shoe try on fees.

Getting to try things on in person is the major edge brick-and-mortar stores have over Internet retailers, especially for hard-to-fit items like shoes. But there’s a good chance we might all have to pay for that privilege in the future, because shoe stores have begun charging try-on fees.

Charging shoppers for the privilege of just trying on clothes or shoes does not tend to sit well with them. Vera Wang famously caused an Internet ruckus when news came out that her Shanghai boutique was charging $482 try-on fees to would-be brides who wanted to sample her wares. While the company said the fees were an attempt to cut down on people coming in and photographing her designs for copycats, local shoppers were not best pleased to be treated that way. The policy was dismissed not long after.

Shoe retailers in particular say they have a serious problem with people “showrooming,” or checking out and trying on clothes and shoes in brick-and-mortar stores and then buying them cheaper online. So some stores are rumored to have begun charging $5 to $25 try-on fees so that the stores at least make a little money, even from people who don’t intend to buy anything. It also helps the shoe stores make sure that the their salespeople aren’t wasting their time measuring feet that don’t intend to buy.

We can understand the logic, but we have no idea how this policy is supposed to make us more likely to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

While taking up a salesperson’s time when one doesn’t intend to actually buy anything isn’t a very nice thing to do, try-on fees seem likely to alienate the customers that are coming to the stores.

Would you be willing to pay just to try on shoes?

Via Styleite/Photo: Shutterstock