Club's ID Policy Angers Some Customers

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COLUMBIA - Dee Herdeg was thrilled when she found out she won an "office party" at Déjà Vu Comedy Club. But Herdeg and her entourage only made it up to the front door.

"He scanned my driver's license and we started to walk past him and he tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Ma'am, you have to leave, you're banned." I said, "What?" He said, "You're banned.' And I was like, 'Ya, okay, right,'" said Herdeg.

But, Herdeg said she came to realize the bouncer wasn't kidding--she was banned from Déjà Vu.

"It was humiliating... to have to turn around in front of my friends, in front of all those people and walk back through the line and all the people looking at you like, 'What did you do?,'" Herdeg said.

Herdeg wasn't alone. The club's co-managing partner, Matt Istwan, said the club has lost 10 to 15 percent of its business because of a new policy that established a permanent ban list. Istwan said the club bought ID scanners to help detect fake IDs. The carding machines also store basic information like names, dates of birth, driver's license numbers and addresses.

With the new machines, the club can flag driver's licenses for a number of reasons and put them on the permanent ban list. This could happen if a customer was asked to leave or refused service during a previous visit, if any member of a customer's party was asked to leave or refused service or if a customer has a criminal background.

In Herdeg's case, she had been with a group during a previous visit that had caused trouble. Her ID, along with everyone else's in the group, was flagged and the club looked her up on Missouri's, an online legal database. Herdeg had a misdemeanor for selling alochol to a minor in 2011 and therefore, Herdeg couldn't return to Déjà Vu. Herdeg said she worked at a convenience store and she had checked the minor's ID quickly and made a mistake when she was subtracting the numbers. She said she paid her dues and moved on from the incident.

"She probably was not one of these threats. But to be fair to the system we have in place, to be consistent with what we have in place, to avoid the possibility of a law suit that says we're discriminating against age, religion or sex, we said this is the standards we have in place and unfortunately, she met the standards," said Istwan.

Istwan said the club has lost 10 to 15 percent of its business because of the new policy. He said his office receives 3 to 5 phones calls a week with people inquiring about their ban list and asking to be removed from it. Istwan said Déjà Vu's proactive policy is a necessity for the business.

"It only takes on event, a large fight, a possible stabbing, and in worst case scenario a possible shooting. If just one of those was ever to occur, then I just lost my business."

He said he's seen this happen to night clubs in Columbia and Jefferson City as well as St. Louis and Kansas City.

Columbia Police Sergeant Eric Hughes is supportive of Déjà Vu's ID scanners. He said he hopes more places around Columbia will start to use these.

"Other bars will eventually begin doing this and it will become a nationwide trend because it does take libaility off the establishment. It does make it a safer environment if the known problem makers aren't allowed back into the bar."

Herdeg said she isn't crushed that she will never be allowed back to Déjà Vu. However, the humiliation and embarrassment she felt makes her never want to go back again.