Chesterfield retailer Jasbir Mann is fuming after being caught by what he believes are underhand methods used by test purchasing teams.

Jasbir, who says that in 20 years of owning a shop in the town he has never sold alcohol to anyone under 18, was working at the till on February 7 when two women came in together to buy wine.

“We have a Think 21 policy and the older of the two was clearly over that so I didn’t ask for ID,” Jasbir told C-Store. “I thought they were related.” Later that day the older woman returned to the store and revealed she was a trading standards officer. 

She said Jasbir had failed a test purchase because the younger girl, who was underage, had handed over the money for the transaction. He had passed a second test the same afternoon, she added.

Jasbir’s son Harjeet said: “They came into the shop acting like mother and daughter. This new tactic seems very unfair as it confuses the shopkeeper. A supermarket would have the money to fight the case in court, but we’ll probably have to accept a £80 fine.” Jasbir added: “I think they’re finding it harder to catch retailers because we’re much better at refusals than we used to be. Now they are just trying to turn honest people into criminals.”

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “Regardless of whether or not an adult was present in the vicinity, if an underage person hands over money in exchange for alcohol then the law has been broken.”

Licensing expert Chris Mitchener told C-Store that trading standards officers often enter a store alongside a test purchaser in order to observe the purchase, but for them to approach the counter together would be “far from the norm”.