7-Eleven changes stores' open house booze policy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 July, 2010, 12:00am

Counter staff in 7-Eleven stores have been told by their bosses not to open bottles of alcohol for customers because they do not have a liquor licence - instead they are insisting customers open bottles themselves.

The move comes after the Sunday Morning Post reported how bar owners were angry about a third 7-Eleven opening in Lan Kwai Fong - to be located beside Al's Diner and directly opposite Stormies - because it would affect their trade and promote under-age drinking.

It was also alleged that staff at 7-Elevens in the area were opening the beer for customers to drink there despite the fact they had no liquor licence.

The next day 7-Eleven staff were told not to open any bottled beer for customers to drink on the premises as it would be illegal, but to let them open the bottles themselves.

'I went to the 7-Eleven in Lan Kwai Fong on Monday night and got a bottle of beer,' one customer said. 'I asked the shopkeeper to open it for me. She told me that they had a new policy and that they couldn't open any bottled beer or any alcoholic drink for customers now as they didn't have a liquor licence. She just passed me a bottle opener and asked me to open it myself.'

When our reporter visited the D'Aguilar Street store later, a staff member also refused to open a bottle of beer, instead handing over an opener. 'Since Monday we have been told we are not allowed to do it.'

At the 7-Eleven in Lan Kwai Fong Street the same scenario was played out. The 7-Eleven Group maintained that as no one was drinking on their premises they were working within the law.

'We will not open bottles for customers and will provide a bottle opener upon request. This established policy was reinforced in stores after Sunday's SMP article was published,' a 7-Eleven spokesman said.

'It is not illegal to sell alcohol to those aged under 18 in a convenience store but according to company policy, we will not sell alcohol to those under 18. We have an in-store point of sales material to highlight this message.'

A police spokesman confirmed as long as those aged under 18 did not consume the alcohol inside the convenience store, it was not illegal for the convenience store to sell alcohol to them.

Many drinkers already make the most of 7-Eleven's low alcohol prices, then stand out on the street drinking while listening to the music pounding out from the nearby bars. Bar owners already facing huge rent rises are upset to be losing even more income.

The cheap alcohol, easy access and no-questions-asked mentality also make these 7-Elevens a godsend for teenage drinkers. The 7-Eleven group has even set up a Facebook page called 'Club 7-Eleven' to promote the idea of buying drinks in the 7-Elevens in Lan Kwai Fong as part of a night out. It even boasts of its 'free entry for gents and ladies'.

The law

It is not illegal for stores to sell bottles of liquor to people under this age: 18