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No ID no lager: 58-year-old banned from buying alcohol at Radstock Esso garage

By SG_ABrennan  |  Posted: March 26, 2014

Philip Lewis

Philip Lewis

Comments (18)

A Radstock printer was turned away when he tried to buy four cans of lager – because he didn’t have any photo ID to prove he was 58.

Now petrol station bosses have admitted a staff member who refused to serve Mr Lewis might have been a little overzealous.

Esso says it will be apologising to Philip Lewis following the incident, which he says left him feeling humiliated.

Mr Lewis is boycotting Norton Service Station in Midsomer Norton after he was banned from buying the cans of Fosters.

Mr Lewis said he was gobsmacked after he was asked to produce photo ID before attempting to make his purchase.

“I could understand it if I was nearer 25 and looked that way but I will be 59 in June. I don’t carry my driving licence with me.”

Mr Lewis, a regular customer at the service station, had gone into the shop to pay for his petrol when he had picked up the lager and took it to the till.

“There was a queue behind me and I felt really humiliated and demoralised. I reckon I spend about £2,000 in there on petrol and magazines over a year – and I was made to feel like that at my age.

“It was very over the top and I feel it was completely unnecessary. I have written to the service station manager but I will be withdrawing my custom and going elsewhere.”

The Challenge 25 guidelines used by many retailers who sell alcohol require anyone buying alcohol who looks under the age of 25 to produce proof that they are over 18.

A spokesman for Esso said: “We apologise to Mr Lewis for any offence or inconvenience caused during his visit to the service station.

“While we have strict rules concerning the sale of alcohol, it is clear they were applied with a little too much zeal on this occasion. We have advised the sales assistant accordingly, and will contact Mr Lewis to offer him a small gift as a goodwill gesture.”

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18 comments

  • Dashers  |  March 31 2014, 2:42PM

    Elsewhere - you seem to be missing the point. In my comment there was a cashier who was confident that my age was over 18 but she was unsure as to if I was over 25. Legally, the obligation is over 18 years of age. Not 25, it's never been 25, 25 is an arbitrary number that has nothing to do with the law. If the assistant was unsure as to whether somebody was over 18 or not, then indeed they should request ID - this though was not my point. I don't think you need to reach the level infallibility to assess whether somebody who is 60, or even 30 is over 18 - just base-level ability of a shop-assistant.

    |   2
  • Westyfield2  |  March 26 2014, 7:45PM

    I seemed to stop getting ID'd when I turned 19 :(

    |   5
  • Free2opine  |  March 26 2014, 4:53PM

    The mind boggles.........should have gone to Specsavers!!!!!!

    |   5
  • Elsewhereman  |  March 26 2014, 4:32PM

    Dashers: do you realise that if that assistant had taken your word for it that you were over 18 and been wrong she could have: 1 Been fined £1000? And almost certainly lost her job. 2 Caused the premises supervisor to lose his or her personal licence? And thus his or her job because they were unable to supervise alcohol sales. 3 Possibly caused the company to lose its premises licence? Which could lead to the closure of the whole store. 'Challenge 25' was adopted by the industry after it was realised that 'Challenge 18' and 'Challenge 21' weren't working properly. Plenty of 16- and 17-year-old girls can easily pass for 18 or 21 when fully 'glammed up' and there are plenty of convincing fake IDs out there. 25 is far more difficult to fake. Some 'high-risk' premises even use 'Challenge 30'. It protects staff as well as customers. And your comment about people being more suited to shelf-filling is simply crass. But I suppose you're infallible, eh?

    |   -3
  • lamail  |  March 26 2014, 3:45PM

    Its the comb-over - makes him look youthfull

    |   6
  • Dashers  |  March 26 2014, 2:12PM

    It gets on my nerves, being asked for ID. Whilst I'm not as old as this gentleman, I'm also nowhere near the "challenge 25" age. I enquired, when asked for ID, whether I looked over 18 or not. The checkout lady admitted that I clearly did, but she wasn't sure if I was 25. Yet the law, and the only restriction on retailers is to ensure that the buyer is over 18. "It's company policy". I frankly don't care about your internal policies - sure, ask your staff to check if the customer appears to be under 25, but don't refuse sale if they are clearly over 18 and can't prove it. I've worked on the other side of the till, it's not that hard assess approximate age. Sure people are harder to assess than others and require a bit more of a careful observation, but if you can't do it, then you're bad at your job and shouldn't be put in that position. Perhaps shelf-stacking would be a better use of their skill. Being asked for ID is also insulting - the person behind the counter is suspecting me of trying to deceive them. This is questioning the word of the customer - it is demeaning to have sale restricted because the shop assistant is an idiot. This is most certainly not flattery.

    |   5
  • ChiAm  |  March 26 2014, 2:03PM

    The sales staff did him a great favour by preventing him fro spilling his drink while driving.........

    |   -3
  • davidp2011  |  March 26 2014, 2:01PM

    I've long been curious as to why 25 was chosen. Seems no more logical to me than 30, 35 or 40. Anyway he was spared having to drink that vile muck..................

    |   1
  • DaveF_Walcot  |  March 26 2014, 1:49PM

    He's not, Bari, It's Fosters.

    |   5
  • Elsewhereman  |  March 26 2014, 12:46PM

    As jessiethecat says, there's probably more to this than meets the eye. Anyone who has worked in alcohol sales in recent years knows how much pressure there is from company managements to prevent illegal sales: ironically it is generally the seller, not the purchaser, who suffers, since they are liable to fines, disciplinary action and possible dismissal. Most staff now work on the premise that it's better to lose the sale than their livelihood and err very much on the side of caution. My instinct says that this sales assistant may have seen something which suggested the possibility that Mr Lewis was proxy purchasing for under-18s: he may have been wrong, but he could have lost his job if he was right and not taken the action he did.

    |   2

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