Online alcohol retailers accused of going soft on underage drinkers

Australia doesn’t have enough checks and balances to make sure alcohol is not sold to children online, a report has found.

Jul 21, 2021, updated Jul 21, 2021
Retailers are planning for a big Christmas Picture: Dana Foundation

Retailers are planning for a big Christmas Picture: Dana Foundation

The report, published by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education on Wednesday, says none of the nine online alcohol retailers reviewed used point-of-sale age verification.

Instead, they relied on date of birth entry or tick-box processes, which are easy to falsify.

The retailers studied were Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland, First Choice Liquor, Cellarbrations, Vintage Cellars, Boozebud, Naked Wines and Vinomofo.

The foundation found total website visits to these online alcohol retailers increased last year to 148 million, a 37 million (34 per cent) jump in website traffic compared with 2019.

Websites of the four biggest online retailers – Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland and First Choice Liquor – were collectively visited an estimated 134 million times last year.

FARE chief executive Caterina Giorgi said the system had loopholes.

“The checks and balances that we expect as a community to be in place to ensure that alcoholic products are not sold to children are not there when alcohol is sold online,” she said.

Michael Waters, the head of Retail Drinks Australia, which represents packaged retail liquor stores, said the Online Alcohol Sale & Delivery Code of Conduct had been in place for two years.

Signatories represented “well over 80 per cent” of alcohol sold and delivered online in Australia.

“These systems must verify the age of customers as being over 18 and consist of more than manual date of birth entry,” Mr Waters told AAP.

“The code also mandates a number of key responsibility measures, including a ban on same-day unattended alcohol deliveries, block-out delivery times, self-exclusion and mandatory training for all alcohol delivery drivers.”

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