Monday, May 2, 2011

Wal-Mart’s Age Verification Policy

I’m going to go on a little rant about Wal-Mart. This rant is not directed at “Mega-Corporations”, nor is it intended to be anti-capitalism like so many other Wal-Mart musings are.

Instead, I want to talk about their policy on ID Verification for Alcohol Purchases.

I was in Wal-Mart on Saturday purchasing a lawn mower (I can hear all those gasps at the prospect of me doing manual labor), and I happened to pick up a 4 pack of Sixth Glass (Reviewed HERE).

I proceeded to the checkout, only to find 6 lanes open throughout the entire store and at least 5 customers in each of these lines.

While waiting in line (longer in line than I spent shopping), I noticed something interesting. Every person in front of me also was purchasing alcohol, and the cashier was checking everyone’s ID.

When it was my turn, she also asked me for ID, and I noticed the register asking “Does Customer Appear over 40?”

40? Really? Almost twice the legal age to purchase alcohol?

When I queried the cashier, she rolled her eyes and said it was a stupid policy that everyone complains about, yet you could tell that she knew if she didn’t check, she would loose her job. I get it. She is caught in a rough situation, and would rather be employed.

My complaint wasn’t with her, so I thanked her and went upon my way. Instead, when I got home, I exercised the right of every consumer…..I called the Manager.

Wal-Mart conveniently prints the Manager’s Name and Phone Number at the top of every receipt, so I felt I wasn’t over stepping any boundaries.

My call was routed to the Assistant Manager on Duty – “Jack”.

I outlined my frustrations as such-

  • Long lines and no additional cashiers
  • Questioned the Policy on IDing everyone who “Looks” under 40
  • Highlighted that everyone in my line was ID’ed, even though NONE of us looked under 40 (one looked old enough to be my Mom…I kid you not).

I could immediately tell that Jack was out of his element, especially when I started asking him about Corp Policy, and I could hear him searching online to find it (but he didn’t know it himself.

Ultimately, he was able to locate and read it to me…..but it seems at Wal-Mart, there is a policy against emailing outside the company (even Managers and Assistant Managers).

The policy he quoted was dated Sept 30, 2010 and was very similar to this earlier version I found on the web.

"Effective 03/20/08 All customers appearing to be under the age of 40 will be asked to provide proof of age by showing proper id. Customers under legal age or without proper id, will not be permitted to alcohol or tobacco products. This change in Wal-Mart policy is an effort on our part to restrict the availability of these products to minors."

Jack did offer to print and mail to me, or I could pick it up later. I almost wish I had (more on that later).

We then had a long conversation regarding my concerns.

Regarding the long lines – Staffing at this particular Wal-Mart has been difficult and they just can’t get enough people? <Ed Note> Really? I called BS. With this economy, they should have people applying out the door. I believe they are either being cheap or have set their standards to high.

As for the Age Verification Policy, Jack agreed that “the policy was stupid” and that requiring the customer to appear below 40 was “A bit of a stretch”. He stated that he disagreed with the policy himself, and didn’t understand why you had to appear over 40 at Wal-Mart, but at Sam’s the age was 27. <Ed Note> I appreciated Jack’s candidness, and I challenged him to take this complaint up through his chain of command. As a manager, it is his job to be the voice of the customers to the Corp Entities who make policies that are not practical.

As we finished the call, Jack said the Manager would be in Monday around 6AM, and that he would leave him a note to call me.

Come Monday, I waited until 11AM before I called the store again myself. The Manager was unavailable (he was in a meeting), so I left a message to please call me. Again at 1:00, I called and left a message (this time he was out touring the store). In the end, it was 1:30 before he called me back, and even then….he really had no idea why I was calling.

I again outlined all of the above, and while sympathetic….this time, I could tell I had gotten hold of a company man.

It is against Wal-Mart’s policy to provide or disclose internal operation procedures (I wish I would have gone in and gotten it Saturday).

While the Age Verification is not State Law, it is Wal-Mart’s policy. The Manager would take it upon himself to visit the cashier’s station and observe the procedure firsthand (he didn’t know what it was?) and communicate back to the home office my complaint.

In the end, it was apparent that this manger could care less. So after having my say…..I have now resolved that purchasing alcohol at Wal-Mart is off the Agenda. From now on, even if it is easier….I will got to HyVee, Moser’s, Arena Liquor or Nostalgia Shop. At least there, I am not treated like a criminal for doing something completely legal.

What do you think? Please post below in the comments section your opinions our experiences. I would love to read them.


  1. From our friend Sammi, who used to work at WM -

    lol, I worked at Wal-Mart. Here in Indiana I was required to ID EVERYONE that had alcohol. I had obviously old men carrying canes, looking through quarter-inch lenses with just a bottle of wine. I had to card them. I was yelled at soooo many times. Our store policy was the same on cigarettes when I was on that line. I was either laughed at, yelled at, or asked why? I gave the same answer as the cashier that helped you. It's a rather large pile of BS, if you ask me.

  2. Oh don't get me started on this one! In England we have a name for people like this, we call them "Jobsworths" (I would.. but it's more than my job's worth)
    Last year Indiana changed the law so EVERYONE has to show ID when purchasing alcohol!
    Interestingly enough however it seems that someone high up has gained a little sanity (maybe from the additional blood flow to the brain from the frustrations of trying to dig out their ID whilst trying to keep the kids under control at the checkout line) and it appears that very soon we will be following the equally insane 40 year ID rule..

    Someone now needs to address the tobacco laws too! Give shop owners their freedom back!
     I was recently thrown out of a store selling tobacco after I entered a door that took me through a tobacco selling area to pay for gas i'd purchased. (Apparently I should had used the other door to the same building off to my right)
    I had my 5 year old with me and not wanting to leave her in the car, which I believe is illegal, I entered the store. As soon as I stepped in, I had a woman shouting at me..."YOU CAN'T COME IN HERE!"
    Startled, I did a quick status check to make sure I'd not forgotten to put my pants on or some other socially unacceptable blunder.. I became quickly confused.. "who me?"
    "but I'm just going to pay for my g....."


    And finally, my wife doesn't mind that people often think she's younger than she really is, and I love my wife very much and I'm sure she won't be too upset when I say ...  She can look sometimes a good ten years younger than she really is at times, but she's a forty one.
    On a recent trip to Kentucky to buy cigarettes (lower taxes), she went to a store about 15 to 20 minutes from our home she's been visiting for years now. On this occasion, she forgot her ID. 
    They absolutely refused to sell her cigarettes without it.
    Now I understand why, as you posted in this article Ed, they could lose their job over it.. But what the hell has happened to common sense!
     I though America was a free country, but everything is becoming so controlled, it's like a watered down form of communism !!

  3. And now from Mandy -

    They have you take these modules (and there's like upwards of fifty plus of them) before they let you work inside the store, and one of them shows you pictures of people trying to purchase alcohol and has you guess their age, and from this module, it supposedly teaches you how you could choose not to ID someone who could be 17, but looks 30.
    My thoughts were "really,..come on..." but that is their policy and they are one of the companies that allows secret shops to be done for alcohol and cigarettes.
    What I thought was really stupid, was that they started out putting yellow dots on the nametags of the underage cashiers (like customers are supposed to know what these dots stand for) so the customers could steer clear of them when they purchased alcohol. The cashier that was underage was not allowed to scan the alcohol or touch it in any way. They had to call over their CSM to have them scan the alchol and this caused so many customers to get pissed.
    Just like they got pissed when Walmart started handing back your checks.
    Walmart in general has so many messed up policyies and havin worked at 3 different Walmarts, and each one being different (one stated that if they look older than 21, to not even worry about carding them) but it comes down to you and if you're ever wrong or getting shopped, how much trouble you could get in.
    I dislike the way they treat employees (you can't have overovertime. They make you come in later or take a longer lunch.) So yeah, in general, Walmart and their policies suck.

  4. Looks like I touched a nerve in the Wells house ;)

  5. Everyone knows Wal-Mart is there to make a profit, just like any other business. But it has an inane policy [at least one]. And as a result, a customer chooses not to go there (sort of)...that's the invisible hand at work. More or less.

    Of course, in the case of Wal-Mart, our particular hand is probably invisible and intangible. I haven't been inside a Wal-Mart in around 5 years, but it's like voting: boycotting makes me feel better even if it's meaningless on a macro level.

  6. More comments from FB (from Shannon)

    I agree on the "carding everyone that looks under 40" ITS STUPID!!!! I was carded at Smokey Bones the other day...and she really,really looked at my ID? Come on, I know I look good for my age...but I seriously look over 21 and when I said Im turning 42...she laughed at me? Its just annoying!!

  7. Sammi started a new job at Kroger and this is her comment-

    "At Kroger, I have to card anyone who looks like they're over 27."

  8. Another instance at WM.

    Not Booze related, but again where WM tries to regulate me.

    I bought James Grand Theft Auto for his PSP, and when checking out, the Cashier went out of her way to ask me it I knew that the game (you could tell it was for James by the excited way he put it on the counter) was rated M for Mature. I said I was aware, and yet she still went on to tell me that M for Mature is intended for 17+. Ummmm....I can read and make my own decisions thank you.

  9. From Teresa B. via FB - We went to the self checkout...had to have a cashier come and make sure we were 18 to buy 2 cans of spray paint.She also said you have to be 18 to buy white-out.

  10. From Mandy M. via FB. - Several years ago, they carded people for Sharpies. I got the concept behind it, but I still thought it was very annoying and stupid.

  11. From Chris C. on FB - Here in Altoona, I bought a box of .22's once and they asked me if it is for a rifle or a pistol. I said what does it matter? She said that if it was for a rifle I have to be 18, f it is for a pistol I have to be 21. I said well I am well over 21 so it does not matter however she would not ring it up until I answered her.

  12. More from Chris C. via FB -Another one, my son wanted to buy a gun cleaning kit at WM. Guess what, you have to be 18 to buy a gun cleaning kit.

  13. Now some WM stories from Ben (via FB)-

    Here's a good one for you. Their policy is actually so harsh that if I'm in line with underage people and I try to buy alcohol and I have my ID, I cannot buy the alcohol. (Unless of course they look like my children in which case it's okay then, lol!) Some of my friends went shopping there to pick up alcohol and out of five people, one of them didn't have their ID and so they were not allowed to buy alcohol even though all of them were clearly over the age of 21. LOL!

    The best story is this though. One time my mother and I were going to Wal-Mart and we found some nearly empty beer bottles in the parking lot. This was back when they would give you money for recycling so she went shopping and I decided to turn them in. When I got to the counter I gave the bottles to the cashier and she said that she could not give me money for them because there was still beer in them and I was a minor. I said "Okay, well just keep them then." and I attempted to leave very confused. A minute later a manager walks up and says I cannot leave because I was found in possession of alcohol and I would be going to jail. At this point I was like, you guys are fucking ridiculous (that's what I was thinking at least) and I bolted to go find my mother. My mother and I returned to the counter and she proceeded to yell at the manager for such a stupid policy and she takes the beer bottles back (since she is legal age to do so) and we proceed to exit the store without buying anything. When my mother and I get outside she proceeds to smash the bottles all over their parking lot in retribution and then we leave.

    Suffice it to say, their policies make no sense because it's like I was trying to turn it in, it's not like I was drinking it and if I had been drinking it I'm sure at that age I would have appeared to be drunk (because I was like 12, lol). It's just amazing how they try to use scare tactics on people for things that are definitely not legal for them to do.

  14. I sent my daughter - age 17 out to buy me cream of coconut. They wouldn't sell it to her because it could be used to make liquor drinks. This was at an A&P in New York.

  15. @Most - was she allowed to buy Coke or Pepsi? They are used in drinks too.

  16. I am 50 and I was buying beer right after getting my nails done. I get to the register and the clerk isnt old enough to sell it to me and I had to switch lanes then the new cashier cards me.. I didnt wanna dig out my id because just had my nails don in walmart mind u lol i was pretty irritated

  17. Yes we were just in Walmart in crawfordsville Indiana and they wanted mine and my husbands id I was mad because my id was in car she said its policy to check everyone in the parties id I said that's bs cause what if I had My kids with me they have to walk out line she said its policy to take to manager told her they may have to check the 1s they feel are going to drink but not everyone in the party that's bs cause if you Had a kid they wouldn't b able to sell you which is messed up my husband went hit id for me when he came back he asked her if we get to see her id now how do we know she's old enough to even sell us lol she told us call 1 800 Walmart lol what a ducked up mess its stupid if people really going to b under age and your buying it for them you would just have them go away till you got it not have them beside you

  18. The same thing happened to me just two days ago. I paid cash, and the cashier asked me for ID. I laughed, said I am 66, but she still needed my D.L.
    I had experienced this before, so I wasn't surprised too much, but I won't buy my booze at Wally World any more. It's just too much BS.

  19. And the saga continues. It gets worse.

    I have shopped at Wal-Mart for over 30 years. Every since they arrived in Huntsville, AL. I have seen Wal-Mart policies continue to worsen continuously and have always tried to understand the business side of things; however, to day has completely ended any desire to ever return again. My experience Friday falls in line with so many others and is the final straw. I am 44 yours old, a well respected engineer, and solid citizen and when I can't by cigarettes because my kids are with me and they don't have ID show they are of age, then I am done. I know the laws here in Alabama and that policy is such a ridiculous example of Wal-Mart flexing their muscle. It doesn't do anyone any benefit . When the cashier may see just cause of say two young kids (1 old enough, the other not), then I can understand them taking the precaution based on the laws here. But there is such a thing as too far. Another real good example, just before me, happened at the glorious Wal-Mart today. A Lady, and her 6 year old son, went through the line. She was trying to purchase a pocket knife. Well.....Wal-Mart in all their world saving heroism, refused her the pocket knife because her 6 year old son didn't have the proper ID. Well guess what Wal-Mart. There are other store in the area that sell the same products. Some cheaper, some not. At this point, I will never enter another Wal-Mart for the remainder of my life. All the years of dealing with crap like searching my bags and comparing them to my receipt before was aloud to leave. Hassles at the either the exit or customer service. Cashier and employees who have attitude now. Well Wal-Mart... Losing me may not cause you to fall. But you know what? I'm done. I will not return.

  20. yes the same thing just happened to me, I am 60 and the $6.60 liter tax on a bottle of cheap vodka 50% TAX F---

  21. Just returned from Walmart grocery store with my wife. I am a 25 year old engineering PhD student on fellowship at LSU. My wife drove us to the store, so I didn't bother grabbing my wallet. My wife couldn't buy a bottle of wine because I didn't have ID. No other store in Baton Rouge cards everyone in the party at the checkout. Screw you Walmart.

  22. I work at Wal*Mart as a cashier and I absolutely HATE that policy.. It is not good for the company in any way shape or form, nor is it good for the cashiers lol.. We've received threats over that policy... It's really stupid that the same policy goes for tobacco as well. It's really fun telling a customer "Sorry, I can't complete this sell because dadadadada" It never fails, no-one is happy about the outcome.

  23. I was at walmart yesterday and my 22 year old friend decided he wanted to buy cigarettes. The cashier then asked for not only his ID, but mine as well!! I'm 26, I look even older, and I WASN'T EVEN THE ONE BUYING THEM!!! That was just total BS. I almost wish I had refused!

  24. I hate to tell everyone, but it is the LAW to card everyone no matter how old you are. I know it is going a little to far, but even a store here in Shelley cards for cough syrup and the such. They wouldn't have made the law if a few people wouldn't have abused it; like sniffing airplane glue!!!
    Anyway, it is the LAW and there is no getting out of it. Besides do you want to be the one who sells anything to someone that later the cops will be coming to talk to you. It is a FAIL SAFE for YOU, the COMPANY and the CUSTOMERS!!!!

    1. I don't know where you live but it is NOT the law that everyone be carded. Please provide your proof of this. I buy liquor (don't smoke) at different places and am never carded (I am over 60) but at WalMart I am always carded, even though their sign says if you appear over 40. I now do not buy liquor at WM anymore, I will pay a little extra and go to Target or where ever. I also do not like the fact that they type your birthdate into their computer. Why is that necessary? Invasion of my privacy as far as I a concerned.

  25. Okay, bought some vitamine pills, are you over the age of 18? Mind you I am 50, No I sad I am 16, and then glad I am not 18 years anymore, hihi. But very irritated that day. Can't you see, where are you're eyes? I am 50!!

  26. The saga continues. I was at the Walmart at Happy Valley in Peoria, AZ. I had to go through the special checkout as this is the only one you can purchase cigarettes. The cashier asked for my id. I handed it to her. She proceeded to start entrring my birthdate in their system. I said no I don't want my birthdate or personal information put in your system. I said you checked the id and I am over 18. I then asked why are you asked if customer under 40 when you only have to be. over 18 to purchase cigarettes inl AZ. She said she had to do it to sell the cigarettes. I said after all the security breaches like at Target I don't want addition personal information added. I told her she needed to call the mnager over as they can override it in the system. The manager was right there listening. I told him I provided my id and she verified it. That is ll they needed. He proceeded to tell me it ws the law. Total lie. Then he overrode it on the register. I took the cigarettes and left. I spend thousands at Walmart and decided to leave and not buy my groceries. Until consumers stand up to stores and start questioning the requesting of personal information it will continue. I will no lonher shop at Walmarts.Monopoly time is over fot Ssm....

    1. You do realize that the system doesn't save your birth date, right? It just calculates your age and determines whether you're of age or not.

  27. Soo..I had the same kind of delima except with a rated R movie...I'm 33 with a toddle and I showed a valid I'd ...but, because my 22 year old nephew, who looks just like me, forgot his I'd I was refused purchase.

  28. I am now boycotting Walmart. .I don't need them or their bullying ways...I have much friendlier places to shop,...LIKE TARGET

  29. TARGET...Target. .Target...Target. ..Target...Target. .Target. ..TARGET! !!!!!!

  30. the same thing happened to me this past weekend. our entire family was in maine fro my parents 50th anniversary. i made the mistake of allowing my 19 year old daughter help empty my shopping cart. the walmart employee refused to sell me any liquor. i explained the situation that i was not aware of the policy but, didnt matter. in fact the cashier even had the supervisor come over and physically take the alcolol away from the me. not a problem. i went outside, got another cart, told my family to leave and filled up my cart with new alcohol. went to a cashier and paid for it. then all of o sudden i am greeted by the same supervisor and along with him is some sort of manager. this idiot superisor had been running thru the store trying to find me. the manager opens his mouth to speak and i tell him i havent done anything wrong, no underaged children are with me, i am buying my own alcholol for a party so i dont see what the problem is. i am playing by their ridiculous rules. the manager agrees and off i go. while the supervisor is fuming.
    i am always astounded by the stupidity of people with even a little bit of authority and how far they try to take it.

  31. Greer SC, same here, me and my 22yo daugter go thru line and were were 'both' asked for ID. I tell the cashire that she does not need to see anybody's ID but the purchaser And told my daughter to NOT show an ID. Now mind you we spent over 3hrs there doing my Bi-weekly 'restocking' and had over 300 dollars worth in my very full cart. LONG story short I 'very loudly' told hem what they can do with the alcohol purchase policy. Been shopping at the same Walmart for 10yrs. and hae NEVER had us all asked for ID when buying alcohol. The person who posted right above me nailed it with the authority remark! I have been seeing it everywhere with everything too, so sadd to see what has become of America. I've been saying it a while but tonight I mean it " I am done with WM"

    1. Customers who are similar to your line of thinking on this (and some who are worse even) are one reason that I've thought of leaving my job. WalMart treats us fairly well - Thanksgiving dinner and a couple bucks above min wage. But countless times I have endured cussing by customers who have someone in their party appearing under 40. I ask for ID from each person under appearing under 40, knowing the person in my line could be doing in internal or external 'check' to make sure we're doing our job. Also, say a person who is totally of age to purchase tobacco or alcohol buys some, then that night has a party where minors somehow end up drinking. That minor gets in an accident. Guess who gets a fine/possible jail time/a record in addition to those who were involved directly? The cashier. Sorry, but I will not risk my job (and therefore my home as well) for anyone. You can 'promise' me your kids/friends/whomever won't be drinking all you want. It's a high probability you are telling me the truth, and I'm not calling you a liar - BUT - it's not a risk I can take. Your cashier was right not to sell it for that reason, and I *wish* I could tell every single customer who takes the route of being snotty/rude to me, the cashier, for enforcing this policy exactly that! I have come home in tears MANY times over this issue. Shame on those who choose to be rude to their cashier over this! Oh and folks, stop resorting to threatening to stop shopping at WalMart over this. It is your right entirely to shop where you like, but my answer on the carding policy must remain the same, unless I am ever told by someone higher up that it is to be different. Cussing out the cashier does not change the policy.

    2. Oh, and one thing I forgot to put in my post a moment ago - I was typing quickly as this scenario actually happened to me as I was taking my final customer today so it is fresh in my mind and I'm a little upset - I would like to add that I was mostly not ranting at folks who disagree with the policy but will not aim their anger at the employee. I am mainly talking to those who have threatened me, cussed me, and degraded me for not selling them alcohol when I feel like I'm not supposed to due to the CBLs and what I've been told by my superiors. Not directed at every single person who disagrees.

  32. Yep same problem at the Niles, Mi. Walmart. I was with a friend of mine and we were both shopping with the same cart. I checked out first, had my stuff in the cart and was waiting. The cashier asked for ID. which she got, then she said she needed my ID. I said no im done, checked out and our business is done. She said she had to card me because I talked to them and she has to card everyone in the whole group. So i said if I come in here with my two kids I cant buy alcohol? She said she has to card everyone, then she called a lead or watever who didnt say much but confirmed this. Walmart has always been low on my respect list but they have bottomed out for sure! Walmart F-

  33. I got carded for Bigelow brand raspberry tea bags at a Winn Dixie just the other day. Are kids rolling and smoking tea leaves now or something?

  34. Just got the 3rd degree from a Walmart self checkout handler. Not only does she insist on ID even though I am over 50, she insist my ID must have valid date. She explained that is to protect me from getting a ticket on an expired drivers license when I uncork the bottle of wine and drink it while I'm driving. Says its company policy, blah blah blah... Me thinks she's been wearing that blue apron for too long and its reducing oxygen to her brain cells.
    I was ... that close to dumping the whole grocery cart and the bottle of wine on their lap and walk out.

    Guess I'm going to the liquor store in front of the hotel to save my troubles.


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