According to a study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina, nearly 60 percent of companies selling alcohol online made little effort to verify the age of consumers, thus making it easier for underage drinkers to purchase alcohol. These researchers asked eight young adults, ages 18 to 20, to buy alcohol from 100 online vendors. The researchers told the participants they could provide a false age if asked. However, they were required to provide their real identification if requested by the website.
Staggering Number Of Online Vendors Allowing Minors To Successfully Purchase Alcohol
Out of the 100 vendors, only 12 rejected the sale because of the age of the consumer, 16 were denied when the delivery driver checked ID, and 27 failed because of a denied credit card or shipping was not provided to the consumer’s state. This left 45 successful purchases of wine, beer, or hard liquor by a minor. Imagine how high these numbers would be if the participants were allowed to use fake IDs or even their parent’s or family member’s ID.
While there seems to be quite a bit of fault in the system the online vendors have set up, there seems to be some blame that lies in the hands of the delivery companies. Wine was the only alcohol that FedEx and UPS – the shipping companies used in this study – will ship due to regulations. It was reported that, despite rules in place to check ID at the time of delivery, some deliveries were left at the door, some were handed directly to the teen after checking the clearly marked, underage North Carolina identification, and some were simply asked if they were over 21.
Delivery Companies Stepping It Up When Delivering Alcohol
A spokesperson for UPS stated that wine delivered through their services has a sticker that requests a signature by an individual over 21. Additionally, they only allow approved vendors to ship wine through them. The spokesperson also said that UPS has procedures in place to reduce the risk that minors will have access to any alcohol.
FedEx agrees with the sentiment that selling alcohol to minors is harmful and they too have procedures and policies to ensure that it doesn’t happen. They stated that they took these results seriously and are planning several corrective actions to make sure these rules and regulations are followed more closely.
Online Alcohol Orders Fulfilled Through Local Grocery Stores?
The executive director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association gave his opinion that it seems fairly unlikely that teens are using online retailers to purchase alcohol. First of all, most vendors only sold wine, which is not a popular choice among teens. Second, the process can take up to two weeks and includes delivery charges, and hoping that parents aren’t around when the delivery is made. However true these statements are, it is still fairly easy for those underage to purchase alcohol online and not have to go through the hassle of a two week wait. There are some states where online orders can be filled through the local grocery store.
This isn’t a new problem and it’s probably not one that will be going away anytime in the near future. A survey done in 2006 resulted in a report of over 550,000 minors having bought alcohol online. There are several companies, winemakers in particular, that favor restrictions that place prominent stickers on all packages that indicate the package contains alcohol. This would also place a higher responsibility on delivery companies to ensure that the signer is indeed over 21 before getting their signature.
Warning Your Teen Of Underage Drinking And Purchasing Alcohol Online
Talking to your teen about underage drinking is the first step in trying to avoid your teen’s participation in purchasing alcohol online and in underage drinking. It is important to not only warn them about the dangers of underage drinking and consuming large amounts of alcohol but also to remind them of the laws on the drinking age and the consequences that could follow if they are caught purchasing alcohol under the legal age to do so.
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