The Verizon Retail Bamboozle

Earlier today, my wife and I were walking by the Verizon store in downtown Palo Alto. We had less than five minutes and she wanted to check out cases for her new iPhone, as the cases vary greatly by store. We ducked into the store, but were asked to “check in” first and register. “No thanks, I’m just looking for the iPhone cases.” He said that all the iPhone cases were “in the back” and that I could only see them if I registered and waited for someone to bring out all the iPhone cases. Being in a rush and slightly difficult, I didn’t want to engage in their process. Another woman came over nicely and explained that they can only open registers for purchasing if we register. But, I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy any of the cases. She explained the policy and then reluctantly went in the back and returned with a large shoe box of 8-10 different cases, none of which suited my wife. We left the store 5 minutes after what should have been a 1-minute fly-by.

I know that retail stores want to know who’s coming in to their shops. I get that. But, it should be voluntary, right? Or, am I missing something? I don’t mind checking in via my phone or their kiosk if I need an appointment or if I get something in return, but just to see merchandise? That seems to take the check-in feature to a level that adds more friction relative to the benefit.