Author Topic: Sampling or Stealing? (Update p.5 #68)  (Read 13326 times)

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Softly Spoken

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Sampling or Stealing? (Update p.5 #68)
« on: March 06, 2013, 11:12:42 PM »
Hey everyone!  ;D

I am looking for feedback on this particular example, and any other etiquette opinions/guidelines on the subject in general:

BG: There is a make-your-own frozen yogurt bar in my neighborhood. They have the yogurt dispensers, you get a bowl and pick your favor(s) and put in how much you want, and then go to the wall-o-toppings and pick from there. After you get what you want you take it to the cashier, who tells you how much you owe according to how much it weighs.

The twist: they have little tiny paper cups that allow you to sample the flavors. They also keep rotating their flavors quite often with the exception of the bland-but-dependable staples like chocolate and vanilla. Their flavor switch-outs are the main reason I do not go there hardly at all: I have no way of knowing if they will have anything I like on a given day. I have gone in to get my favorite only to find it gone. :'(   /BG

So today wasn't really yogurt weather but I stopped in to see what flavors they had. I tried four or five that sounded promising. I didn't care for one, I was 'meh' about all the others. Nothing was awesome enough to justify paying for a bowl. So I left...but felt kind of guilty for going in and tasting without buying. This kind of set up isn't like "browsing" through a store since you are walking away with product even if you don't make a purchase. It isn't in any way controlled like the free samples of a particular product that grocery stores will give out. I have been irritated and ashamed to witness the kids from the nearby middle school come out gleefully carrying little paper cups filled obscenely high, laughing at how they got away with free yogurt. >:(
I don't want to be like that - I really only want a taste! :-\ Since the pull-down machines are tricky to work, I always end up with more than I need to get an idea what the flavor is like.
I went in today with the intent to buy - if they had a flavor I liked, but they didn't. And I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't sampled.

I am trying to reassure myself that the store accounts for "yogurt lost through sampling" in their overhead, but there is that little voice telling me I am "stealing." Am I overreacting?

Can anyone ease my guilt or am I being rude? Anyone want to volunteer what they consider the etiquette to be when it comes to sampling? What about in grocery stores?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 04:07:33 AM by Softly Spoken »
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Knitterly

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 11:20:11 PM »
You went with the intent to buy, but could not because you did not like the selection.

That is the big difference between you and those high schoolers.  They did NOT go in with the intent to buy.  They went in with the intent to get as much as they could for free.

It is not rude to sample and decide you do not like it.  It is rude to oversample with no intention of buying.  Your intention was to buy.

I would imagine that your entire demeanor is different due to the difference in attitude.

Do not feel guilty.  You were not rude.

As far as I know, sampling etiquette is:  Try it once.  If you like it, buy it.  If not, move on.  Do not return for multiple samples of the same thing.  That is rude.

I thoroughly enjoy grocery store samples.  I almost never buy as a result of the sample.  But once or twice I have found an item I absolutely love and take as many coupons as I am permitted to take (often the sample-giver will give me a stack of a dozen or more if it's clear I am planning on buying the item) and buy the item.  Most often, I decide it's not something I want to buy and move along.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 11:23:55 PM by Knitterly »

Surianne

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 11:35:42 PM »
I don't think it's stealing per se, but if you like the frozen yoghurt so little that you can't find a flavour you like after trying 4-5, even the standards like chocolate/vanilla, why do you keep going there?  It seems like wasting the frozen yoghurt for no reason.  I do think the samples are normally intended to help you choose your favourite, rather than to eat before leaving without purchasing.

Unless the flavours are super weird/unexpected somehow, and you couldn't have known you wouldn't like any?  I've never been to one of these places so that might be the case. 

Softly Spoken

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 11:54:57 PM »
I don't think it's stealing per se, but if you like the frozen yoghurt so little that you can't find a flavour you like after trying 4-5, even the standards like chocolate/vanilla, why do you keep going there?  It seems like wasting the frozen yoghurt for no reason.  I do think the samples are normally intended to help you choose your favourite, rather than to eat before leaving without purchasing.

Unless the flavours are super weird/unexpected somehow, and you couldn't have known you wouldn't like any?  I've never been to one of these places so that might be the case.

With my budget I cannot justify spending money on something like froyo unless it totally blows me away. If I could just as easily get ice cream at the grocery store across the street, then I am only drawn to the yogurt when they have a very unique flavor that I really like. For example: butterscotch flavor. That was the only place I could get it. I go back in only rarely, hoping they have brought it back, or that they have a new flavor that I like. Many flavors have potential until I actually taste them: I like the flavor of lime in theory, but the froyo version I tried today was too artificial and way too sour - I almost spit it out! :-\
They like to do strange or trendy flavors - it is kind of their "thing." They had acai berry, taro, red velvet cake, etc. Even if you like the flavor, you don't know until you sample if their version of it tastes okay. Sometimes it tastes amazing, like they just magically turned *randomfood* into yogurt...other times not so much. It is precisely because of this that I think allowing samples is a good idea...I just worry about abuses to the system.
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

CluelessBride

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2013, 12:11:01 AM »
I'm kind of torn on this, mostly because 4-5 samples is probably close to a small yogurt in size and would cost a couple of dollars at a per weight place. On the other hand, if you don't like what you try, you don't like it. If you went in and tried 1 sample and didn't like it (and so left) fine. If you tried 4-5 samples, picked your favorite and bought it, fine (that's what the samples are for, picking what you want to buy). I feel like it's different than a grocery store sample, because grocery store samples are promotional items - you can't sample anything and everything, only what is specifically offered. And I don't think its particularly common to sample and not buy anything at all at the grocery store (even if you don't buy what's being sampled). If it were me, and I'd sampled so generously, I think I would offer to pay for my samples, explaining that I didn't like what I tasted.  That gives the staff the option to say "that's fine" or charge an approximate amount based on the estimated weight of the samples.


I'll admit, my opinion is colored by my own favorite frozen yogurt place. They are full service instead of self-serve and only have 6 flavors (3 rotating, 3 constant). They happily do samples and are very generous with them. They also let you sample toppings. If people were requesting 4-5 samples and then walking out without buying things on a regular basis, I think they'd probably have to stop offering them. They are constantly adding new flavors, and even if I fall back on an old favorite instead, I love sampling them (it's how I find new favs! like  salted caramel... mmmm.... salted caramel!). So from my perspective, someone ruining that by abusing the system is rude.

WillyNilly

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2013, 12:26:01 AM »
I think if they offer samples they have built the cost of their loss into their prices and you are fine.

I think you might mention to them that having a sign in the window informing customers of that week's flavors would be appreciated. That way you'd know when they have butterscotch or whatever flavor you like before entering. I'm sure plenty of customers would like it too.

NyaChan

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2013, 12:40:35 AM »
Yogurt Land!  We have a similar place and it is nice - but the thing is, they almost always have standard flavors in addition to the rotating ones.  I always felt that it was an understanding between the store and the customer that they people might want to sample the new flavors, but that if those weren't agreeable, there were standards that they could choose from.  I would not sample the new flavors and then leave.  If I walk in and eat more than one sample, I am buying at least the staple vanilla flavor. 

sweetonsno

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2013, 01:09:57 AM »
I agree with others: what you are doing isn't comparable to what the high schoolers are doing because your intent isn't to get a bunch of free yogurt without buying anything. However, I'm not sure that I agree your intent is to buy if you don't know that there is something in there that you will definitely buy.

However, 4-5 samples seems like a bit much to sample. I definitely wouldn't do it myself because I would feel that it's taking advantage of the system. I would not take more than one or two samples. If you are hearing a little voice telling you that you're going overboard on the samples, you probably are.

If you've got high standards for yogurt (totally fair if you're watching your budget), then definitely try before you buy. However, don't sample something if it doesn't actually sound really promising. I'm like you: I'm a bit finicky about froyo and ice cream. I likely wouldn't go to an establishment if I didn't know for sure that there was something that I would be able to buy.

I guess I'd suggest going in to check if they have butterscotch. If they do, then you can take a sample or two of the more exotic flavors. If you prefer one of them, get it. If you don't, get the butterscotch. However, if they don't have butterscotch (and none of the other offerings seem appealing), don't take a bunch of samples.

I guess I see this kind of like parking lots and tables. Yes, they are technically given freely. However, they are given with the expectation that they'll bring in money and are intended for paying customers.

CakeEater

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2013, 04:42:20 AM »
I wouldn't sample 5 flavours and not buy anything. I view samples as a means to decide between two flavours, rather than between 5.

Awestruck Shmuck

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2013, 06:16:45 AM »
As a customer, seeing someone else taste all flavours wouldn't bother me (as a store owner it probably would!) but...I wouldn't do it, and would discourage anyone I was with from doing it too I think - even if they were going to buy a full-size serve. It strikes me as a little...greedy

staceym

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2013, 06:50:28 AM »
I wouldn't sample 5 flavours and not buy anything. I view samples as a means to decide between two flavours, rather than between 5.

this!

I don't think it is stealing per se, but I also don't considering it sampling.  CakeEater described my idea of what sampling would be.  I also don't think I would have sampled all those flavors without buying anything, even if it was just chocolate or vanillla.

TurtleDove

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2013, 06:58:21 AM »
I don't see what the OP did as really any different from what the highschoolers did, regardless of intent. They all sampled and left without buying anything. I think it is not okay to sample at a place as described and not buy anything. This is not the same as samples at a grocery store.  If you cannot afford yogurt, don't sample it, would be my advice!

Emmy

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2013, 06:59:50 AM »
I agree with others: what you are doing isn't comparable to what the high schoolers are doing because your intent isn't to get a bunch of free yogurt without buying anything. However, I'm not sure that I agree your intent is to buy if you don't know that there is something in there that you will definitely buy.

However, 4-5 samples seems like a bit much to sample. I definitely wouldn't do it myself because I would feel that it's taking advantage of the system. I would not take more than one or two samples. If you are hearing a little voice telling you that you're going overboard on the samples, you probably are.

*snip*

I guess I see this kind of like parking lots and tables. Yes, they are technically given freely. However, they are given with the expectation that they'll bring in money and are intended for paying customers.

I agree with this.  If this is a place you frequent and have always purchased something, I think that 4-5 samples without a purchase this one time is forgivable.  I have seen signs in similar stores that limit the samples to 2, probably because of people taking a large number of samples.  I don't think your intent was bad or you wanted to get as much free yogurt as possible like the high schoolers, but the effect was the same in that you sampled quite a bit of yogurt without making a purchase.  I'm not saying you had to do this, but if I was in that situation, I probably would have purchased a small cup of a 'boring' standard flavor I knew I would enjoy like vanilla or chocolate if none of the more interesting flavors appealed to me.  Because it seems you are fairly selective about which flavors of yogurt you like, it would probably be best to check that one of your favorites was there so you would be able to make a purchase even if new flavors sampled didn't appeal to you.

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2013, 07:04:54 AM »
How often do they change the flavors?  If you tried 5 different flavors on each visit then at some point you probably would have tried all of their offerings. So on the next visit you would not need to sample as you had already tasted everything and you would know what you like best. Or just need to taste 1 of the newest offerings, especially if it is a trendy flavor.   In this scenario, I think that if you kept sampling in hopes of "maybe this time I'll like it" and still don't buy anything, then you're being rude.

I also agree with the others that sampling 5 flavors and not buying anything is too much.

bloo

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Re: Sampling or Stealing?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2013, 08:05:02 AM »
I'll admit, my opinion is colored by my own favorite frozen yogurt place. They are full service instead of self-serve and only have 6 flavors (3 rotating, 3 constant). They happily do samples and are very generous with them. They also let you sample toppings. If people were requesting 4-5 samples and then walking out without buying things on a regular basis, I think they'd probably have to stop offering them. They are constantly adding new flavors, and even if I fall back on an old favorite instead, I love sampling them (it's how I find new favs! like  salted caramel... mmmm.... salted caramel!). So from my perspective, someone ruining that by abusing the system is rude.

I'm curious, OP, if you had to ask for the samples from an employee, would you have taken 4-5 or limited it to 2? No snark intended.

My job is overseeing the prep for an organic deli. We will give a sample of any of our salads on request. I've yet to meet anyone ask for a sample of 4 or 5 of them though. Most, IMO, would be too embarrassed to ask for that many and walkaway without purchasing.

If they did, my perspective would be to be accommodating as they may come in and purchase at another time.

I wouldn't sample 5 flavours and not buy anything. I view samples as a means to decide between two flavours, rather than between 5.

I agree with CakeEater when it comes to samples.

However I also agree with WillyNilly here:

I think if they offer samples they have built the cost of their loss into their prices and you are fine.

I think you might mention to them that having a sign in the window informing customers of that week's flavors would be appreciated. That way you'd know when they have butterscotch or whatever flavor you like before entering. I'm sure plenty of customers would like it too.

Really, your intent would matter to me and obviously you do purchase from them so you've established a relationship with them so until they put up a sign that says 'No more than two samples, please' or whatever you're probably okay.

I remember shopping at a whole foods and watching this squirrely-acting woman stealing dried figs from one of the bulk bins. She would call it sampling but walking back ever 2-3 minutes to grab one, totalling a take of at least 10 figs while I was gathering my bulk items is not sampling but stealing. That is not what you were doing obviously.