Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now! At the PLCB! Every Bottle is On Sale! FOR MORE!

That's right, Pennsylvanians: not only do you have to buy your booze here in Pennsylvania at the State Store System (under penalty of law), you're now going to have to pay more for it, across the board. As of January 4, every bottle -- wine, liquor, liqueur, wine cooler, and whatever Rock & Rye is -- will be going up in price by 50¢ to $2 (depending on size). What's the reason? Is it a new database for beer registration? More courtesy training? RFID tags so they can track down and kill underage drinkers? (Just kidding; they wouldn't really kill them.)

It's not a tax. (Really, Chairman PJ Stapleton said so, so, well, there you are.)'s handling fees. The PLCB tells us that this is the first time in 17 years they've raised the price because of this. My response: how would we know? How would we know? The PLCB takes all its costs out of the price of booze (and licensing and fines and so on), but although the annual report says how much gets spent, it doesn't really give details. So how do we know whether they've added in these costs before or not?

And honestly, why the hell wouldn't they? Joe "CEO" Conti keeps saying they're running it like a business; what business doesn't adjust prices for costs? And now he's saying they're going to adjust for costs every year, "We're going to look at these every July and hopefully though it will be a penny or two next July instead of the increase that we had to do this year to make up for 17 years,"he said to KDKA reporter Marty Griffin. And what business ups their prices by a penny a year? Come on, "CEO" Joe!

It's not just you that's going to pay, either: restaurants and bars will pay more too, and by the time it gets through to you, you're looking at $3-5 more for a bottle of wine, right? For handling. Am I alone in thinking that this would be a good time to tell them to get their damned hands off the booze?

Sure, private liquor stores raise their prices. But you know...when they do, you have a choice. You can shop around. You aren't required to shop in one store by law, and if you don't shop there, the cops will take away your booze and fine you. Unless you live in Pennsylvania.

Had enough yet? And if you haven't...why the hell not?


Anonymous said...

Great rant! I was afraid that you had abandoned this blog.

AVB said...

It's for the convenience! I mean 614 store has to be enough but if you want more you're gonna have to pay. Every kiosk is a store ya' know and since they are going to try to add a dollar to every kiosk bottle why not add more to EVERY bottle while they're at it?!

You know their motto:
Screw the public interest!

Lew Bryson said...

That's right, AVB, I forgot: if this wasn't enough, they're going to be adding a dollar "convenience fee" to the wines in the kiosks. SO convenient!

sam k said...

I was hoping you'd address this. I'd heard of the increase, but was given absolutely no reason why...and now that I know, it still makes no sense.

Not that it surprises me, mind you. I just keep asking myself...WTF?

sam k said...

Oh, and by the way, this now will make price an issue in PA. For a long time, I've been agitated by just about everything the PLCB does (or doesn't do) as a retailer of spirits...except for price, which has always been at least reasonable.

Now that's out the window, too.

JohnM. said...

Pardon my stupidity (for some reason whenever I try to figure out why in the world the PLCB does something, I end up feeling stupid), but even assuming this "fee increase" is justified, why isn't it a set fee across the board? Does a larger bottle of wine require extra "handling," thereby justifying the increased "handling fee?"

Granted, the whole explantion/arguement for the fee increase presented by the PLCB sounds like complete and utter nonsense (but then what's new), but you'd think they'd at least try to make some attempt to make the cost gradation sound somewhat plausible.

Lew Bryson said...

Why would you think the PLCB would try to explain, justify, or rationalize anything, JohnM? It's the PLCB: like it or not, you gotta buy it!

Ethan Smith said...

Guess I'm going to have to step up my frequency of trips over the border. I hope everyone else does likewise.