“Rude” Store Owner Tries To Weed Out Freeloaders By Charging $.62 “Browsing Fee”

Image courtesy of Joel Zimmer

Who among us hasn’t spent time browsing the wares at a store while knowing full well that we have no intention of spending a penny? The owner of one shop got fed up with freeloading looky-loos and has decided to start demanding money just for the pleasure of browsing.

The Associated Press reports on a bookstore owner in the charming market town of Hawes in Yorkshire, England, who now asks everyone who walks through the door to pay a browsing fee of 50 pence (or $0.62).

Store owner Steve Bloom says he doesn’t actually collect the fee; he just uses the request to determine if customers are serious about buying books on their visit. However, customers complain that after refusing the fee Bloom has become rude, using curse words to address them.

“He seems to have a strategy unlike anybody else’s,” John Blackie, chairman of Hawes Parish Council, tells the AP. “He charges 50 (pence), people object and he is very rude to them. Yet he feels that improves his business.”

The supposed fee and Bloom’s apparent less-than-helpful nature has earned him the nickname “bookseller from hell.”

The council says it has received more than 20 complaints against the bookstore owner in the past four years.

A reviewer on the site The Book Guide writes that he was “threatened with being thrown out for spending too much time browsing,” though he says he was barely there a minute.

Another shopper says that while carrying books he had planned to purchase the owner asked for the browsing fee.

“I put the books down and walked out,” he says. “Disgusting and unheard of.”

Bloom, who admits he isn’t a people person, tells the AP that the Council is overreacting.

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