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Australian store charges customers a $5 'just looking' fee

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#61 lunamonkey

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 12:31

" she was forced to put up the sign after spending "hours each week" giving advice to people only to see them leave and buy a similar product elsewhere"

1. "Hours"... that's not much.

2. If you feel that it's too much, then cut down on the free advice. You should be able to pick up on clues a little better with all the practice.

3. You saw them leave and buy a product elsewhere... really?

4. If they did leave to buy it elsewhere... why, because it was cheaper? Then price match or reduce the premium.


#62 jakem1

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 12:39

Because the service she is offering...is being STOLEN...


Not only is your language highly emotive, it's just plain wrong. Providing customer service is just a cost of doing business and nothing is stolen when someone walks out of your shop without buying something. I expect her prices to reflect the value of the time she and her staff spend dealing with customer requests. If that pushes her prices higher than the prices her competition are charging then it's possible that she's overvaluing her own time. Customer service isn't the product that she's selling, it's just an additional overhead that she has to accept if she wants to sell groceries to the public.

At the end of the day, I would never support a shop that took this attitude and attempted to charge me just to walk through the door.

#63 Iridium

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 12:55

After having lived in a few countries Ive realized Australia is just a very different beast to say the US. Unlike the semi to full blown patriotic Americans for example, Australia is a land of consumers ONLY shopping where it benefits their pocket without consideration of community or even their own jobs. As a result we have terrible monopolies and in the case of supermarkets a duopoly that is crippling small business. The youth are not taught economic principles and in 2007 it was university students, who should be the nations beacon of light, that voted out a government who had balanced social welfare schemes along with a hefty and continually growing surplus all for some marketing slogans of an opposition leader who had been in charge for a mere few months. I detest this nations lack of education or desire thereof and hope this country slips into a serious depression, as that may be the only way the consumers here will learn to love education and consequently their jobs and steadfast economic principles.

#64 ozgeek

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 13:30

Although I don't agree with the idea of charging a fee, apparently you have no idea how the 2 big supermarket chains in this country have screwed small business.
There is no way she could price match, she would be losing money which she cannot afford to do.


I work for Woolworths and I can say the local businesses are almost always at fault. Because...

1. Woolworths have expanded and have more stock available and thus provides a convience to shop. Local businesses keep the same "small store" principal and thus sells the same old crap forever and nevers tries selling anything new. many small businesses almost never bother to expand and thus lost that chance by woolies or coles. Also smaller businesses almost don't have EFTPOSes which means customers are forced to visit an ATM on the streets to withdraw money while Woolies and Coles always have a stable EFTPOS system.
2. Target audinence for woolworths and coles are larger than the streets that the local businesses aims for. Many woolies and coles service even outside towns and many suburbs while one small greory store could only achieve local streets. That is why you see lots of people at woolies. They are not always from the local streets. For example I live 30 km away and travel to work at a woolies store.
3. Woolies and coles are usually located inside shopping centres (anchor stores) while smaller stores are usually stand-alone and almost never exist inside shopping centres. Therefore, woolies and coles are able to attract more customers that way. In the modern busy world, there are many people who don't have time to drive around to look for shops to buy food from so therefore takes the convience of shopping the wasy way.
4. Both Woolies and Coles also provides a way to shop online (http://www2.woolworthsonline.com.au/ and https://www.colesonline.com.au . Small businesses relies on people coming into their stores.

#65 M_Lyons10

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 13:40

No, I understand it. You don't seem to understand what I'm getting at, and also you don't seem to understand what Good Business Practices are, as well as what running a business is about. You can go on and on about "her time being stolen". But you don't understand that what she is doing, is what every single business does. Nothing about it is anything special or different. If she feels that her time isn't worth the sale and what good customer service brings, she can then try this sign and see how much more business it brings. But as I have said, this is the wrong way for a small business to go.
You think her time is "stolen". You do not understand what business is about. Her time isn't stolen, it is being used, and then rejected by her customers. If she was providing a good service, most people wouldn't go somewhere else to buy food. There is obviously something wrong with either her store or herself that is driving customers away.
I'm no expert in business, but it doesn't take one to understand it and run a good one. It only takes understanding people ( at least the ones you want to provide service to ), sales, and advertising.
Again, if she think's her time is being stolen, then she should make a sign that says, " I will not talk to people who are not interested in buying product. My time is better served upon those who are our customers and in need of an actual service." This would make it seem like she is busy and wouldn't be rude. It would also not hurt her foot traffic into the buildling by putting people off with a "fee". But again, I'm a logical person who does understand what it takes to make a company thrive. If I wanted to run my company into the ground, I'd follow the actions this lady has begun.

Also, not only does this make her lose customers, it will also cost her money. Either her store isn't busy enough and she can police who enters from the counter (which would make all of this already a moot issue ) , or she has to hire/assign an employee to watch the door and "collect fees".


And once again, you are confusing a product business with a service business... As much as I try, I cannot draw a picture clear enough to make you understand the differences unfortunately... I guess you would have to actually operate and have experience in business (Particularly a services based business) in order to understand.

I have tried to explain, but being an expert in something you have no "experience" in, it's difficult to get through. LMAO

And for the record, she was quite clear in that people are coming into her store to use her customer service and then going to the big supermarkets to make their purchases... When you are going into a store and using their services but not actually purchasing products there, you ARE stealing the service they offer. When your business is built upon providing a service that customers are using and then not paying for, it IS stealing... And I see no problem with charging for your services if that is all these customers want. I realize that there are intricacies of operating a service based business that people outside of these industries don't think about, but surely you should be able to at the very least comprehend them. You don't understand, and that is fine, you likely never will. You're still hung up on what she is actually selling. LMAO But hey, your some sort of business savant that knows everything about industries you have no experience or understanding of. Further more, you now insinuate that running a business is easy. It most certainly is not, PARTICULARLY a service based business.

And then we'll ignore as well that I've had experiences with this sort of thing (In actual service businesses) and can assure you that policies like this simply do not drive away "customers"... They serve to reduce non-customers only. Now, there are certainly things she could improve about this practice, but it does bring attention to a very real problem for small service businesses (And for that matter Value Add businesses)... That of using their service to become informed and educated and then purchasing goods from a cheaper company that does not provide that service. The service is their product here as well, and to make use of their services without the intent to purchase is stealing. Some customers will always change their mind, or decide to go another route, and that is different entirely. But there IS a considerable portion of the population that will use a company for their services with the intent of going elsewhere for the actual goods. This is different from "browsing" and very destructive to service businesses... In these service businesses, their service IS their product, and they provide that to potential customers in hopes that they would then have some loyalty to the company when it came time to purchase a good. In actuality however, this is shockingly uncommon (If you knew anything about service businesses you would be amazed) anymore. Society has changed in such a way that there really isn't loyalty to a company that has held your hand through to the purchase, nor do most people consider other's time to have a value. I don't think that the majority of people do this to be destructive, but they just don't realize how much harm this practice does to small service businesses... So, with the changing consumer mindset, companies need to change to be profitable, so if they have to charge for their services, then that's what they have to do.

And as an aside, I am sure that regular customers would not be charged the $ 5 fee. She specifically stated that if you made a purchase the $ 5 would be applied to your bill, so if you purchased something you wouldn't be charged the fee. Being a small business in a niche market with the goal of providing a service, I would be willing to guarantee that she would remember prior customers and again wouldn't charge them. So, when you get right down to it, just as I have seen in other industries, this will only turn off customers with no intention of purchasing a good that want to take advantage / steal the services she provides... And at the end of the day, as she doesn't make a profit on that, her business will likely be healthier, as she will be able to focus on things that do generate a profit rather than providing her services free of charge. Though implementing this sort of policy in a retail business is a bit unusual, it is still essentially a service business as explained above (again) and I have seen policies such as this turn around companies...

#66 Steven P.

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 13:43

Haha, there's a computer store near me that I go to to see a particular product before I get it online, because I know for a fact they are more expensive than other physical stores which aren't near me :p I don't usually bother the sales people though..

#67 M_Lyons10

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 13:48

Not only is your language highly emotive, it's just plain wrong. Providing customer service is just a cost of doing business and nothing is stolen when someone walks out of your shop without buying something. I expect her prices to reflect the value of the time she and her staff spend dealing with customer requests. If that pushes her prices higher than the prices her competition are charging then it's possible that she's overvaluing her own time. Customer service isn't the product that she's selling, it's just an additional overhead that she has to accept if she wants to sell groceries to the public.

At the end of the day, I would never support a shop that took this attitude and attempted to charge me just to walk through the door.


As explained several times, she is really not selling a good to compete with the large supermarkets as she would never be able to beat them on price. So, she is technically selling a service. And her issue is not people browsing either, but people that are purposely using her "service" for free and then purchasing their goods at the cheaper supermarket. This is something that I actually see. LOL

I realize that it is not a cut and dry business model, but service businesses are not. Also, I would point out that she likely isn't increasing the cost of her goods to compensate for her time, she likely can't get her goods cheap enough to sell them at supermarket prices. THAT is why she is offering the service, because THAT is her product. If all people want is her service, I see nothing wrong with her charging for her service. Her service is effectively free if someone buys something from her, which also seems fair.

I will admit that this is unusual in a retail business, but I can understand her frustration. I'm really shocked at how few people on here can even see the problem...

#68 M_Lyons10

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 14:13

Haha, there's a computer store near me that I go to to see a particular product before I get it online, because I know for a fact they are more expensive than other physical stores which aren't near me :p I don't usually bother the sales people though..


Well, that's different too. I prefer buying things in person, but if I do order something online I try to see it somewhere first too. But again, I don't bother the sales people either. And too, there's a big difference between a store based solely on selling product, like Best Buy or whatever and a small value add / service business. If I go to Best Buy I know I'm not getting service, and at most I cost them a little of their air conditioning when the door opened... lol I wouldn't go into a small PC shop, spend an hour talking to them about the computer I want and then go buy it elsewhere, knowing full well when I went in that I wouldn't be spending any money there... I would have more respect for their time. I try to spend as much at small businesses as I can because I like to try to support them, and at the same time I realize that they likely have something better to be doing than talking to me if I am never going to spend any money there.

I worked in an industry where we would regularly send people to customer's homes to prepare estimates for construction projects at no cost. We would spend an exhaustive amount of time with the customer making sure all the i's were dotted and that we prepared something that was complete. Beyond that, we would spend a tremendous amount of time supporting the estimate after it was completed. Which we had no problem with, as our goal was always to help someone through what can be a very confusing process. It was not uncommon for us to be handling a file for several weeks... Then we would find out that they "just needed the estimate for their realtor to reduce the sale price", "wanted to try to get some extra money from their insurance company that they could put in their pocket", etc. Now, this is different than "browsing" and choosing to go with a different company or deciding not to have the work done, etc. This is purposefully trying to take advantage of a service that another company wasn't providing with no intention or loyalty when it came time to purchase the good.

So, I understand where this woman is coming from, and I am empathetic to her problem. I'm not honestly sure there is a cut and dry solution for every business, but I don't think the majority of people out there (Proven by this thread) even recognize the problem. These companies have no problem providing prospective customers with these services in hopes that they will purchase their goods when the time comes, but the amount of people that do not have that loyalty is staggering. I can certainly understand her frustration. If these prospective customers don't want to purchase her goods, but have an interest in the services she provides, I see nothing wrong with her charging for that service. Particularly when it is refunded to all customers... At the end of the day, if she isn't profitable and goes out of business, how does that serve anyone anyway? Her customers will no longer be able to purchase the goods they like from her. She will no longer have a business that is supporting her family, or her staff's family. And the people that weren't buying anything from her won't have anymore free service... So, I think it's much better for the latter to go and retain the first two... I really hope everything works out for her. Competing with these large companies is not easy (And I would wager it's much harder on the retail level), and with small business loyalty going by the wayside, these small businesses need to adapt.

#69 jakem1

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 15:31

As explained several times, she is really not selling a good to compete with the large supermarkets as she would never be able to beat them on price. So, she is technically selling a service. And her issue is not people browsing either, but people that are purposely using her "service" for free and then purchasing their goods at the cheaper supermarket. This is something that I actually see. LOL

I realize that it is not a cut and dry business model, but service businesses are not. Also, I would point out that she likely isn't increasing the cost of her goods to compensate for her time, she likely can't get her goods cheap enough to sell them at supermarket prices. THAT is why she is offering the service, because THAT is her product. If all people want is her service, I see nothing wrong with her charging for her service. Her service is effectively free if someone buys something from her, which also seems fair.

I will admit that this is unusual in a retail business, but I can understand her frustration. I'm really shocked at how few people on here can even see the problem...


She's selling grocery's that aren't for sale in the supermarkets so she's competing on range as well as price. Technically, that's what she's selling - speciality groceries, not advice. Any advice she gives people about these products should be given freely as it's ultimately sales advice and is necessary to sell her product range. She's not entitled to a guaranteed sale having given this advice.

As a customer I'm entitled to ask questions to determine whether I want a product and whether it will do what it is intended to do. If I then choose not to buy the product I don't need to justify the decision, she's not entitled to compensation for the time she spent with me and I'm not entitled to compensation for the time I spent with her. .

As I said earlier, spending time with potential customers is just a cost of doing business. Complaining about it is like complaining that she has to pay for the electricity that keeps her shop's refrigerators running.

#70 shakey

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 15:52

She's selling grocery's that aren't for sale in the supermarkets so she's competing on range as well as price. Technically, that's what she's selling - speciality groceries, not advice. Any advice she gives people about these products should be given freely as it's ultimately sales advice and is necessary to sell her product range. She's not entitled to a guaranteed sale having given this advice.

As a customer I'm entitled to ask questions to determine whether I want a product and whether it will do what it is intended to do. If I then choose not to buy the product I don't need to justify the decision, she's not entitled to compensation for the time she spent with me and I'm not entitled to compensation for the time I spent with her. .

As I said earlier, spending time with potential customers is just a cost of doing business. Complaining about it is like complaining that she has to pay for the electricity that keeps her shop's refrigerators running.


He won't listen to this reason. I've tried. It's like saying because you went to buy a car, and the car salesmen was unable to secure the sale with you, that you should still pay for the time you were using trying to decide if you wanted it or not.... It doesn't make sense.
If giving your customers information about your products is too bothersome, then you are doing something wrong.

#71 jakem1

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 16:11

If giving your customers information about your products is too bothersome, then you are doing something wrong.


That sums the whole thing up IMO.

#72 Colicab

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 17:22

Id love to know how it is, she knows that people are going elsewhere to buy it. Sorry but the arguments for this just seems like a load of nonsense. Service or product orientated, part of her job is to advise her customers. Personally belief shes actually shooting herself in the foot. A sign like that would only deter me and i wouldnt want to shop or seek knowledge from someone that uptight, she has a right to run her business as she see`s fit, but as i say a sign like that is a deterant.

If I was about to get into my gluten free / health food I would want to speak to someone with knowledge so it makes sense to go to a shop and ask about from there. I may not necesserily make a purchase, but any business should be happy to help a customer and share product knowledge.

What she SHOULD do is give limited advice or just be blunt, and say sorry. Tho again if I was to open a shop a huge chunk of my reasoning for doing so aside profit, would be to teach and advise others. I wouldnt sit there and give them step by step instructions, but a vague idea is what your there to provide.

Sorry but no justification, justifys plain bad service, and that is exactly what shes practicing.

Seems a lot of folk on here have never been window shopping or just trotted about the streets peeking in and out of interesting shops. its part of the experience and many women will agree with that. (men too :p)

#73 lunamonkey

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 20:11

Id love to know how it is, she knows that people are going elsewhere to buy it. Sorry but the arguments for this just seems like a load of nonsense. Service or product orientated, part of her job is to advise her customers. Personally belief shes actually shooting herself in the foot. A sign like that would only deter me and i wouldnt want to shop or seek knowledge from someone that uptight, she has a right to run her business as she see`s fit, but as i say a sign like that is a deterant.


What actually happens:

Customer: Oh Gu'day, How are you going? I want some Tofu, but it's confusing, is this the same as vegemite?

Lady: Oh you galah, it's completely different, didn't you even know the difference? I'm an expert Ma'e !!!!!!!!!!

Customer: Oh, sorry, I am new to this, I feel embarrassed.

Lady: WHY ARE YOU LEAVING THE STORE MATE!!!!!!!!

#74 +hedleigh

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 22:27

I work for Woolworths and I can say the local businesses are almost always at fault. Because...

1. Woolworths have expanded and have more stock available and thus provides a convience to shop. Local businesses keep the same "small store" principal and thus sells the same old crap forever and nevers tries selling anything new. many small businesses almost never bother to expand and thus lost that chance by woolies or coles. Also smaller businesses almost don't have EFTPOSes which means customers are forced to visit an ATM on the streets to withdraw money while Woolies and Coles always have a stable EFTPOS system.
2. Target audinence for woolworths and coles are larger than the streets that the local businesses aims for. Many woolies and coles service even outside towns and many suburbs while one small greory store could only achieve local streets. That is why you see lots of people at woolies. They are not always from the local streets. For example I live 30 km away and travel to work at a woolies store.
3. Woolies and coles are usually located inside shopping centres (anchor stores) while smaller stores are usually stand-alone and almost never exist inside shopping centres. Therefore, woolies and coles are able to attract more customers that way. In the modern busy world, there are many people who don't have time to drive around to look for shops to buy food from so therefore takes the convience of shopping the wasy way.
4. Both Woolies and Coles also provides a way to shop online (http://www2.woolworthsonline.com.au/ and https://www.colesonline.com.au . Small businesses relies on people coming into their stores.


Wow, they've indoctrinated you well. Are you saying that small business can purchase product for the same cost as Woolies and Coles? Not a snowballs chance in hell!

The bolded part is why this woman has done what she has. Amazing how you can hang **** on small business for not being able to afford what the big 2 can do with money from their petty cash drawer.
Have you ever had any dealings with a small business owner? Try your argument with one of them and see what their response is.

#75 shakey

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 22:34

Wow, they've indoctrinated you well. Are you saying that small business can purchase product for the same cost as Woolies and Coles? Not a snowballs chance in hell!

The bolded part is why this woman has done what she has. Amazing how you can hang **** on small business for not being able to afford what the big 2 can do with money from their petty cash drawer.
Have you ever had any dealings with a small business owner? Try your argument with one of them and see what their response is.


Small business owner here. Her tactics are horrible and that is not the way you get customers into your store. Small businesses must and have to go the extra mile. If you don't, you will fail.



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