A MUM trying to buy a bottle of wine as an anniversary gift was refused service because her 12-year-old son was with her.
The checkout assistant at the Co-op in Ashley Road, Parkstone, Poole, considered Lynn Hutchings to be buying the bottle of rosé for her young son George.
Although George carried the bottle to the counter, Lynn pointed out that she was clearly the one buying the wine, but her protest was dismissed by the staff. Co-op said they employed a robust Challenge 25 policy and stood by their decision to refuse the sale of the wine.
“Whatever happened to common sense?” said Lynn, who was buying the wine, along with a box of chocolates, as an anniversary gift.
“How ridiculous. I just couldn’t understand their reasoning.
“Am I really going to feed a bottle of wine to my 12-year-old son?”
Lynn said George had carried the bottle of wine to the till for her because her hands were full of other shopping bags.
As she went to pay, the checkout girl asked George for identification and the dispute unfolded.
It ended with Lynn throwing her Co-op loyalty card on the counter and crossing the road to Waitrose, who served her the wine and chocolates without any questions.
“They have lost the money and any trade they would ever get from me,” said Lynn.
A spokeswoman for Co-op stressed their policy also covered anyone suspected of buying alcohol for a minor.
“The Co-op group stands by its decision to refuse the sale of alcohol to this customer,” said the spokeswoman.
“All our stores operate a Challenge 25 policy, where a potential purchaser of age-restricted products who appears to be under 25 should be asked to provide identification.”
Last year Tesco hit the headlines after it tightened up its rules on selling alcohol to parents with children. It said it would rather staff “err on the side of caution than risk selling to someone who is buying alcohol for people who are under age”.
A spokesman for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers said: “There are confusing laws around the sale of age-restricted goods, which can be hard for shopworkers to interpret and police in the pressurised environment of a busy store.”
She added USDAW was “campaigning for better support to be given to shopworkers in this difficult role”.