At some point all liquor licensees will be faced with a decision about refusing to serve alcohol to a patron. Whether this decision is based on legal or safety requirements, it is important to deliver a consistent message that all patrons understand.
The following are some suggested 'do's and don'ts' of service refusal.
Do's of service refusal
- Do obtain agreement from a supervisor and notify security, if available, before speaking to the patron.
- Do be polite and avoid value judgements. Use tact - politely inform the patron you will not serve them any more alcohol.
- Do point to posters/signs behind the liquor service point to reinforce your decision.
- Do explain the reason for refusal of service (e.g. continued bad language, inappropriate behaviour).
- Do offer (if appropriate) non-alcoholic beverages instead, or to phone a taxi or a friend to drive them home. It is harder to get angry with someone offering to do something for you.
- Do make sure that they leave the premises safely and that they do not hang around outside.
- Do enter incidents relating to refusal of service in a log book, especially those involving threats or aggression.
Don'ts of service refusal
- Don't call your patron a 'drunk' - warn them politely that their behaviour is unacceptable.
- Don't be persuaded to give them 'one last drink' after you have stated that they have had enough.
- Don't agree to let the person finish their drinks (it is an offence under the Liquor Act to allow a minor or unduly intoxicated or disorderly person to consume liquor on licensed premises).
- Don't raise your voice. If they raise theirs, lower yours.
- Don't put off refusal hoping that the patron will leave after the next drink - act while the patron can still be reasoned with.
- Don't judge other people.
- Don't think the matter is over because you have verbally addressed it.
- Don't tell them what to do or how to behave.