Morrison’s implementation of their Challenge 25 policy

(originally posted on Morrison’s facebook page here)

I just sent this letter of complaint to your customer services, and I am posting it here, because obviously it’s still a problem, and others can comment and voice there opinions if they so wish, because I think its a joke:-

I refer you to my previous contact Subject: WM Morrisons Supermarkets; 153828 regarding the implementation of the challenge 25 policy. I further refer you to an email conversation with and letter from James.Brodhurst-brown@morrisonsplc.co.uk dated 9th March 2012 (letter – Mr A France 09.03.2012.pdf) in which it states:-

Our Company policy in relation to the sale for age-restricted products is ‘Challenge 25’. This policy ensures that any person attempting to purchase and age-restricted product for themselves (or another if they know the product is for them) who appears under the age of 25 will be challenged to produce proof of age. As a responsible retailer, we will always refuse any sale being made to, or on behalf of a person under the required age to buy it.

And further clarification from James Brodhurst in a subsequent email stating (emphasis on the last paragraph):

The Challenge 25 policy is designed to prevent the sale of age restricted products to people who appear under the age of 25 years old (without seeking proof of age), in addition to challenging those which the operator suspects the person is buying on behalf of.

As I have stated in my email, I do not consider that the operator had any reason to suspect you were purchasing the age restricted product for your niece and have apologised for the inconvenience caused.

As a part of our training, operators are instructed on what grounds to suspect – overhearing conversations, passing over of money etc. Unless one of these has been witnessed, no challenge should be made .”

Today I had the unfortunate and embarrassing situation arrise YET AGAIN in your Chorley Store. Without any reason what so ever, other than, and I quote, “well i don’t know your not buying it for her” the cashier decided to challenge my niece (who almost always comes shopping with me).

When I challenged this and offered to show them the emails from yourselves showing them that they should not be challenging me as there has been no reason to suspect I am buying the alcohol for my niece, I am just doing some shopping at Morrisons and decided to get some Guinness while I was there, the operator was not interested and referred me to the supervisor. The supervisor was not interested in hearing what I had to say at all, just repeating they had not had an email (I never said they did).

So I asked to speak to the manager. I spoke to Paul Seed – Assistant Deputy Manager as apparently the manager is on holiday. He was sympathetic, agreed that I should probably not have been challenged, but refused to reverse the decision.

To say that, I am angry that this has again happened to me, is an understatement.

I am livid.

I was assured that your staff would be being retrained so that they understood the circumstances under which they should be challenging people, this has clearly not happened, or has lapsed. I am further annoyed that your manager would not reverse the decision even though he accepted that I should not have been challenged, simply stating that the cashier has made her decision he cannot reverse it.

I will now go over some old ground here, because I have discussed this with you previously, though you have not really took it on board.

It is my understanding that this policy you have goes beyond what is required of you by law. It is a policy that is family unfriendly, because I have to either arrange child care so I can leave them at home, or leave the child in the car while I go in an do my shopping if I also want to purchase alcohol.

The RIDICULOUS PART IS, and I am not sure you actually get this, or are deliberately overlooking it, is that the very people you are trying to prevent from purchasing alcohol for minors can do just that, leave them in the car or leave them outside. So the policy you are implementing achieves absolutely nothing other than to annoy probably your bigest group of customers. Families.

Not only do I want an apology for the embarrassment caused, and the time wasted arguing my case, but I want you to seriously look at this ridiculous policy and make sure your staff are properly trained, and at least have a sensible right of appeal for a customer should they not agree with a badly trained cashiers arbitrary decision.

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About austinfrance

Technical Developer @ RedSky IT / Explorer Software
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3 Responses to Morrison’s implementation of their Challenge 25 policy

  1. Kelly says:

    Went into Morrisons to buy a bottle of wine… Had my 13yr old daughter with me…they asked for her id then refused to serve me??? Then the security guard called me love!!!

    • austinfrance says:

      If you are stopped in these circumstances it because of lack of training of their staff.

      I took this issue all the way up to head office and after an initial apology response and a promise staff would be retrained, I was a few months later stopped again. I again raised the issue with their head office and threatened to go to the press after not getting anywhere with customer service (I was like a ferret, I was not going to let this issue go). Eventually I was spoken to by a manager of a different store who was helpful (the issue had been passed to him through some confusion over names on my part) and he arranged for the actual store manager to speak to me, which he did. After explaining the issue over the phone, we agreed to meet and discuss in store.

      He assured me that in both circumstances I should not have been stopped and that it was a training issue that they would address. He also said if I was ever stopped again, to immediately to ask for him. I have never been stopped again.

      Staff are only supposed to challenge IF they have reason to believe that you are purchasing the alcohol for the other person. This means they must see money changing hands or overhear conversation which leads them to suspect this – that sort of thing. Simply going to Morrison’s with your child and purchasing alcohol is no reason to be stopped.

      My advice is to ask to speak to the manager (don’t go via customer service). Charlotte from customer services (also from their facebook page) will just repeatedly evade the issue and you won’t get any resolution that way.

  2. Lisa says:

    On Fri, 08 Aug 2014 whilst shopping with my 15 yr old daughter I was refused alcohol sale. I’m 46 yrs old! It doesn’t look like there has been any retraining at all. I challenged this decision both in the shop and on Twitter and have got nowhere.

    I am now in the process of writing to their Head Office, what an absolute farce of a policy this is.

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