Walmart Won't Sell Beer to Dad With Teen In Tow

Walmart cashier prevents 57-year-old man from buying alcohol because he might share it with his teen daughter. And this isn't an isolated incident.



Via The Des Moines Register, your latest tale of our nanny culture gone nuts. This story comes courtesy of an Ames, Iowa, Walmart, where a man named Jim Davis was barred from buying a bottle of Smirnoff and two six-packs of Budweiser. The reason? Because he had his 15-year-old daughter with him. 

Nevermind that Davis himself is far above the legal drinking age. A Walmart cashier refused to sell alcohol to the 57-year-old after carding his teen daughter, who had no ID. In an email, a customer service rep told him it was part of new efforts the chain was testing to discourage underage drinking.

"In order to ensure that alcoholic beverages and tobacco are not sold to minors, Walmart is testing point-of-sale age checks in some locations across the country," the customer service statement read. "By testing this, we hope to discover the best methods for ensuring that products are not sold illegally to minors. In addition, to comply with federal laws, stores may ask for the ID from individuals within a group other than the person making the purchase."

Not quite sure what the spokesperson means by "testing point-of-sale age checks in some locations." Isn't checking ID for alcohol sales is already a practice everywhere? Group ID checking might make sense when you have a horde of young people. (As a bunch of 19-year-old college kids, we knew better than to go into the grocery store with the 21-year-old friend buying the beer.) But when you have a parent buying alcohol with a teen in tow? Absurd. 

The Register writer, Lee Rood, said she* contacted Walmart for a response but two spokespeople promised to answer her questions "then did not respond for two weeks or return subsequent messages." After Rood's article was published Monday, she was able to get in touch with Brian Nick, Walmart's director of national media. "What happened is not consistent with the intent of our policy," Nick said.  

"The last thing you want to do is create an atmosphere where people feel they can't be in the store purchasing things with their children."

According to Nick, Walmart's official policy for alcohol is merely to check the ID of whomever's doing the purchasing if they appear under 40. He told Rood the policy would be clarified in Ames and Des Moines, "where readers reported similar experiences." Apparently this isn't just an isolated incident of employee idiocy.

Comments/The Des Moines Register
Comments/The Des Moines Register

In the recent Reason-Rupe millennial poll, a majority (54 percent) said policies aimed at preventing underage drinking are ineffective, and 22 percent said these policies "create more problems than they solve."

* I previously misgendered Rood. Sorry! 

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  1. Jim Davis


    1. *narrows gaze*

      Wish I had a pan of lasagna to throw at you…

      1. Isn’t that a waste of good lasagna?

  2. If it saves even ONE child….

  3. First World Problems

    1. I talked to a cashier about why he cards everybody. It came down to the stubborn fact that he can’t generate good random numbers.

      He’s not so stupid to think a greybeard is underage. But he is likely just to enter 2-2-22 as his age, to speed the transaction along. The algorithm doesn’t understand that 2-2-22 is just a short hand for old, or that 7-7-77 is short hand somebody my age. The computer spits out the anomalies, and they are evidence of somebody not obeying the law, rather than someone just acting according to common sense. What ever happens the shift worker gets the shaft. He’s best off just asking for DOB numbers, as he can’t adequately fake a random number sequence, And DOB numbers are the best source of same. It shuts the HQ computers up.

      I don’t exactly like it, being 41 having to offer DOB every time I buy a case of beer. But that’s the way it is.

  4. “So, there’s some kind of problem with this? I don’t see it.”
    –Pennsylvania resident

  5. We can only have the rights of the person with the least rights in our society. Which is who, a death-row inmate? A white, male libertarian? Who?

    1. check yo privilege monocle man!

  6. This is almost old news to me. At our local college Kroghetto, if underage you went through a check out with an of-age buddy, they’d card you and deny the sale. Ridiculous.

    1. That’s pretty common anywhere. I think there are even laws addressing that. But usually when the underage person is the child of the person buying alcohol it is OK. What are you supposed to do, leave your kid in the car if you are buying beer at the grocery store? We all know where that can get you.

      1. Leave the kid in a nearby park…

        1. And get arrested for child endangerment/abandonment.

          You can’t win in the new Police State.

  7. He was probably wearing an obnoxious American flag shirt which was too tight on his beer gut. He also was very likely open carrying in a menacing manner. Serves him right!

  8. “What happened is not consistent with the intent of our policy,” Nick said.

    The beauty of the market is that Wal-Mart won’t make this mistake too many times, as people want their shitty discount-chain beer.

  9. That’s why you have to leave your children at the park.

  10. The man has a 15 year daughter. For God’s sake let the man drink. Of course the easy solution would be to make the daughter stay in the car. On second thought what’s the age limit for letting your child stay in a car alone?

    1. I’d just send her off to wander the store and go to a different check-out line.

      1. I’d do something close. I’d send her away to get more alcohol while I checked out in another lane…Then after I had successfully purchased my alcohol, I’d let her try to checkout as a minor while standing beside with a huge basket of arbitrary shit. When it was rejected, I’d say no deal on everything else and walk away.

    2. It’s like a razor’s edge these days. What is legal anymore?

        1. I fear we may be talking about different things.

  11. I had The Boy, 14, with me in a liquor store over the weekend. He was bored more than anything. no problems checking out.

    I thought it would be a good time to start educating him on how not waste money on shit beer and booze. i don’t think he was listening.

    1. Why do you hate beer and booze? It would be a cheap but for taxation. Cheaper than bottled water.

      1. Low quality, not cheap. Low quality has it’s place, in punch and whatnot, but I want to taste my liquor, hence, good stuff.

        I’ll get lesser quality tequila for margaritas, since the juice/mix will kill most of the flavor.

        I still maintain that life’s too sort to waste on lite beer.

        1. Always amusing to see someone order a margarita and name a top-shelf tequila. Second only to people who order Long Island Iced Teas with top-shelf liquor then complain that it isn’t strong enough.

          1. Always amusing to see someone order a margarita and name a top-shelf tequila.

            Sure, dumping in a good tequila in a frozen margarita w/ DeKuyper’s and bottled lime juice is just a waste of money. But there’s plenty of places where a margarita is a proper drink for a decent tequila.

          2. IF (and its a big if) you are making your margaritas right, then some top-shelf tequilas will noticeably improve the drink.

            The MM recipe for margaritas, which is the product of much trial and error):

            4 oz tequila (your choice)
            1 oz Salerno (blood orange liqueur), maybe a hair more
            3/4 oz lime juice
            1/2 oz agave nectar

            Big enough to share. Maybe. It depends.

      2. I’m with you on your analysis. Feel the same way. I prefer the artisanal stuff. But I respect others choices. Guess we both failed on articulation. I thought you were just dissing booze and beer generically.

    2. shit beer

      But you repeat yourself.

      (OK, to be serious, I’m one of those freaks who doesn’t like carbonated beverages.)

      1. Some very delicious beers are very low on carbonation.

        1. My latest English Barleywine (I call it Oliver Cromw-ale), is very low carbonation, interesting raisin and fig notes in the flavor and 12.5% abv. Wonderful creation.

        2. True, guinness for example uses nitrogen and tends to be fairly flat after the initial release of gas.

  12. Walmart’s prerogative, stupid as it may be.

  13. Group ID checking might make sense when you have a horde of young people. (As a bunch of 19-year-old college kids, we knew better than to go into the grocery store with the 21-year-old friend buying the beer.) But when you have a parent buying alcohol with a teen in tow? Absurd.

    On the other hand, I have been known to ask cashiers if they were going to card the toddler in a shopping cart behind me when his mom is ready to pay for her wine, because apparently both me and my boyfriend are required to have ID on us if we buy beer together at the grocery store. So, check these breeders’ privilege anytime.

    1. Good, Nicole. Let the hate flow through you. Then dye your hair grey and they won’t card you any more.

    2. apparently both me and my boyfriend are required to have ID on us if we buy beer together at the grocery store.

      So you either are or look under 21? This in itself is enough to consider you the worst.

      1. That’s not how it works. It’s typically that you look under 21+some buffer amount. For instance, in the Walmart in this story you get carded if you look under forty. Most of the time what I’ve seen posted (around the northeast) is “if you look under 30”.

        1. Most grocery and convenience stores card everyone now. If the cashier scans alcohol, Then the computer demands that the cashier scans a state issued ID too.

          1. One of my favorites is “I have to get someone else to ring this up”

            1. You have to be over 18 to sell liquor in a lot of states, I think.

              1. Not in NC.

            2. I just moved from CA to NH, and still have my CA ID and plates. At Hannaford’s (grocery chain) a manager has to verify out of state IDs. My first trip there the asshole manager took my ID to “the back” the other 2 trips the managers or leads just verified on the spot.

              New England seems like the wrong place to institute this policy due to the ease of crossing state lines in little time.

              Anyway, I am not going to Hannaford’s anymore at least until I get my NH ID maybe not afterwards

              1. They might not do that if it was a MA or VT license. But a CA license? You might as well be a 25 year old Hawaiian organ donor.

                1. Haha.

                  True. They told me they do it for all out of states. If it wasn’t so frustrating to wait for the manager I’d laugh because the CA ID is kind of neat the birthdate and signature are elevated. The rest is usual for a state ID holograms and inset pictures of me.

                  1. I meant to add with the extras on the CA anyone could see that it is too good to be a fake

              2. New England seems like the wrong place to institute this policy due to the ease of crossing state lines in little time.

                I bet all the stores on the state line that specialize in selling beer and smokes to out of staters don’t do that.

              3. Back in the 90’s, I was at a Hannaford’s in NY with my father and a sort-of relative of ours who was carrying an un-expired East German driver’s license. (He left his passport at the house, I think.) I was the youngest one there for the transaction, at what 26?

                The Ossie did the gentlemanly thing and offered to buy the beer. The poor cashier asked for ID. Hijinks ensued, as a GDR driver’s license is a typewritten form with a photo stapled to it. McLovin’s driver’s license was a far more plausible form of Identification. Official stuff is laminated, also written in English! My father went on a frothing tirade.

                Ah, fun times! Either we stormed out, indignant that one cannot fucking buy beer in fucking America with ID issued by a Communist state. Or we went down the road to a gas station, and I stepped out of the car to make the transaction with out a load of post-cold war political commentary.

                Any way I think we drank that night.

                1. You expect an American store to accept a Commie ID? That clerk was prudently guarding against the possibility that this was a fake ID of the sort that Stasi used to manufacture by the truckload and send to America in order to undermine our drinking-age laws and sap our moral fiber. Why do you hate America?

          2. All the stores I go to have something like that, but they don’t have to scan an ID, just enter a DOB. I can’t remember the last time someone actually looked at my ID. They usually just type in some numbers.
            Which is good. I hate getting carded. You don’t need to know my name and address to sell me beer.

            I think that one of the most obnoxious things about liquor laws is how restaurant and stores are drafted into enforcing the stupid rules. And bars have to maintain the pretense that people don’t go there to get drunk.

            1. Target and Sam’s Club both swipe or scan the driver’s license — or no sale.

              1. At the Targets in California, they scanned the card which was really frustrating because the clerks only ask to see ID, but then proceed to scan.

              2. Well, I guess I won’t buy beer there. I won’t buy my own pseudo-ephedrine containing medications either. You aren’t writing my name in that book.

                1. Same thing. I’ll show my ID but they may not take it and scan it collecting my data.

                  On the other hand, FL CCW IDs do not have mag strips or addresses but do have the DOB… so that’s an option.

          3. I’ve never seen a grocery store scan an ID before. At most I’ve seen them have to enter a date of birth (when I managed a grocery store in college, cashiers would often just enter their own DOB if it wasn’t someone who looked like they were under 25).

            Of course, I live in Massachusetts, so I don’t see grocery stores selling alcohol as much as I used to. Maybe it’s just a new thing. The liquor store does scan my ID when I but a keg.

            1. The big-box stores have it programmed into the registers. Scan or swipe the ID or the register won’t complete the transaction.

              I don’t think I’ve seen the local wine shop ID anyone on the other hand.

          4. Funny story – I got carded for an e-cig about a year ago. I looked at the cashier in disbelief, and she replied “they make us card everyone 30 and under”. I gave her my license, and she blanched when she saw my birth date in the late 60’s.

            I only wish that would happen more often.

            1. She ‘flashed back’ to the 1960s and saw your birthdate (which is when?) or you were born in the late sixties?
              (just kiddin’, I know what you mean)

      2. I think that the standard is that you get carded if you look under 30 now. Or something like that. I think that was actually a federal guideline that came out a few years ago.

  14. I’d love it if retail stores could sell hooch, but I live in MD, so we prols can go get fucked and get thee to the liquor stores.

  15. This happens to me several times in Minnesota, and I believe it is based on Minnesota law (because I have never had a problem anywhere else). If my wife and I are out to eat or shopping, and I purchase booze, they card her as well.

    In fact, one time they wouldn’t sell to her father-in-law because I didn’t have my ID. This is exempted for biologically related people (which I don’t know how they prove without ID). The liquor store said it was MN law.

    1. Personally, I would never take legal advice from a liquor store clerk.

      1. I don’t. However, they wouldn’t sell the liquor because someone didn’t have an ID. They claimed it was state law. Similar situations have occurred multiple times in different permutations such as at the liquor store or in a restaurant. This makes me doubt that it is just company policy.

  16. Say, that’s Lou Rawls, isn’t it?

    You’ll never find
    Another brew like mine.

  17. One of the weapons that union activists have used in the past is allegations of alcohol sales to minors.…..quor-sales

    Walmart has a stupid policy, but they are probably trying to avoid any potentially negative publicity.

  18. Growing up (20+ years ago), my dad injured his ankle and was on crutches. I, 15 or so at the time, went with him to the store pickup up beer. I went to carry it out of the store, since he was on crutches, the store had a fit.

    So, he had to hobble out of the door on crutches with the beer.

    I still drank a couple of them, anyway.

    1. This happened to me when I was 12, trying to carry a case of beer out of the store for my mom. She made them carry it to her car.

  19. You’d think with how much they’re pimping that millenial poll they’d realize that kids these days demand alt-text. On everything.

  20. I wonder what the age for the kids is when you can’t buy with them there anymore? I’ve been okay with the 6 year old. Is it when she hits 10? 14?

  21. I’ve seen this same thing happen to someone in front of me in line.

    I pointed out to the cashier that if the adult there had wanted to buy booze for her kid, wouldn’t she have left him out in the car?

    1. Not if she wanted to keep her car windows intact.

      1. The kid was a teenager. At least where I live, I think that would not have attracted any undue attention.

  22. I don’t understand why stopping underage drinking is still a priority don’t we need to focus on terrorism and corporations denying women contraception.

    Tangent: I was disappointed to see that NH only allows brewers to fill their own growlers. When a bill was brought forth to allow any beer selling establishment to sell growlers it was tabled for study. The comment a state legislator from Durham posted to this article was particularly frustrating

    Speaking as a state rep from Durham, I will simply say that I will have to look at this bill very closely— and I will have to consider it carefully— if and when it comes over from the Senate. Speaking as a resident of downtown Durham, I will say that this sounds like a concept which will be wildly popular with the underage drinkers in my community (and, yes, we do have a few of those) but not so popular with those of us over 21.

    Since he comes across a bill about a concept he has never heard of he is immediately graced with government fairy dust to determine how said concept will be used, marketed, and which groups will enjoy it the most.

    1. Underage kids don’t want growlers of beer. They want liquor: it’s cheaper and easier to transport per unit alcohol.

      Plus growlers are usually used for craft beer, which is something that kids tend to take a bit of time to get into.

      1. Yea growlers are good for a small group of people hanging out for a couple hours. They run out quick.

        My roommates and I were unusual in that we drank almost exclusively craft beer at least when it was just us chilling or watching a ball game.

    2. NH is pretty good (comparatively) on a lot of things.

      Booze laws aren’t one of them.

      1. At least the state stores are reasonably pleasant and well stocked and have good prices. From what I can gather that is pretty rare among states with liquor monopolies.

        There have been a bunch of really bad laws about underage drinking, though and the liquor commission guys are dicks. I’m really glad my wife doesn’t work at a bar anymore.

      2. The East Coast as a whole is not very good with alcohol laws.

  23. I deal with this every day. The problem isn’t with Walmart, or anyplace else. The problem is with the stupid laws.

    If you sell to someone who is legal, but they determine later that you somehow should have known that you were selling to someone who was providing for someone else, then they hold you responsible, especially when that underage person later gets caught. They can’t even define exactly what the rules violations specifically are…they just know it when they see it apparently.

    1. Ding ding ding.

      I love the screen caps of those comments. Like Walmart is horrible for covering their asses and making sure there’s no way they can be blamed for either a) aiding in underage drinking or b) helping a possible pedo get his victim drunk.

  24. I cashiered at a local grocery store in high school. One day we were told that from now on we were to card on ALL cigarette sales. NO EXCEPTIONS.

    First customer of the day was an 85 year old man buying a pack of Pall Malls. He was not amused.

    1. One of the few times I ID’ed someone who seemed to be underage it was the grocery chain’s own headquarter type that goes to stores to make sure the cashiers are IDing.

      I got a few gift cards for doing something I usually did not do. Winner!

    2. Smokers don’t make it to 85. FAKE ID ALERT!!!

  25. I’ve stopped going to a happy hour sport because they changed their bar policy to “card everyone who orders alcohol.” I even asked to talk to the manager, and he made it quite clear that the owners would rather not have my business, whatever his personal thoughts on the matter were. Private companies can institute whatever policy they want, but I’ll be going elsewhere.

    1. Are you missing a word, or is “happy hour sport” something fun I have just never heard of?

      1. s/sport/spot.

  26. Wait, where is the part about drinking beer with Lou Rawls?

  27. Good thing Stew Leonards doesn’t have this policy! They even have the shopping carts with baby seats….

  28. I will leave my kids in a hot car while I buy beer.

    Problem solved.

  29. So let’s say the mom buying the bottle of wine takes it home and everyone at dinner including her 15 year old daughter has a glass of wine. Anyone uncomfortable with that?

  30. Dude. Lee Rood is a ‘she’, not a ‘he’.

  31. This sounds like a typical ‘common sense’ policy that gets extended and misapplied into absurdity.

    I understand if they exercise discretion in the 21 year old guy with 4 20 year old buddies scenario. In the case of a 57-year old buying with his teenage daughter though? That is silly. If they are concerned that he is contributing to delinquency, why aren’t they equally concerned that a 57 year old man is consorting with a minor? True common sense simply no longer exists.

  32. Funny how WalMart ignored the writer for two weeks but all of a sudden was willing to talk when a negative story hit their web search filters.


  33. glad i quit drinking….but to the rest…..enjoy!

  34. 10 years of liquor store experience here. We pissed off customers all the time. It’s kinda up to the business to watch their own ass. That Walmart may be getting the shit hassled out of it by state cadets. Or they may just be uppity about this sort of thing. That’s what you get buying your liquor from a company that probably sensors the Weird Al Yankovich CDs they sell. Shop somewhere else.

    This is really sort of a non story, from a libertarian angle. I hope for the day places can sell clean, standardized heroin over the counter, but if it ever comes do you think it will last long if businesses don’t take precautions to protect themselves and show they’re making some attempt to curb under age use?

    In deleware beach towns it’s not uncommon to ban teens from going into the liquor store altogether. They stay in the car.

    I have personally sold to dads who I KNEW were giving it to their teen and was occasionally proud to when I knew the “teen” was a war vet. I think the drinking age should be 18. And I disagree with monopolizing liquor licensing schemes. But until then, the business takes all the blame and gets all the fines so if they make up dumb little rules to protect themselves, their employees, ect from liquor inspectors and cops, it’s their prerogative.

    1. And stop thinking in terms of “common sense”. The state isn’t applying it to anything. They’re trying to trip you up and fine you. If I get the date wrong on one of a 100 side view licenses I check that day, I get a huge fine and depending where I work, criminal charges. So we didn’t take side view and we didn’t have a problem with the state. Just a couple of pissed of 21 year olds. It’s not a hard decision when you’re a business.

      Also, Maryland had a (short lived) program of having state troopers in the stores occasionally to check ID’s and nab people giving to under age kids in the parking lot. Guess what they did? Questioned just about everybody buying more than a six pack where they were going with it ect ect. Especially if they had their kids with them. Hence short lived because store owners didn’t want them scaring everyone away. They just wanted some of the heat off their backs onto the people actually buying for minors. Anyway, If cops see kids in stores, they’ll target stores. That’s state logic.

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