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Age Restricted Sales

Ensuring your stores or delivery services are compliant with age-restricted good sales.

We can provide 18 – 25 year olds for alcohol test purchases such as the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s Challenge 21/25 or Think 25 programmes.

Anyone conducting an age-related mystery visit will have had their age validated by Centrebound by either passport, birth certificate or PASS card from the national Proof of Age Standards Scheme.

Challenge/Think 25 mystery shopping can be combined with other aspects of customer experience or compliance checks. Whilst purchasing age-restricted goods our mystery agents can also be checking customer service or store appearance.

Challenge 25 Process Map

All possible outcomes of a Challenge 25 check

We can also provide minors aged 12 to 17 years to attempt the purchase of an age-restricted item such as cigarettes or knives. In all instances, the minor will be covertly accompanied by a registered Centrebound Mystery Agent. Visits can either be documented by survey and photographs of the sold goods or video recorded.

The 12 – 17 years old we provide are typically relatives of our mystery shopping Agents who chaperone all assignments covertly.

In 2018 Bargain superstore B&M was ordered to pay a record 480,000 fine after selling knives to teenagers as young as 14.

The firm was criticised for its deficient systems, which allowed youths to buy blades including a large carving knife, at some of its shops in London.

The District Judge said the offences which all involved volunteer youths making test purchases were serious, and set the incidents within the context of London’s high knife crime levels.

Using an independent test purchase service demonstrates to the local authority that you are taking compliance seriously. A recent trading standards report cited internal test purchasing in their best practice guidelines for selling alcohol/knives. The due diligence is invaluable if you ever receive a visit from your local officer.

Most importantly, using our service improves your performance.

Individual company performance improves due to several factors – awareness amongst staff that they are being randomly tested, increased focus from management on underage legislation, and also specific actions suggested from our analysis.

Regulatory compliance
  • GDPR
  • FCA
  • SAF
  • TCF

The FCA itself uses mystery shopping to help it protect consumers. They may be by seeking information about a particular practice across a range of firms or the practices of a particular firm.

One of the risks consumers face is that they may be sold financial products which are inappropriate to them. A problem in protecting consumers from this risk is that it is very difficult to establish after the event what a firm has said to a ‘genuine’ consumer in discussions. By recording what a firm says in discussions with a ‘mystery shopper’, Centrebound can establish your normal practices in a way which would not be possible by other means.

Typical mystery customer FCA compliance scenarios include;

  • Credit purchases for mobile phone contracts
  • Bank loans and credit card applications
  • Credit for media services such as cable television

Whatever the scenario, we can provide a tailored programme of visits to obtain information about a particular practice or looking at a particular issue across a range of locations.

Our unique community of mystery agents means we can visit any store in the UK & Ireland, often within days of notice.