Conflict is brewing over online booze sales

December 13, 1997|By COX NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- The emerging economic struggle between traditional and cyberspace merchants was highlighted yesterday as a media conflict erupted over fears of teens buying alcoholic beverages over the Internet.

An undercover sting operation in New York showed underage customers could order alcoholic beverages from the World Wide Web and have them shipped to their homes without proving their age -- "no questions asked," said Dennis Vacco, the state's attorney general.

However, Vacco conceded that he knows of no instance outside of sting operations in which a teen-ager has actually ordered beer, wine or liquor over the Internet and received it.

Cyberspace sellers charged that the issue is a bogus one promoted by traditional retailers and wholesalers worried about losing sales to the Internet.

The Internet sellers say they seek proof of age and bill purchases to credit cards. "While it is not inconceivable for an underage person to order and receive beer, wine or spirits by mail order, the actual use of that mechanism is rare," the American Vintners Association said in a statement.

Pub Date: 12/13/97

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