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Self-Service Checkout Counters: Too Easy For Kids To Buy Booze?

Audio

Aired 9/2/10

Public officials and faith leaders in San Diego are urging the governor to sign a measure that would ban alcohol sales at self-service checkout counters. A recent test of local retailers shows the current system isn't foolproof.

— Public officials and faith leaders in San Diego are urging the governor to sign a measure that would ban alcohol sales at self-service checkout counters. A recent test of local retailers shows the current system isn't foolproof.

San Diego School Board President Richard Barrera says the measure banning self-service alcohol sales will keep booze out of kids' hands.
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Above: San Diego School Board President Richard Barrera says the measure banning self-service alcohol sales will keep booze out of kids' hands.

The social service arm of San Diego's United Methodist Church sent young people out to 29 local retailers. They wanted to see if it was possible to use self-service checkout machines to buy booze without having to show I.D.

Raul Gamez found a way to beat the system.

"It was pretty easy," Gamez says. "I grabbed a 12-pack of beer, and a 12-pack of Coke. I scanned the Coke, bagged the beer, paid the money, walked out. As simple as that."

That technique worked nearly seven out of ten times.

Supporters of the measure to ban self-service alcohol sales say it's one way to cut off access to kids who are underage.

The grocery industry maintains there are already safeguards to prevent illegal access.

Comments

Avatar for user 'jerryhjones'

jerryhjones | September 2, 2010 at 4:34 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

"I grabbed a 12-pack of beer, and a 12-pack of Coke. I scanned the Coke, bagged the beer, paid the money, walked out. As simple as that."

This is called stealing, and is already a pretty regular means for teens to acquire alcohol. The grocery industry is 100% correct, passing a legislation such as this does nothing to curb underage access to alcohol, while increasing the burden on legitimate purchasers.

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Avatar for user 'brandonsd'

brandonsd | September 2, 2010 at 4:46 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

I guess the other issue is more theft of product rather than "sneaking liquor sales."

And then shouldn't we be focusing more on shoplifting than preventing people from using the self-checkout?

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Avatar for user 'jennyjenjen'

jennyjenjen | September 2, 2010 at 10:06 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

There should typically be one person at the self-checkout at either a station or with a hand-held device that shows what is being purchased at each station. The system should notify the attendant whether or not someone is buying alcohol and that way, if anything looks suspicious, the attendant can mitigate the situation. Besides, I've never heard of a self-checkout lacking an attendant to check ID anyhow. Why make such extensive, legislative changes to the system when all that really needs to be done is make sure nobody is making fraudulent purchases at the self-checkout? Like the two previous comments state, this is theft -- not giving kids access to alcohol. I think you can also knick someone on fraud with the bait-and-switch method.

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