Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The LCBO Brew-ha-ha



It's the holiday season!

Just in time for the Ontario Auditor-General to throw the "Board" of the LCBO under the bus. Ooh, look at the treadmarks!

The A-G says the liquor board isn't even trying to keep costs down by trying to squeeze its suppliers to reduce their prices. Instead, the Board is actually telling some suppliers they need to charge more.

Why?

Because it is, apparently, some sort of code.

"It's a tradition," says the Board."(Fighting for better prices) is not the way we do things here at the LCBO."

You just have to look at the price of medium-priced wine and spirits. Eighteen bucks for a nice bottle of vino. Thirty bucks for a mid-priced bottle of Scotch.

Aren't we being punished enough by paying exhorbitant taxes? Why does the LCBO pay premium prices to suppliers when it can use its monopoly to cut us a break?

According to the A-G, it's part of the LCBO's strategy to get us to drink less. So they're keeping prices artificially high so we can't afford it. If the LCBO had bothered to do a focus group, it would have found that people will pay for their booze before they would pay their Hydro bills. That's because drinkers are a dedicated lot -- like smokers -- who will simply reach down a little deeper.

It may be a strategy but it's a stupid strategy which will only hurt hard working Ontarians -- the fun ones.

I'd like to add a comment to the A-G, if I may.

The LCBO squanders our booze money on a high cost magazine, Food and Drink, that it gives away for free. I'm in the glossy magazine business, and I can tell you it's not cheap producing Food and Drink magazine in two separate printings to ensure that drinkers can cook with wine in both official languages.

We can get the same recipes from its lead foodie, Lucy Waverman, in the Globe and Mail. I can never find the ingredients for those recipes, either.

Each copy of this magazine probably costs $2 or more -- after advertising -- to publish and the bloody LCBO is giving it away for free. I simply don't understand this. There are many good food and drink magazines out there. Why do we, the taxpaying public -- including folks who don't drink and never see the inside of a liquor store -- pay for Food and Drink?

It's wrong on many levels. The LCBO is competing with perfectly good Canadian magazines who would love to sell their wares at the LCBO.

It's vanity with a capital V.

Get rid of it.

I also think the liquor laws are ridiculous. The latest brew-hah-hah involves Beau Beer, a local Ottawa-area brewery whose delivery service was shut down by the liquor barons. The brewery wanted to do direct delivery and use the delivery money to pay street kids a decent wage to take it door-to-door.

But no!

Apparently, that's not on in Ontario, and the liquor board told Steve Beauchesne to get stuffed. Fortunately, the Premier stepped in and stomped on the grapes of the liquor police. Beau is now allowed to do its charity deliveries.

The Premier admitted the liquor laws are stupid and has vowed to review them.

Damned straight, Daltie.

Let's have a cold one and I'll tell you all about what's wrong with the liquor laws.

A few things.

Loosen the laws and let convenience stores sell wine and beer. Cut the cost of our booze so we can drink like Italians. Get out of the publishing business. Stop using our money to build mansions of spirits on prime land all over the province.

Realize that you have a monopoly and you don't have to hire huge and expensive marketing teams.

If you sell it, we will come.

Wherever you are.

Bureaucrats should stop trying to be business people.

They suck at it.

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