Monday, December 28, 2009

Pocono Record has it right...

Oh, yeah, brother: preach it:

...the wine kiosks smack more than a little of Big Brother. Without a live person monitoring wine purchases, consumers will face some pretty intrusive procedures before they can walk out of the supermarket with a bottle of cabernet to go with their steak au poivre.
The editorialist at the Pocono Record puts their finger right on the wine kiosk problem. When you buy a bottle of wine at a private store in New Jersey/New York/Delaware/Maryland/etc., that's all you buy: a bottle of wine, and you walk away. When you buy a bottle of wine from one of these Wine-O-Mats, you buy a lot more: you buy a breathalyzer test, you buy an ID scan linked to what you bought (and how much you bought), you buy the knowledge of how much wine you buy over a year, and -- at least, according to the head of the PLCB's employees' union -- you buy an etched code on the bottle that links it to you...and all of that goes on your permanent record.

Is that what you want from your government? Big Brother literally looking out at you from some ridiculous wine-vending machine, sniffing your breath and taking your picture just so you can get a bottle of Yellow Tail (because I'm sure there will be Yellow Tail in these things, they've got a whole section of their own in the stores)? I mean, I'm not a huge fan of the Patriot Act, but at least I can understand why the government might want to listen on phone lines to pick up terrorist activity...why the hell do they want to keep a record of which bottle of wine I bought? What damned business is it of theirs?

It might be time to throw some bottles of wine in the Philadelphia harbor...


TC said...

" buy the knowledge of how much wine you buy over a year,..."

It's amazing how that cuts both ways. When the PLCB does it, it's Big Brother, it's intrusive, it's lousy. When Moore Bros does it, it's amazing, because I can't remember the name of that riesling I bought last summer that was so delicious.

Same action, such wildly different purposes.

Lew Bryson said...

Exactly. It's all intent. I can't see the PLCB ever giving a damn about helping me find a bottle I bought the year before (likely because they wouldn't have it anyway), anymore than I could see Moore Bros. keeping track of the raw alcohol I purchased in a given month. Not to mention that I'm not bound by law to shop at Moore Bros. and only Moore Bros.

Sam Komlenic said...

I was drinking with friends from out of state today, and they mentioned that Pennsylvania is recognized by outsiders as the state where "someone is watching you all the time."

Can't argue with that, now can we?

Rich said...

I've been following the whole wine kiosk thing through your blog Lew and I must say I'm mostly impartial about it because I just don't drink wine. Other than to say that I think it is a waste of money, and I don't agree with that per-se. I would rather see the LCB find a way to make wine/liquor more accessible via the stores they already have. Or another way that could be done is allowing grocery store sales at establishments that already have 24/7 hours. Unfortunately, to the LCB throwing technology at a "problem" is a politically correct way to solve it. The politicians can brag about how advanced and high-tech we are and wear it on their sleeves...similarly for the LCB. WOW! Look how FAR advanced we are in Pennsylvania!

Lew Bryson said...

Understood, Rich: but as a Pennsylvanian, aren't you pissed about the corruption (single-bid contract, major Rendell donors and the PLCB's former chief counsel up to their necks in it) and waste involved? Yeesh.

Anonymous said...

Lew, love the blog, but there's a coupla errors on this kiosk thing:
1. No customer data is retained.
2. The kiosks cost the state nothing directly, although there are some incidental costs for hardware, the costs of the leases for space, and of course the soft costs associated with employee time and infrastructure. The contractor also guarantees the LCB against losses, up to a limit.
3. The "former chief counsel" had minimal involvement, relatively early on.
Keep up the good work.

Lew Bryson said...


Considering that it has been reported in a variety of papers that customer data will be retained, I hope you'll understand that an anonymous posting to a blog doesn't exactly make me feel all better about that. A statement from the PLCB to that effect would.

The "nothing" you state as the costs then quickly turns into "something" when you start talking about the operating and real estate costs, doesn't it? And where does Simple Brands make their money on 100 expensive kiosks if this costs the PLCB "nothing"? Tips from satisfied customers?

And FX O'Brien is listed as "PA Liquor Counsel" on the contract, paid by Simple Brands. He's the chief counsel for the agency, then turns right around and advises this company -- which came out of nowhere, doesn't even have a web presence, and whose primary made his 'experience' selling light-up ski-ball machines -- that's selling a major one-bid contract to the agency...that's plenty stinky enough for this PA taxpayer.

AVB said...

I still haven't seen how they address out of state licenses that don't have a magnetic strip to Maryland for instance. You'll now have a state government refusing a legal product to a citizen of another state. I'd like to see the laws on that one.