Date PostedJanuary 9, 2013

Do Drunk Customers a Favour, Refuse Them Service

Most responsible servers of alcohol know how to recognise when a customer has had enough but the problem often arises when it’s time to refuse this patron alcohol. This could be either because the server may think it’s none of their business or because they are afraid the already drunk patron may become violent or make a scene, either way it is the responsibility of alcohol servers to cut an intoxicated patron off.

Refusing a drunk patron alcohol is not just a matter of ethics but it’s the law. Many patrons may believe that customers are adults and should be able to control themselves and so it should not be their responsibility to refuse alcohol. While it may be true that drinkers should be more responsible and know when to quit, the sad fact is that a lot of people don’t, so should the innocent public be placed in harm’s way because of patrons who do not know when to quit? These patrons are often the source of alcohol induced violence and other crimes on innocent people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is for these innocent people that servers must refuse alcohol service to inebriated customers.

There are some bartenders or waitrons that are too timid to refuse alcohol, especially to customers who become loud, pushy and aggressive. The fact of the matter is, serving alcohol takes someone with guts because it’s not always going to be easy to say no, but for the customer’s sake and your own you must do so. If you are caught serving alcohol to an intoxicated person you and your employer may receive unnecessary fines and your venue will begin to get a bad reputation and start attracting the wrong crowd, which in the end will be bad for business.

Another sad fact is that waitrons and bartenders who serve alcohol to the same intoxicated patrons every night are contributing to the problem of alcoholism in Australia. Alcohol addiction is something that affects around 1 in 3 families in some way and has a huge financial impact on the nation. Families and lives are destroyed as people drink away their days, shortening their lives. By being more responsible in the way alcohol is served and sold, we can do our bit to combating this problem.

So remember:

  • Look out for the signs of intoxication.
  • Discuss problem customers with co-workers and management so they do not serve this person
  • Know how many standard drinks are in the most popular drinks you serve
  • Encourage customers to use public transport or call a friend.
  • Have posters up promoting responsible drinking
  • Be calm with patrons when refusing them alcohol no matter how aggressive they become, remember that you are the professional.
  • If customers become violent when you refuse them alcohol, call the police and while waiting for them to arrive call other staff members to assist you but never become violent and retaliate yourself.


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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