Thursday, June 24, 2010

Le Kiosque Nouveau est arrive!



Oh, at last, at last! The PLCB's long-threatened wine kiosks have arrived!

And the Harrisburg Patriot-News very obligingly sent reporter Liam Migdail-Smith to try out one of the two prototypes. He chose the one at the Wegmans on Carlisle Pike in Silver Spring Township, and filed this report. The paper's Joe Hermitt also video'd the experience, which you can watch above.

It's amazing, really. These awesome new wine kiosks let you buy one of FIFTY THREE different wines (even more than the fifty originally promised!) just by...
  1. Making a selection by touchscreen (better than talking to a State Store System clerk, right?) 
  2. Scanning your driver's license (got any outstanding warrants? Just kidding!) 
  3. Swiping your credit card ("swiping" is just a technical term) 
  4. Signing a touchpad (dontcha just love those electronic pens?)
  5. Activating the breathalyzer by touchscreen (don't get flustered when you forget this step, like the reporter did)
  6. Blowing into the breathalyzer to prove your BAC is below 0.02 (maybe you'll get instructions too; and yes, that is much lower than Pennsylvania's legal limit; the PLCB's just being careful about your safety (and their liability)) 
  7. Waiting for the breathalyzer results (don't look nervous, you're fine! ...although the PLCB does admit "It is possible the machine may detect alcohol when a consumer hasn't been drinking, but the PLCB will err on the side of caution." No worries, though, she'll be right...s'long as you're buying Yellowtail, right, mate?)
  8. Standing still in front of a video camera so a PLCB employee at a remote site can confirm you are the person on the license (they probably hired really attentive folks for this, so don't think about how mortifying a 'false positive' would be at this point; they will probably shred your license, though...)
  9. Moving to the correct door (apparently identified by flashing lights; don't worry about the wrong one lighting up, because no one else can use the damned thing until you're done already, buddy!) 
  10. And about two minutes after you started (assuming nothing in this chain of events goes wrong), you can pick up your bottle of wine!
That is SO COOL! What will they think of next?! They're probably working on sending wine to your house by pneumatic tubes or little trolleys on overhead wires or something!

People in other states are making fun of us as you read this. Hell, people in this state are making fun of us as I write this! Want to read something funny? Check out the official PLCB press release on these technological marvels. My favorite part? "The entire process will take less than 20 seconds." A close second: "The kiosks are a way to give our customers an added level of convenience in today's busy society." HA!

Ask yourself some questions.

First, and most important, what is so important about "control" that makes this better in any way than what they do in a majority of states: buy bottles of wine right off the grocery store shelves?

Second, think about your elderly parent trying to buy a bottle of wine from this thing. Now...think about them trying to buy one while you're waiting in line behind them, just wanting to get a bottle and go home, because there's only going to be one per store. Like that picture?

Next, think about why no one seems to mind that the major investors on this single-bid contract are major political donors?

Then think about this: the PLCB says they're not paying for the kiosks, that Simple Brands LP (no link given because they have no website...and isn't that odd for this ostensibly "hi-tech" company?) is making money in other ways: the advertising on the kiosks, for instance, and...hey, wait a minute...how do the wines that get into the kiosks as your only choices get picked? The PLCB says they're picking them, but that would seem to be a problem for "ad revenue." Is this a slotting fee scenario? Because I thought that was illegal for booze. Far as that goes, what's Wegmans get out of it? The lure of the kiosk? Garces Trading Company, anyone?

Oh, and ask yourself this: what kind of smart-ass answer will the kiosk give you if you tell it you'd like a nice bottle of cabernet franc?

Finally, after you've asked all those questions, ask yourself this: isn't it time you wrote your legislator and told them that they should support Mike Turzai's bill to abolish the State Store System?

Abolish the PLCB! Rewrite the Code! KILL THE KIOSKS!

30 comments:

Scoats said...

Awesome! It's as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!

Sara Nelson said...

Outstanding concept—but having a hard time understanding how if could possibly be cost-effective.

Lew Bryson said...

Sara... it doesn't have to be cost-effective, it's a monopoly!

Ronald said...

I used this machine at giant and love it!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I used a kiosk at giant it was cool . i love it!!!!!!! lew you are such a hater

Lew Bryson said...

That's Mister Hater to you, Ron. But please, tell us, what's so lovable about the kiosk? The ten-step method? The huge selection? The twirl for the camera? And wouldn't you really love just picking a bottle off the shelf even more?

Anonymous said...

Hey , let' s sell the only thing that makes the state any money?

Rich said...

Lew,

I've already writen my state legislators about Turzai's bill. What I can't believe is how hush you are over it...you should be dancing in the streets and shouting from the top of Mt Davis for everyone to support this law because it is "what we want".

Also, as far as the kiosks are concerned...I'd feel so awkward using one.

Lew Bryson said...

Hey, why stop here: if you're so happy about the state owning booze retail, why not pass legislature that makes the state own all beer retail AND all taverns! It would likely pass muster under the 21st Amendment; how'd you like to have all bars turn into State Drinking Lounges?! Wouldn't that be GREAT!

"The State Store System makes the State money" -- there's so much wrong with that statement that I don't even know where to begin.

Lew Bryson said...

Rich,
I have posted about it, and mention it when it's appropriate. I'm also trying to find a way to work with Rep. Turzai and other legislators on the project. The natural thing, and the thing Senator Rafferty is doing with Sheetz on his 6-pack bill, is to find industry allies. But the booze companies are scared to cross the PLCB; if the bill doesn't go down -- as it likely won't, let's be honest -- the PLCB has an all too easy path to revenge.

Lewis Houghton said...

"Hey , let' s sell the only thing that makes the state any money?"

Why do people have this mentality that the state SHOULD be making money? If the state acts like a business then logically like any business they would like to maximize their profits. In the private sector, this is a good thing. Where there's money to be made, competition comes in and prices go down as quality of product goes up. The problem with the government wanting to make money is that they force their customers to buy into a product (state stores, taxes, etc.). The government is motivated to get as much money from you as they can. You can decide where to spend your money for private business. The government forces you to pay them. Let's look at it another way, 48 other states have private liquor stores. Do any of them (try looking) have these convoluted kiosks? No, private business would only have them if they were more cost effective and convenient for the customer. This speaks volumes to how terrible the state store system is.

Verlyn said...

Okay, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Even when I was stationed in the deep south where alcohol sales are not permitted on Sundays, I could go to any grocery store for a bottle of wine/6 pack of beer. Having grown up in CA, its taken me forever to get use to the archaic, neo-prohibitionist liquor laws here with regards to buying beer and wine. Now this? .02? That means if I've had one drink within 3 hours of using this machine, it won't sell to me.

Anonymous said...

I was at the giant again today there was a line to use the kiosk. Stupid idea I think not.

Lew Bryson said...

Of course there was a line! It takes at least two minutes to get a bottle of wine out of the stupid things!

I say again: which is a better idea, the wine kiosks, or putting wine on shelves where you can pick it out and put it in your grocery cart?

Anonymous said...

Wow two minutes. That's a long time.Looks like you could eat one of the two dozen donuts you get at the supermarket in line.

Lew Bryson said...

Two minutes? Compare that to the two seconds it would take to simply pull a bottle off the shelf if we didn't have this asinine state sales system. SNAP! That's a massive FAIL for the wine kiosks, baby!

AVB said...

A bunch of political hacks trying to save their jobs. I can see the lawsuit now when the State of Pennsylvania refuses a product to a person of legal age because the 1.) License doesn't scan, 2.) the idiot on the other end can't read a passport, a legal form of ID. 3.) Military Common Access Cards (another legal form of ID) won't work in the machines. 4.) Only 21 states use a magnetic stripe on their licenses which means that residents of 29 states will be denied. 5.) the breathalyzer requirement is not what the law currently says.

This will fail as miserably as the PLCB does at "control" being that PA is 6th in population but 4th in alcohol fatalities.

1WineDude said...

10 steps, 2+ mins., and multiple points where your privacy can be violated... what's *not* to love?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I think all vending machines should have a breathalyzer. Then maybe I wouldn't buy so many Skittles.

Anonymous said...

This kiosk thing makes the whole PLCB absurdity so obvious. Although I do like the idea of tubes... for home delivery...

Anonymous said...

Great post Lew. Thought you might be interested in joining some Philadelphia people for some discussion on the State later this month: http://www.philadelphiacontingent.org/calendar/13970563/
Hope to see you there!

Lew Bryson said...

http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/2431716,CST-NWS-wine25.article

Told ya people in other states were making fun of us...

Tommy said...

Where are you, Lew? Turzai is prepping to introduce the Privatize the State Stores Bill. We need you to rally the troops! What do you need us to do, how do we organize, who do we contact? Oh captain, my captain now is the time to give us some guidance.

http://www.publicopiniononline.com/localnews/ci_15462617

Anonymous said...

Nice music in the background. Is it me or do I hear "Higher Love"? Most Wegmans don't have music...

But anyway, have any of you ever visited a PLCB "one-stop shop"? They are as good as any supermarket's own wine room. Usually closed Sundays too.

Bill said...

Well, I can see how people are amused by this thing because it is a Rube Goldberg-ish way to get a bottle of wine.

Of course in real life, I'd rather just hand a cashier my ID, my purchase and some form of payment and be on my merry way....I'll stop at that crazy gumball machine on the way out of the store and amuse myself that way instead.

Gary Gillman said...

Lew: when you buy wine or liqour at a regular PLCB outlet, is a breathalizer required? If not, what is the logic behind doing it for the kiosk sales?

Why can't they just extend the hours of some outlets, or set up boutique shops where you can see the selection?

Gary

Lewd Bison said...

I changed my mind .I love the kiosk

Lew Bryson said...

Who asked ya?
Kiosks suck.

Andy said...

" ... opportunity for consumers to pick up their groceries and a bottle of their favorite wine to compliment their dinner"

So the kiosk will be COMPLIMENTING dinner choices too, huh?

Illiterate as well as unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

A recent pennlive comment points out what the newspapers and tv don't care to report. The LCB says that these kiosks are provided free of charge. But the LCB pays for everything else. They decide what to stock, how much to stock. They pay clerks to restock (and sometimes man) the machines. They oversee every transaction remotely. So we taxpayers pay for the people on the other end of the camera, the logistics, the fuel, the bandwidth... Anyone feel like asking how much THAT costs?