back to article Oz shop slaps browsers with $5 just looking fee

A specialty food store in the Australian city of Brisbane has erected a sign insisting it will charge $AUD5.00 ($US5.25, £3.46) to enter the store, refundable if you buy something. But if you leave the store without buying the store assumes you may be comparing prices to those available online and keeps the cash. The store in …


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  1. Esskay

    Anyone thinking about shopping there

    Will now probably just wait for the closing down sale.

    I can understand some brick and mortar stores getting the shits at people just browsing and going elsewhere, but hasn't that been going on since time immemorial? Nothing stopped people browsing at multiple shops before the rise of the internet (although I'll admit it's a lot easier now). Brick and Mortar stores DO have strengths and advantages over online stores , I can't help but think offering a free sample would encourage people to buy there (out of guilt, if nothing else) more than this sign would. Customer service also goes a long way (but I get the feeling this may be in short supply...).

    Ultimately, if people don't buy your wares, putting up what is effectively a paywall to enter is NOT going to change that (in a positive way).

    1. JeffyPooh

      Re: Anyone thinking about shopping there

      "...getting the shits..."

      Considering the intestinal nature of the problem supposedly addressed by 'Celiac Supplies', that's funny. Extra points if it was intentional.

      1. Rob

        Re: Anyone thinking about shopping there

        Also ironic that you made that comment with your ElReg handle.

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Anyone thinking about shopping there

      "Will now probably just wait for the closing down sale."

      Most certainly. Several stores in NYC have tried this tactic...they did not last long, either.

      This type of policy leaves a bitter taste in customer's mouths - either real, current customers or even prospective customers. Its says "You are only good to us for your money" to passers by, and shoppers learn to say "Stuff off" back to the store.

    3. Harry

      Re: Anyone thinking about shopping there

      I noticed a cafe the other day, with a sign in the window that non-customers must pay £1.50 to use the loo.

      I can understand why the owners might need to do this in a high tourist area without adequate facilities, but this was an ordinary high street so I can't imagine more than a very small number of non-customers would even want to go there.

      I'm sure too that if I was considering being a customer there for the first time, that sign would put me off and I'd take my business elsewhere.

      Interestingly, in the next town a number of shops have signed up for a "community convenience" scheme, where they advertise that their loos are available to non-customers. I'm sure they do so because they think many of the extra people that come into their shop will become customers too.

  2. xpusostomos

    Better to...

    I would have thought the better solution would be to charge $10 for advice than to charge $5 just to browse.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Better to...

      Or just make the advice a feature that people actually come specifically for, run workshops, cooking classes etc, print leaflets. Try and control when people get that advice to some degree and remember some people are just twats who will come for free advice, but they might tell other people about the store. Not everybody has to buy for it to be worthwhile.

      Plus if her pricing is good, get selling online and beat them at their own game. Have a forum on the site where people can exchange advice. Her solution is somewhat amusing but seems to be very counterproductive and indicative of a rather less than consumer friendly attitude.

    2. southpacificpom

      Re: Better to...

      Or, use the Microsoft/Adobe method which is give some fashionable clothing away to schoolkids on a regular basis, get them hooked on your product line and then once they earn a living stop the freebies and say u can have this dress based on a yearly hire cost but you're not allowed to let other people wear the garment or make alterations etc...

      I guess no one would buy clothes under that crass way of doing business, shame about the idiotic managers out there that do this exact thing but with IT

  3. gisabsr

    I live about five minutes away from the shop in question, and have two friends with coeliac disease (as in actually have it, rather than being fashionable/conned into thinking they have gluten intolerance as so many people seem to). They have refused to shop there in the past due to, and i paraphrase 'customer service issues'.

    I rather suspect their opinion will not be swayed by this latest development.

    1. Thorne

      "They have refused to shop there in the past due to, and i paraphrase 'customer service issues'."

      Maybe the customers walked out without buying something due to the owner's attitude?

  4. Grikath


    The mind... It is blown...

    Even the extremely mercenary attitude of Oz entrepeneurs to "All the Traffic Will Bear" pales by comparison..

  5. Rampant Spaniel

    It is very common but some local stores really do make it hard for themselves.

    I try and use a local camera shop but they make it insanely hard price wise. Quite often their price will be full msrp+tax whereas buying from a reputable online store will be msrp-5-10%-rebates with no tax.

    So local store for a 5dmIII is $3499+tax (plus amusingly enough, if they don't have it in stock they charge you for delivery)

    amazon is $2949 (free delivery, tax sometimes).

    Amazon \ Adorama \ B&H all also honor canons rebates which can take a decent chunk off (usually a few hundred dollars, more for multiple purchases) so it wouldn't be unrealistic to see another $1-200 off the amazon price, the local store refuses or cannot honor those rebates. Honestly I like supporting local but when you are 15-20% more expensive and not on cheap items, people will look elsewhere.

    I can however understand her being pissed off a being used for free information, thats just wrong and how long will that free info be there if noone buys the products?. Plus she is probably close to the mark on price as more of her items will have postage as a higher % of their value than cameras.

    1. gisabsr

      This is very true. It's painful. We keep being told we should 'support small businesses', but when the local small business is significantly more expensive that the alternative it is hard.

      A small markup I can take for convenience, but 15-20%+, which is what sometimes happens, even between B&M stores. Well, I'm not a charity, and more to the point, neither are they.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Exactly, and they all seem to do the same thing when the going gets tough, rather than find a way to add more value to a transaction, they take away the one of the main strengths they have, staff on hand with knowledge and replace them with salesplebs who only know % commissions. The other main strength being having things in stock immediately, however quite a few other companies will rush you a lens or camera body damn quick. Phasmiya also has an insanely good aftersales service that tends to have loaners in your hands inside of 24 hours which makes local stock less of an issue.

        They could run a club where you pay a yearly fee and get a % of sales back, also maybe a free sensor clean or two etc maybe offer lens calibration. Something that would bring some volume in return for losing a little bit of money per transaction. As it is they have had to fall back on selling memory cards to tourists at silly prices. rather than differentiate themselves they screw themselves over. I don't buy local organic food just because it is local, I buy it because it's fresher and better quality than supermarket junk, if you want us to pay more, offer better.

        1. Turtle

          @Rampant Spaniel

          "they all seem to do the same thing when the going gets tough, rather than find a way to add more value to a transaction, they take away the one of the main strengths they have, staff on hand with knowledge and replace them with salesplebs who only know % commissions."

          I would expect that most internet users will use the internet not only to comparison shop but also to do their product research. I have had salespeople tell me barefaced lies, and make up "information" on the spot; relying on a salesman, whether working on commission or not, is not exactly a wise course of action. So the it's rarely a question of the staff being knowledgeable or otherwise, or what commission they're getting on which items.

          As for "adding value to a transaction": most people shop for price. I can't really imagine what kind of "added value" a shop could offer to offset a price that is higher than elsewhere; the one and only exception which comes to mind is that you get your item instantaneously, as opposed to waiting a few days for it to be delivered. But I would expect that for most people, it does not take enormous savings to make a few days' wait seem like a price worth paying in order to save a significant sum of money.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: @Rampant Spaniel

            I think I did cover both those points :) I did say that previously salesfolsk in places like say Jessops were actually excellent and did know their stuff and would sell you what you actually needed irrespective of the price, they were then replaced with plebs who got kicked out of double glazing sales school for not having enough morals and we know how that ended up. The current sales experience is not indicative of what is possible.

            As for adding value, not everyone shops by the exact same criteria. There is plenty of things they could do, like I mentioned having a membership club that would encourage people to do all of their shopping there in return for a reduced price. If my local store had sane pricing they would get 40k a year in camera bodies, lenses, lights and servicing, as it is they get zero. A few percent higher plus tax is fine, blatantly screwing customers is not. I did illustrate several different ways they could add value both in a camera shop and in the specialist food shop.

            Bottom line is if people are coming into the store for advice, make that a selling point. It's obvious that not everyone is doing all their research online if they are coming into the store to ask so why not use that rather than dig yourself a deeper hole by alienating people.

            1. Turtle

              Re: @Rampant Spaniel

              "Bottom line is if people are coming into the store for advice, make that a selling point."

              Celiac Supplies' point is that this has not been working.

              1. Rampant Spaniel

                Re: @Rampant Spaniel

                Mine was they aren't doing it right or at least aren't trying hard enough :) What she is doing is tantamount to giving up. Seriously, run a cooking demo that only requires say $15 of ingredients, give everyone a taste then sell them the 'basket' of goods, maybe throw in a 10% discount for buying the entire basket or something, at least try something rather than throwing a hissy fit. Sure I could be wrong, she could suddenly make a fortune in $5 consultation fees :) It just seems to me like she picked the wrong way to do this.

                Also if she is cheaper or the same price as online, get a whiteboard, take 10 items and list her price against the online stores and show people she is cheaper. Just update it each day. Our local organic farmers market & attached store is actually cheaper than buying online which shocked me but I go back there more and more. They also have a deli where they post their recipes and freely and happily give advice, but then again they seem to enjoy their jobs. If I walked in their and they were rude I probably wouldn't go back irrespective of price which given the comments above seems a far more likely reason.

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  7. Turtle

    Easily Understandable But Possibly (And Probably) Hopeless.

    "That behaviour annoys her as she feels her expertise has value. Those who shop on price or pick her brains without making a purchase therefore forfeit a fiver."

    I don't blame her in the least. I'm not sure that it's going to help her in the long run, but shopkeepers who need to pay the costs of having a physical store, and often have to charge sales tax to which internet retailers are not subject, really need to do something. Of course one can make a distinction between two things here: people stopping in to look at a price, and people stopping in to ask for advice; these are not exactly equivalent. Additionally, it should not be difficult to understand why a shopkeeper would want to function as a showroom for an online retailer.

    But Celiac Supplies' cause might be hopeless...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Easily Understandable But Possibly (And Probably) Hopeless.

      If she actually had any expertise in areas that matter, such as people skills and marketing, she wouldn't need to be charging an entry fee to the shop (incidentally, how is she going to enforce that if people walk in and go out without paying their "rent"?)

      This is another example of the sense of entitlement some merchants (movie and record industry, I'm looking at you too) have to earn a living without changing a damn thing. This daft woman deserves to go out of business - perhaps the clue-stick will bless her with a pummelling then. After all, Rampant Spaniel has come up with several good ways to increase footfall, sales, and - most importantly - loyalty in just a few minutes. It isn't hard, ffs.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    A gluten free food Nazi.

    How shocking.

    Big Brother - because only HE knows how best to combat the vegan terrorist uprising.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: A gluten free food Nazi.

      What's the connection between being vegan (a lifestyle choice) and requiring a gluten-free diet due to a potentially fatal food intolerance (cœliac disease)?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. M Gale

    How Microsoftian

    After all, how many common-allergen-free-food stores are in the area? I'm guessing not many.

    "If you don't like our entry fee, you can always go to the competition, lolz."

    If you don't want people shopping around, you really shouldn't be running a shop. Taking advantage of people who have to eat, but end up shitting through the eye of a needle at the merest sight of a wheat grain or the slightest drop of cow pus... well. See title.

    As it is, at one job with a certain large UK computer retailer, I used to frequently give simple advice to people coming in with simple computer questions. Sure, they might not always walk out with a thousand pounds of the latest PC hardware. Was nice when customers came in specifically asking for me to serve them when they did want something though. Methinks this shop owner needs to think in terms longer than the next 5 minutes.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: How Microsoftian

      I can't speak for Oz but it was noticeable in NZ before xmas that gluten free stuff and options were much more common than they are here in Blighty. A teashop in a flybitten town in Central Otago had GF quiches and a nice fruit slice. Try that in the Highlands.

      Hell's Pizza there have been doing GF pizza for years and do a side in GF brownies to boot. Here in Dundee we have only this last month got the option of GF deliverable pizza. The youngest worked at a poshish burger joint that does GF burger buns. The supermarkets were full of a variety of GF breads that make Genius bread (very good btw) here look in need of inspiration.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: How Microsoftian

        "I can't speak for Oz but it was noticeable in NZ before xmas that gluten free stuff and options were much more common than they are here in Blighty."

        A large proportion of NZers have irish-derived ancestry and the coeliac rate in that country is the highest in the world. NZ isn't far behind, but awareness has only really been spreading in the last 15 years.

        In the 1990s it wasn't that uncommon for companies selling foodstuffs to substitute wheatflour for cornflour if they were caught short - without changing the labelling. In extreme cases that can put people in hospital (one of my schoolfriends is an extreme case. Coeliac cost him a lot of bone damage and all his teeth

        Ironically, given dairy products are the single largest export from NZ, it has one of the world's highest awarenesses of lactose intolerance. (it was research there which gave the realisation that lactose tolerance in adults is the mutation, not the norm).

    2. bep

      Re: How Microsoftian

      So right, if people can't shop around, they aren't going to find her shop in the first place. Any salesperson knows that not all pitches lead to sales, that doesn't mean you stop selling. If she establishes herself as the local expert and the word gets around that this is so, it's going to help her bottom line in the long run. Exactly the same as finding that one computer shop where the staff have half a clue and are actually interested in computers. Prices still have to be competitive, mind.

  10. Busby

    Seems a great way to lose business.

    How does this stand legally, can one of our Bruce or Sheila cousins comment? Just curious if someone refused to pay would she then be able to call the police or pursue them for the money in other ways?

    All in it seems a great way to destroy a business I'm sure she will no longer have those 60 queries a week but she may find a lot of her paying customers also stay away. What happens if you only go in for one item and it's out of stock? What if you are with friends and only one of you wants an item would she charge everyone? If it was me I just wouldn't bother taking the chance and would be far more likely to go to the supermarket or shop online.

    Not convinced she has thought this through properly. I'm sure it is a pain to help people in selecting something that may benefit them only for them then to leave to go buy it at a supermarket or online. Welcome to retail in the 21st century. The way to differentiate and ensure customer loyalty is good customer service and clear expertise in your area. Even then some people will just go where it's cheapest but that's human nature good luck changing that.

    Only way I can think she can collect the money is if she does it nightclub style with doormen collecting an entrance fee which is then refunded with a purchase.

    1. User McUser

      Re: Seems a great way to lose business.

      "Just curious if someone refused to pay would she then be able to call the police [...]"

      My guess is that if you don't pay you'll be asked to buy something or get out.

    2. FlatEarther

      Re: Seems a great way to lose business.

      Not much of a leg to stand on. My guess it's similar to the bag search signs that many supermarkets tried on a few years ago. They have no right to search, they can only ask you to leave. If you refuse to have your bag searched and they use any physical means to try the search, it's probably assault. So the signs have mostly disappeared.

      Not that it's an issue in this. Most people just won't enter, even if they intended to buy.

      Queensland, customer service.Two different planets who's orbits rarely cross.

  11. tkioz

    Guess they want to go out of business, because that's the only thing I can see happening.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    People look, then shop online...

    ... so open an online store in addition to the bricks and mortar... then your wonderful reputation for being a people person will allow others who had only heard of you before to buy from far and wide.

    Charging to come in is a waste of time since people who don't buy anything will probably never come back and how many arguments are you going to have with customers when telling them they must pay.

    Understand the shop keepers sentiments, but she is just wrong in the solution.

  13. skeptical i

    Well played, Celiac Supplies, well played.

    Now we all know there's a gluten-free shop in Brisbane, that they have knowledgeable staff on hand, and that their prices are comparable to those found online -- sounds like the Celiacatrix got a wodge of free advertising, no? Once the news cycle blows over the admission fee will come down and we'll have all learned there's still no such thing as bad publicity. Good job!

    <-- I'm not celiac.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Well played, Celiac Supplies, well played.

      and that it's staffed by a grumpy loon who scares customers away :) As Adria Richards learned, there is such a thing as bad publicity :)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward




  15. Winkypop Silver badge


    How on earth do they collect their $5 ?

    - On entry a one-way turnstile with Credit Card reader?

    - On exit a steel door / doberman?

    Surely this is insanity.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Touch Call

    My local running shop has a policy that if they give you advise on shoes & you try shoes on, but don't buy from, they charge you a tenner or so. If you do buy from them, there's no extra charge for the advice.

    I can totally understand why the shop does it. At times, I've spent nearly an hour trying shoes and discussing my needs. That time costs them money. I've never bothered to see how much cheaper my shoes are online as I value the help & advice they give. I'm happy to pay extra for the service they give me.

    But charging just for looking ? Hmmm, not sure.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Touch Call

      I'm sorry? You actually support a shoe-shop that charges you a fee to try shoes on????

      My frst response is bit ad hominem, so let me simply rephrase it to recognise that it takes all sorts to make a world ...

    2. phr0g

      Re: Touch Call

      So what happens if nothing fits?

      They would have to prise it out of my cold, dead hands. Do tell where it is so I and others can avoid going.

      1. Red Bren


        Surely they would have to prise them off your large, sweaty feet?*

    3. Mark Leaver
      Thumb Down

      Re: Touch Call

      I wear size 12 shoes. The number of places that have shoes that fit me properly is minimal. If I go into a place and they dont have any shoes in my range, I will sometimes try on size 11's just in case they have a pair of slightly larger 11's that fit.

      If my local shoe store decided to start charging a 10er just for asking them about shoes and trying a few pairs on, they wouldnt be getting my business again until such time as they started stocking large sized shoes.

    4. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Touch Call

      Whereas having found shoes that work for me and feet that don't radically change from week to week I go online and find the cheapest deal I can. I use the local running shop for small stuff I need now that is not worth the postage like double layered socks and tubes of drink tablets. They don't reliably stock the gel sachets I like so I get those by the boxfull online. Their clothing range and prices are ridiculous. I point blank refuse to pay £60 for a pair of split shorts.

  18. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Another option

    One option may be for them to have some kind of membership/loyalty club. If you're not a member, all you get to do is buy, and ask no questions. If you are a member, you get to ask questions, and over the year, the cost of your membership is refunded against the cost of your purchases.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet destroys more jobs than it creates

    As Jaron Lanier said in this book "Who Owns The Future" the Internet destroys more jobs than it creates and it will collapse the middle class faster than any other technological change will.

    The only sort of shops that will survive the next decade sell stuff that can't be purchased on the Internet. Economies of scale mean that any product available on the Internet will be cheaper than that purchased in a shop.

    They shouldn't be charging 5 bucks. They should be getting out of retail because retail is going over a cliff.

    1. Reg Blank

      Re: Internet destroys more jobs than it creates

      A look at the history of employment will show this happens ALL THE TIME.

      To pull an example out of my backside: textiles.

      Once upon a time your Southern cotton plantation needed dozens/hundreds(?) of slaves to harvest the crop. OMG all those slave are jobless now mechanisation means cotton crops can be harvested by a couple of guys on a harvester!

      Then the cotton was packed onto sailing ships which required dozens of sailors to transport several hundred tons of cotton. OMG all those sailors are jobless now that ships with twenty crew can transport tens of thousands of tons of cotton!

      Then the cotton was shipped off to mills and factories that employed 500,000-odd workers (including 200,000-odd children) and accounted for 40% of British exports. OMG, technology improvements meant fewer workers were required, then production began to shift to other countries as they industrialised, then production ended when Britain was no longer competitive and the huge mills of China can process cotton with few workers!

      Then the products were shipped off to wholesale/retail establishments that employed a large number of service and warehousing workers. OMG all those workers were laid off as the products became cheaper and more commodified and were no longer an expensive/premium product that could justify personal full-service retail outlets!

      The slaves aren't still jobless, they have found new employment. The sailors aren't still jobless, they have found new employment. The millers aren't still jobless, they have found new employment. The servers aren't still jobless, they have found new employment.

      Repeat this process for EVERY industry from agriculture to heavy engineering, and from banking to publishing. This is the natural process for all industries when confronted and transformed by innovation, and the raging of the few isn't going to hold back the inevitable.

      People will always lose their jobs, and it will ALWAYS be painful for the individual, but new jobs will also be created and in the long run it will sort itself out.

  20. Joe Montana

    Self defeating policy

    "Those people are simply not aware that our prices are similar to the other stores and we have products not available anywhere else"

    And those people never will become aware, because they won't pay $5 to enter the store...

    1. hayseed
      Thumb Up

      Re: Self defeating policy

      EXAAAACTLY. If what she said was actually true, people would eventually become aware of it, and if the location is more convenient, should become a customer. Something stinks down under.

  21. Steve Brooks

    I often just walk into a shop I see just to see what they have that I may be interested in buying some time in the future, $5 for the privilege though? Just so not going to happen.

    1. tkioz

      I know it's silly isn't it... I often wonder around a shopping area, just looking after I've made the purchases that I went there for, I'll nip into a shop I've never been in before, maybe I'll buy something, maybe I wont... but if I saw a sign saying they want to charge me just for looking I'll keep on walking.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other shops doing it

    I'll forgive El Reg for not knowing of any others, but I believe one of the nationwide trainer shops that does fittings charges $25 for the service refundable on purchase at their excessively marked up prices (Gel Kayano $270 vs $149 shipped from Wiggle before the bastards at asics cut them off) due to most shoppers previously having the fitting then buying online. Can't remember which one. At least they are providing a service as such.

    Then a quick search reveals this in an Australian article

    "Sydney ski store InSki charges $50 for a "boot fitting voucher", which is refunded if the customer buys ski boots."

    She's not alone, but she is in denial.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Other shops doing it

      Do a whisky distillery tour here in Scotland and the cost of the tour will be refundable if you buy a bottle of the product. It's still worth it though, you get an interesting tour, fascinating tours and a dram (many offer miniatures to drivers). So this is hardly unknown here in the UK.

  23. P. Lee Silver badge

    Undifferentiated product

    Its the same problem game retailers have - undifferentiated product vs online. I suspect a large part of the inventory is highly processed packet-food which can easily be shipped via the internet.

    Their solution is wrong however. What they should be doing is accepting the small margins in such products (they are generally low-involvement bulk purchases anyway) and making money off other things which the internet does badly - fresh GF products (e.g. bread or battered fish/tofu or something) or small treats (chocolates) which don't sell well over the internet. Perhaps they could offer a GF meals-on-wheels service or home-delivered food for local shoppers - provide naturally GF balanced meals rather than relying on gluten substitutes.

    Alternatively, they could expand their range to provide convenience to GF shoppers who also need other food such as organic fruit & veg or non-GF produce. They need to help people not have to go to the supermarket too. Reduce the shopping hops, or people will be go online with or without 'customer service' issues.

  24. MrZoolook

    And if you go in looking for a single specific item...

    ... that the store does not sell (thinking especially with electronic outlets should they decide to follow suit), it will cost money to find out they don't have what you're after.

    "Sorry we don't have that in stock right now sir, I'll just ring up your browsing charge on the till. Will that be cash or plastic?"

  25. Fihart

    A vast step backwards in retailing.

    Seems bonkers now, but historically this is how some early stores operated. Thus the signs, still visible in Edwardian (?) photos of emporia, that encouraged shoppers with the promise that admission was free -- and open to all classes.

    Can't think charging admission is a good way to go today, given the vast choice of outlets for most products. In fact, high street stores like Currys/PC World have leveraged their presence by offering internet prices with the convenience/instant gratification of collecting in-store. That's a constructive way to deal with change.

  26. 1052-STATE

    eval the exp

    We need a webcam mounted opposite the gaff so we can follow this like amateur David Attenbroughs...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Small business? How small?

    I run a small retail and service business in a country town. The locals like having my shop to supply those little things they need urgently; can't wait for them to be posted, but mostly shop online or at large retailers when they go to the Big Smoke. Only a small percentage of people recognise that if they don't support the local retailers, not only will they be doing more travelling, but they won't have any one to ask when they stuff something up. It won't be until the business closes that most people will realise that there's nobody to answer their question and provide some service. Oh yes, those that do buy elsewhere quite unashamedly come in looking for free advice.

    I have a friend in town who retails specialised sports clothing. He complains bitterly about the people, who come into the shop, try the clothing for size, then buy online. Being heavily involved in the sport, he knows the locals very well and knows who buys from his shop and who doesn't.

    Yes, you have every right to chase a bargain and I do it myself, but just stop a moment and think what, if any, impact there will be for you if that local small business disappears up it's own fundamental orifice.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Weird as it sounds...I understand.

    It may not be the most effective form of customer service, but I imagine it was born more out of frustration than economics.

    I used to build computers and sell parts. I don't anymore.

    People call me up on the phone or ask me questions about all manner of hardware and ssoftware issues. Sometimes I spend hours listening to them and advising them on a suitable system. They then proceed with buying parts online for prices I can't even touch, start botching their systems together, and then call me again for free advice because they run into a brick wall. There are even many people asking me for cheap (read illegally copied) software becaus 'I MUST have this because I'm a merchant' for systems they bought parts for online.

    What made me close the book on this part of my business was a 'customer' who got angry because I refused to explain to him how to build and configure a Server 2008 system...over the phone.

    And all the time you are spending with these freetards you are NOT attending to the wishes of paying customers.

    The Currys/PC World approach may sound interesting, but it simply isn't for local businesses who don't have the large company buying power. And people just were NOT prepared to pay for service.

    1. Screwed

      Re: Weird as it sounds...I understand.

      Many years ago I needed a couple of drive screws. Saw a new, local shop, dropped in - refused to help because they had not sold the drive. (I was perfectly happy to pay.) And they were pretty unfriendly.

      Never, ever went back. Am amazed the shop appears to struggle on - but without any of my purchases going through them. Which was a shame because they are close by and it would very likely have been of mutual benefit to trade there.

      I might have bought the drive from them if I had even known they existed.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Weird as it sounds...I understand.

      "I used to build computers and sell parts. I don't anymore.

      People call me up on the phone or ask me questions about all manner of hardware and ssoftware issues."

      You were in the wrong business. GIviong advise is called consultancy and is a nice earner for those who do it. :)

    3. Steven Roper

      @ Peter R. 1

      What you should have done is set yourself up one of those pay-per-minute premium phone line like all the dial-a-psychics use at $5 - $10 per minute. It would have had the dual effect of providing you with income for your time from those who genuinely needed your advice and were willing to pay for it, and getting rid of all the freeloaders who wouldn't be willing to pay at the same time.

  29. Winkypop Silver badge

    What about the vision impaired?

    Maybe they'll get a discount on the entrance fee.

    $2.50 for people with one glass eye perhaps?

  30. g e

    Coeliac sufferers are special needs

    But these guys totally redefine 'Special Needs' on a whole new level! You'd think it slightly smarter to put doubt of the coeliac-friendly veracity of 'Internet Brands' over their own, given that some 'Coeliac-Friendly' products actually have 'very low' amounts of gluten in them as opposed to being truly gluten-free, in the UK they're allowed to be marked gluten-free if below a certain amount rather than being actually free of the stuff so you can't properly differentiate free from actually-free. Which is not good enough for many of the afflicted who do need truly-free.

    Yep, regardless, Closing Down Sale ahoy!

    1. janimal

      Re: Coeliac sufferers are special needs

      In the UK / EU the limit used to be under 200ppm could be labelled gluten free, however that definition was changed in 2012 I believe to match the US definition of <20ppm.

      However I believe NZ or AUS use <6ppm

      just FYI

  31. Phil Parker

    Shops are dead

    The truth is that every person shops on price alone. Secialist shops in the UK at least will always struggle - on-line retailers will beat them on price 100% of the time due to lower overheads. I know plenty of people who would happily take a punt on an item without research rather than spend a fiver more to go an try the product and buy in-store.

    In other news - the same people are moaning 'cos high streets are dying out.

  32. Don Jefe

    It Does Work

    It may not appear very friendly, but specialty shops charging an entry fee is not that rare, at least in the U.S.

    High end furniture galleries, collector car shops, antique auctions, beauty supply shops, firearm shops, architectural supply shops, and art galleries regularly charge entry fees that are refundable upon a purchase.

    There is no point in catering to the bottom feeding comparison shopper. They are the worst sort of customer: time intensive, high maintenance, prone to returning purchased and have the unbelievably ignorant belief that by purchasing an item cheaply they are helping the merchant. They will never be loyal, they're just looking for a deal. Let them have their Internet, they aren't needed anyway.

  33. Bod

    I'm waiting for...

    ... PC World / Currys to start doing the same.

    In fact if they don't I can see them dissapearing like so many others. Who actually buys things in there rather than just browse for online purchases?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: I'm waiting for...

      Who goes in there? people whose appliance has died and need another one, now. Not next week.

      Also our experience of shopping for appliances online on price has resulted in the non delivery of goods which included time spent off work waiting for the delivery that never arrived. Excuses galore but a very strong suspicion that they were unable to supply the goods at the price offered.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: I'm waiting for...

      I do, if I need it now rather than next week, or if it is something that is so cheap that waiting around for it to be delivered isn't worth the saving.

  34. BJS

    They should feature comparison shopping (and profit from it)

    Instead of discouraging comparison shopping, perhaps they should FEATURE it. Put a kiosk in the store through which customers can compare products and prices with online shops. Just set up the kiosk so that if customers prefer to shop online and wait for shipment, their order goes through an affiliate program. Ka-ching.

  35. nichobe

    Passive aggressive much?

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