Should the cashier have sold the alcohol?

Hello NArians!

I’ve just received this submission and I am wondering whether to publish it or not. Should the cashier in the story have sold the parents the alcohol, or what he right to stick by his guns? What do you think?

Note: Story is unedited and set in the UK:

Shop, UK

I am the third customer in the queue. The first customers are a middle-aged couple and their kid who looks like he could be anywhere between 16 and 20. There are two bottles of beer among their other items, which I only paid attention to because the cashier is refusing to scan them.

Cashier: The problem is he looks legal age, I can’t sell it to you if he can’t show ID.

Mum: But it’s not for him, it’s for us.

Cashier: But he’s with you. So I can’t sell it to you.

Mum: I don’t see why I can’t buy my beer just because I have my son with me.

Cashier: Look, he looks old enough to drink but he also look under 25. I have to ID him.

Mum: This is ridiculous.

Cashier: I can’t sell it to you. I don’t know that it’s not a proxy sale.

Mum: But I am telling you that I’m not going to give it to him.

Cashier: If I am caught selling this to you, whether or not your son drinks any, I could lose my job. I could be facing jail time. I will not sell this to you.

Dad: Well how about this. I’ll just pick up those points at the beer and head to the back of the queue, yeah?

Cashier: I can’t. I already know that you’re together. I can’t take that risk.

Dad: But it would be just me buying beer.

Cashier: No. If my supervisor catches me, if he saw on the security footage, I would be in a serious amount of trouble. You are not buying this beer.

There’s a bit more back and forth, but eventually the family buy the rest of their things (without the beer) and leave. The cashier calls over for another employee to put the beer away, and the next customer adresses him.

Customer #2: Some people…

Cashier: For all I knew that kid could have been 16, or he could hated the taste of beer. But it’s not a risk I can take.

Customer #2: Oh I know sweetie, I just can’t believe their nerve!


Ah yes because we all know once you have a child you arent allowed to buy alchol for 18-21 years /s

But really the cashier likely wouldnt have had a problem if the kid had been an infant. So where is the line where they would have allowed the sale? Is a 5 year old okay? What about 12? What about a 14 year old that hasnt hit their growth spurt? What about an 11 year old that has? And “looks old enough to drink” is such a poorly defined subjective measure.

It would be an interesting discussion in the comments if published but I personally think the cashier should have sold to the parents.


The problem is the poorly written policies and laws, not the cashier sticking to the policy. It’s dumb, but the cashier has no way to verify that the parents are actually the parents. I’m not going to fault the minimum wage employee for trying to keep their job, bother corporate or your MP.


Reminds me of when I was denied alcohol because my sister was with me. It’s annoying, but when it’s the cashier’s job on the line I don’t really blame them for wanting to not be fired.


I don’t live in the UK and am certainly not an expert on UK laws, let alone store policies, but if the cashier selling them the alcohol would’ve been breaking the law and/or unforgiving store policy, and would have put the cashier at risk for jail time and/or job loss, then the cashier was absolutely right to not have sold them the alcohol.

That said, I think it’d be fine to publish as a story with a bit of clean-up. :slight_smile:


Agreed with the above comments – whether it’s ridiculous or not, if store policy says the cashier can’t sell the booze, the cashier should not sell the booze.


FAQs for the Challenge 25 Scheme.


Answer to the last question has a pretty pertinent piece of information…

Each retailer’s policy in relation to challenge 25 may be different, so questions around the application of the scheme should be taken up directly with the individual retailer in question.

In short - If my boss says no sale then no sale.

Edit: Just shown SWMBO (who works retail in the UK) this thread. 100% in agreement with the cashier. Also, she pointed out that once you ask for ID, you’re locked into the chain of events. You can’t back out of it.


Not only should they have sold the parents the alcohol, it’s also not illegal in many places for parents to give their kids alcohol (either over a certain age or at all), they’re just not allowed to buy it.

@Keniko_Dukas I’m guessing that you are neither a Brit or retail worker. I work in the pub trade, SWMBO works retail. If we sold in that scenario there are HEAVY personal fines, in addition to any fines the store may receive along with any disciplinary and quite possibly legal consequences.


Im not familiar with UK alchol laws but Im genuinely curious about where the line is. If you went grocery shopping with your 2 year old would you be denied an alchol sale? An 8 year old? A tall 12 year old? A short 15 year old? Just curious about the practicalities.

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Common sense. I have bought alcohol with my toddler in tow. Essentially is the person in question at an age where you would ID them if they were flying solo? Facial hair and other signs like that.


It’s a stupid and arbitrary rule, but I don’t blame the cashier for playing it safe.


The problem is not wether it is legal to give your own children alcohol, it’s whether the couple are actually the parents of this possible child. If they’re not the parents and they are planning to furnish the minor with alcohol, in my jurisdiction a cashier would be fired and also fined upwards of $5000, which most cannot in any way afford. Don’t blame the cashier for bad laws and policies, they’re doing their best with what they have.

I am not British, no. However, according to

However, if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.
If you’re 16 or under, you may be able to go to a pub (or premises primarily used to sell alcohol) if you’re accompanied by an adult. However, this isn’t always the case. It can also depend on the specific conditions for that premises.
It’s illegal to give alcohol to children under 5.

That is specific to pubs and restaurants, not retail establishments.

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And individual pubs/restaurants can decide they won’t sell alcohol to under-18s at all.


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