An Auckland mother has been left perplexed after being told she can't buy alcohol when shopping with her children.
Kristel Aholova, 35, was doing a regular grocery shop at Countdown Northcote on Saturday afternoon when she was shocked to be denied a bottle of wine because of the presence of her children.
Aholova, a single-mother, was shopping with her 15-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and a couple of their friends when she was told she had to prove the alcohol was for her or she could not purchase it.
"I put my shopping up and when they got to the bottle of wine the woman that served me said she could not sell it to me.
"At first I thought she was joking, but she said no, it was because I had children with me."
Aholova said she was so shocked she asked to speak to the manager.
"He came down, but he said the same thing," she said. "They wouldn't sell it to me with children around.
"But clearly the wine was for me, or I would've had way more than one bottle."
Aholova said she spoke to other customers and no one could believe what was happening, but she left without the wine and a bad taste in her mouth because of the staff reception.
Later in the week, Aholova said she approached other supervisors at the supermarket to ask for the correct protocols and they were very apologetic for what had happened.
"They said it was unacceptable and I should speak to the manager, but he has carried on supporting that I have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I am purchasing the wine for myself.
"How the hell do I do this? I'll now have to leave my children in the car unattended if I'd like to purchase wine. This is appalling," she said.
Aholova said the experience had left her very mad, and she felt like protesting outside the supermarket.
"I want to put signs outside saying that children need to be left in the car unattended if you want to buy alcohol, because how do you prove it?"
She said she has always shopped with her children, and after 10 years of shopping at the store this was the first time she had been refused alcohol.
"I have never had a problem before. I couldn't believe it."
New Zealand Alcohol Law states that it is illegal to supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years unless the person supplying the alcohol is the parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.
'Parent' means natural, adoptive or foster parent, while 'Guardian' means a person who has all the duties, powers, rights and responsibilities that a parent has in bringing up their child, as detailed in the Care of Children Act 2004.
Paul Radich, Countdown's Alcohol Responsibility Manager, said the supermarket may have been overcautious and it apologised to Aholova.
"Our policy is that where there's a person in a group who looks under 25 and our team has reason to believe beer or wine is going to be supplied to a minor, we reserve the right to ask for ID or to refuse the sale.
"Our team has to make a lot of judgment calls every day and we're always trying to get the right balance between adhering to the law and making sure customers can safely access the products they want at our stores."
Radich said Countdown has to take responsibility around selling alcohol seriously because there are significant consequences if they get it wrong.