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7-Eleven Focusing on Age-Restricted Products

7-Eleven Inc., which operates 5,700 convenience stores in the United States, is completing the installation of new equipment at its 251 New York stores to assist sales associates in checking ages of customers wishing to purchase age-restricted products.

The equipment, called IDDetective manufactured by Yonkers, N.Y.-based Bartizan Data Systems, calculates the age of a customer based on what is encoded on the New York state ID card or driver's license.

Once the card is swiped or scanned, information will be in full view of the customer and sales associate stating whether the sale can be made. The equipment also has the capability of printing each transaction at the time the card is swiped or at the end of each day, providing a backup verification of the customer's ID.

"About 40 percent of errors made in the sale of age-restricted products comes after a sales associate requests an ID from a customer who appears to be under the age of 27 and wants to purchase tobacco, alcohol, lottery or potential-inhalant products," said Frank Crivello, vice president for 7-Eleven's northeast division. "While we have product-scanning capabilities and reminders on our cash registers to check IDs, we believe adding this technology to verify a customer's age provides another layer of assurance that our stores are responsible retailers."

Crivello expects IDDetective to make the clerks' jobs easier, but also to let customers know that if they try to use fake IDs, they are likely to get caught.

"The effectiveness of this type of device is recognized by the New York legislature, which recently passed a law providing an affirmative defense against the loss of an alcohol beverage license for retailers that use this machine," Crivello said. "Legislation is pending to provide similar defenses for retailers of tobacco products."

In addition to installing the new equipment at New York franchised and company-operated stores, 7-Eleven management is conducting "mystery shops" to verify the proper sale of all age-restricted products during all three work shifts at each store.

Should a franchised store experience one or more government sting violations, 7-Eleven will pay half the cost of sending the violator to state-approved training. "We want to be a part of the solution in preventing underage purchases," Crivello said. "These new measures will augment 7-Eleven's existing training and public awareness program and assist in our ongoing effort to prevent unlawful sales."
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