I don't see an ethical problem there. Christ relied upon the freedom of contract principle in his parable of the laborers. From that I think we can assume that freedom of contract is ethical unless it infringes on some other moral law.
In this case, there is freedom of contract. The store and the consumer have an implicit agreement: the store opens its doors to all who want to look at things because the store knows that it will sell to a certain number of people. Any particular person who enters the doors is not obligated to buy.
Now, if the store had some other arrangement in its offer to the public, it might be different. But what kind of store will say to the public, "you may enter our store only if you agree not to buy from Amazon"?
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A few years ago when I was in the home reno biz I had a customer walk into our store. He was a DIY'er but it was a slow time of year so I spent a couple of hours with him. I explained all of the pro's & con's of the various products, educated him about r value & showed how to calculate the energy savings against the relative cost of the products, etc.
IOW "Kevin's College of renovation Knowledge" was in session! What I explained to him that afternoon would save him several hundred bucks a year in lower heating costs. Plus I taught him how to qualify for $3,200 in government grants. Total commission for me is he bought everything around $100. Not a very productive use of my afternoon.
He came back a couple of weeks later & wanted to order about $200 worth of accessories! He had taken his new knowledge & ordered all of his materials from a competitor for a savings on a $6k order of about 200 bucks. He said that no one else at any other store had been as helpful & that after spending an afternoon with me he knew how & what to order. However since I was "so helpful" he wanted to buy something from me!
I thanked him for the compliment & told him to shove off & not come back! I explained that the 200 $ that he saved was the cost of having a well educated salesman that spent hundreds of hours reading, attending seminars, and touring plants in order to be the best informed sales force in the region. Since we made a lot more then the $10 an hour counter man at box store we were expected to know our stuff & we did.
I sent him away & told him to buy everything he needed elsewhere, and I hoped that the staff were helpful. He said "no they weren't, all they did was take the order, they couldn't help at all".
People are free to buy or not buy as they see fit. No one "owes" anyone their business. But don't rub my face in it.
TE Kevin Rogers
MNA Church Planter
Redeemer Community Church
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Jacob, you're missing the other side of the equation. The store physically displays its wares in order to create an environment that entices people to purchase. People are much more likely to purchase clothing after they've held it in their hands. They're much more likely to buy furniture if they've seen it presented in a room setting and sat on it. So, the store allows you to look and feel in return for the opportunity to entice you to buy something that you perhaps weren't even interested in buying.
By walking into the store, you are subjecting yourself to their enticement. By looking and feeling, you gain information. It's a fair arrangement.
M. A. Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
M. A. Villanova University
PhD Candidate, Church History, Princeton Theological Seminary
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To be fair, if the physical store was smart they'd have their business online (at least)...
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