The Mill looks into age restriction for online sales

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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The Mill liquor store is investigating ways of ensuring online booze isn't sold to underage drinkers after admitting it had no way of being sure that it was not supplying to minors.

Gavin Holmes called on the retailer on Monday to overhaul its online store after it sold his underage son a $29.99 bottle of Red Square Vodka.

The boy had twice clicked to say he was 18 or over.

Mr Holmes, of Hamilton East, suggested online shoppers should have to register at a physical store, with several identifying documents, in order to prove their age before they can make their first purchase online.

The Mill general manager Bevan Seddon denied any wrongdoing, blaming Mr Holmes for his son's activities. Mr Seddon also told the Times there was no way the chain could know a buyer's age when a transaction was done online.

Selling or supplying alcohol to an underage person can cost a licensee up to $10,000, and/or the suspension of their licence for up to seven days, or both. Managers can be fined up to $10,000 and staff up to $2000.

The Mill Retail Holdings

chief executive officer Jeremy Livingston called Mr Holmes on Monday to apologise for the sale, which has been reported to police, and told him changes to the sales process were in the wind.

"He was quite conciliatory, offered profuse apologies," Mr Holmes said.

"He talked about cross-party chats with all the other retailers to battle out the issue."

Mr Livingston did not return calls from the Times.

In a media statement, The Mill said: "The Mill would welcome the opportunity to work with other online liquor retailers to ensure there are no underage purchases of alcohol by minors.

"The Mill complies with the industry standard which requires a declaration from purchasers that they are over 18.

"It's illegal to provide a false declaration, there are two gateways where this declaration has to be provided."

Mr Holmes had investigated other online liquor retailers and found none of them included any mechanism where a buyer had to prove their age.

He took his findings to Hamilton East MP David Bennett who was surprised by them.

"It was something I had not been aware of," Mr Bennett said. "Young people could say anything online to get what they want. It seems like a big loophole, you don't have to provide any identification."

Under new legislation an underage person who buys alcohol on or from any licensed premises is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than $2000.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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