Think 21. Are Retail Assistants Taking It Too Far?

Since the ‘Think 21’ law came into the UK a few years back I have been asked numerous times to show ID when buying alcohol. The last time I was asked was just two days ago when I tried to purchase a bottle of wine with my shopping. I’m 35 ffs! Normally in these circumstances I give an embarrassed (ok, smug) little laugh and reply, “Oh that’s really flattering but I’m actually 35”.
“I still need to see your ID please”, is the usual response I get.So I shuffle around in my purse to find my provisional drivers license (the only form of ID that I have) while trying not to look too smug. When I hand it over they give my photo and birth date a quick once over before saying, “Ok that’s great, thanks”, and the wine or vodka or whatever it is that I fancied that week goes through the till smoothly and all is great in my world. I feel young and glamorous and not at all like a thirty five year old grandmother and I skip out of the shop with my alcohol grinning from ear to ear. “I’ve still got it”, I think to myself.

Two days ago however, all was not right in my world. I got to the till with my bottle of wine and I was asked the question I usually love. “Have you got any ID please?”
“Who me?”, I’d asked, feigning shock.”But I’m 35!”.
“Well, you look good on it”, she’d replied while patiently waiting to see my ID.

As I rummaged around in my purse happily, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have it with me. I’d sent it off the day before because it needed updating. I felt the smile slip from my face.
“No, I don’t have it”, I’d told her.
“I’m sorry but I can’t serve you on this occasion”, said she.
“But I’m 35! I exclaimed. “I have a grandchild. I’ve got grey hair”, I shouted while pointing to my grey roots and tipping my head down for her to get a good look (much to the amusement of the man standing behind me).
“I’m sorry I can’t serve you the alcohol” she’d replied unmoving.

Turns out it’s not so great being asked for ID at the age of 35 when you don’t have any ID on you and you can’t actually buy the alcohol that you so desperately wanted.

“This is ridiculous”, I seethed. I swear I had steam coming out of my ears.I stuffed the rest of my shopping into carrier bags angrily. I no longer felt smug or happy or young.  I didn’t feel like, “I still had it”. I felt enraged. I wanted my wine. I’d earned it. I’d worked hard all week trying to be a good wife and mother and I bloody well NEEDED that wine. I could have walked back up the other end of town and bought another bottle from another shop but I’d just come from there and my arms were full with heavy shopping. I couldn’t face walking all the way back up there now. All I wanted to do was catch a bus and go home.

I sat on the bus seething and wondered why nothing ever goes right for me. I phoned my daughter and told her how unhappy I was about my awful predicament.

A short while later I realised that I may have  taken the incident a tad too personally and that maybe  I was being a little unreasonable, “But so was that woman who refused to serve me”, a defiant little voice in my head said. I do understand that the woman serving me could have lost her job had I turned out to be under age. I also understand that she could have been arrested and fined or even served a custodial sentence, but come on! OK so I may look young (ish) for my age but I don’t look THAT young. I certainly don’t look under 21 although I wish I did.

Me and my grandaughter.

I sent my 19 year old daughter out later that evening to get me a bottle of wine and when she got back she proudly announced that she had no problem buying it and that she hadn’t even been asked for ID. I haughtily replied, “I can’t help it if I look younger than you” and as I took the bottle from her hand and poured myself a well deserved glass, a memory flashed into my head of a couple of Christmases ago. I’d been asked for ID while buying chocolate liqueurs, I kid you not. I mean what did the person serving me think I was going to do? Stand round the corner, consume the entire box in one go and get pissed on them?

So are retailers and retail assistants taking this whole ‘Think 21’ thing too far or are they just doing their jobs? Are they just protecting themselves from the law? 

I know one thing for certain. I won’t ever be leaving the house again without my ID. Or maybe next time I’ll just bring my daughter along with me and she can buy it for me instead.

Relaxing with a glass of wine


This post is linked up with:

Marvelous Mondays   

Twinkly Tuesdays   

Best and Worst 

Blogger Club UK  

Stay Classy Mama      

Cool Mum Club


43 thoughts on “Think 21. Are Retail Assistants Taking It Too Far?

  1. I do think the chocolates was going a bit far, but as an ex-barmaid I can understand the shop assistant wanting to see ID for the wine. I’ve had instances where customers have argued and my response has always been “you probably are but I’m not betting £20,000 and up to six months in prison on it” (and that’s assuming the person doesn’t hold a person licence. If they do, it’s an unlimited fine and unlimited prison time). A lot of places do challenge 25 now and it’s easy to guess an age wrong and it’s better to err on the side of caution, especially over the holidays when more people are buying alcohol.
    I can understand why it made you annoyed though (I’ve been on the other side too and it is annoying).
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK

  2. You do look great lovely! Honestly! But I don’t think you look under 18 or under 21. But I guess they have to be careful. Maybe not about the chocolate liquors tho – lol that’s pushing it! Thanks for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you back in the New Year x

  3. I can imagine just how frustrating that must have been. I have to say you look amazing for 35 so definitely take it as a compliment (even if it was very, very annoying not being able to have your wine because of not having ID!) #bloggerclubuk

  4. Hi janine

    I think the worst is in Tesco, you can’t buy booze if the person you’re with is under 18 and doesn’t have ID. I got refused service once when buying beer for myself because I went into the shop with someone who didn’t carry their ID with them (they weren’t buying anything).
    We were both over 21

    • That’s crazy. My friend told me she got asked for ID because her kids were with her. She didn’t have it and was refused. I’ll have to ask her if that was Tesco.

  5. If I go out with no make up on, I often get ID for a lottery ticket – no joke! It’s rather embarrassing! You do look VERY good for your age, I would probably ID you. I used to work on the DVD counter at a supermarket and would get a lot of abuse if I refused to sell someone an age-related film, which sounds silly, but I could have lost my job! The store fines are HUGE if they get caught serving underage, so as annoying as it is for the customers, it is hard for the assistants serving you as well. #BloggerClubUK

  6. Yes, I think they are a bit now – I think many have started asking anyone who is not clearly over 80, ‘just to be safe’. I am a fellow have always looked young (but no longer anywhere near underage) person, & I agree that it does eventually get wearing, though in theory the older we get the happier we should be about it! #coolmumclub

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  8. As someone who used to work in age restrictive retail, I can honestly say me or no one I worked with would’ve not served someone for the fun of it. The punishments you mentioned are drummed into them – people are sent in to test you, and you end up doubting everything – does that boy have a beard to look older, is she piling makeup on to look older, is she not wearing makeup because she’s a busy new mum or is she actually a teenager? Some teens I know look older than me (32) due to the way they do makeup/hair/clothes. Retail assistants get so much crap from customers, I promise you they wouldn’t deliberately invite more by not serving you just for the fun of it 🙂 They just want an easy life for their minimum wage! So enjoy the fact that you genuinely look great for your age 🙂 (I have to say, judging from your pic I think I’d have asked for ID too, you look fab!)

  9. Hahaha that is really annnoying! I had a similar situation when I was at a music festival, NOBODY would serve me, I kept showing them my screensaver photo on my phone of my son being like BUT IM A MUM lol. Although now looking back people have children at all ages and I was being drunk and stupid. But it really annoyed me every time I went I couldn’t get served but my boyfriend was served every time. I can imagine in your situation I would be fuming and yelling at her BUT IM A GRAN haha. We all need wine at the end of the week it should be a given, there should be a wine trolley that circles the neighbourhood. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    • Omg yes! A wine trolley would be fab. Perfect for those nights when you just can’t be bothered to venture out to the shops. You should maybe start thinking about setting up a business. A wine trolley business would be so cool.

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  11. I’m 37 & think it will be a miracle if I get ID’d ever again. Like you I have felt secretly flattered when asked for ID before until one occasion my sister was with me doing the weekly shop. Amongst the nappies, bread, eggs, toilet cleaner etc were a couple of bottles of wine. I was buying the shopping but she insisted on asking for my sister’s ID. We’re both in our 30s and she luckily had it on her but I was outraged. It was my shopping and she was basically accusing me of buying the alcohol for someone else. Was I not allowed to buy it when my kids were with me? What happens when my daughter is 17 and comes along to do the weekly shop? I basically ranted whilst finishing loading the trolley. I’m not good when I get on my high horse 😂

  12. Okay, I understand why you were p***ed off at the time. But first of all you look amazing for 35! And as a fellow 35-year-old I will still be flattered if I ever get IDed again. It’s been a whole year now…. come on someone, please mistake me for 25 and double check…. #Stayclassymama

  13. You definitely don’t look 35!
    But it is totally shit especially when you need wine. I got id’d buying my child a bottle of neurofen! But I don’t get id’d when I go into a posh bar in jeans boots and a jumper. The worlds gone mad!

  14. You do look really young. I wouldn’t have pegged you as 35 either (but I’m 107 and everyone looks about 5 years old to me). I LOVE that your 19 year old daughter got your wine without even being carded! Ha! #Stayclassymama

  15. I think I’d pee my pants laughing if anyone asked me for my ID these days. Then I’d promote that person to my new best friend. I can feel your frustration though. Being denied wine, I’d have thrown a tantrum right there, thus thrusting the age debate right back to under 18! ‘#stayclassymama

  16. This made me grin, although I do understand your frustration. It made me grin because you are a grandmother and still getting asked for ID, but I felt your frustration when you actually were refused the alcohol. When I saw your photo, I could understand why you are asked. You do look gorgeously young and the only thing you can do is make sure that ID is stuck to you at all times and embrace the positives: no wrinkles, you hide your grey hairs well, other women will be a teeny, weeny bit jealous 🙂 Alison x #coolmumclub

  17. I think sometimes common sense goes out of the window and staff do love the power!! It’s happened to my hubby and so annoying. You do look fab for 35 though and I guess if you were a mystery shopper; that assistant could have been in the shit for serving you! So frustrating though. Glad you got your wine and thanks for sharing with #bestandworst

  18. I think people play on t when they feel like it. I used to go out drinking after a works do or with work friends that were way older than me at 15 or 16 and o never once got asked for id! And I definitely did not look over 21. How was that right yet buying it from a supermarket you get id’d?? Strange how it all works if you ask me #MarvMondays

  19. Hahaha oh I totally feel your pain. I’m 30 and I still get asked for ID. As you say, usually it’s fine, but it’s when you don’t have any ID on you. Grrr. I was once asked for ID for buying a razor and I didn’t have any on me. I was furious because I needed that razor to get ready for a night out that night! #TwinklyTuesday

  20. I always remember being asked if my Mum or Dad were in when a salesman came to the door – I was 33 and 8 months pregnant! Must admit I was a bit chuffed but I wouldn’t be too enthralled either at not getting my wine in the supermarket #MarvMondays

  21. I think it’s supposed to be challenge 25 now isn’t it? So if you look younger than 25 they should ask for ID. At least that’s what it is here! I don’t get ID’d for alcohol but I did for calpol a little while ago which was pretty rediculous. #MarvMondays

  22. It is madness isn’t it? I think it’s good that shops are more vigilant now, but a little common sense is needed too! Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays

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