After Eater ran the story last week about Silver Eagle Distributors possibly "paying their reps $300 for every No Label Brewery tap they are able to take down" and allegations that "Reps are offering cash, free kegs, etc. to bar owners to replace NL on their walls," several readers asked for a follow up on the legality of such tactics.
We called up Vanessa Mayo, a compliance supervisor for the TABC, to clarify what is and isn't allowed in the world of beer peddling and 1) it is perfectly legal to offer incentives to salespeople within the company and 2) it looks as if Silver Eagle's rumored practices as it relates to the bars themselves fall into a "gray area."
There's a lot of gray area here. But here's the deal: we encourage a fair and competitive marketplace. If someone is using any type of underhanded technique to gain market share, we would look into it. Our basic issue is intent. Obviously everyone is competitive, everybody wants to get their product out there, but are you doing something underhandedly with the intention of trying to circumvent the law? Just the rumor of "hey, we're going to offer you incentives to carry our brand over somebody else's" sounds kinda shady, but there could be a million ways that they could do it legally. So it's really hard to say and it's kinda hard to prove.
While the legality of such practices remains inconclusive, Mayo did want us to tell our readers that "if you do have any insider information and want to file a complaint [against Silver Eagle Distributors or otherwise], you may do so anonymously."