August 12, 2020

Winnipeg
24° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Close this
Winnipeg Free Press

ABOVE THE FOLD

Subscribe

Man bewildered by letter banning him from all liquor stores

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2019 (386 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg man was presented with a form letter as he left the Osborne Village Liquor Mart with a purchase last week, telling him not to come back.

Clark Searle said after spending the day at an Oak Table church function in Birds Hill Park, he headed to the Liquor Mart on his way home.

"Everything was going fine and I was going out the door, the manager just hands me a pamphlet. I couldn’t even ask why," said the 57-year-old.

Clark Searle was handed a form letter advising the recipient they are banned from all Manitoba Liquor Marts until further notice. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

Clark Searle was handed a form letter advising the recipient they are banned from all Manitoba Liquor Marts until further notice. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

It was a form letter on Liquor and Lotteries letterhead, beginning "to whom it may concern," and advising the recipient they are banned from all Manitoba Liquor Marts until further notice. The letter did not contain Searle’s name. He said the manager had dozens of the letters but he did not see anyone else receive one.

"If it was aimed at a particular person, I could see it being a legal type thing. But if you’re just copying these off and handing it to anybody, it’s almost more like a scare tactic," Searle said.

"If it’s an establishment that’s open for business, you shouldn’t be trying to pick and choose your customers."

Searle said he was helped by staff when he entered the store, as the location of the sherry had changed since his last visit.

He has the receipt for his purchase: at 3:14 p.m. he bought two bottles of $9.99 sherry.

He said the letter was handed to him in the doorway, so when he stood, dumbstruck by what he’d received, other customers told him to move. He did, without asking the manager why he was receiving the letter. He insisted he wasn’t intoxicated and didn’t cause a disturbance. He does not have a criminal record.

Download Liquor and Lotteries letter

Searle said he more often goes to the Ellice Avenue location.

He said about a month prior, he'd been asked for his identification on the way in to the store.

Beleaguered by thefts in recent months, Liquor Marts have tried out a number of new security policies, from a pilot program posting police at exits to ID’ing people on the way in.

A spokesperson for Liquor and Lotteries said the letters have been common practice for several years, and deal with disturbances, not thefts.

"They are often handed out for things like disruptive, belligerent behaviour, people being disrespectful to staff," said Andrea Kowal, director of communications and corporate affairs for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.

Kowal said individuals are identified by security and surveillance — that’s why the letters don’t include banned patrons' names.

"We don’t ID everyone that comes into the store, so to be honest, your name and who you are doesn’t necessarily help us, it’s more what you look like," Kowal said, adding it’s similar to the way bans work at Manitoba casinos. She noted that any retail store can ban customers.

"It makes me feel like garbage. Just throw me out like that — for what? I didn’t do anything. I was offended," Searle said. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

"It makes me feel like garbage. Just throw me out like that — for what? I didn’t do anything. I was offended," Searle said. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

She said she couldn’t comment on this particular case and suggested Searle contact the director of corporate security listed on the letter. Two calls to the security director Tuesday afternoon went to voicemail.

Searle said he is frustrated by the way he was treated, and wanted to speak up to make sure no one else receives such a letter without knowing why.

"It makes me feel like garbage. Just throw me out like that — for what? I didn’t do anything. I was offended," Searle said.

tvanderhart@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @tessavanderhart

The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.

To submit a letter:
• fill out the form on this page, or
• email letters@freepress.mb.ca, or
• mail Letters to the Editor, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2X 3B6.

Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.