Store Charges Browsing Customers $5 'Just Looking' Fee

×
http://imgur.com/jh38qXT?tags
BarrettFox, Reddit.com
A store in Australia is apparently taking an extreme approach to eliminating showrooming, alerting would-be customers that they'll be charged $5 if they come in to browse but don't buy anything.

Reddit user BarrettFox posted a snapshot of a sign warning shoppers that the store would impose a $5 fee for people who are "just looking." The fee, the sign explains, will be deducted from the final purchase price, ensuring that people who actually buy something won't be charged. It notes that it's pursuing this strategy because of "a high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere."

The user identified the store as a specialty food retailer based in Brisbane, Australia; we've reached out to the store to confirm that they posted the sign, but because it's currently the middle of the night in Australia, we haven't heard back yet.

But if this store is actually charging people just for walking in the door, it has to be the most misguided strategy we've seen for dealing with showrooming. While it's undoubtedly frustrating to have people use your store as a showroom just so they can buy the same goods online, imposing a cover charge is hardly the ideal solution. The goal of any retailer should be to impress customers with competitive pricing and great customer service -- not treat their customers with suspicion and hostility from the moment they walk in the door.

That approach won't just keep the showroomers away, either -- it's inevitably going to turn off a lot of potential customers who had no intention of showrooming, but aren't about to step into a store that forces them to pay an entrance fee if they don't find anything they like.

It's not the first time we've seen a store take this approach. A couple of years ago, a shoe store got fed up with people who tried on their shoes and then bought them online, and decided to impose a $20 "fitting fee." In both cases, we're struggling to understand how the store would even enforce such a charge; if we hear back on how it's going, we'll let you know.

But in the meantime, this store and other retailers considering a similar scheme might instead want to explore a more consumer-friendly approach. Target and Best Buy were likewise stung by shoppers who came in, tried out their products and then went home to buy on Amazon. But instead of banning phones or trying to charge an entrance fee, they instead extended their price-matching policy to Amazon and other online retailers.

Obviously doing so might cut into those retailers' profit margins, and that will also be true for this small business owner. But if, as the sign claims, the store's prices "are almost the same as the other stores," it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Timing Your Spending

How to pay less by changing when you purchase.

View Course »

How Financial Planners go Grocery Shopping

Learn to shop smart and save.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

13 Comments

Filter by:
df00000

Yikes!

April 05 2013 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
maryweinstein

Wow, that'd be the last time I ever walked into that store!

March 26 2013 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pkacp

and now if they look and break something, that can be an expensive look-see.....

March 26 2013 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pkacp

"we've reached out to the store to confirm that they posted the sign, but because it's currently the middle of the night in Australia, we haven't heard back yet"..........so we decided to go with the story anyway, right or wrong, screw the business and their hard earned reputation, we are AOL and we sometimes help create a story or 10.....

March 26 2013 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
choicef

they will be out of business within the year

March 26 2013 at 2:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
lacabrera

this is Australia people just don't know any better ,they will pay it !!

March 26 2013 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rschli7137

LOL! This must be "How to go out of business for Dummies!"

March 26 2013 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ccm989

What? Last time I checked looking was free!

March 26 2013 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSEPH

If this store droped thier prices then people would not go elewhere to buy the product after seeing it there.

March 26 2013 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doonooch

lets see how that business model works out. If they dont have exclusive, unique products to offer, I trust they'll be looking for a new CEO before long.

March 26 2013 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply