I was recently given a leaflet from one of the major brewing company’s about their responsible drinking policy. It covers all the aspects of how they endeavour to encourage sensible drinking. They put this quite simply:

“We are successful when our products are consumed responsibly.”

This has reminded me about how we dealt with customers who were abusing alcohol. Let me be frank when you sell alcohol you are likely to have alcoholics amongst your customers. The first one we came across was a grocery retailer whose family owned 20 or so shops in across the South East up until the 1990’s.

But he had a problem, he was addicted to high strength larger and cheap spirits. His wife was so concerned that she asked if we could stop selling alcohol to him. We tried to but he continued to buy some alcohol from us and other stores. His alcoholism eventually killed him and some months later I was given a very graphic account of his final days of his life. Needless to say I felt very uncomfortable that we didn’t find a way of stopping him buying from us.

The next alcoholic customer liked her wine just a little bit too much and was up to three bottles a day when her husband asked us to stop selling it to her. This time I took a much more proactive approach and told her that her husband had asked us to stop selling to her. I can only say that her response was some what less that friendly. I did persevere and explained what had happened to the previous customer. She did hear me out, but went away unconvinced and now buys her alcohol and other shopping elsewhere.

Of the two experiences neither is at all satisfactory, but I am left feeling that I have taken the responsible course in the second case. I definitely feel I should have done more with the first customer.

How do you manage your customers who have a drink problem?