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Business - Written by on Monday, July 21, 2008 12:23 - 14 Comments

Ice Cold Beer Guy Fired, Fans Fight Back with Facebook

If you’ve ever been to a Blue Jays game, you may have heard of the Ice Cold Beer Guy. For seven seasons, beer vendor Wayne McMahon has been walking the isles of Toronto SkyDome Rogers Centre with a signature call “ICE … COOOOOOLD … BEEEEEEEEEER” that has earned him local fame, Facebook fan sites, and a presence on YouTube.

Last week he was fired by concession company Aramark for not checking the ID of a 22-year-old “mystery shopper.” (The legal drinking age is 19, but apparently he is supposed to check the ID of anyone who looks under 30.)

In response, unhappy fans have joined forces on Facebook to demand that he be rehired. The Official Bring Back Wayne Facebook Group has grown from 2500 members on Wednesday, to 9000 on Friday, to almost 15 000 today. The momentum is just picking up. And now, if you search for Aramark on Facebook, Bring Back Wayne is the number one result.

Aramark has not yet hired him back. But they would be foolish not to. This is turning into a public relations disaster that will come back to haunt them when it comes time to renew their contracts, not just for the Rogers Centre, but for universities across the country. They have nothing to gain from firing a popular employee for not checking the ID of someone who was well above legal drinking age, and for not following a rule that I’m sure many feel is a little over the top. (If you were at a baseball game and the beer guy kept slowing down service and interrupting the game by insisting that people who were clearly of age, but looked 29, pass their IDs up and down the isle, wouldn’t you be a bit annoyed?)

But Aramark, like so many companies, is not used to listening to customer complaints about internal policy. Even if they make an internal decision that upsets a large group of customers, only a few have the time and naivety to phone and complain. And I can just imagine what management thinks of them: “whiners who complain about everything and who have no respect for a company policy that took months to decide on, plan for, and implement. Change the policy? That just don’t understand it. They weren’t at the meetings.”

Ah, but they do understand. They’ve worked in those companies and enforced those policies themselves. And if they complain about everything, its probably because they have everything to complain about.

It used to be easy to maintain the myth that the complainers were an irrelevant and uninformed fringe group. Not anymore. Now, with barely any amount of time or effort, social networks are allowing them to form into a cohesive and public opposition to your company.

Smart companies see this as an opportunity to engage with customers and build the company around what customers want, not what a committee meeting decides is a good idea. Those that choose to propagate the myth that complainers are irrelevant are sure to find their own relevance steadily diminished.


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maLvAReZ OnLinE
Jul 21, 2008 14:06

Las crecientes voces de los clientes…

Erase una vez cuando la cantidad de clientes que levantaban quejas contra las políticas o decisiones de la empresa era mínima. Muy pocas personas se tomaban la molestia de agarrar un teléfono y hacer una llamada al centro de atenci…

Jan Egert
Jul 21, 2008 23:35

Amen. As a student at Laurentian University I am sick and tired of witnessing that I’m overpaying for every food and drink I purchase, simply because Aramark owns a monopoly there. The fact that they have a right to rip off students such as myself is absolutely disgusting. Wayne is a legend. Aramark is a joke.

Jul 22, 2008 12:33

How Aramark can ignore such a public outcry is baffling … but then again, it just shows what idiots they have in upper management.

Jul 22, 2008 13:42

Actually, it’s not baffling at all, it’s simply the effects of a monopoly service provider.

Jul 22, 2008 17:32

Will…There are two sides to every story.
Imagine you are married with a five year old daughter. It’s a nice Sunday evening in October. You, your beautiful wife and your daughter are returning home from an apple orchard, where you picked apples all day. Your daughter got ill, and your wife is in the back seat with her. You are driving down a road, when suddenly, you see a large SUV at high speed, jump the median strip and hit you head-on.
You’re okay–you have an airbag and wore your seatbelt. Your wife had no airbag and neither did your daughter. Neither will ever walk again, and your daughter is on a respirator for life. The SUV driver is of course unhurt, because he wore a seat belt, had an air bag, and of course, the mass of the SUV was way greater than your car, so the force of the impact was born by your car and your family.
Later, you find out that the SUV driver was coming from a football game, and was drunk. He drank beers at a tailgate prior to the game, and he drank during the game, because the servers there didn’t follow their company’s procedures about serving alcohol. Also turns out that the guy is 20–able to drive, but not to drink.

So now, Will, does that change your point of view about the need to follow procedures?

If not, what if the 20 year old was your kid brother, and he’s in jail for vehicular manslaughter.

The worker knew the rules and although you don’t realize it, you put your trust in him and his peers to follow the rules, and help keep the streets you drive on, bike on, or run on, safe.


Jul 22, 2008 18:49

My thoughts are summed up in one word: irrelevant!

How does asking some for their ID every time they order a beer insure that they would not drive home drunk?

Will Dick
Jul 22, 2008 20:44


If that is a personal story, my deepest sympathies. If it isn’t, then shame on you. Either way, your analogy is false.

Right off the bat, and I’m sure you’ll agree, a drunk driver bares the primary fault of any harm they cause: they broke the law and acted irresponsibly.

Now of course a server is obligated to serve alcohol both legally and responsibly.

Wayne served alcohol to someone who was both sober and of legal drinking age. That is neither illegal nor irresponsible.

What he did not do was check the ID of someone who allegedly “looked under 30″. That wasn’t illegal. Was it irresponsible? Only if it was unreasonable for him to believe that this 22 year-old woman was above the age of 18. I’m willing to guess that a man who has been selling beer for seven years can tell the difference between someone who is too young to be out of high school and someone who is old enough to be out of university.

But maybe we want to be obsessively cautions about not selling to underage people. I personally think we should focus on not selling to drunk people, and stop forcing young people to learn about alcohol in an unsanctioned environment without adult guidance, making them far more likely to use it irresponsibly. But maybe you disagree.

The thing is, I’m guessing that Aramark is kidding itself if it thinks that that policy is actually being enforced. Its rare that a teenager looks like they are in their late 20s, leading many to feel it is a bad rule. Plus, its a major inconvenience for customers and staff, especially since IDs need to be passed up and down isles in the middle of a game. And I bet if an employee was to actually follow it, they’d sell less beer than usual, and get in trouble from their boss.

So if Aramark actually wants to get employees to follow it, they should address those concerns and work to convince employees (and customers) that its a good idea.

And finally, any company with the slightest bit of respect and compassion for people does not fire a seven-year employee (who is also its most popular employee) for one mistake that didn’t result in any harm.


Jul 23, 2008 18:12


If that is a personal story I am so sorry for your family’s situation.

But I would just like to point out your agrument is invalid in this case if the incident that took place in respect to the firing of “Wayne the Beer Man”. Happened in TORONTO, which is part of C-A-N-A-D-A.

Toronto is in the province of ONTARIO, where the legal drinking age is 19.

The “We ID” rules are getting rediculous. First it was if you look under 22, then 25 (a good median age I think) now it’s 30. What next “WE ID UNDER 50?”.

Bad PR for the firm that fired Wayne. I attend, on average 6 or 7 Jays games a month, and will no longer purchase a beer, nor any food. I will eat & drink from the “Shopsy Dog” cart out front.

Jul 23, 2008 20:11

According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), “statistics show the average age of impaired drivers is between 25 and 34 years” which is well above the legal drinking age of 19. In fact, I often hear of men and women in their 40s, 50s and 60s being charged with drunk driving causing death.

If servers were expected to ensure NO ONE leaves the stadium and drives home impaired, they would have to stop serving. Period.

But then we would all be forced to return to the days when we smuggled booze into the stadium tucked into our socks. No one checked our ID then, either.

At the end of the day, you are your own liquor control board.

Dick Will
Jul 24, 2008 13:30

@Will Dick

1) Your analogy is entirely too long winded and irrelevant to the present situation.
2) The drinking age in Canada is 19, not 21
3) The fact that you don’t know that is indicative of the ignorance Americans, and by extension, American companies, have about Canadian drinking culture.
4) The policy of IDing anyone who appears under 30 is overly cumbersome to the public and does not provide any additional contribution to public safety. Or at least none that would justify the inconvenience to of-age, LEGAL BEER CONSUMERS

Jul 26, 2008 23:50

Aramark is an arrogant American corporation and they could not care less about Canadians or our society. They want our money and that is all that matters to them. The Jays, on the other hand try to put forth this caring image and do things for the community. What are they doing for Beer Guy aside from ignoring the issue? Silence is not golden and they will learn the financial way. Shame on them.

Jul 31, 2008 14:17

I challenge all Aramak Managers do do this job and pass 6 out of seven mistery shops.
I also wonder how they are doing getting mystery shoppers after these fiasco

Jul 31, 2008 20:00

Don, there was no mystery shopper. It was a bullshit story to dump a vendor that was too popular for management. The “SKYDOME” is a mean and heartless building. As far as the knob managers,they would fail your test scenario, that is why they are managers.

Custom Football Socks
Oct 28, 2008 17:55

I’m not surprised Aramark would do such bad PR. However, I don’t see where is the problem about asking for an ID and he should definitely have done so. Does it mean he deserved to be fired? Certainly not!

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