Safeway IDs Everyone In Your Party When You Buy Beer

Daniel went to his local Safeway with his brother to buy some beer. Daniel had his ID, but his brother didn’t—but that’s okay, because Daniel was the one buying the beer. The cashier, however, felt otherwise, and wouldn’t complete the transaction without carding both of them. The store manager told him “the policy is, at the discretion of the clerk, to check the ID of every person present.”

The manager hinted that this was a liability issue, but it sounds to us like Safeway’s employees have decided to play morality police instead of following the actual rules. Daniel sums up the problem:

The bottom line is that walking into a store and leaving without purchasing anything should never necessitate showing an ID. This policy creates that scenario and does not in any way prevent underage drinking. Loss of freedom and no added prevention. Lose-Lose.

Here’s the letter he tried to send to Safeway, but they don’t provide an email address on their website or in their press releases. (You can find phone numbers and a mailing address for Safway here, Daniel.)

Yesterday I decided to purchase a six pack of beer. Sure, there are liquor stores near me, but Safeway happens to be about a block from my house. So my brother and I, who recently turned 21 and promptly lost his ID, walked the fifty yards to Safeway. Upon arriving at the register with beer in hand I was asked for my ID, not a problem. The clerk then asked for my brother’s ID. My brother had not touched the beer, nor had he handed me money, etc. I was taken back, after all I had made this exact purchase with my brother a handful of times already and had never been asked for his ID. I told the clerk this and he said that it was Safeway policy to ask for his ID. Needless to say we walked out of Safeway, sauntered across the parking lot and paid the same price for the same six pack at a convenience store – with no hassle.

Still irked by this today, I decided to stop by Safeway and see if I could find out exactly what the policy was. After speaking with the manager of the Safeway I walked away with a clearer view of the policy. The policy is, at the discretion of the clerk, to check the ID every person present. An additional reason, as the manager explained to me, was one of liability.

On the surface this sounds like a reasonable policy. However, upon further thought, it is far from reasonable.

To begin with, checking the ID of every person present does not stop underage drinking. Hell, the manager himself suggested I have my brother wait outside next time. Also, I’m pretty sure that if the clerk asks for ID and I show it to him, the liability of the store stops right there. To say it does not means that Safeway is responsible for what I do with the beer after I buy it.

The main reason this upsets me is the need for someone that isn’t buying anything to show ID. If a mother and her prepubescent son walk into Safeway and she buys a case of beer, do you card the son? Clearly (I would hope) not, because there is no indication that the son is going to be drinking the beer. I’m interested, based on appearance alone – what criteria do you use to decide if that person with the alcohol purchaser is going to be consuming it? If my underage Mormon friend, who doesn’t drink alcohol, tags along for the purchase am I to be denied buying alcohol? There are all sorts of scenarios that can be described that destroy any sound purpose for this policy.

The bottom line is that walking into a store and leaving without purchasing anything should never necessitate showing an ID. This policy creates that scenario and does not in any way prevent underage drinking. Loss of freedom and no added prevention. Lose-Lose. You’re also losing all of my business until I have in writing that his policy has been revoked.

If even the manager acknowledges that it’s a trivial “security measure” that a customer can get around so easily, why not just put an end to it?

(Photo: Getty)