HomeNEWSControversial ecommerce alcohol site Quenched to be resurrected

Controversial ecommerce alcohol site Quenched to be resurrected

A Wellington-based booze delivery site called Quenched is going to reopen, after closing temporarily when critics slammed it in news media. The company said on its site that the party’s not over – it is “refuelling” the site and relaunching online. The Register explores the rules behind selling alcohol via an ecommerce site.

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To our loyal supporters – the party’s not over. We’re “refuelling” the site and will be back online soon. Sign up at info@quenched.co.nz

Posted by Quenched NZ on Monday, May 25, 2015

The site closed last week after backlash from health professionals, who said it encourages binge drinking.

Its advertising campaign highlighted the convenience and speed of its services.

“Need booze quick? We’ll have it to your door in 45 minutes. Don’t stop the party at your place early, we are here to help.”

The site allowed people to buy wine, beer, spirits and cider online, as well as snacks.

The deliveries were only available to people within central Wellington for a fee of $5. Orders over $50 were free.

Tom Brown, David Loveridge and Anika Rani founded the site.

They talked to Stuff about the business last week, with Loveridge saying that the business was legal and that they didn’t want to encourage irresponsible drinking.

The Quenched website was shut down after the article prompted a flurry of publicity.

Quenched is laying low for now and did not respond to requests for comment from The Register.

Despite the early criticism it faced, the company is not alone in the online alcohol delivery market – sites like liquorcabinet.co.nz, themill.co.nz, topshelfliquor.co.nz and farrowines.co.nz all deliver booze.

However, the point of difference with Quenched is the speed of its delivery.

Other sites may take up to 24 hours to deliver, while Quenched does it within the hour – or within 23 minutes, as this guy below found.

In light of Auckland Council cracking down on alcohol retailers, the laws around online sales of alcohol seem to be reasonably loose.

One of the biggest problems with alcohol being sold online is whether the purchaser’s age can be verified.

Online seller The Mill was in trouble last year for delivering a bottle of alcohol ordered by a 17-year-old.

An experiment by TV One’s Breakfast show last year also found three out of five online booze retailers didn’t check a 16-year-old’s ID when it was delivered.

The current laws on the supply of alcohol in New Zealand state remote sellers (such as the internet) of alcohol can require purchasers to declare at least twice that they’re over the age of 18.  

This can be done through tick boxes or submitting their birth date before entering the site.

The pop up that appears when first entering The Mill’s website.

This isn’t mandatory to have, as websites like Topshelf Liquor don’t have any pop-up that tests the visitor’s age.

No pop up appears when visiting Topshelf Liquor’s website.

The Ministry of Justice will review policies around online alcohol sales in two years to make a more detailed assessment on the harm caused by remote sales.

It will also look at how well technology can verify a buyer’s age.

In a review of the laws in 2010 by Alcohol Healthwatch called ‘Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm’ stated that:

“Much of the alcohol sold over the internet is only sold in large quantities, such as six or 12 bottles of wine, which obviously requires a more significant financial outlay than the purchase of a smaller quantity at a store. Additionally, internet alcohol purchases always involve a delay between the order and delivery, usually of at least 24 hours. All of these factors mean alcohol sold over the internet is less likely to result in casual, unplanned purchases and purchases by young people.”

However, this logic doesn’t apply to sites like Quenched, which speed up the process and offer to deliver any type of alcohol within the hour for a cheap fee.

This makes it a much more convenient way for underagers to get their hands on booze.

Overseas, Drizly, which was one of the first companies to delve into online alcohol delivery territory, has its delivery people equipped with iPhones that have software to scan an identity document and determine it’s valid.

The largest liquor distributors in the US have invested in Drizly in the hopes that it can accelerate ecommerce and innovation in the alcohol industry.

Ecommerce giant Amazon is also keen to expand its grocery service to potentially include beers, wine and spirits.

 It has submitted applications for liquor licenses in the Seattle area.

Perhaps this is a sign of what might be to come here with New Zealand supermarkets in the online sphere.

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