How a trip to Aldi with the kids could get you banned

IT took 34 years to finally hear the words "I need to see some identification." Pity it was from a checkout operator over a $3 bottle of cooking wine.

I'm sure former students of mine, some now staff at this supermarket, would have gotten a kick out of their high school English teacher being asked to provide evidence she was over 18.

Fortunately, after my driver's licence was inspected in detail, I was cautiously reinstated as an adult and my partner (obviously more adult-looking than me it seems), was able to complete the transaction.

I know I should feel flattered about this, but instead, I was left feeling uneasy about the experience. If I were alone and purchasing the wine myself, I would have brushed off this episode as a checkout operator just being extra vigilant. But I wasn't alone. I was with my partner. And he was clearly paying for our groceries.

I couldn't help but wonder … If I was underage, even though I wasn't buying the groceries, would my partner still be refused service because of me?

To my surprise, that's exactly what would have happened.

I quickly discovered that parents have been refused service and/or banned for 24 hours, even threatened with a call to police, all because their child simply touched the trolley containing alcohol - not the alcohol itself - or, in one case, stopping a bottle from falling off the conveyor belt and smashing onto the supermarket floor.

Apparently, these extreme measures have been in place for years across this supermarket chain, but few patrons actually know about it. Why? A simple case of failing to provide this information to them.

There are no signs in the store nor any mention on their website alerting parents to the consequences of their child's mere presence during a grocery shop that includes alcohol. Instead, just a sentence from the Liquor Act 2007: It is against the law to sell or supply liquor to, or to obtain on behalf of, a person under the age of 18 years. Hardly a hint that your son helping pack the shopping into the car is now worth a call to the cops.

Don't get me wrong. I'm more than happy to abide by their conditions of entry - it's their store after all - and can well understand their desire to avoid huge fines. But, judging by the complaints on their social media pages dating as far back as 2017, it seems the supermarket chain prefer to publicity humiliate customers rather than be proactive and appropriately forewarn them of these rules.