When a Convenience Store is Anything But Convenient

For those who follow this blog or follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I recently began calling Austin, Texas my home.

A part of relocating is updating my car’s tags and getting an in-state license.

When I did go apply for my driver’s license, they confiscated my old ID and gave me a temporary license.

“It’ll be eight to ten weeks before you get your official one.” they said.

I thought nothing of it.

I then went to my local Wag-A-Bag convenience store to pick up (I’m ashamed to say) a pack of cigarettes.

“Are you over thirty?” the clerk asked.

“Nope.” I replied.

“Then I need to see some ID.”

I pulled out my temporary, and the clerk asked me, “Do you have anything else?”

I didn’t, so the clerk refused to sell me the item. “I’m sorry, it’s Wag-A-Bag policy that we don’t accept temporary IDs.”

I pleaded, “But this is legal identification.”

“I’m sorry.” the clerk replied.

Not wanting to give up, I placed an e-mail on Wag-A-Bag.com asking for clarification on their license policy.

Their response did little to further my understanding on the dilemma.

This is our reasoning for the current policy:

1. WAG*A*BAG makes every effort to avoid sales of alcohol or
tobacco to underage customers
2. A scan able form of ID is usually a legal form of ID as far as
date of birth
3. If the employee has to scan before selling, the employee does
not have to rely on their math skills.
4. We want to give our employees every tool possible to protect
them from making an illegal transaction.

The third point is what’s sticking out. Employees don’t have to make the decision or not if a customer is underage if the identification is scanned.

The e-mail continues:

We realize this policy can offend some of our customers when they are waiting for a permanent form of ID. But we cannot think of a way to tell our employees when they can take an ID or not take it. So the most consistent policy is- “no scan” “No sale.”

To put this “No scan, no sale” to the test, I went to the same Wag-A-Bag store. This time I was armed with my United States Passport (yes, the very same form of identification that legally allows me to leave and enter the country).

“I’m sorry sir, but unless you have something I can scan, I can’t help you.” the clerk replied.

“You realize your refusing official United States identification right?” I asked the clerk.

“I’m sorry sir, it’s Wag-A-Bag policy.”

Conclusion

I can see where Wag-A-Bag is coming from: they are trying to keep alcohol and cigarettes out of the hands of those not old enough, while giving the clerks the freedom not to discern whether someone is old enough or not.

However, the refusal of my Passport was just a slap in the face of common sense. This place is officially stricter than the TSA on matters of identification.

As a side note, I went to my local Walgreens to get what I needed. They accepted my temporary ID, and laughed when I asked if they needed to see my Passport.

12 Comments

  1. I understand their policy. My youngest Brother used to work at a convenience store and he explained that under age kids used to try a lot of tricks to buy alcohol and tobacco, including an official looking pictured licenses ordered through the internet. They learned the hard way to look at for the water mark that’s in all Alabama licenses.

    The real issue is that convenience stores are high school targets for tobacco and beer. And by only accepting scannable ID’s, they are protecting themselves from liability. WallGreens is not an alcohol target & less of a tobacco target so they can afford to be a little looser.

  2. It makes no sense why a passport should not be accepted. A passport is difficult to fake. If the employees cannot do the simple math required to figure out someone’s age, they employees probably shouldn’t be handling money or other areas that require third-grade math.

  3. The answer to the “why no passport” comment is easy. A typical convenience store employee is a $7.00 / hour person who is trained throgh a set of printed instructions and policies. And since very few of us carry around passports, they are not trained to deal with them.

  4. I got my Texas driver’s license today, so hopefully I won’t run into ID problems anymore.

  5. Another fun stuff the Europeans can laugh about the Americans. 😉

    Sad, that some people are not educated enough to figure out how old a person is!

  6. Normally I would agree with you but this State has been known to send in under age “test buyers” who act, dress and appear to be 30 years old!

    When your state does this, what choice do you have?

  7. GOOD! YOU need to STOP SMOKING you big fat head! That was my birthday present you turd and now you took it away…..this presented a great opportunity for you to just call it quits and stop the madness ;p

  8. “Ouch”, your Big Sis sounds like someone I would rather not run into!

  9. LOL. She’s a good gal looking out for her younger brother. That, and she’s been in the military too long.

  10. Not sure why they couldn’t scan your temporary ID or passport! Just lousy service. Low hourly rate doesn’t have to mean bad atttude.

  11. My point earlier was that this has nothing to do with customer service. Comvenience store staff are given a list of ID’s that they can accept and that’s it.

    And if a temporary ID or passport are not on the list, then sorry – it won’t work. Making exception to this rule is almost always a firing offense because the clerk could put the store in legal trouble.

  12. i have to agree with Tom … we smart people or people with jobs that require more then a pulse understand and comprehend the things that would make since … but like he said before … they are paid 7.50hr to use a very basic set of skills to do a very basic job they are not expected to go out of there way to learn anything more then what they are told to by there bosses. .. so with that being said a lot of “its not my job” comes up … and also chances are they have that job because they dont have the ability to acquire another job. so they would like to protect what job they do have

    now i am not bashing on all gas station attendants there a lot out there that either own the station they are working in or are doing it because they are independently wealthy and need something to keep themselves busy and want to get paid to do it … i am sure there are plenty of other reasons why gas station attendants are good but that all i can think of right now

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