One of our listeners (I won't include anyone's name in this article) wrote in to tell us about his experience at Wal-Mart, which then inspired more listeners to share their experiences  ...


My daughter and I went to Wally for groceries this weekend. When we got to the register my daughter started putting the items on the belt. The cashier asked my daughter if she was 21 because she had put a bottle of wine from the cart onto the belt. The cashier then took the wine of the belt and put it under the the counter and informed me that she would not sell it to me because my daughter was not of age ... what kind of sh*t is this?!

I asked to speak to a manager and he informed me that it was the law , because my daughter had touched it ... it was the cashiers choice to sell it or not ... what kind of nonsense is this? My daughter got all teary eyed because this stupid cashier shrew made her feel that she had done something wrong. All she had to do was state the rules so that I would know the next time ... but she didn't. I was just curious to see how you felt about this.
Sure enough, as soon as we read this e-mail on the KLAQ Morning Show, we were swamped with people who had similar kinds of stories. I will include some of the quotes at the end of this article.

We also received a call from a man who said he was a manager at Wal-greens.  He told us it was the law that their clerks could not sell a customer alcohol if  "they were with someone underage who even pointed toward the alcohol or (and it's going to be hard to believe I'm not making this up) if the underage person looked like they might be planning on drinking the alcohol."

It's the law? I knew this didn't sound quite right so after I got off the air I decided to do a little research.  Are you ready for this?

This is the closest I could come up with.  This is not a "law," at least not in Texas or any other state that I could verify.  It is actually a "company policy" which would explain why none of the complaints were from Albertson's or Big 8.  All of our callers and e-mailers were referring to WalMart or various convenience stores.

Here's what I could find of pertinence at the TABC web-site...

Some retailers in Texas have policies requiring that customers provide proof of age for all alcoholic beverage purchases, regardless of the age of the customer.

There are some other retailers in Texas that will only accept a Texas Driver's License or Texas Identification Card as “valid identification" to purchase alcoholic beverages.

Some retailers will insist that everyone in a group show proof that they are 21 or over when anyone in the group is attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. This is an attempt to prevent adults from illegally providing alcohol to minors.

These are internal company policies and are more strict than what state law requires. However, these establishments have the legal right to insist on proof of age for alcohol purchases.

My best guess is this: The TABC and others in other states have made it clear to businesses that sell alcohol that they are going to hold them accountable if they are lackadaisical about letting minors get a hold of booze. Some of these businesses have communicated down the chain of command that they will have a Zero Tolerance Policy about minors and alcohol.  The clerks are the low man on the totem pole and probably feel (rightly) that they are going to be the first ones on the chopping block.

Somewhere along the way, a very good idea like "Let's do our best not to sell booze to kids" has turned into "If your 11-year-old is unloading your cart and touches a bottle of Reunite, we're going to treat you like you're the shittiest parent ever to walk the earth."

Why? Because at some point in the last 40 years we've lost the ability to make any kind of policy (governmental, corporate or other) that can accommodate the tiniest little bit of common sense.  "If a Minor Touches an Alcohol Container We Will Refuse to Make the Sale ... Your $6.45 an Hour Job is at Stake!!!!".... leaves no room for "Well, you're buying $200 dollars worth of non-alcohol groceries. I'm sure your kid putting that one bottle on the conveyer belt isn't the end of the world."

The clerk is scared s***less by his manager. The manager is scared s***less by his regional VP. The VP is scared s***less by the CEO of Wal-Mart. And, of course, the CEO is scared s***less by the government.  I just wonder how long it will be until CPS comes over to take your kid away if you have them bring you a beer from the refrigerator.  I'm sure it's just a matter of getting the surveillance tech necessary.

So, to the TABC and Nanny State Government: butt out. We've got enough laws. Enforce those for a change.

To Wal-mart, Walgreens, et al: If you're really that worried about it, maybe you should just stop selling alcohol all together. We've now got TWO Specs on the West Side alone!!

Now, here's some of the correspondence we received on this matter.

Good morning guys,

Something similar happened to me at a 7-11 store. I walked in, got some beer and placed it on the counter.  My son got some snacks and also placed them on the counter. I then paid and when I was putting the change in my wallet my son grabbed everything off the counter and started walking out. The cashier told me it was against the law for him to touch it and if I had not paid for it already he would not be able to sell it to me. He then asked me if I could please not let him walk out of the store with it because they would get in trouble.  I guess it is a law.

(Nope, it's not. At least not anywhere I can find.  If someone can show me somewhere that this is actually a law I will, of course, do a correction)

Morning Buzz, I've bought alcohol at WalMart before and grocery stores, and when it comes to putting the bags in the cart I and my daughter got schooled (and scolded) that she couldn't touch that one particular bag that contained the alcohol.


My sister had a similar situation - her daughter's boyfriend helped carry a 30-pack to the cashier because he was just being polite and the cashier didn’t let her purchase the beer. The cashier confiscated the 30-pack so my sister went and grabbed another and the cashier still didn’t let her purchase.  It wasn’t a WalMart, it was a locally owned store, my sister was livid and asked for an explanation, the Store Manager said it was the law.

(I'm starting to think "It's the law" is manager-speak for "I really can't defend my own company's policy. Please go away now.)

Hi Guys!
Me and my husband were buying groceries at WalMart once and when we were paying, I handed him a pack of beer from the cart and when he placed it on the belt they asked for both of our IDs. Since only I had my ID and he didn't they refused to sell us the beer. My husband was pissed! lol Keep in my mind, he's 8 years older than me!!

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