Pennsylvania Pulls Plug On Wine Kiosk Experiment

As anyone who has tried to buy booze, wine or beer in Pennsylvania can tell you, the Keystone State has some of the most bizarre and byzantine liquor control rules on the books. Last year, the state tried to clear things up by introducing overly complicated wine kiosks in supermarkets, but it now looks like those have fallen victim to a payment dispute.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the state Liquor Control Board and the machines’ creator Simple Brands have differing opinions over who should be footing the bill for certain of the program’s expenses.

From the Inquirer:

In the past, Simple Brands has countered that the state agency had incurred unnecessary expenses and improperly billed them to Simple Brands. One example the company cited: The board charged $184,888 for various kiosk-related hardware and software, including 97 routers, plus maintenance, during a period when only three wine kiosks were up and running.

Another example it gave: The board charged $30,000 so it could hire an outside consultant to ensure that Simple Brands was encrypting data from customers’ credit cards even after the company had spent much of its own money doing so.

The LCB says it has incurred over $1 million in expenses it believes should be paid by Simple Brands. Thus, barring some sort of agreement, the machines are going dark.

Regardless of which party is supposed to pay for which expenses, the wine-buyers of Pennsylvania now no longer have the option of going to the supermarket to purchase a bottle of vino.

When they were up and running, the machines required users to exhale into a breathalizer, scan their photo ID and look into a video camera while someone in Harrisburg verified their identity.

Say goodbye to those wine kiosks [Philly.com]