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 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!

Friday, June 11, 2010

"There is no such wine."

David Falchek blogs about wine ("Empty Bottles") for the Scranton Times-Tribune, and does a nice job. He also...doesn't think much of the PLCB and the State's monopoly on booze sales. Read this classic tale of just what I'm talking about when I say that the State Store System doesn't exist to serve the citizens or to "protect" them through "control." It exists to serve the State and the employees; it exists to take your money.