‘Mystery Shoppers’ Campaign Offers Cash For Servers Who Check For ID

Beer and wine store (file photo)Montgomery County and a national nonprofit are conducting a campaign in Bethesda restaurants and alcohol retailers to check if servers are properly checking the IDs of customers who could look under 21.

Since last week, the county’s Department of Liquor Control and the Responsible Retailing Forum have been going into Bethesda businesses with shoppers who are all over the age of 21, but “young enough that they should trigger an ID check by the clerk or server.”

Businesses are typically trained to card anyone who appears under 35.

The “mystery shoppers” have been ordering alcohol to see if servers check for ID. A green card is given to the server or clerk if that person correctly checks an ID. The shopper will give the server or clerk a red card if that person doesn’t.

There are no penalties or fines associated with the program, and the county won’t reveal who failed and who passed when it shares the overall results for Bethesda in later October.

The DLC is pushing the effort with a reward for servers who pay attention to the program.

Before the campaign started, the DLC sent a mailer out to all businesses in Bethesda licensed to sell alcohol. The mailing included cards that identified the mystery shoppers. If a staff member at a business recognizes a shopper from inspecting his or her ID, that server or clerk will get $100 in cash.

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