What are age-restricted sales?
Age-restricted sales can be described as sales of products that require a specific age for their legal purchase. Some products such as alcohol, tobacco, energy drinks, products that contain corrosive substances that can be harmful or can be misused, and products that can cause health damage upon frequent use, are often controlled via minimum age sales policy.
This policy means that the client who has an interest in those goods and wants to buy them has to meet age restrictions that are set by the government of a given country. Moreover, customers who wish to purchase these goods may be requested an age verification within the physical or online store. The age verification can be made via a document check. In case the customer meets the age restriction criteria, then he is allowed to buy a given product that is listed as age-restricted.
How does age-restricted sale policy work?
Alcohol purchases in bars and pubs
Bars carry out are restricted policies for entry and for alcohol purchases within the bar premises. The age restriction varies depending on country legislation, for example, the legal drinking age in the US is 21, while in the EU is normally 18 with some small changes based on a member state.
In a classical scenario when an individual looks younger than the minimum age at which people are allowed to enter bars in a given country, he will be requested to verify his age. This can be done via a simple physical document check by the bar staff. Moreover, some businesses may use an age verification scanner that employs face analysis software and is located within the entry to the bar premises. The scanner will help the bar personnel to accurately determine the age of a potential customer. This will quickly help to sort out individuals and decide who is allowed to enter and who is not. In case a person’s age meets the age restriction criteria, he is allowed to enter and also buy alcoholic beverages, in case not, then his access to the bar premises is denied. In some situations, it can be the case that underage individuals can be allowed access to the bar with only one condition, he will not be allowed to buy any alcoholic drinks within the bar premises.
The laws warry and strictly depend on a country that the bar is located in. In case the bar or nightclub accidentally sells age-restricted goods to an underage client, they may lose their license as well as might face multiple lawsuits from the government. The situation may result in a shut down of such establishment as a result, such a situation is best when avoided.
Access to age-restricted websites (alcohol, gambling, porn, tobacco)
Most websites nowadays carry out age verification through pop up that shows up once the user enters the website for the first time. This pop up asks the user to enter his date of birth and in case the age surpasses the age restriction then the user gains access towards the restricted website. It can be argued that this kind of age restriction can be considered worthless as most users can just enter fake data. On the other hand, websites that contain age-restricted content can also utilize services that check customer data by matching it to recognized public records. This means when a user enters their address and personal information such as date of birth on the website, the age verification software compares it with the information within the database.
It has been said that this kind of service is not bulletproof, as an underage person can just enter the data of their parents, but it still offers a higher degree of protection when compared to a regular popup. Most such services aren’t free, but businesses prefer to pay for extra security rather than deal with possible future law complications.
Alcohol and Tobacco purchases in Self service checkout kiosks (supermarkets)
Many supermarkets nowadays use employee free self-checkout systems. The system is implemented in order to reduce the costs of employing cashier personnel and to facilitate and increase the speed of purchases within the store. The tricky part comes in when customers want to purchase age-restricted goods. In a normal situation at the desk, an employee would simply determine if the person meets age restriction policy based on visual inspection or via document check. In the case of the self-service desk, the situation is a bit different. Once a customer decides to scan the item that has an age restriction, the machine will lock and notify the customer that employee assistance is required. It has to be clarified that machines can lock also for other occasions, such as wrongly scanned barcodes or simple malfunctions.
In order to determine the origins of the problem, the supermarket employee will come towards the locked machine. He will investigate what was the problem, in case of lockdown due to age restriction policy, the employee will request documents that verify customer age. In case the age at the documents meets the age restriction policy, the employee will enter a specific code to the machine and will unlock it so that the customer will be able to continue his purchases or pay the bill. In a normal case scenario, it is impossible for the customer to purchase age-restricted products at a self-service machine, as he wouldn’t be able to complete the transaction without the employee’s approval. Moreover, some stores require their employees who oversee self-service machines to enter customers’ date of birth into a computer in order to be certain that the customer is above minimum age.
Four steps to age-restricted sales policy
In general, there exist 3 steps for age-restricted sales. These steps are used by the employees of the shops that provide their customers with goods that require age verification.
Step 1: Initiation
This stage takes place when a customer is attempting to purchase an age-restricted product and him being visually under the age of 25. As a result, a customer needs to prove that they meet the age criteria that is set by the government for a given product.
Step 2: no proof, no sale
In a situation when a customer attempts to purchase an age-restricted product they must always provide an acceptable form of identification so that employees of the store can verify their age. In case a customer can’t provide an acceptable form of identification that can be verified, they will not be served in a given store.
Step 3: Authentication and Verification
Once requested, the customer whose age is in doubt, has to present a verified form of identity verification. This can be done by presenting a store employee with a passport, driving license, or any kind of identity card that is certified for the use of a given country.
Step 4: Doubt – no service
In a situation when an employee is doubting in the authenticity of a presented identification document due to any kind of problem, they are obliged to refuse any kind of service towards the customer who presented a doubtful document.
How Age-restricted sales policy works in business?
Many businesses sell age-restricted products and they all share legal responsibilities that oblige them to ensure that they follow the age restriction legislation and protect their customers who are underage. The age restriction policies are implemented in order to protect individuals who are below the age limit, as the products which bear age restrictions can be harmful to their health and wellbeing.
Most businesses carry out a practice that they make a note in companies’ refusal log every time they refuse a sale of an age-restricted good. A refusal log plays an important role in coping with legislation as it shows that the business is complying with the law for age-restricted goods. Moreover, it also acts as evidence whenever a government official requests to prove that you comply with the laws.