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Delivery service that got nabbed running a booze train to BC says it's changed, sues to get its license back

Gopuff, a Philadelphia chain that last week lost its state license to deliver alcohol after inspectors cited it for repeatedly delivering alcohol to BC freshmen, yesterday sued to get its license back, arguing it's completely changed its ID and training policies - that it's unfair the state didn't rescind its license until nearly 2 1/2 years after the violations and that the punishment was particularly unfair for a "first time" violation.

The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission revoked the liquor license for the Gopuff outlet on Needham Street in Newton - and rescinded the delivery license for the Gopuff subsidiary that delivers alcohol from all of the company's outlets in Massachusetts, which effectively gets them out of the liquor business, because the company focuses on delivery service rather than walk-in business.

In its suit, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Gopuff argues the license revocations were "arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law."

While, perhaps, they involved 19 separate liquor deliveries over five days in late 2021, those deliveries were Gopuff's first ever violations and that in the past, the state suspended licenses for a few days in response to a first violation, rather than permanent license revocations, the company charges. Not rendering a decision until nearly 18 months after the violation only buttresses that point, the company continues.

The company adds that in response to the citations, the company immediately took corrective action to keep freshmen with fake IDs from punching in online liquor requests, and that it informed the commission of those steps at a hearing in March, 2022.

This included bolstering its training for deliverers and store workers on dealing with orders by minors and requiring anybody delivering liquor to undergo an in-person alcohol-sales training - even during the middle of the pandemic - on how to keep liquor away from people under the influence or under age.

The company also barred delivering alcohol to customers on sidewalks or at intersections - a number of the BC first-year students had alcohol delivered to them a couple of blocks off campus, and they would meet the drivers with duffel bags, or in one case, a wheeled suitcase, with which to sneak the forbidden liquids back into their dorms.

And, the complaint continues, the company expanded a "geographic delivery exclusion zone" around BC to include not just the campus, but blocks nearby, and set up a "secret shopper" program to make sure deliveries weren't being made in violation of company policies and the law.

The suit alleges that ABCC officials took note of the new measures, praising them even as the commission approved licenses for new Gopuff locations and drivers in the state in 2022.

The company seeks a court ruling to overturn the commission decision and send it back to the ABCC for a fairer resolution, plus attorneys' and court costs.

Complete complaint (1.4M PDF).

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Comments

in which a manager repeatedly said "not our problem, those are independent contractors" and did nothing about it.

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Turns out Gopuff has two separate LLCs. One runs (ran) the Newton store, the other runs the delivery service (for all the Gopuffs in MA). Left hand? Meet right hand.

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n/t

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repeatedly delivering alcohol to BC freshmen

Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of [liquor delivery services] and I tell you, people do that all the time.

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have it so easy.

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