If you look to be 30 years old or younger and you shop at the NSLC, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be asked to show proof of age, either while you’re shopping or when you get to the cash. We do that as part of our We ID Program, which helps to make sure beverage alcohol doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
“It’s an important responsible consumption program,” says Beth Martin, Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility. “The legal drinking age is 19 and it’s one of our core responsibilities to make sure we don’t sell to minors. We ID helps reduce that risk. But it’s not always easy, because it means making a judgement about someone’s age very quickly.”
NSLC’s retail employees are trained on how to administer We ID as soon as they’re hired, and the training is renewed every year. “The We ID Program training teaches our employees how and when to ask for ID, what forms of government-issue picture ID are acceptable, and how to explain the program to customers. It also teaches them how to deal with any conflict,” says Beth.
“We ask for our customers’ patience and understanding when they’re asked for ID in our stores, and we would encourage them to take it as a compliment. But it’s our responsibility to make sure no sale is made to a minor, and we take that responsibility very seriously.” Beth says a customer could be asked to show proof of age up to three times as they encounter different store employees. “They could be asked when they first enter the store, while they are browsing, and when they make a purchase at the cash register.”
Customers who are refused the sale because they don’t have acceptable government-issue ID can’t get someone they’re shopping with who does have ID to make the purchase for them. “Some customers find this frustrating too,” says Beth. “But from our perspective, we need to be sure that beverage alcohol isn’t being purchased for someone who isn’t over 19, so we refuse the sale, even if the making the purchase does have ID.”
Employees at our Spryfield store know the challenges of asking for ID and have done a great job of striking the right balance while still providing great customer service. Their We ID mystery shop scores have been perfect for more than a year. According to Store Manager Kevin Conrod, it’s because the whole team is engaged in making sure that if someone looks 30 years or younger, they get asked for ID. “It’s an important part of all our jobs,” says Kevin. If I see someone come in that’s on the age bubble I’ll prompt our employees and we’ll have a conversation about why we should ask this customer for ID. It’s something we’re paying attention to all day, every day.”
Kevin says some days are a lot busier than others when it comes to the We ID Program. “I try to make sure I know when local schools are having their graduations, so that all of us are aware and prepared.” He also says long weekends and certain holidays and observances, like Halloween, tend to present more challenges than other times of the year. “If they have a mask on, we ask them to remove it. And if they’re wearing some kind of face makeup, we ask for ID no matter what.”
Spryfield Retail employee Kay McLellan says that Fridays and Saturdays tend to be the busiest We ID days aside from the special occasions. “Some people don’t like it,” says Kay, “especially if they shop here regularly. For me it’s simple – if they look to be under 30, I ask for ID.” It looks as though that sentiment is shared by Kay’s retail colleagues across the province. In 2015/16 our employees asked for ID over 1.6 million times and refused just over 11,000 transactions. This one percent refusal rate has been consistent for the last three years.