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Pa. to probe breakdown of wine kiosks

HARRISBURG - Auditor General Jack Wagner will audit the state Liquor Control Board's wine kiosks, which were abruptly shut down Tuesday night because of mechanical problems.

In a statement Wednesday, Wagner said his audit would focus on whether the kiosks, located in 30 supermarkets across the state, are delivering the customer convenience and additional revenue to the Commonwealth that the Liquor Control Board said they would when it awarded a contract to Simple Brands L.L.C. of Conshohocken to develop the machines.

"The kiosks' breakdown during the height of the holiday shopping season has left customers high and dry, and we want to know why," said Wagner.

The Liquor Control Board launched its much ballyhooed kiosk program this past summer in two Harrisburg-area supermarkets, but since then has expanded into other grocery stores, including two in the Philadelphia-area. LCB officials in August said the kiosks - essentially large vending machines that require customers to scan their driver's license and pass a Breathalyzer test - were working well.

But in announcing that they would be temporarily shuttering the machines, liquor board officials cited mechanical problems which included machines not dispensing wines.