€20 to book wedding dress fitting: Can they do that?

Pricewatch reader queries: Bride-to-be asked to pay non-refundable deposit to make appointment.

Can a store charge for booking an appointment to try on a wedding dress? Photograph: Alan Betson

Can a store charge for booking an appointment to try on a wedding dress? Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A reader called Eileen is planning to get married soon, but even though it is early days the planning is already causing her a bit of angst.

“I’ve been trying to book an appointment to try on a wedding dress in a shop in Munster at the weekend,” her mail starts. “But when I spoke to the people in the shop on the telephone I was less than pleased to hear that they want to charge me a €20 non-refundable booking deposit. Is this right? Can a shop actually charge someone for trying to give them business?”

Truth be told, a shop can charge for whatever it wants as long as it is upfront about the policy.

There are absolutely no rules in place forbidding the shop from doing this. We made some inquiries and apparently such fees are not uncommon – if not necessarily the norm.

Wedding shops say the booking fee is in place both to make sure that people actually show up when the say they will, and to deter tyre-kickers or brides-to-be showing up week after week trying on dresses before taking their business online.

Of course, just as the shop has the choice of imposing the charge, Eileen has the choice of not paying it. She can quite easily take her business elsewhere if she so pleases.

That is the ultimate power that rests with all consumers.

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