Kiwis react to UberEats' new alcohol delivery service as Alcohol Healthwatch says our regulations aren't ready

Kiwis say UberEats' new alcohol delivery service is a five-star business plan, but the bill might not be the only cost for customers.

On Tuesday, UberEats launched a new feature allowing alcohol to be delivered directly to the door via its popular app. From 10am to 10:30pm, Aucklanders can place their order from a selection of 30 liquor stores citywide. The service will also be expanded to Christchurch and Wellington in the coming weeks.

Customers will have to front up with ID and will be denied the delivery if they are visibly intoxicated.

Aucklanders Newshub spoke to agreed the new idea is a good plan.

"People wouldn't have to drunk drive around and that, so it's safe," one says.

"Just makes it easy, doesn't it," another says.

But one believes if people need to use an app, it could be a sign they've had too much to drink.

"If you need to go get booze, you can go get booze, and if you can't, then you've probably had enough," another person said.

But drivers and Alcohol Healthwatch organisations fear the worst could come from the new service. 

"UberEats can sell alcohol until 10:30 at night, we suggest that's too late. Rapid delivery within 20 minutes, well other countries are saying no to rapid delivery, 24 hours at least before alcohol is delivered," says Dr Nicki Jackson, Alcohol Healthwatch's executive director.

"The courier driver isn't the person who should be supplying our most harmful drug."

UberEats has implemented some restrictions for the new service, including a limit on the amount of alcohol that can be ordered under New Zealand's legal requirements. The user must also verify their age when they register for an UberEats account, place their order, and collect their alcohol from the delivery person. The customer must present a valid form of identification when their order arrives. The delivery person is then required to scan the document using the Uber Driver app to verify their age before completing the delivery. 

Drivers are also able to refuse delivery if they can see the customer is visibly intoxicated. They will be paid to return the order to the store and a refund will be issued to the buyer.

The platform has also provided a function allowing users to exclude themselves from the service if alcohol is triggering to them. This enables the user to opt-out of the feature on their UberEats app as well as related marketing emails.

Woman holding paper bag with take out food, home delivery, food order, takeaway
Photo credit: Getty Images

UberEats isn't the first company to offer alcohol deliveries in New Zealand, but Alcohol Healthwatch says its move to booze makes it mainstream and our regulations aren't ready.

UberEats driver Max Chilmeran has concerns about situations drivers may be put in if they have to refuse someone alcohol.

"You've got the alcohol there and they've paid for it, and you're there to try and say, 'you can't have it, I'll take it back to the store'. I don't think that's going to be very well received," he says.

He's opted out of making alcohol deliveries but thinks those drivers who opt-in will cut corners to avoid confrontation.

"Drivers will just say they've checked everything and complete the delivery regardless, and just hope for the best."

Māori public health advocate Selah Hart is expecting the worst.

"There could be fatalities that come out of this," says Hart, who is the CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora.

She's accusing UberEats of putting profit over people. 

"They are not the ones that are seeing the harm and the subsequent issues that our whanau are facing and I just don't think they have their moral compass in the right direction."

UberEats maintains that the safety of everyone that uses the app is always the priority and they're committed to promoting sensible alcohol consumption.