Centrebound - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
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Centrebound has been providing effective Challenge 25, test purchase and age restriction testing services throughout the UK and Europe since 2013. We are MSPA accredited and deliver bespoke compliance solutions to a range of sectors.


Age Restriction Testing Services

Centrebound help organisations by carrying out Challenge 25 age restriction testing audits of the sale of age restricted products. Our bespoke test purchase service covers a wide range products, ensuring improved Challenge 25, Challenge 21, age restriction compliance and reduced risk of large fines and restriction of trade for our clients.

Age restricted goods we test:

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • E-cigarettes
  • Knives
  • Solvents
  • Gambling
  • Computer Games
  • Energy Drinks
  • Lottery Tickets

We apply our ethos of great service throughout our business including our test purchase auditors. We only select the best candidates from a multi-stage recruitment process that includes not only literacy, observational and attention to detail tests but a passion for customer service too.

Our established auditors are regularly reviewed, audited and feedback is provided to ensure the quality of our surveys and work remains first class. We pride ourselves on being one of the UKs best and fastest paying compliance testing companies. Our relationship with our auditors is built on respect and dedicated, personable support 7 days a week.

All auditors undertaking age restricted compliance checks have had their age validated by Centrebound by providing PASS accredited I.D.


“Working with Centrebound has provided me with great flexibility to earn extra money  around my other commitments. The payment has always been paid promptly.  The briefs that are provided are comprehensive so I always feel fully prepared and able to fulfil the brief and I feel supported by the team via email who are always quick to respond to any questions. Great company to work for!” – Michelle, London

“Centrebound has always been one of my favourite mystery shopping companies. Always professional and friendly, they sincerely value their shoppers, and treat them with respect.” – Brian, Swindon


Why businesses use our Challenge 25 age checking and age restriction testing service


  • Improve compliance and risk reduction of restriction of trade and fines.
  • Demonstrates to authorities and customers that you are taking proactive measures to prevent under age sales.
  • Increases management focus on legislation and internal compliance policies, which improves staff performance.
  • Identifies risk factors and Centrebound can recommend actions to take.

Centrebound are trusted to deliver test purchasing services to some of the UKs most recognised brands. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality, bespoke service to our customers that is reliable and delivers results.


“We’ve worked with Centrebound for many years now, and have always been pleased with their professionalism, helpfulness and willingness to adapt to our procedures when required. It is rare that we need to question one of their shopper’s reports, but when it happens they always do everything possible to resolve the situation.” – Customer Project Manager – Logistics Services Ocado

“We have been working with Centrebound since the beginning of the year (2021). They have delivered excellent reports and met their KPIs, even during the lockdown periods. We have been very happy with their efficient account management and timely reporting” – HR Business Partner Leyland SDM


Managing underage sales is one of the main compliance challenges facing retailers and hospitality, and ensuring your team are doing Challenge 25 checks or similar is vital. Each year we carry out over 10,000 mystery shopping test purchases on behalf of leading organisations, to help them ensure their employees are carrying out age checks of young customers. Having an independent test purchasing scheme in place is something local authorities support. Contact us to find out how we can help your organisation.

What is the Challenge 25 Policy?

Challenge 25 is a scheme introduced by the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) in 2009 to help retailers to comply with the law of selling alcohol to over-18s only. It allows retailers and merchants more flexibility in challenging their customers to prove they are legally entitled to purchase alcohol. With clear signage on the premises, and the leeway of being able to challenge any young-looking person, retailers have been able to gently challenge their customers without the confrontation or aggressively that could previously occur.

Importantly, the customer only has to prove they are over 18 – not over 25 – with an acceptable ID (a card bearing the PASS hologram, a photographic driving license or a passport). The scheme has been adapted by retailers as Think 25 or Check 25, to be able to ask for ID to any younger person buying any age-restricted product, such as cigarettes, E-cigarettes, vapes, knives, solvents, DVDs and computer games, or gambling products such as lottery tickets.

What is Challenge 25 Testing?

Centrebound help companies test the implementation of the Challenge 25 scheme in retail, hospitality premises and home-delivery services. It is vital that businesses that sell age-restricted products are complying with the law and ensuring that they do not sell to under-age customers. Compliance in ensuring under-age sales are not occurring is one of the biggest challenges in the retail and hospitality industries, and being able to prove that due diligence is being applied is invaluable. We carry out over 10,000 Challenge 25 tests every year on behalf of leading organisations, in what are known as ‘mystery shopper’ test purchases. These independent tests are carried out at the point of purchase (or on the doorstep in the case of home-delivery), and determine whether the employees are carrying out the appropriate age checks on younger looking customers.

The sale of age restricted products are not only limited to supermarkets, off-licenses or rapid home-delivery providers. The laws extend to bookmakers and adult gaming centres that have gambling age-restrictions, DIY/Hardware stores that sell knives and solvents, and petrol forecourts and convenience stores. In addition the hospitality industry of bars, pubs, night clubs and cafes has a constant need to ensure it is not selling alcohol to underage customers, and whilst that industry sometimes uses the Think 21 or Challenge 21 model instead, independent testing for compliance is adopted by leading organisations.

The use of an independent company for these checks 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 and knives. The advantage of using an independent mystery shopper approach is that it is transparent and impartial, as well as being a realistic window on the procedures taking place at point of purchase. Moreover, the results of an independent Challenge 25 Test can be used to help organisations to improve compliance for store, venue and home delivery services of age-restricted goods. The detailed analysis provided in a Centrebound Report can be used as the basis for identifying and improving training and operating procedures, thereby demonstrating that as a business you are improving your compliance.

Who Carries Out Age Restriction Testing?

Centrebound’s mystery shoppers that carry out age checks are young people aged 18-24. Crucially, they are all over 18 and have had their ages verified by passport, birth certificate or PASS card from the national Proof of Age Standards Scheme. The Challenge 25 Test is to ascertain whether employees are using the scheme to ask for ID for purchases made by demonstrably young looking people, not to actually break the age-restriction law. Our mystery shoppers are briefed according to each of our client’s test purchasing requirements, and they report back on whether they were asked for ID. Additionally, we work with home-delivery services and have at-home young mystery shoppers that place their takeaway or grocery orders and include age restricted items in their order. They will fill in a survey regarding the delivery service, including if the driver asked for ID in accordance with company policy. We can tailor a test purchasing service for you that meets your specific business needs and will give you the most useful data to demonstrate your compliance and improve further employee training.

What Happens if a Business Fails Age Testing?

When a business is not compliant and is found by Trading Standards to have sold age restricted goods to under age people, the penalties vary according to the industry. For example, Tesco were fined £6,000 in 2009 for repeatedly selling alcohol to minors and their Blackpool store had their liquor license revoked for 28 days. The story received national coverage such as this article in the Daily Express.

In the hospitality industry, if you make are caught by the authorities selling alcohol to someone under age you can be cautioned, offered a £90 Fixed Penalty Notice or given an unlimited fine by the Magistrates. If you are a personal licence holder, your licence can be suspended or taken away. If two offences are committed within three months the police can offer a voluntary closure of between two days to two weeks as an alternative to prosecution. If prosecuted, the Magistrates’ Court can impose a suspension which can last up to three months and/or a fine of up to £20,000.

In addition to the legal and financial ramifications, the reputation of your business would under threat after any prosecution, and you can lose goodwill and custom from the patrons and/or customers in your local area, or even your wider market, which has knock-on effects to the business model.

How Centrebound Help

If you sell age restricted goods, you will want to ensure that you are complying with the law. We can help by conducting mystery shopping age restriction testing on your premises. This is a quick, cost-effective and simple way to protect yourself from prosecution and avoid the negative press attention that often occurs when one of these cases goes wrong.

Centrebound have been carrying out mystery shopping age restriction testing for companies that sell age restricted goods. Our vetted mystery shoppers will purchase restricted items on your behalf, checking whether they were asked for any ID or card as part of the sale process.

Centrebound’s age restriction testing helps organisations to independently check and improve compliance for store, venue and home delivery services of age restricted goods. This helps organisations meet their obligations and ultimately not get to the point where they face fines or license suspensions.

All age restricted goods are included in our test purchase service including Challenge 21, Challenge 25 tests for alcohol also age verification checks for cigarettes, knives, vapes, solvents, medicines, lottery tickets.

Age checks can be combined with other aspects of customer experience or compliance checks to help identify where improvements can be made. It’s found that 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. To find out how we can help your organisation carrying out age verification test purchases contact us.