[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Man, 72, refused alcohol over age
Tony Ralls
Staff say all customers are asked for proof of age
Supermarket staff refused to sell alcohol to a white-haired 72-year-old man - because he would not confirm he was over 21.

Check-out staff at Morrisons in West Kirby, Wirral, demanded Tony Ralls prove he was old enough to buy his two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mr Ralls asked to see the manager who put the wine back on the shelf.

The grandfather-of-three said he had refused to confirm he was over 21 as it was a "stupid question."

Mr Ralls, a retired insurance firm regional manager, said he expected the store manager to resolve the situation but he was disappointed.

"I felt like saying 'What do I look like? Are you a fool?'

It's bureaucracy gone mad
Tony Ralls

"He picks up the wine and, in the manner of a child taking home his ball, says 'Well, we won't serve you'."

The pensioner abandoned his shopping on the conveyor belt and left the store - but not before demanding a complaints form and phone number for Morrisons' headquarters.

Mr Ralls said: "It is bureaucracy gone mad. If the check-out lady, who was about 40, had asked me with a twinkle in her eye perhaps I would not have been so tetchy.

"But she asked me the question with a perfectly straight face and I said I wouldn't dignify the question with an answer.

"And if the manager had explained that all the staff had to ask everyone because they had previously been fined, but said I was clearly over 21, it would have been fine - but he showed no sense of humour."

Mr Ralls added that he felt embarrassed to return to the supermarket and wanted an apology for "the stupid and unnecessary confrontation."

He added: "I applaud any efforts to stop kids being served and standing on street corners getting drunk. But this was just totally stupid."

A Morrisons spokesman said: "We take our responsibility with regard to selling alcohol very seriously and all our stores operate the Task 21 scheme, which addresses the difficulties our staff face in being able to determine if a customer is legally old enough to buy alcohol.

"To further limit any element of doubt staff at the West Kirby store are required to ask anyone buying alcohol to confirm that they are over 21."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific