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Superstore wine outlet fined $7,000 for serving B.C. minor

Store cashier tills have an age request prompt that is overridden 70 per cent of the time.
A Real Canadian Superstore in Surrey, B.C. Photo: Google Maps

A Surrey Superstore wine outlet has been fined $7,000 after inspectors found it selling liquor to a minor.

In the March 12 decision, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch delegate Dianne Flood said a branch inspector went to the store with another inspector and a minor agent Sept. 14, 2023.

The minor agent made his way to the wine store. 

The first inspector watched the minor pick out a bottle of wine and take it to a till where a cashier scanned it and told the minor the price.

The minor paid, got a receipt, left with the bottle and returned to the inspectors.

“At no time did the cashier ask the minor agent for identification.” Flood said. “If asked for identification, minor agents are trained not to attempt to deceive the salesperson but to simply respond that they do not have any identification.”

Also, if asked for identification, the minor would not have had any to produce as such agents’ identification is kept by the inspectors while conducting such inspections. 

The first inspector then talked to a manager and told her of the contravention and issued a notice of noncompliance, giving details of the allegations.

The business did not dispute that the cashier did not ask for ID and sold liquor to a minor but claimed a defence of due diligence.

The cashier had been at the store for 15 to 20 years.

“The general manager was shocked that the cashier had made a sale to the minor agent,” Flood said.

The cashier was suspended for two weeks without pay, the first time the cashier had to be disciplined. 

“During the disciplinary hearing, the cashier admitted that it was her fault and the sale was a lapse in judgment and that her training was to check for identification,” Flood said. “When she returned to work after the suspension, she was re-trained on liquor sales.”

Flood heard evidence that there is a date-of-birth prompt at the till for sales of things like alcohol and tobacco.

“It warns that both the person making the sale and the store may be penalized for underage sales,” she said.

However, that prompt can be overridden and is about 70 per cent of the time.

The store also has several policies staff must sign off on each quarter and must have a Serving It Right certificate.

Flood said the business had admitted the contravention and fined it.

“The licensee concluded that the mistake in selling to the minor was a human error, not a deficiency in training,” Flood said. “The cashier admitted she knew she should have asked for identification and that is how she was trained.”