it seperately but it is simply the cashier letting you break the law rather than them.
  • David
    @ kev, how would that help? it would inevitably lead to even more disgruntled people.
  • Steven
    I don't think David is missing the point. He's just saying that he's doing a job that neither he or his colleagues enjoy, but is on the receiving end of pompous fools making all kinds of ridiculous personal insults and storming off in huffs. Some people have complained that they got ID'd and refused sale when they were in with their partners, well boohoo, carry your ID and put it down to experience. Trading standards have been trialling a scheme for some time where they mark bottles with indelible ink so that if they are later found being drank by underagers they can trace it back to the source store. The trouble is that Morrisons know that there are some parents out there that ARE supplying alcohol to their own kids and their kids friends, thats why this policy is in place and thats why I think its very likely to spread.
  • CompactDstrxion
    Sad fact is it's a lot easier to cream money from a store than from the person who actually buys the alcohol and distributes it to under-agers, which is where the true crime actually happens.
  • the d.
    This is a law that has been brought in and we received training about it the other day (work in asda) This isn't just supermarket this also applies to the local carryout at the end of the road. I work for the company and I still get asked for id. The person one the till can be fined and jailed and so can the manager on duty who is holding the alcohol license at the time so that is why they are being so uptight about enforcing it. In scotland the time alcohol can be purchased is now 10am - 10pm and 1230pm - 10pm on sunday and they have brought in another law that says any alcohol purchased must be off the premises before 10pm or risk being fined or worse (the company)
  • Stuart
    Very simple answer. Restrict the sale of all alcohol to off-licences and pubs, where staff have more time, more skills to determine if it is to fuel undeage drinking. The examples of binge drinking in the streets at 3 a.m has been caused by extended opening hours of clubs, and has nothing to do with the family shopping at Tesco.
  • Lee
    @Yakkity You do realise that 'alcohol free' beers/ciders/wines etc still have alcohol in them and therefor require you to be over 18?
  • Mr H.
    I don't drive and am not bringing my passport shopping so I'm screwed.
  • james d.
    Steven now YOU are missing the point, why are you saying "carry your ID" as I said what if the person you are with IS underage but the alcohol is not for them. I agree he should be able to ID the purchaser or even if there is reasonable suspicion that the alcohol is not for the purchaser. However if a mother is doing her weekly shop with her teenage daughter and adds a bottle of wine to the shopping list why should she be prevented from doing so. Should her child be made to sit in the car? I already said this but you obviously didn't read my comment.
  • Craig E.
    The same happened to me around 2 years ago at Asda in Portsmouth - only this time it was my 10 year old son who was asked for ID. When I questioned it a security guard squared up to me and asked me to leave the premises as I was now trespassing. I was told if I did not leave the police would be called. I left the store, called the store manager from home and it was explained to me that should I want to buy alcohol in future to leave my kids outside or in the car!?!?!? WHAT??!?? Idiots! Anyway, I managed to get £60 out of ASDA head office for the boo boo. Enough for 12 bottles of wine! lol
  • james d.
    David I think you can use common sense to tell, my problem is that at least in Morrisons Swansea they do not. If a group of youths buy only 24 cans of beer while one of them shows his ID and the other 3 nervously avoid eye contact then sure you ask all of them for ID. If someone does their weekly shop and adds some alcohol and don't think that gives you reasonable suspicion to believe that the alcohol is for the person they are with.
  • David
    Well It's not our job to use common sense :P we are all just underpaid robots whom it is apparently acceptable to subject to torrents of abuse for following the law! A lot of us aren't as stupid as we look either, I'm only trying to pay my way through Uni! The fact you were trying to use common sense just isn't a defence in court.
  • Steven
    James, not every underage drinker, nor their supplier, fits the stereotype. How could you possibly be sure that it IS their kid? Maybe one of the 'youths' that hang about outside is paying them to buy them booze so their sticking it in with their shop and pretending its their teenage kid :P I didn't miss the point either, I was defending the poor staff that are getting pelters here from some foolish members for simply doing what they are told to do for a living. Same as David was.
  • james d.
    As I mentioned several times, I'm all for you not receiving abuse, so I'm not sure why both of you keep mentioning that. I worked in a Wetherspoons for 3 years to pay my way through uni and have asked for ID from more than a few displeased customers. No you can't be sure that it is their kid but then you can't be sure the person they are buying for isn't waiting outside, or at home or where ever. So how does asking for ID on the basis that they are accompanying them to the shop make sense. You have not stopped anyone from getting hold of any alcohol. My ONLY point is that simply being with a person who is buying alcohol should not constitute suspicion that the alcohol is for the person accompanying them.
  • Yakkity
    @Lee Actually, no. Drinks with an alcohol content of 0.5% ABV or lower can be sold to people of any age. Well that's my understanding of it. Koppaberg is (if I recall) 0.05% ABV http://www.ias.org.uk/resources/factsheets/law.pdf
  • Tom
    I think you are all missing a point - I grew up in Czech Republic which happens to be largest consumer of beer (per capita) and no-one bats and eye lid when 16 go an buy a few bottles, they don't need TV adverts with drink warnings and stupid ID rules and all pubs are open till morning hours. Yet you don't see horrid scenes on Fri/Sat night with teenagers struggling to walk, otherwise decent mature people pissing all over themselves. You don't see kids getting assholed... Is it that these rules make us (youngsters) want to booze more? I think what we should be discussing is - what happened to common sense? Do we really need all these 'policies' to tell us that feeding vodka to 7 year old is wrong? If someone is going to do it they are going to do it despite what barriers you build. It only pisses off sensible people and stops us from using our brains...
  • Joff
    Maybe we need better education for the adults that are buying the alcohol for minors. They should make the minors hide outside the shop around the corner rather than come into the store to choose which colour WKD they want with their pizza and dvd. Simples.
  • veedubjai
    One question to ask yourselves. Do I drink too much? http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ndtxm/b00ndtw3/Horizon_20092010_Do_I_Drink_Too_Much/
  • gav
    bit late to reply but most of you have missed the point so i think it's worth doing 1. it's not morrissons policy, it's the law (this has been mentioned above). the story in the orginal post is fine, if a person has teenagers with them you have to ID all of them. the part i'm not sure about is if the person buying wine has a toddler with them or not. this isn't mentioned in any training i've been involved with, but i'll ask my manager next time i'm at work and post back (if i remember). 2. to those of you who feel the suitable thing to do is to leave all of your shopping on the belt and leave the shop to 'waste the checkout assistants time': they won't care. they are working, and whether they are selling stuff to arrogant and aggressive customers or having a quiet moment putting some items back on shelves, they are still going to be there until their shift ends and they are still going to get paid for their time. you can only waste their time if you refuse to leave the shop after the shop is supposed to close, which prevents them from going home, but surely you have better things to do than this. if you go around a shop putting items in a basket, queue at the till and then walk out with nothing after throwing a temper tantrum over being ID'd, then you're only wasting your own time 3. none of the staff really care whether you are planning on enjoying a glass of wine with a meal, you are an alcoholic or whether you are going to damage your child's liver by giving them loads of alcohol (i appreciate one glass won't damage a child's liver, but drinking at a really young age is not a good idea). our only concern is that we don't get fined and sacked. there will be a security camera recording everything the member of staff is doing and if they are seen to be breaking the law, they will face a discplinary. Here's what's on our minds: trading standards WILL conduct test purchases in all off-license stores. this means they will pick a piece of applicable law (e.g. sale of alcohol to underage people) and will send in someone to 'test' the checkout assistant. They may for example send in a 17 year old to try to buy a beer, if the checkout assistant allows the sale, they WILL be fined and possibly sacked. if they send in a 19 year old to buy a bottle of beer and the checkout assistant doesn't ask for ID, then they will be seen as not complying to the "think 25" rule (implemented at the beginning of september this year) and will probably be fined. if they send in a 58 year old and a 17 year old to buy a bottle of beer together, and the checkout assistant doesn't ID the 17 year old, they WILL be fined. I know the law is rubbish, but it's not the staff causing you an inconvenience. so throw all the hissy fits you want, it's not going to change anything. checkout assistants reading this: don't worry about angry customers, they're going to more annoyed about it than you, let them be angry and carry on fantasizing about that bottle of jack daniels you'd grab on your way out if there was a fire....
  • Simon C.
    Having now reached the 30 mark I hope with each purchase of alcohol that my ID will be sought. Unfortunately this has not been the case, damn. Perhaps I must look 30 now :-( On a serious note: I read this article and thought what nonsense, adopting a somewhat ignorant hasty opinion. Having read the comments, particularly those from the staff on the receiving end, I am inclined to fall on their side. If we, in other employments, risked fines, a disciplinary, and/or a possible criminal record for an mistake made upon our presumption (in this case of age) then we too would err on the defensive side. In a way I have a great deal of sympathy with these guys/gals; I'd hate to attend work each morning knowing that someone has a dedicated job concerned with attempting to 'catch me out'. Talk about entrapment- good job this is not the US. On the converse side, yes the law is an ass and this one piece of legislation that needs to be looked at. It is written with good intention, but like many laws of recent the unintended consequences overshadow the goals. Perhaps everybody, to whom this law has burdened, embarrassed or inconvenienced them, should write to their local MP to lobby for an amending caveat allowing for, as we use to say in the Navy, the use of a bit of "Common dog".
  • Mel
    Well, frankly some shop assistant are just ridiculous. I was shopping at Tesco's where I bought alcohol a 100 times before without being asked for an ID. I am 32 years old and don't see the point in carrying an ID with me at this age. So, I had all my shopping in my bags. it was at a self service desk. 2 shop assistants were watching me whilst chatting and I had to interrupt them various times, as their stupid machine wasn't working. Guess they did mind that, as when it was time to pay they wanted to see my ID. I told them I was 32 and they were discussing amongst themself if I was old enough. They were just so snotty and stuck up and treated me with lots of disrespect. I think the ID was just an excuse, as they were clearly annoyed that I interrupted them chatting. Well, it ended with them not wanting to sell me alcohol, so I left the shop without any goods and I won't return again. I spend around £100 each week at Tesco - well I used to. There you go Tesco, your ridiculous staff just lost you £5200 a year!!! Clearly in my case the staff just misused their position and embarassed an innocent customer. They clearly need more training!!! I can understand that people in their 20's get asked for an ID. But to ask someone in their 30's is just bizarre. Apart from that it is ridiculous to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone who shops with their children. Not sure what the law is, but wouldn't it be better if the responsibility of what happens with the alcohol after it was purchased lies with the person that bought it? So, if you buy a bottle of wine you are responsible for it and you can be fined if anyone under 18 consumes it instead of the supermarket? That would solve the problem!
  • the t.
    dave what a utterly stupid comment to make why would a 5 year be given gin you supid little man grrrr
  • sharon
    was in the coop in walderslade village and was told I couldnt buy a abottle of whisky, which was for a xmas present for someone because my 16 year old son was with me! ok fair enough so I told them I would drive him home and then come back and buy it , they said would not be able to buy it until another day!!!!!!!

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