Pay the Man

I love Amazon.  I know I shouldn’t for so many reasons, but it makes my life so much easier.  When I need new work pants, I click on buy again, select my quantity and color and wait two days for my new Dickies Original Fit™ work pants.  It saves me from having to visit the store.  I know my size from when I purchased a few pairs at a retail store.  I’ve done the same with the Dr. Martins I wear in the kitchen but made my original purchase at a brick and mortar location.  Why not just try them on at the store and then just buy them cheaper on-line?  Because it’s kind of a jerk thing to do.

I was in a retail store in Saratoga recently waiting for the owner to finish with a customer who was shopping for some high-end knives to use at home.  He was educated about the difference between German, American, and Japanese steel, blade types, sharpening angles, and all relevant information needed to make an informed purchase.  At the end of the lesson the customer declared that now “has a lot to think about.”  And left without as much as a thank you.  Just before I could say to the proprietor that he was probably sitting in his car ordering a set of knives on Amazon, he said to me that “he won’t be back, he’s going to order them on line.”  “I just gave him a free twenty-minute education on knives.”

I used to see this years ago when I owned the pro shop in the Finger Lakes Tennis Club.  People would try a racquet or two on the court during their league play, then show up the following week with one of the same models.  The same story when I was the footwear manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I’m ok with catalogue shopping or ordering on-line, it saves me a great deal of time and effort, and I’m a busy person, so the time-saving is valuable to me.  What I won’t do, and you shouldn’t either is spend a lot of a retailer’s time to be educated, and to be sized for something you have no intention of buying from them.  It’s rotten, and a real asshole thing to do.  Their knowledge and time are worth something, and you need to pay for that.  So, the next time you need something that is cheaper on the interwebs and you take up a store owners time and make use of his or her knowledge then save yourself a few bucks by ordering it from Amazon, I hope you get a cheap knock-off from China.

I’m suggesting a $25 non-refundable deposit when a store worker will spend more than five minutes to educate you on a product that you intend to buy on-line.  The money goes towards your purchase if you end up buying at the retail level.

This behavior is akin to the folks who book three restaurants for tables of eight in the same area during Parent’s Weekend, at graduation, or on Traver’s Day then deciding where to go when their group gets together, failing to cancel the other two reservations leaving a restaurant with unused, or under-utilized space that they must pay for.

The next time you ask why things are more expensive at certain locations, ask yourself if it has anything to do with your behavior. Perhaps there’s a nice balance between supporting local businesses and using on-line purchasing and reservations for your benefit.

The bottom line is, if you use someone’s service, take advantage of their education and acquired expertise, or ask them to reserve time or space for you, then you should pay for it.

The next time you ask a chef for their recipe, think about that.  Try calling an attorney for free legal advice or going to your doctor for a free consult.

Pay the man what he’s due (her too, for all you NPR listeners).


One thought on “Pay the Man

  1. I know the kitchen goods store in question and have corresponded with the owner about the fact that their prices are not at a competitive level. This attracts the buyer who is not price sensitive (maybe a toff up for the summer) but makes me want to purchase on Amazon in spite of my desire to serve local businesses. They need to find ways to bring prices in line.. maybe mixing in some lowball products, or adding unique products. (How about a local potter making a line of oven safe baking pans?)


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