Tired of having people walk into her gluten free produce store looking around and asking questions only to leave empty-handed and buy similar products somewhere else, a business owner from Brisbane, Australia, put up a sign announcing would-be shoppers they will be charged a $5 fee for “just looking”.
A photo of the notice in the window of Celiac Supplies went viral on popular social news site Reddit, this week. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but reporters from the Australian Associated Press tracked down the owner of “Brisbane’s only glutenfree and wheatfree store” who confirmed the measure was for real. Apparently Georgina felt forced to take radical action after spending several hours each week giving advice to people only to see them walk out empty handed and buying the same kind of products from local supermarkets or online shops. ”I’ve had a gut full of working and not getting paid,” she told AAP. ”I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.” Her frustration is also fueled by the fact that in most cases her prices match those of larger supermarkets, but people still prefer to shop elsewhere thinking they’d find them cheaper. As you can imagine, her $5 “just looking” tax has turned some potential customers away, but Georgina says a few have actually paid up.
“I can tell straight away who are the rat bags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear,” Georgina says. The only upside to this showrooming-prevention fee is that people who actually buy something are refunded the initial $5. Still, experts believe this kind of approach will likely turn potential customers away and affect earnings. Although product-browsing fees haven’t yet been reported in the United States, Celiac Supplies’ owner says the measure is “in line with other [Australian] clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.” It’s been confirmed that some Queensland businesses have a similar tax in place for trying out shoes and clothing items.
In the two months since Georgina put up the sign, only four people have paid the $5, but she doesn’t charge regular customers, pensioners and children. Asked if the measure has affected her business in any way, she said there is “no difference”. Still the tax remains in place because she has to “wake people up that everything in life is not free”. According to The Verge, show rooming is a relatively new term that “describes shoppers that examine a product in-store before looking online or in other stores to find the same item cheaper”.