Liquor Store Refuses To Sell Booze To Man Who May Be 12 or 74, Who Can Say?

A shop in England refused to sell two bottles of wine to a white-haired, balding grandfather—you know, the kind with wrinkles on his face—because he balked when the cashier asked him to prove he was over 21. The man, being ornery in that way that old folks just naturally embrace, refused: “I felt like saying ‘What do I look like? Are you a fool?'”

What particularly upset him was that the store manager refused to intervene—instead, he took the wine away. “He picks up the wine and, in the manner of a child taking home his ball, says ‘Well, we won’t serve you’. …I applaud any efforts to stop kids being served and standing on street corners getting drunk. But this was just totally stupid.”

A spokesperson for the liquor store offered a “them’s the rules” explanation which sounds like it was pulled from the script for “Idiocracy” (emphasis is ours):

We take our responsibility with regard to selling alcohol very seriously and all our stores operate the Task 21 scheme, which addresses the difficulties our staff face in being able to determine if a customer is legally old enough to buy alcohol. To further limit any element of doubt staff at the West Kirby store are required to ask anyone buying alcohol to confirm that they are over 21.

That spokesperson totally has a point. We’ve seen enough Scooby Doos to know how well a good rubber mask can fool even veteran mystery solvers. In fact, maybe from now on, store clerks should be required to try to pull your mask off your face if you don’t show ID. And what about children with progeria? If you didn’t have this policy, they could totally get away with some hooch. Criminals are everywhere.

Look, we sympathize with the man, and we’re not mocking the cashier either, who probably agrees that it’s overkill but isn’t in a position to argue. But blind bureaucracy like this makes the whole human race look stupid. We suspect the store manager is much closer to 21 than the grandfather or the cashier.

“Man, 72, refused alcohol over age” [BBC News via Behind the Counter, because we couldn’t resist]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. abigsmurf says:

    If a cashier asks for ID it has to be provided or else he risks a huge fine (to him personally, not just the store). Whilst he wouldn’t be a licence inspector, someone else watching maybe, the manager did the right thing.

    Maybe the man should’ve just swallowed his pride and showed him his senior citizens bus pass

  2. Hambriq says:

    The first time I sold a 6-pack to a man who had a face like an old catcher’s mitt, the store manager came over and asked me how old the guy was. I said he must have been at least 40. He asked me for an exact age. I told him I didn’t know. He said I didn’t know because I didn’t check his ID, and then I got an official reprimand.

    Don’t blame the clerk, blame the bureaucracy.

  3. rbb says:

    But, suppose the guy was just a kid with progeria?

  4. Ferin says:

    To be quite honest, these types of policies usually do come down from corporate. I worked at an Ohio Big Bear store that sold liquor for two years.

    About the start of year two, we got an edict from corporate that we had to ask for ID from every customer, no matter what. Failure to do so was considered a firing offense. And in case you’re wondering, we did comply, because we had district managers that would actually peruse the in store security tapes to see if we were goffing off, and whether or not we were following rules.

    I hold that this kind of idiotic focus, instead of worrying about customers, was what lead to the stores’ demise, but why digress?

  5. vealcalf2000 says:

    I’m sorry this ornery old guy was asking to be treated like a child. Stores are monitored to make sure they are complying w/the laws, why take a chance even on someone who is wrinkly and “old looking”.

  6. courtarro says:

    Is it a legal requirement to check a person’s ID? I thought it was just illegal to sell to someone under 21. If you /know for sure/ that they’re over 21, you’d have no reason to check for ID. Of course, if your employer says you’ll be fired if you don’t, that’s a different story.

  7. Falconfire says:

    What I enjoy is this was just to purchase wine….

    Unless I am mistaken while you have to be 21 to purchase it, you can be 16 in England to drink it.

  8. Jayus says:


    I think Robin Williams was the only one to have a case that actually made him look like an old person.

  9. ptkdude says:

    @courtarro: It depends on the location. For example, here in my neck of the woods, you must not only be 21 or older, you must have ID on you at the time you buy alcohol. So when they ask for your ID, they’re checking both that you’re 21 and that you have ID with you. You could clearly be 60 years old, but if you don’t have your ID card with you, the store has broken the law by selling to you, and the CASHIER gets fined and a free trip to jail.

  10. Anonymous says:

    In most jurisdictions, you are only guilty of a crime if the person you sell to is under 21. Most places are reasonable and will not ask you for an ID if you are obviously well over 21.

    There is no virtue in asking an old man for his ID and hiding behind the banner of keeping minors away from alcohol.

  11. But blind bureaucracy like this makes the whole human race look stupid.

    [crazypersonlogic]But it’s totally the fault of the people selling the alcohol that underage kids are drinking it! We have to punish them! We must increase the fines! If the penalty for selling to underage kids is high enough then kids will stop buying alcohol![/crazypersonlogic]

    I really wish the powers that be didn’t actually think this way but they do. The cashier and the manager were totally in the right here. If grandpa wanted his wine he should have shown his ID just like everyone else is legally required to do. The grey hair and wrinkles may make it obvious you’re over 21 but they don’t make you exempt from the law and there’s no reason the cashier and the store should end up paying huge fines over him not wanting to show his ID.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    in the words of the great mojo nixon: “if you’re old enough to buy it & they ask for ID, you get it for free!”

  13. ry81984 says:


    Your looks do not matter. If you want to buy age restrictive items then have an ID. If you do not have and ID then too bad.

  14. HungryGrrl says:

    It’s not the clerk’s policy. It’s not even the store’s policy. It’s the STATE’S policy. Complain to them if you think it’s unfair, don’t take it out on the clerk or his manager who are just trying to follow the rules.

    It’s a silly rule and many places enforce it by making the clerk enter the birth date into the register before the sale can be completed. I’ve been in line behind many whining old men and purposely stalling old ladies (oh I can’t find my liscence… maybe it’s in here… no… let me check my checkbook… maybe it’s in this pocket…) and my ultimate conclusion is that old people have too much time on their hands and thus tend to complain more than working people.

  15. simonjp says:

    Just to continue the conversation – it was here in the UK that this happened, so it’s not the state’s policy. The legal age to buy alcohol here is 18. Because telling the difference between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old can be quite difficult, quite a few places have started putting up signs (promoted by the breweries) that state that if you don’t look over 21, they’ll ask you to prove you’re over 18.

    So legally the cashier would only have been in the wrong if the gentleman was under 18.

  16. geeoph says:

    This man is acting like a child, and SHOULD have been treated like one. I understand how hard it is for the elderly to take out their wallet and take out a form of ID, but that doesn’t excuse them from policy…

    This is rediculous, I wouldn’t have served it to him either, based on the fact he was being a whiny jerk about it. Is it THAT much of a hassle to show some ID? If you are that much of an alcholic that you need booze in your system immediatley, you have bigger problems. This guy is just doing his job and selling you wine is not as important as getting his ass fired.

  17. mrmaxmouse says:

    I used to work at a place that sold alcohol not too long ago…

    They said that if we had ANY question what-so-ever as to a person’s age, then we should always err on the side of caution. And it was actually store policy that the manager HAD to side with the cashier on the cashier’s decision.

    Remember: Most laws says that the person who sells the alcohol gets in to some big trouble…this means for the store AND the individual cashier.

    A lot of times this has meant that selling to someone under 21 not only means losing your job, but also BIG fines and possible jailtime.

    Don’t blame the store or the cashier…it’s not their fault that there are such harsh penalties for something so minor.

  18. hypnotik_jello says:

    Over here in DC I thought establishments are required to card you if you look under 35.

  19. B says:

    And he would have gotten the wine too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.

  20. crapple says:

    I know in Michigan (where I’m from), and in Georgia (where I live now), if you appear to look younger than 27, they MUST ID you. Most stores have a policy to ID everyone anyway, no matter the age – and it’s always been clearly labeled either at the register or on the shelving where the alcohol is stocked, or both. Like others have said, there’s a HUGE fine put on the business (around $10K I believe), and a fine on the individual employee (around $1K I believe) as well. They can lose their liquor license, and good luck being a party store w/o alcohol.

    I’m typically on the consumer side, but there are times where I feel that some readers feel that as a consumer, they have no responsibility in any purchasing situation.

  21. supra606 says:

    I think the real issue here is not who was right or wrong in this situation. The real issue is why are our laws focusing on going way overboard trying to stop a few kids from drinking when they should be focusing on so many other problems that go unaddressed? Why do people continue to accept the government sticking their nose into everything when this is the kind of results they get?

  22. edrift101 says:

    Funny story.

    I was in Alexandria, MN trying to buy a case of beer, when I was carded (I was 23 at the time). The clerk (old guy) handed back my ID and told me that, “That isn’t you.” He then told me that my MN Driver’s License was a fake and that he wasn’t going to sell me any liquor.

    I left (mad as hell) and went to another store, where they didn’t even card me.

  23. loudguitars says:

    My 70 year old, bald, white-haired father gets his ID checked every time he buys a beer at a Braves game. At Turner Field, they check the ID of every last person buying a beer because they don’t want to get accused of any sort of discrimination for asking only some people who don’t “look 35” for ID, so they just ask everyone. It sounds like a similar mindset is at work here.

    And dad thought it was a bit silly, but having been a lawyer for 40 years, he certainly understands why many alcohol-serving venues have such CYA policies.

  24. @HungryGrrl: Ah ok. My fault for not even reading the link to the article much less the article itself.

    Why do people continue to accept the government sticking their nose into everything when this is the kind of results they get?
    @supra606: Because nobody cares about the minimum wage slave getting a huge fine when he doesn’t card the 17 year old who looks 27. Underage teens only care that the punishment when they’re caught is minimal. People who agree with the minimum age law only care that it looks like the government is enforcing it (I know of a few exceptions). For everyone else it isn’t a big enough issue.

  25. timmus says:

    It’s weird hearing shops in England being so strict about liquor sales. They’re strict here in Texas but I had always chalked it up to the bible belt mentality.

  26. Trai_Dep says:

    Could have been J. F. Sebastian, fleeing Roy & Pris?!

  27. guspaz says:

    It’s the law, and it isn’t an unreasonable law. What’s the problem here?

  28. Buran says:

    Stop shopping there, then, if they’re that unable to think on their feet.

  29. rrapynot says:

    To oput this in context you have to understand that it is extremely unusual to be required to show ID in the UK. I lived there until I was 30 years old and the only time I had to show ID was for international flighs and opening new bank accounts. I was never asked to show ID for a credit card purchase (however they examine your signature VERY carefully) and never asked to show ID for alcohol. Until recently even drivers licenses did not have a photo on them and even today a large minority of adults do not have a drivers licenses. The only other ID is a passport which is imptractical for day-to-day use.

  30. rrapynot says:

    @guspaz: said “It’s the law, and it isn’t an unreasonable law. Whats’;s the problem here?”

    Actually it isn’t the law. In the UK alcohol sales are legal at 18. Furthermore even the police can’t demand ID in the UK so why should a store clerk be allowed to do so?

  31. crnk says:

    This reminds me of my dad (was about 50 at the time) when he came to a parents weekend event at my college. As part of policy, they card everyone they serve and give them a wristband. My dad thought it was great that they carded everyone to prove a point and demonstrate how the process works.

  32. strathmeyer says:

    I hope the man doesn’t also try to buy some video games.

  33. pine22 says:

    i worked at a convience store during the summer, and you have to card every alcohol purchase even if the guy is like 90 years old. no id = no alcohol.

    im pretty sure its the law in ohio, and most people know it and have their id’s ready. if someone would give us lots of attitude over showing id, we would refuse the sale. we dont have to sell you sh*t, and if you want to be a dick about it then go elsewhere. we have to enter a valid date of birth or we cant ring you up.

    its a felony to sell alcohol to a minor, and ive seen people get fired on the spot after they didnt card a secret shopper.

  34. @Rectilinear Propagation: Crap! I meant to reply to simonjp!

    My bad yet again.

    @rrapynot: I wonder if the store is a chain originally from the US or if those employees are because it doesn’t make sense for them to refuse to up and decide on 21 years of age otherwise. They’re allowed to sell to 18 year olds and don’t have to check ID and they’re insisting on it? What?

  35. VaMPKiSS1 says:

    This reminds me of an experience I had in Lancaster, PA once. I was down there for a friend’s graduation and I stopped by a convenience store to buy a pack of smokes. I fully expected to be carded, that wasn’t the problem- the problem happened when I handed over my ID. The clerk just stared intently at it, and I figured maybe he needed help finding where the D.O.B. was since it was a NY state permit, so I helpfully said, “Oh it’s right under the address.”

    The clerk looked at me and said, “But it’s expired.” Which was true; it was about a month after my 26th birthday, which was also the expiration date, but I’d let it lapse because let’s face it, driving in NYC is just too expensive of a proposition and I only had the thing as a form of ID anyway and was in no particular rush to renew. So since it was expired, I couldn’t use the thing to drive, but it’s still a state issued form of ID. Even the DMV takes it as all 6 points of nececessary ID to get a new one if you use it within two years of expiration.

    Regardless, it still showed my picture, name, address, signature, and DATE OF BIRTH, which was all the clerk really needed to see. The exchange pretty much went like this:

    Me: “Marlboro Lights, please.”
    Clerk: *stares at ID* “But it’s expired.”
    Me: “I can’t use it to drive, but it’s still ID.”
    Clerk: “I can only accept a valid form of ID.”
    Me: “It is a valid form of ID. It’s just not valid for driving.”
    Clerk: “Sorry, I can’t sell you these.”
    Me: “Wait a minute, this clearly shows I’m more than old enough to buy these!”
    Clerk: “Sorry, I need valid ID that shows you’re over 18.”
    Me: “So wait, the expiration date means I magically turn 17 again?! Are you serious?!”

    The clerk wouldn’t budge, and I got pissed. So I turned to my friend who was waiting in line behind me, handed her five bucks, and asked her to buy the smokes for me. Which she proceeded to do WITHOUT GETTING CARDED AT ALL!


    Good on this guy for refusing to put up with ‘tard corporate policies.

  36. epiclulz says:

    This happened to my mother when I was with her at a Binnys in Chicago a couple of years ago. They have a sign that says they’ll card anyone that looks under 40 – my mum was in her 50s. So anyway, what happened is that I go through, show my ID and buy some wine. She, directly behind me, tries to buy some liquor for me and gets carded. She refuses, saying – you just saw my daughter’s ID and she’s over 21, so why do you need mine? Anyway, so the cashier calls a manager over (I don’t know why the cashier couldn’t just override the ID request) and a whole big thing ensues where my mum is getting all “I’ve traveled the world and never been asked for ID when buying alcohol, clearly I’m of age…” The manager tried the whole “you should be flattered” tactic, but that only incensed her more.
    By this time there was a queue of people behind us, all older people, and they were just about to revolt along with us. After they finally let mum purchase the alcohol without giving ID, we heard the guy behind us (balding, wrinkly etc) say “I’m not giving you my ID either”. Good old Mum.

  37. markedward says:

    “Is it THAT much of a hassle to show some ID? If you are that much of an alcholic that you need booze in your system immediatley, you have bigger problems.”

    That’s ad hominem.

  38. K-Bo says:

    @VaMPKiSS1: In NC where I live the policy is it has to be a non-expired license to be accepted for cigarettes and alcohol. For this reason, if you get a new license/ state id because you moved, they keep the old, still non-expired one. If you get a new one because yours is expired, you can keep it, because you won’t be able to sell it to someone who looks like you as a fake id. Still stupid they didn’t card your friend after being so adamant with you.

  39. harshmellow says:

    @HungryGrrl: I couldn’t agree more. I get so tired of the stallings and grumblings of people in line in front of me that complain about being carded. Ya know what? I am WAY over 18 and it doesn’t bother me a bit. Then there’s the people that complain about being carded when they use a credit card (I want to say really? Yer an idiot!), and don’t even get me started on people at the airport that see if they can get through security without removing everything from their pockets, or their shoes, belt, etc…. SMACK!!

  40. Chicago7 says:


    If it’s a kid with progeria, we should just let him drink, anyway. That kid’s got enough problems.

    I think “Are you a fool?” needs to be used more often with customer service/retail personnel!

  41. Chicago7 says:


    Two words for ya: Identity Theft.

    You wouldn’t just walk up to some clown on the street and show your ID, yet here you have just given them your ID and possibly your credit card.

  42. Shadowfire says:

    Take it for the compliment it is and shut the hell up. I don’t give a damn if you’re 50, 70, whatever. The law is on the store’s side… if you are asked for ID, get over it, and show the damn ID. Not showing ID makes you an asshat, because you want to make the cashier’s life difficult to stand up for something that is actually nothing.

  43. harshmellow says:

    @Chicago7: Not sure what you mean about ID theft. We’re talking about showing ID to buy beer…

  44. VaMPKiSS1 says:


    See, here in NY when you go to get a new ID at the DMV they take away your old one, even if it’s expired, so you’re walking around with a paper temporary one for two or three weeks until you get the new one in the mail, and that’s if it gets there quickly. 4-6 weeks is usually the norm. So even if I had renewed it the day it expired, chances were I would have been standing there with a paper printout trying to explain how “no, it really is an ID, I swear”. I don’t think that would have gone over well. LOL.

  45. Charmander says:

    I am simply amazed at the posts that side with the ridiculous policy of the store. But wait….this is the same site where a majority of people believe that you should have psychic powers to know if you will suffer a bout of diarrhea in a Jo-Ann Fabric store and to make arrangements beforehand.

    I don’t get it. Why isn’t anyone questioning the stupidity of asking a man in his 70s for ID? What happened to common sense? In my state, most stores have signs saying that they will card anyone who looks younger than 27 – which makes sense, because you can’t always tell with a younger person. Note the word “younger.” There’s no way a septuagenarian is faking anything – it is quite clear that this man is over the age of 21. In fact, he turned 21 long before the woman asking him for ID was even born.

    I say let’s fight idiotic policies instead of just going along with them. Wake up people!!

  46. perfectly_cromulent says:

    yeah, it seems stupid that a person who appears to be obviously old enough to purchase liquor must be carded, but still – i would rather insist on ID than risk the legal ramifications that would most likely ensue.

    where i work, we provide the service of ear piercing in which the person must fill out a legal consent form for said piercing. you would be shocked at how many people also put up a huge fuss over providing their “government issued ID” which we require for anyone, no matter the age. even after we explain that it’s a legal document and their ID is proof of their consent, so many women (and men for that matter) put up SUCH a fight. i simply don’t get it.

    i also love when they say “well, i have my Sam’s Card…it has my picture, you can use that right??”

  47. perfectly_cromulent says:


    that is interesting; I’ve never heard of anywhere accepting an expired ID for anything whatsoever.

    still very stupid of the guy not to card your friend.

  48. asscore says:

    ID’ing regardless of how old you look is a stupid policy… no matter what some minimum wage cashier says.

    I make it a point to be an asshole whenever someone asks me for ID. More than an asshole. I get agressive and resist pulling it out as long as possible. Some (weak) people just cave and sell to me without it.

    I was visiting my mother last thanksgiving. I stopped in the local supermarket to buy some beer with my fiance. They told me I couldnt buy beer because my fiance didnt have her ID. I was buying the beer. I grabbed that cashier by the neck and slamed his head into his register.

    I walked out with my beer with no money changing hands.

    Keep that in mind if you’re some punk cashier who thinks you have the authority to mess with my day. I will fuck you up.