More on Penn. State Liquor Board’s “Smile Training”

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Last week, I posted a story about how the state of Pennsylvania is spending $170,000 in taxpayer money to train the employees of its state-owned wine and liquor stores to be nice to their customers. It’s a relatively tiny amount of money, but still a bizarre expenditure given the state’s massive deficit, and the fact Pennsylvania has a government monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits.

New development: The president of the consulting firm that won the contract is married to a high-ranking official with the state’s liquor control board (his wife is one of the state’s three regional managers). Liquor board officials insist there’s nothing improper about the contract.

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19 Responses to “More on Penn. State Liquor Board’s “Smile Training””

  1. #1 |  Michael | 

    As usual, the government lives by different ethics than the rest of us!

  2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Of course, there’s nothing improper. haha!

    This reminds me of those folks who play up the lobbying industry in Washington DC as if its really the voice of the people patriotically exercising their right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances”.

    I also get a kick out of it when some government official talks about how government should be run like a business (usually as a campaign promise). The only business that government resembles is organized crime.

  3. #3 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    “The check is in the mail”
    “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning”
    “I won’t raise taxes”
    “If you don’t, the terrorists win”
    ” …but we now have increasing evidence that police forces across the United States take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously.”

  4. #4 |  Art Kling | 

    “Of course there is nothing wrong, all our contracts are awarded based on nepotism” said the liquor board President.

  5. #5 |  Invid | 

    I called it!!!!!!!! (sort of)

    I love my state!!!!!!!

  6. #6 |  Barry | 

    …and now we know why the “training” is necessary.

    Nothing to see here, please move along.

  7. #7 |  Nando | 

    If, under the law, a married couple is seen as one entity (that’s why you file your taxes jointly and can’t testify against your spouse), how is this not unethical? It’s as if they were awarding the contract to the woman who works there to begin with.

  8. #8 |  Regarding Liberty | 

    For the sake of the employees at those stores, let’s hope no high-ranking official in the state liquor board is married to a person who sells home colonic kits.

  9. #9 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Not denying anything, but a point of data;

    I spoke to one of the people who works in the PA Spirits store nearest to me, and she said that this was long overdue … that the system of the State Liquor Store was clogged with surly, do-nothing managers and such, and that she hoped and believed that the training was the first step in the process of identifying them and firing their collective ass. She knew of several attempts to make individual stores responsive to their local areas with better wine selections that had been derailed because some mid-level managers just couldn’t be bothered (she says that the training will include such twits, too).

    We’ll see.

  10. #10 |  Chris in AL | 

    I know it is easy to say now, but my first thought when I saw the original post was “Someone’s cousin must own a marketing/PR firm.”

    You know, someday soon sarcasm and parody will cease to exist because there will be nothing a degree ‘worse’ than reality to refer to with one’s snark.

  11. #11 |  Shirley | 

    Why am I not surprised…

  12. #12 |  Marty | 

    ‘Liquor board officials insist there’s nothing improper about the contract.’

    they’ve already had THAT class!

    MO has a thing where the mile markers are posted every 2/10 of a mile… I’d love to know the story behind that!

  13. #13 |  Brooks | 

    I live in PA. The service at our state stores is horrific. Think -buying wine at the local DMV. Prices at a PA store as compared to a DE or NJ wine store are on average $3 to $6 higher – coupled with the poor service. Most store clerks cannot recommend a wine and know nothing about different styles, as their knowledge is limited to what shelf a wine you may want sits upon.

    With such a budget crisis, I was wondering why the State wouldn’t privative the stores and sell them off on a store by store basis. Or, at least, sell the liquor licenses to interested buyers who could relocate. The budget could be balanced immediately. I guess that thought is was too rational for our officials in Harrisburg.

  14. #14 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Re #7:

    Not nepotism, but mepotism!

  15. #15 |  Mean Gene | 

    Let me slightly disagree with Brooks–I’ve received prompt and friendly service at just about every state store in my area. No, the folks there can’t wax poetic about the newest Chilean reds (or maybe they can, I’ve never asked that specific question) but they tell me where to find what I’m looking for, point out specials, and quickly ring up purchases. It would be nice if state store employees were experts in the field, but that seems a bit much to ask.

    That said, the fact that a state-run monopoly controls alcohol sales in my state makes me want to dig out my trusty pitchfork and join some frothing mob surging toward Harrisburg. When I’m out of town and see grocery stores selling beer, I weep. I weep.

  16. #16 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Could you please change the title so it doesn’t look like my alma mater is somehow involved in this?

  17. #17 |  Stephen | 

    recently in a PA liquor store, the employee was very nice, even carried my cases of beer to the car for me!

  18. #18 |  Jim Collins | 

    Uhh Stephen, beer isn’t sold in the Pennsylvania State Stores. Are you sure that you weren’t at a distributor?

  19. #19 |  Montie | 

    I thought it was just me. Or having bad luck with the 4 or 5 liquor stores I’ve been to in PA. I’ve always gone out of my way to be nice and have honestly been met with something that rivals barely contained hatred.

    I just don’t understand where the ire comes from.