It appears the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s controversial wine kiosk program is coming to a close now that the State and Simple Brands, the manufacturer of the machines, couldn’t come to an agreement on money the State alleges Simple Brands owes.
As you are aware, these kiosks are, first of all, HUGE. Like, I think the Wizard might live in them.
I have never used the kiosk in my local Giant Eagle because at first I was intimidated by the sheer size of the machine, then it was out of order for several months, and then I was not chancing the machine eating my driver’s license for lunch, which was one of the reported malfunctions.
I was previously aware that in order to receive a bottle of wine from a kiosk, you had to swipe a valid ID to prove you were of age. I was also aware of the added Big Brotheresque step of breathing into a breathalyzer to ensure that the customer is not drunk.
I was, however, unaware of this step:
The customer must … look into a surveillance camera that is remotely monitored by a state employee in Harrisburg who approves the sale after verifying the buyer isn’t drunk and matches the photo ID.
You realize what this means don’t you? That at some point, in some meeting in Harrisburg, the great minds of our state sat around a table and essentially said this:
“Okay, we want to put wines into the hands of our consumers more easily. We can do that two ways. We can spend a couple million dollars to have customized kiosks the size of actual Kias. The customers will have to swipe their ID card. When they swipe the ID card, that will trigger a search in our database to pull up that person’s driver’s license while the customer is asked to blow into a breathalyzer and then stand very still and look into a camera. We will then hire staff, we’ll call them wizards, to man computers in Harrisburg who will have remote access to every single transaction that takes place at the kiosks all over the state, and they will be charged with matching up the face to the license, confirming the breathalyzer readout, and then if nothing went wrong with all that technology — the scanner, the breathalyzer, the camera, the database, the delivery mechanism, the doohickeys, and the whatsits — the technician will then approve the sale at which time, hopefully, the machine will recognize the command coming from Harrisburg and allow the customer to purchase a bottle of wine. OR, option two, we could let the grocery stores sell wine.”
AND THEY CHOSE THE FIRST TORTUROUS OPTION.
God save us from the Commonwealth, the Mommy Dearest of Big Brothers.