Ever just walk into a store with intentions to browse and, inevitably, have to ward off those eager sales associates prodding you to spend by saying, “Just looking?”
Well, now, saying “just looking” can result in a $5 fee, if you shop in one store, presumably located in Australia, which charges people for browsing or “showrooming” in its brick and mortar shop.
Reddit user BarrettFox posted a photo of a sign hung in a store which says a $5 fee will be charged for customers who are “just looking” and have no intentions to purchase. According to the sign, the store, believed to be a specialty food retailer based in Brisbane, is looking to bar “showrooming,” or the practice where people browse in the store only to inevitably purchase goods online.
The sign reads:
“As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for ‘just looking.’
The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.
Why has this come about?
There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere. These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.
This policy is line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.
While the name of the store in Brisbane has not been identified, the same user that posted the sign, also posted a photo of Celiac Supplies on Reddit. The store, CS, is marketed as “Brisbane’s first & only gluten free grocery store” and an image which appears to be the sign is hung in the window.
According to industry experts, charging a $5 fee for “just looking” is a bad strategy no matter where or what the store is.
"If customers aren’t buying, the seller needs to figure out why and adapt accordingly," wrote Chris Morran at The Consumerist. "If this store’s prices are truly the best, then maybe it should be offering a price-match guarantee. If it truly offers products that aren’t available elsewhere, then how are these showrooming shoppers buying these items from someone else?"
Commenters on Reddit seem to agree, but of course, have not held back with their unabashed remarks.
“This store seems desperate to go out of business,” wrote user GuidedByMonkeys.
"At least it's not Ticket Master; you'd have to pay for a receipt, and then an extra 'convenience fee' for taking your own goods home and breathing their oxygen whilst you're in the store," user Hybernative wrote.
"Acquire a white cane and some dark glasses, then see if anyone demands money from you for "just looking,’” Reddit user firethequadlaser wrote.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a store has imposed a fee on customers who don’t make a purchase. Most recently, designer Vera Wang came under fire for charging a $482 try-on fee at its bridal store in Shanghai. Vogue reported customers are required to pay 3,000 yuan for a 90-minute fitting session to “protest the copyright of the designer.” If a purchase is made, however, the non-refundable fee is deducted from the final price.