WSWA’s solution that just doesn’t square

In its 2023 Membership Handbook, WSWA advocates against direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping. It labels DTC shipping the biggest threat to the industry.

With WSWA worried that DTC shipping is such a big threat, it proudly lists its efforts crusading against DTC Shipping. One item on its list of Anti-DTC Advocacy Efforts includes, “WSWA advocates for local, licensed delivery as the responsible alcohol delivery solution.”

Now as background, WSWA has gone around the country spreading their viewpoint that DTC shipping will lead to minors getting their hands on alcohol. They have written extensively, taken questionable polls on the issue, and even criticized anyone challenging their orthodoxy.

But how does it all square?

We all agree that keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors is a responsible thing to do. But my question is if WSWA is crusading against DTC shipping as a responsible way to combat minor access to alcohol, why is it proposing an alternative that is less safe, then the activity you choose to ban?

As I have mentioned many times, I am 100% for liquor delivery, however, there are less safeguards than wine shipping. The prime example I give is in Illinois, an 18-year-old third-party independent contractor of a retailer can deliver alcohol to someone, and the 18-year-old does not need to get a signature verified or take records of the transaction. Yes, an 18-year-old kid up all night getting stoned and listening to Mott The Hopple can deliver alcohol to a neighborhood party and there is no tracing mechanism to discover.

Recently, Massachusetts did a sting on GoPuff and alleges that there were 19 counts of selling alcohol to minors. As GoPuff is entitled to due process, we should acknowledge these are allegations and they have yet to be proven guilty. An extensive sting by Massachusetts led to some detailed allegations on minors getting their hands on alcohol a little too frequently via retailer delivery.[1]

We need to acknowledge that when it comes to safeguards preventing the sale of alcohol to minors, there is a distinct difference between shipping and delivery.

Shipping is required to be done by a common carrier, whose employees are required to age verify and request adult signature. If these tasks are not done, especially with adult signature, it is easy to verify and rectify the situation.  The UPS and FedEx drivers are well paid and risk discipline if they don’t follow protocol.

The third-party independent contractor may be getting paid a nominal amount and may not even be trained on how to age verify. There is less incentive to keep a lower paying job and to obey the rules.

But again, WSWA picked their poison and will zealously advocate for local delivery, even when it can’t square with their interest of protecting minors from getting their hands on alcohol.