This week, Under Age Sales launched a petition to gain more support for convenience retailers that face 1,860 physical abuse every day just for asking customers for ID when selling age-restricted products.

We spoke to Under Age Sales managing director Tony Allen to get his top three tips for dealing with abusive and potentially abusive customers.

  1. Always make a record of it. "Most shops have a refusals register, so they should write the refusal in there and make a note of the abuse in the register," said Allen. "When your PCSO or police officer next pops in, share it with them and get them to make a note of it – that should then find its way on to the intelligence databases."
  2. Create an expectation of challenge. Implement an age verification policy, such as Challenge 25, and promote it well. Allen said: "As the customer comes into the store, they see the signage and they know they’re going to get asked. Keeping stock displayed neatly with warning notices will mean customers will expect to be asked."
  3. Train your staff. Simple techniques can diffuse a situation.
    • Just take half a step back – it can prevent a confrontation from getting out of hand
    • Lower your shoulders as this can also help to calm a customer at risk of being abusive
    • Have application forms for ID cards available. Offer them an application form and let them know obtaining an ID card will prevent future problems.

Sign the petition to get more support from the Government for independent retailers.