Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Demise of the Beer Fairy

Twice a month, for the past four years, the beer fairy has been leaving boxes of beer at my door. Sadly, the beer fairy will no longer be visiting us. Why? Because of the Adult Signature Required.

This wasn't a problem with the previous shipper that the company was using, because they left the packages, but a couple of months ago they had to switch shippers. First they went to FedEx. I had almost worked out an arrangement with the FedEx delivery guy to leave our boxes of beer in our shed, but not before we had to actually go to the local home delivery shipping center to pick up one of our deliveries. Let me digress a minute and talk about the customer service at FedEx - there isn't much. All you can do is call their 800 number, you can't talk to anyone local, and they didn't even list the address of the local shipping center on the notice I received. To find out the hours of the local shipping center I had to call the 800 number and they had to put me on hold while they called the local shipping center.

I imagine that the company that was sending me my beer received a lot of complaints, because after shipping with FedEx for only two months, they switch to UPS. UPS is better to deal with than FedEx, and their customer service center is at least easy to get to. (Finding the FedEx local shipping center required a guide dog and a Ouija board.) Unfortunately, I was unable to work out an arrangement with the UPS driver to leave my beer in our shed, even when I provided a padlock for the latch. Unable to make any other arrangements for delivery - my neighbors all work, and receiving regular deliveries at my work place was not possible - I had to cancel my subscription.

When I talked to the customer service at the company sending me the beer I did suggest what I considered the best solution - go back to FedEx, arrange for Saturday deliveries and email me a shipping notice so I knew it was coming. I don't know if they will adopt my suggestions.

What bothers me the most about this, besides the fact that I will no longer have yummy beer delivered to my door step every month, is that the laws that we have governing access to alcohol are hurting a productive business. I understand that the purpose of requiring an adult signature is to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. But I'm not really sure that, at least where I have lived, this is really that great a risk. For two of those four years I lived in an apartment complex that had a lot of families, including teenagers, and I never had my beer stolen. The boxes are not labeled. Frankly, I think boxes of Godiva chocolate are more at risk - they advertise their contents boldly on their boxes. I don't know about you, but if I saw a box of Godiva chocolate sitting unattended on a door step, I might be tempted to filch it.

But there is a deeper issue here - the idea that our government, whether it be state or federal, needs to protect us from ourselves, even if that means infringing on our rights. Despite all of the best (or worst) efforts of our law makers, you can't legislate morality or common sense. Laws will never replace the bonds of civil society. Laws are necessary, to protect property rights, for example, but too many of our laws are focused on restricting the actions and choices of people. I am a libertarian and I believe in individual freedom and responsibility. I know that our society has a lot of problems, but laws will not solve them, only people and communities can solve them. Unfortunately, our modern civilization is not human centered and as a result the social bonds that are so essential for a civil society have been weakened and even broken, but that is a topic for another day.


  1. Heya-
    I made it!
    You are quite correct. The beer fairy should return. And I should be able to get Sudafed when needed!

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