Why ID check mystery shopping is vital for independent vape stores.
Due to increasing concerns that vape products may be accessed by people under the age of 18, Trading Standards and Local Authorities are currently focused on the Vaping Industry to stem the rise in underage sales.
It has never been more important to show that you, as a responsible Vape shop owner, are demonstrating strict compliance to the law, and can prove that you are.
You need to take active steps to prevent young customers from accessing age restricted products. These could include creating an expectation of challenge for ID by displaying appropriate warning signage, being prepared for young customers by training your staff, and checking that your age check systems are working as they should be.
One of the best ways to demonstrate compliance is through a Mystery Shopping Programme.
The purpose of mystery shopping is to evaluate companies’ levels of compliance regarding sales of Vape and other restricted products to underage customers.
How does Mystery Shopping work?
Put simply, somebody who is over 18 but may appear younger, will attempt to buy an age restricted product from your store, usually without their ID. If the shopper is challenged for looking underage and asked for ID, then the shop will be classed as carrying out effective Age Verification. However, if they are allowed to purchase the product without being challenged, this would indicate the shop is failing to carry out effective Age Verification and is open to risk from Trading Standards.
As it stands, you could be fined a massive £2500 for selling vaping products to individuals under the age of 18; repeat offending could prove to be incredibly expensive, and equally as damaging to your reputation. You could have a robust age verification system in place, and never have an issue, but what happens if the one time you let your guard down, it’s with Trading Standards?
It is simply not worth putting your business at risk, which is why Mystery Shopping is vital. With a certified Test Purchaser Programme like ours, every visit you have is recorded and a certificate issued. This means that you can demonstrate a history of compliance-conscious trading. It means that although you may have had a bad day when Trading Standards turned up, it doesn’t have to equal disaster – you have the certificates to prove your history of compliance.
This has saved the licences of countless retailers in the past.
It also shows that you take the protection of minors seriously and that you understand the law surrounding your chosen profession.
Remember: failing to carry out effective Age Verification may lead to court action and upon summary conviction, a fine. This will have a detrimental effect on your business both financially and reputationally.
It is always better to be cautious, and ask for proof of age for every sale where the customer looks under 25.
Implement a Mystery Shopping Test Purchase Programme to go hand in hand with your own audits, and protect your business.
To enquire about or set up Mystery Shopping for your business, you can speak with our Vaping Industry Business Development Manager, Kevin Darby on 07961090969 or request a call back.