Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not Buying At The Store Or Blowing Off Dinner Reservation? You're Screwed.

Two items from Consumerist over the past day or two seem to indicate some retailers and business owners are beginning to up the ante when dealing with what they regard as rude customers.

They're hitting them where it hurts, at least a little.

In one case, a retailer is charging $5 a head for "showrooming," a word for going to a store just to look at merchandise, then finding it somewhere else for a lower price.
Will more stores charge admission fees if you
just go in, look at a product, then try to find it
cheaper online?  
The store's showrooming policy means anybody coming in pays the fee, but if they buy something there, they get their $5 back.

I can understand the frustration of store owners who have to constantly deal with people coming in just to look, then spending the money elsewhere when they can find the same thing for a lower price online or maybe at Walmart.

The retail business is brutal. Store owners can help themselves through exemplary customer service and niche marketing, but that only goes so far.

But it seems like this whole thing about stopping showroomers can backfire. Consumerist quotes Matt Brownell of Daily Finance, who said:

" ....the most misguided strategy we’ve seen for dealing with showrooming… The goal of any retailer should be to impress customers with competitive pricing and great customer service — not treat their customers with suspicion and hostility from the moment they walk in the door.”

It definitely would put a bad taste in my mouth if I was charged admission to go into a store. And like most people, I might wander into a store not knowing whether I will buy anything there. An admission fee would certainly be off-putting.

I might be shopping for say, a shirt, but maybe it turns out they don't happen to have a shirt in the style I like, or don't have my size in stock. Yeah, I can order it, but what if I want a shirt now? I'd certainly resent paying the $5 fee if I left the store empty handed only because I didn't like what they had.

That would drive me to online shopping in no time, flat.

In the other Consumerist piece, a restaurant owner is publicly shaming people on Twitter who blow off their dinner reservations.

It's definitely rude to make a restaurant reservation and then blow it off. The eatery left the table open for you, and it stayed open, which meant other diners couldn't eat there and the restaurant lost money.

Most people blow off reservations for stupid reasons. They didn't feel like eating there after all. They made reservations at four restaurants, then decided at the last minute which to pick.

But what if somebody is publicly shamed via Twitter for blowing off the reservation, and not calling to inform the restaurant ahead of time, for perfectly legitimate reason. He keeled over from a heart attack. His wife got run over by a bus I mean, who knows?

And those public shames give the restaurant a whiff of negativity, not something that makes people want to eat there.

So, rudeness can go two ways. Us customers could give local retailers a break, buy local and spend the few extra pennies in your community that you would have spent on Amazon.

If it becomes apparent you can't go to the restaurant as planned, call them as soon as possible to cancel so they can fill the table with some other diners.

And retailers and restaurant owners: I know we customers can be frustrating, but try not to take it out on everybody.

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