BRISBANE, Australia — A grocery store is defending a policy to charge customers $5.00 for simply looking around, without purchasing anything.
Celiac Supplies posted a sign in the window, which 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.
A photograph of the sign was posted to social media and instantly generated worldwide media coverage.
The store owner tells Australia’s Nine News she was upset that customers would ask her for help – then purchase goods online or at other stores.
“People pay for services all the time, so why not pay for a food information service?” she said. “This business, like every other business, has expenses to cover. No one covers expenses when customers don’t pay for services.”
In a separate interview with the Brisbane Times, she said, “I can tell straight away who are the rat bags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear.”
Consumer analysts with Daily Finance suggest the plan could backfire. Matt Brownell said the policy breeds suspicion of customers from the moment they walk in the door, and imposes a cover charge for simply walking inside.
The owner says, even though she’s been criticized in social media, she has no plans to discontinue it. She also says she won’t charge the fee to regular customers, elderly people, or the handicapped, and that she’s only had to charge it a handful of times.