Mystery Shopper Program in Bethesda

Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC) and the Responsible Retailing Forum (RRF), a national research-based, non-profit organization, are conducting a “mystery shoppers” program in Bethesda to provide alcohol retailers with feedback on employee age verification conduct and recognize businesses that are doing a good job of checking identifications (ID).

In mid-September, “mystery shoppers” began visiting a number of Bethesda businesses to purchase an alcoholic beverage.  The shoppers, in their early twenties but always over the age of 21, are young enough that they should trigger an ID check by the clerk or server.  Typically, businesses are trained to card anyone who appears under 35.  At the time of the sale, a green card will be handed to the clerk or server who correctly checks an ID.  A red card will be given to the manager on duty if staff fails to check an ID.  There are no penalties or fines associated with this program, just feedback.  The goal is to identify what is taking place in the licensed facilities to help businesses improve their practices.

All individual results will be kept confidential by RRF.  A report will be generated and shared publicly in late October detailing overall results for Bethesda.

There is also an extra incentive for businesses that check IDs carefully.  In a mailing that went out to all Bethesda licensed businesses detailing the program, DLC enclosed cards that identify the “mystery shopper” that may be visiting their business establishment.  Any staff member who recognizes a “mystery shopper” from inspecting his or her ID and hands the shopper the card, will receive $100 in cash.

For more information on the “mystery shopper” program and past results, check out the RRF Systems Project Report online at  For specific program information, call Emily DeTitta at 240.777.1904.

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