Thursday, November 05, 2009

Who do I shout at?

I am seething with righteous indignation, and bang-your-head-on-the-wall-with-the-stupidity-of-it-all frustration.

I had read about such things, but thought they must have been a one-off over-enthusiastic interpretation of company policy. But no, it seems it is company policy.

Bear with me while I get this off my chest.

I have just been to Somerfield for a little bit of top-up shopping, taking no. 2 son (19 3/4) with me to help carry stuff. I was delighted to spot that a rather nice red wine was still on offer, so I added a bottle to the basket in anticipation of my friend Donna coming round. So all the shopping was put through and neatly packed, when the checkout guy gets to the wine, and says - to me, mind, not son - has he got ID? No, I said, it's my shopping. Doesn't matter, he said. If anyone with you looks under 25 (and that's bloody stupid in itself) we can't serve you without ID.

So I did what any sensible person would have done, tipped my bags back out onto the counter and walked out. Wish he had had his ID, then I would have shown it and then tipped my bags back out onto the counter and walked out.

I've tried without success to track down the actual policy, but it seems to suggest that if you have anyone with you who is under eighteen, even a toddler, they won't serve you. Where does this mindblowingly stupid and pointless policy come from? The law hasn't changed; it's just companies wringing their hands and trying to look as if they're doing something about 'binge drinking'. So no. 2 son could go with his ID and buy 24 cans of cut price Stella, but I can't buy a bottle of half decent wine.

It is in fact perfectly legal for me to give a child over five alcohol in my own home, should I wish to, but the supermarket powers that be have decided that they know better than the law and will not allow the slightest possibility that this might happen. Of course, if I was buying alcohol on behalf of someone who was under age, they'd keep out of sight, wouldn't they? So the policy achieves nothing; it is completely and utterly just for show.

Once one supermarket adopts such a stupid policy, then surely they all will, because no one wants to look 'soft' on under age drinking. As an aside, I think this will only worsen the problem of public drunkenness among the marginally-over eighteens, who don't get the chance to learn to drink responsibly in the company of adults an an impressionable age.

So if I want to buy a bottle of wine, or a few bottles of beer, I have to go on my own, as if it were almost something shameful, and without a willing sprog to help carry the bags, make a special trip separate from the main shopping.

And worst of all - as I already said - this is not some change in the law; it is not the law at all (which in itself is pretty sensible). It is the supermarkets (ab)using their own immense market power to pre-empt the law; to regulate the behaviour of their customers; to set themselves up as being able to improve upon the law.

If they really cared about underage drinking or excessive drinking, they could just stop selling alcohol. But they won't do that all the time half price lager draws in the eighteen year olds and the piss heads. Instead they look as if they're doing something by stigmatising the purchase of a bottle of wine.


Jim said...

I have had to stop going into our local Morrison's because they ask everyone (even boring 59 year old farts like me) to "confirm you are over 21" (and why "21" you may ask?) if you are trying to buy any alcohol.
I'm just not prepared to put up with it so now shop elsewhere.

Halfie said...

So single parents have to leave their young children either at home on their own - unwise - or with friends - sometimes with its own dangers - if they want a bottle of wine or a beer from a supermarket. And the supermarket thinks it's behaving responsibly.

Where's the common sense?

A couple of weeks ago a local TV presenter went with a colleague to buy a bottle of wine for a leaving do at work. At the Tesco Metro in Norwich city centre she was asked to provide proof of age, which she couldn't. She had celebrated her 33rd birthday a few days earlier. She said, all right, my colleague will buy it. No good: the colleague could be buying alcohol for a minor. They walked out, bottleless. She didn't know whether to be flattered that she could still pass for someone at least eight years younger, or to be very cross. (According to a local paper). Presumably the colleague couldn't walk back in to the store and buy the wine, because the staff would suspect that he'd be buying it for her. I wonder how long it was before he was able to go in on his own and buy alcohol?

Utter madness. And from Jim's comment it would appear that Morrison's is defective in the common sense department too.

carol said...

A good reason to stop shopping in supermarkets! I've stopped and am now getting most things from our local shops. Better for the shops, and better for the small town where we live. I know most of the traders now, at least by face, and can enjoy my shopping instead of it being a chore.

S said...

Wish that was an option. We have no butcher, greengrocer, provisions merchant, hardware/general shop within walking distance. When I moved here twenty three years ago there were two butchers, two greengrocers, a fishmonger, an old fashioned hardware shop, Woolworths, WH Smiths, a shoe shop, all the banks... Trying to think what we do have now. An off licence. A health food shop (but the proprietor often goes into rants against immigrants and single parents). A dog grooming parlour. We do have a bakery - or at least, a bread/cake shop. Numerous cafes. Newsagent/stationer (which I do use). Two clothes shops. Three charity shops (much frequented by me).
I was trying to be good by walking to Somerfield rather than taking the car to Sainsburys.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the alcohol laws, what about your egregious breaking of the grammar laws? It should be '"WHOM do I shout at?"

Tsk, I don't know, obviously the shop thought you weren't old enough to have passed English GCSE.

I daren't even ask if you are old enow to know about Romanes Eunt Domum.

But seriously, I had heard about this once before, but I thought it was an urban legend? Clearly not. Christ. Don't get me started.

John Witts said...

Hey Sarah,

I have thought long and hard about this.

The conclusion I have reached is that the world has indeed gone stark raving bonkers.

There is only one plausible solution:

Brew your own.

John and Jackie (wb Pippin)

S said...

Person with along number for a name... 'At whom do I shout', surely?

Anonymous said...

What is an "along" number? M

Steve said...

OK - just get the supermarket to deliver it to your house! Their hassle, AND they put it over the doorstep, so they cannot argue with the age thing...
Easy -
unless you are cutside!!