Intoxication and Refusing Alcohol Service

Responsible Service of AlcoholRefusing service should be done respectfully and professionally. The perfect refusal should not be noticed by other customers. If not handled with sensitivity and tact, it can end up creating conflict. The following three strategies can help avoid difficult situations.

Smart drink service

If the situation has been monitored properly and the early signs of intoxication recognised, then this is the time to act. Slowing service, suggesting food or a quiet word of warning can stop problems escalating. It might be useful to use other, more sober, members of a group to warn the intoxicated person.

Offer them a way to back out with their dignity intact. A warning that this will be the last drink for a while may allow them to “save face” in front of their friends or offering to call a taxi. Switch customers to low or non-alcoholic drinks may also be an alternative.

Be calm and courteous

Your tone of voice is very important. You need to have a firm voice without being aggressive. Do not raise your voice. Behaviour breeds behaviour. You can calm them down if you remain calm yourself.

Customer service demands that staff respect their customers. Be polite. Tell it from your point of view:

  • “I’m sorry, if I served you another drink I’d be breaking the law”
  • “I’m sorry, if I served you another drink I could lose my job”
  • “I’m concerned about your safety”

Explain why service is being refused. Remember to focus on the behaviour, not the individual. Sometimes a customer may think they are being barred from the premises. Explain that they are welcome back tomorrow, if they behave.

Don’t be judgemental. Don’t say things like “you’re drunk” or “you’ve had too much to drink”. Don’t scold the customer, try to agree with them where possible “I agree you’re not drunk, if you were I’d have to ask you to leave and I’m trying to prevent that”.

Report your actions

Make sure that other staff and other shifts are aware of what has happened. Keep an incident log book near the bar and write down what has occurred. If the customer injures themselves, or a third party, after leaving the premises, the record may assist in a defence against civil action.

If the customer is a regular, RSA QLD staff can quietly reinforce the message when they return. They will usually be in a more receptive state to hear and understand why the action was taken. The customer may even thank staff for looking after them.