It’s natural for consumers to expect to apply their deal vouchers across both food and drinks in restaurant deals. But, for now, it’s perhaps more prudent to proceed with caution with including alcohol in deals, and focus on the use of deals with food items only.
A recent story reported in Boston.com highlights a new Fine Print issue in Daily Deals. It appears that the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has weighed in and challenged Daily Deals that offer drinks, as a violation of the state’s “happy hour” regulation, that essentially prohibits selling drinks to anyone below the prices available to the general public.
In a February letter to Groupon, the commission said that a $100 Groupon coupon that a consumer could redeem at a Massachusetts restaurant with a liquor license appears to be an “example of discounting activity that fails to comply with all laws of the Commonwealth and the regulations of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.”
Like many Fine Print issues in this new space, state level regulations appear to have been thoroughly vetted, and vendors tend to be begging forgiveness instead of thoroughly researching and getting permission prior to selling a small business on Daily Deals. this point was put much more eloquently by the legal counsel for the Commission!
I am hopeful that the long-established, clear, bright lines of the boundaries of legality have not vanished in the rear-view mirror of entrepreneurism driven by unbridled and imprudent, if not reckless, enthusiasm.
The business will likely be viewed as being “on the hook” for the violation, it’s probably best when designing a deal that could involve drinks to receive formal confirmation from your deal provider that this is a non-issue in your state.
Alternatively, simply show restraint and design your offers to be dry until the dust settles!