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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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Facepalm

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).

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Pint

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.

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Rob
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Go

Re: Anyone thinking about shopping there

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

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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.

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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.

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Better to...

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

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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.

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Devil

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

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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.

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"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?

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WTF?

Right...

The mind... It is blown...

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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@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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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...

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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.

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Big Brother

A gluten free food Nazi.

How shocking.

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

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FAIL

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)?

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Thumb Down

Re: A gluten free food Nazi.

Huh? Gluten-free isn't a "lifestyle choice", it's a serious allergy.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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WTF?

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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FAIL

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.

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Pint

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.

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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 :)

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Anonymous Coward

Nooooo!

Really?

Noooooo!

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FAIL

Enforcement

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.

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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.

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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 ...

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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.

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Coat

@phr0g

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Go

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.

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FAIL

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...

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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.

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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.

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