What’s to stop teenagers from having booze delivered to them via an app?

What’s to stop teenagers from having booze delivered to them via an app?

That’s what Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler asked the retailers selling alcohol online.

Teen phone alcohol

 Online grocery shopping has seen a huge boom in the lives of many, and not just for groceries - alcohol, too. 

But with so many teens having access to those retail apps, what’s to stop those bottles of cider, spirits, and wine being delivered directly to under-age hands?

That depends of which app you’re dealing with.

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Last week, a Durban life coach and mother of two teenaged girls, who has asked to remain anonymous, posted her thoughts on teens ordering booze via online apps.

“I love the new apps - Checkers, Pick n Pay and Woolworths,” she wrote. “They have certainly changed my world and make life that much easier.

“I have ordered alcohol off these apps too, which got me thinking. What kind of control is there when someone under 18 orders alcohol?
Other than a no U18 logo next to each image, is there any mention of age, proof of ID, etc.

“I have heard that this is how some Under-18s are ordering alcohol.

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"I was told by one retailer that it's the delivery guy’s responsibility to ask for ID. Passing the buck, I think.

“It frightens the life out of me that this kind of access to alcohol is so easy.

“Let’s just say I have seen and heard how this happens. I would to know what the retailers are doing about it.”

She had some responses from her own enquiries, so I thought I’d reach out to them about the issue with formal media queries, and add Makro and Norman Goodfellows, which both offer online alcohol shopping.

Here’s what they told me... 


“Our Checkers Sixty60 drivers request formal identification of anyone considered to be younger than 18 – just as a cashier would do.  
The Liquor Licensing Act makes it an offence for any person under the age of 18 to buy or attempt to buy intoxicating liquor and our drivers are trained to not hand over alcohol to minors, to verify a customer’s age if it is in doubt and are reminded via a prompt on their delivery device."


“Woolworths does take this seriously and our Dash drivers are briefed to ask for ID in this situation. We will send a reminder notification to our operations teams to ensure compliance. In order to register and purchase on Woolworths online and Woolies Dash, customers must be over the age of 18 and agree to the terms and conditions, including: ‘Proof of age will be required on delivery. If such proof is not supplied, your order may be cancelled."

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"Our delivery drivers are instructed to check ID for any customer that appears under the age of 21. The drivers are trained on this process during their induction and this important measure is also included in our contract with our delivery partner."


"At the time of online check-out for in-store collection, if any alcoholic product is in your cart then customer is reminded that they will need to provide a valid ID on collection. This is validated at online checkout as a valid ID number and checkout does not proceed if ID number indicates that customer is younger than 18. In cases of delivery, couriers are trained to ensure compliance to a defined process to ensure that person acknowledging receipt of the order is of legal age to receive the goods. But point of delivery validation can be a challenge to the industry and requires ongoing reinforcement and determination in retailer management of the courier relationship. We place very high priority on this. NB - A number of couriers are experimenting with technology that encompass verification checks, one-time passwords and features such as ID scanning to help reliably authenticate the receiver."


"Currently around 80% of our deliveries are delivered by our own vehicles and staff. Our staff are trained to ensure that they only ever deliver alcohol to adults. If they are in doubt they call in to distribution and we request verification on delivery. We rely on our outsource courier partners to deliver the other 20% of our orders to outlying areas around the country, and we train them to verify age on delivery. Your email has prompted us to review our procedures, to include verifiable proof - and have specified in to our vehicle  tracking and sign in glass partner to scan an ID or Drivers on delivery. This is targeted to be live by the end of the year or early in the new year."

Why it’s not ideal to use your debit card for online purchases

This week, the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) released its annual report for 2020, which revealed, among many things, that while credit card fraud decreased by 27% from 2019 to 2020, debit card fraud increased by 22% for the same period. 

That’s because lockdown shifted a massive number of consumers to online shopping, but many chose to use their debit cards instead of credit cards “where the funds were already in their account, rather than spending on their credit cards which they would have to pay back later,” Sabric said.

That created what Sabric terms “more opportunities for criminals”, because while consumers can apply to their credit card companies, via their banks, for chargeback - a refund - if they don’t get what they paid for, there is no such protection when consumers use a debit card for online purchases.

This is very timely advice for Black Friday, or Black November, as it’s become.

If you can’t pay with a credit card, don’t buy it. It’s far too risky, if you’re not shopping with one of the big, established e-tailers.

*Sabric urges consumers to register for credit-related alerts offered by credit bureaus and to conduct regular credit checks to verify whether someone has applied for credit using their personal information.

*If you’ve lost your ID book or card or had it stolen from you, or you discover when checking your credit profile that you’re a victim of identity fraud, contact the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service about protective registration: www.safps.org.za

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

Listen to more podcasts from Wendy Knowler in the Consumerwatch channel below: 


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