Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Keep Your Stupid Wine, Pennsylvania

Reason asks the question, "how does a wine monopoly lose money" when examining the Pennsylvania state liquor control board's plan to sell wine at kiosks in various stores (mainly grocery stores and retailers like Wal-Mart).
"...the kiosks dispense a limited selection of wines at limited locations and times (not on Sunday, of course!) to customers who present ID, look into a camera monitored by a state employee, breathe into a blood-alcohol meter, and swipe a credit card. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) originally expected to have 100 kiosks in grocery stores throughout the state, each selling 30 to 50 bottles a day. But only 32 machines were ever up and running at one time, and only 15 manged to hit the bottom end of that sales target. In June the Wegmans supermarket chain withdrewfrom the kiosk program, bringing the total number of machines down to 22."
 So, let a state employee spy on you through a vending machine, swipe an ID card, and take a field sobriety test just to buy a bottle of wine, or go next door to the liquor store that every grocery store seems to have attached these days. Tough choice, let me see... the wine is cheaper in the kiosks, though, right?
"The committee also worried that the lone bidder, Simple Brands (I shit you not) of Conshohocken, was vague about the fees it might be charging, did not respond to repeated requests for information, and 'continued to change its business plan 'on the fly' as the Committee has broached operational issues and concerns.'"
Okay, but at least since this is contracted out to a private company, the taxpayers (some of whom don't drink -- think if this involved cigarette machines instead of booze) aren't on the hook for anything, right?
"The PLCB says the company owes the state the money it has lost so far; the company disagrees. "

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