26 May, 2020 Last updated: 11 Mar, 2021

Research shows alcohol delivery service giants are putting vulnerable people at risk

Author: VicHealth, a Victorian Government Agency that works with experts, evidence and research in health promotion.

Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (26 May 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au


Coronavirus has been tough on our community. One of the fallouts that doctors and health groups are particularly concerned about is harm from alcohol products during this challenging time.

This makes the dangerous practices of on-demand alcohol delivery giants like UberEats and BWS Online hard to swallow.

To learn more, we surveyed more than 760 people who use alcohol delivery services that deliver within two hours. We also surveyed 890 people who don’t use alcohol delivery services.

What survey respondents shared tells us that online alcohol companies are failing to meet the basic alcohol service standards the community expects, so that vulnerable people are protected.


The research found it was commonplace for services to deliver alcohol products regularly to people who were already intoxicated, fail to check IDs and leave alcohol unattended.


Alcohol delivery giants are failing to meet the basic safety standards of alcohol service:

Graphic depicting 'lack of ID checks' and 'alcohol being left unattended'

  • A third of people who use on-demand services said they didn’t have their ID checked, including  around a quarter of people aged 18-24.

  • 71 per cent of weekly users were regularly intoxicated when they received orders from on-demand alcohol delivery services.

  • 1 in 10 had orders left unattended. Plus 15 per cent said their order was collected by someone else. 


Research shows the more people use alcohol delivery services, the more harm increases

The research found that on-demand services are not only avoiding basic alcohol safety standards, they’re causing significant harm to the community.

Regular users of on-demand alcohol delivery were more likely to be risky drinkers, suffer memory loss, become injured or injure others after drinking than people who don’t use these services.

graphic showing 60% of alcohol delivery users drink 11+ standard drinks in a single sitting

  • Almost half the people who used on-demand delivery reported having memory loss after drinking, compared with less than a quarter of people who don’t use on-demand alcohol delivery.
  • 40 per cent of people said they would have stopped drinking if on-demand alcohol delivery wasn’t available.
  • The more people used the services, the more harm increased – almost three-quarters of weekly users were drinking 11 or more standard drinks in a single sitting at least once a week.
  • Almost three times more on-demand users reported being injured or injuring someone else after drinking alcohol compared with people who don’t use the services.
  • Of those injured, nearly half said the last time an injury occurred they had been consuming alcohol sourced from an on-demand service.

It’s clear that on-demand alcohol services are having a negative impact on our community, so we’re calling for higher standards on how they operate.


Why should pubs have to abide by Responsible Service Alcohol provisions, while businesses selling alcohol online don’t?

There is an opportunity to reduce the harm caused by on-demand delivery of alcohol products in Victoria. 

To protect the community we’re calling on the Government to change the law to include:

  • A mandatory delay of two hours between purchase and delivery.
  • Services offering on-demand delivery of alcohol products should be prohibited from trading between 10pm and 10am.
  • For all on-demand alcohol home delivery services, the person who places the order should also have to collect it, and present photo ID as proof of age and identity.
  • Under no circumstances should deliveries of alcohol products be left unattended.
  • Alcohol on-demand delivery services should be prohibited from using direct marketing and inducements via email, text or in-app promotions.
  • Online alcohol retailers should have to meet the same standards when it comes to checking IDs and refusing service to intoxicated people.

It’s time to put the health of our community ahead of the profits of alcohol retailers by setting higher standards for online on-demand alcohol delivery.