With Cyber Monday in our very recent history, it’s hard to forget just how cheaply you can buy things on the web. But, some people are going into stores to try out items — including cameras — and then heading back to the keyboard to make their purchase. It’s bad for businesses and some are starting to fight back. According to the Daily Telegraph, the purveyor of the Camera House Caringbah in Sydney has taken to charging people an “explanation fee” to test out the high-end products in store. Store owner Craig Mackenzie said, “I’ve got to pick the people who won’t screw me over. If I pick the wrong one, he’ll waste half an hour of my time and will then ask me to write it all down.” The $30 fee buys his explanation of the gear and the time to play with it in the store.
I can understand where he’s coming from, spending a lot of time in a store to try things out and then just going out and buying it online is a pretty low move, especially in places like camera stores which are often small operations. On the other hand, this seems to be going a bit far — after all, it’s common for people to go and try something out, and then think about it for a few days before making a purchase. Maybe they don’t actually want that piece of glass, or they want to look into second hand options, too. Camera gear doesn’t lend itself well to impulse buying. Or at least it shouldn’t.
An alternative is one presented by another retailer in the original article — they charge for bridal gown fittings, but refund the amount if they make a purchase. I could see this charge going over a lot better if you knew that you’d be getting it back afterwards.