LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Is a new law requiring supermarket customers to pay for alcohol with a human cashier instead of at a self-checkout counter aimed at underage drinking or is it just a union ploy to preserve jobs?

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports on a seemingly innocuous law that could turn into a potential labor fight.

Union officials and other supporters argue the law would not only prevent teenagers from buying alcohol, but would also save the jobs of supermarket cashiers.

“Kids really do drink too much and I think it would be a chance for them to get away with it,” said one shopper.

Grocery store officials are less supportive, alleging the legislation is simply an effort by labor unions to save jobs that are gradually being replaced by increasingly sophisticated retail technology.

Supermarkets and other outlets already use other safeguards to prevent underage customers from buying booze, including alarm systems that alert employees to verify the age of the buyer.

Advances in biometric technology can also scan and match driver’s licenses to customers — a job traditionally left to clerks behind the counter.

“The computer systems can do all that,” one man said.

Comments (19)

    liquid courage,demon alcohol,have no fear just drink beer!!!

  2. Regg says:

    This seems like common sense. A computer can’t tell if someone is underage, there are some really good fake I.D’s out there.

    1. Deanna says:

      They’ll probably do a better job than a person. I used to buy alcohol with my sister’s EXPIRED driver’s license. Not only was it expired, but she has a different eye color, hair color and is of different height and weight than me. That didn’t stop the man from behind the counter from selling it to me over and over again.

    2. Ron says:

      @Regg: In case you haven’t used a self-serve cash register yet, they DO require an actual person to VERIFY your age, just like any other manned cash register. This is just ANOTHER UNION ATTEMPT to stifle NON-UNION stores from offering you LOWER prices and FASTER service. Don’t fall for their LIES !!!

  3. richie kotzen says:

    Preseving jobs and curbing underage drinking.. so what’s the problem??

    1. Ron says:

      Read my comment above, Richie and you’ll see what the PROBLEM IS !!!!!

  4. richie kotzen says:


  5. Susan says:

    It’s for the unions – the self checkouts that I use stop with the transaction until an employee comes over to verify my identification. You bet it’s for the unions

  6. Sage Advice says:

    I refuse to use the automated check-outs- anywhere, for multiple reasons: 50% of the time it fould up because it can’t read the price, such as at Home Depot – serious 1 out of 2 times WITH a human cashier. So I would rather have real cusotmer service rather than “serving myself” for the money I’m paying, and when the question of price comes up if the UPC does not read correctly (or at all) – I have an instnt response for a human to do something about it.

    Second; the jobs – it disgusts me that these “automated” self-serve check-outs are replacing the most basic of near-minimum wage jobs available to the lowest earners out there, of all things. Soon you’ll start seeing automated check-outs at McDonald’s and Burger King!!

    You need a live person at the check-out not only for this situation in this article, but for price-checks, verifying on-going sales, rebate/coupon advice, and just simple details of getting the dang ATM or debit car to go through properly – let alone, that most of the time I’m paying cash.

    I won’t use them; ever.


    1. ginny says:

      Sage Advice, funny you should bring up the automated checkouts at Burger King, etc. I was at a Jack in the Box last week and while I was standing in line I saw people coming in, ordering on an automated machine and paying with Debit and Credit Cards,then waiting for their order to arrive. Machines are replacing curstomer service everywhere now. I for one, will always go to the actual checkers, order counters, etc. That human contact and ability to ask questions can’t be replaced. And I agree, half the time these self checkouts need human intervention due to UPC problems or bad price pickups.

      1. Duh! says:

        Chalk it up to the raising of minimum wage. Companies can no longer afford to pay for a human and thus are resorting to using a computer.

        Honestly, do you people that support raising minimum wage actually think about where the money is going to come from to pay for the increase? Either prices will have to be raised (in this economy that is a bad thing) or you have to fire some employees in order to retain others at the higher wage but you still need to get the same amount of work done. How do you do that? You bring in automation.

      2. Ron says:

        @ginny: The difference is, that usually there is only 1 person that needs to verify the UPC for every 4 or more self-checkouts. So that saves all of us money on the items we purchase, due to lower overhead.

    2. DLS says:

      I don’t use them at all, because I believe that if I have to check myself out I should receive a discount… after all using a self checkout I am not paying for a checker to ring me up. Why should I pay the same price as people going through a normal check stand. It’s just like the difference in price from self serve and full service at gas stations back in the day. Self service was cheaper….

      1. Ron says:

        @DLS: That is the SOLUTION. Read my comments above.

    3. Ron says:

      @Sage advice, NO MACHINE CAN HELP AN IGNORANT PERSON. I NEVER have a problem. I have a solution to YOUR problem. Just like self-serve gas stations, YOU can PAY a HIGHER price when you want customer service, BUT I and many others DON’T NEED it and do NOT want to PAY extra for it.

  7. TT says:

    a human cashier can determine weather the guy actually buying the alcohol is the one that is going to consume it – Not the under age person they have with them at the grocery store….those kind of judgement calls weather to sell to them or not cant be made by a computer…..But ultimately – if things go wrong, somebody gets sick or hurt, someone will be responcible, who’s gonna “step up to the plate” then ? not the computer ……

    1. Jose says:

      No one can tell who is going to consume it. Not even a human. People buy alcohol for minors all the time. Stupid argument.

    2. Ron says:

      @TT: Read my comments about the human verifier for ALL self-checkouts. DUH !!!!

  8. Jack says:

    I like the self check out better myself. Unless the cashier is hot. Then I use a cashier

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