Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BC's Monopoly Madness Continues

Susan’s Rant:

Have our government pundits finally lost their mind completely? According to my calendar, we’re now full on into the Christmas season – one of the busiest times of the year for any retailer who actually wants to make money. Parties, thank you gifts, even just the feeling of “I deserve it,” I don’t know many people who fail to pick up a few extra – or extra special – bottles for the holidays.

Now since wine and liquor sales are traditionally significant contributors to the public coffers – think ever-escalating taxes, duties, and other cash grabs – it seems logical the folks who run our government monopoly would leap at the opportunity to dig even deeper than usual into our pockets.

And yes, I’ll admit, I’m always delighted by the opportunity to expand the wine cellar, but carrying huge amounts of cash around is not part of that agenda. Ka-ching – can you say Credit Card?

So here’s some bureaucratic brilliance that left me speechless – which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, happens somewhat less frequently than a blue moon. Apparently, two weeks before Christmas, some – not all, mind you, just some – liquor stores are refusing to accept a credit card with “Ask for ID” on the signature line. Have the government bureaucrats gone insane? This is an acknowledged safety precaution among many credit card savvy consumers – especially ones who travel frequently.

But the worst of it is the bureaucrats know they have us at – allow me to be polite – a disadvantage. Where else are we going to pick up a bottle of Moet, Remy Martin, Tomasi Valpolicella, and perhaps a six-pack of Heineken all under one roof? Can we just wander down the road to another retail outlet? No. For one-stop shopping it’s LCB or nothing.

Maybe my brain really is getting addled by drinking too many bottles of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc under aluminum screw cap. Could that little slip of metal, actually, be affecting my ability to reason? Or maybe it’s the LCB people who are suffering from aluminum poisoning.

This flagrant display of stupidity does, however, have one good point. It should drive more sales to the gallant entrepreneurs who are fighting to provide us with an alternative. Although independent liquor stores are still limited in BC, their numbers are increasing. Best of all, not only are the staff there typically more helpful and more knowledgeable than their LCB counterparts, but many stores also offer a broad range of tastings and food pairings as well. Let’s hear it for free enterprise.

Thanks to Wine and Dine for sounding the alert and for their ongoing list of great wine events in and around British Columbia.

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