Six weeks after regulators shut down a leading online alcohol delivery service, the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Wednesday issued new guidance to companies that want to sell booze via the Internet.
Long story short, it doesn’t matter how you order the booze, but a licensed D.C. package store has to actually stock the potent potable, process the order and payment, and deliver it to the customer.
In June, alcohol regulators shut down Ultra, a Web-based service, because it was taking orders and processing the payments itself rather than passing the orders on to its partner stores in the District.
New guidance from the ABC Board makes clear that isn’t permissible: “Credit or debit card information provided to the online third party provider must be transferred or redirected to the licensee. Only the licensee may process and complete the transaction.”
In a release Thursday, regulators said two businesses are already in compliance with the new guidance — Drizly and Klink. As for Ultra, proprietor Aniket Shah said Thursday he’s on track to reopen in D.C. soon. “Our new business process complies with the new [Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration] directive, so there should not be any issue with our operations,” Shah said in an e-mail.
Here’s what the agency approved Wednesday:
Online third party providers and licensees are advised to abide by the following principles:
1. The transaction to purchase alcoholic beverages must take place between the customer and licensee. Credit or debit card information provided to the online third party provider must be transferred or redirected to the licensee. Only the licensee may process and complete the transaction.
2. The licensee must retain the ability to determine whether to complete an order and retain the authority to deny the order, if necessary.
3. The licensee is responsible for delivery of the alcoholic beverages and determining whether the customer is of legal age.
4. Online third party providers may promote, market, and facilitate the sale of alcoholic beverages over the internet provided that the licensee retains ultimate control and responsibility over the sales transaction with the customer. All funds for each sale shall be transferred to the licensed off-premise retailer.
5. The online third party provider shall not sell alcoholic beverages.
6. The online third party provider shall not charge or process the customer’s credit or debit card directly or collect any funds from the customer.
7. The online third party provider shall not store or keep alcoholic beverages for sale.
8. The online third party provider shall not package, fill, or ship the order to the consumer.
9. The alcoholic beverages sold to the consumer must be in the possession of the licensee.
10. The online third party provider can charge licensed retailers a flat monthly fee or other type of transaction fee for their services.
11. The online third party provider shall not collect, receive, or retain any funds or fees that stem from the transaction between the consumer and the licensee.