Just look at this thing. It’s a vending machine for wine, now being tried out in Philadelphia. As regular readers and/or PA residents know, this state has a Soviet-style liquor-purchasing system in which you have to buy all wine from state stores, whose selection is limited, and — in my experience — whose employees know jacksquat about the products they sell. wine-kiosk1.jpgThis Wine-O-Mat is supposed to be an effort to make it easier for consumers. They’re being placed inside grocery stores — two right now, but up to 100 if they work out. The idea is that you can buy your wine from the vending machine at the supermarket, and not have to make the extra stop by the state store. So, how does it work? Excerpt:

e process for buying wine isn’t completely automated. After the customer swipes their license and blows into an alcohol sensor, they have to look into a camera so that their identity can be verified remotely by a state employee. The whole process takes about 20 seconds.

Got that? You have to blow into a straw, and then have a state employee look at you by video link. How insane is that? Here’s an idea: liberalize the liquor laws so supermarkets can sell wine to people who want that convenience, and Pennsylvanians who want to shop at real wine shops with knowledgeable sales people to assist us can do so? Crazy, I know. Let’s just invent some cumbersome new technology so we don’t have to observe common sense. At least with the Wine-O-Mat, you don’t have to be insulted by the poor service at the state wine stores. I mean, you don’t expect a machine to be able to tell you anything about the product.
I invite you to peruse previous rants about the PA system here and here. Happily, we Pennsylvanians who live near the Jersey border at Philadelphia have an excellent option.

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