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Supermarket Rage

I've had occasion to go to a supermarket (well, one supermarket and a Wal-Mart Super Center, but I bought groceries there) twice in recent days, and both times I've been annoyed with some of their policies.

In the first instance, I was tired, aching, sick, and cranky. I wanted to get HOME and to BED, so I headed for the 10 Or Less lane. I quickly counted my items, saw I had 12, and put back two of them. (Potato chips are bad for you, anyway.) Then I got stuck in line behind a couple. She paid for two of the items, but the gentleman rang through about 17 or so items. My first thought was to blame the public schools for his inability to count, then I thought it might be nice if the registers in such express lanes simply stopped ringing after 10 items.

In the second case, a cashier steered me towards the self checkout lane. Now, I have no real issues with such things, but it's my belief that if a business asks me to do the kind of work that they usually pay people for, they ought to compensate me in some way -- say, a small discount. After all, I'm doing the work of a cashier and bagger; why shouldn't I expect to be compensated for my efforts?

More and more stores are moving towards the self-checkout model (Home Depot comes to mind), and I think it's an abysmal idea. It's simple cost-shifting; they're decreasing their labor costs by asking their customers to pick up the slack, without a hint of a quid pro quo.

In both cases, it's a matter of ignoring the good customers. And in both cases, I'd like to think it will backfire on the stores.

But I doubt it.

Comments (33)

I can assure you that cashi... (Below threshold)

I can assure you that cashiers get just as irritated with the overlimit customers as you. 1 or 2 items over the limit is one thing, but the ones with 10-20 over are just being rude & inconsiderate....which they justify because "I'm in a hurry".

And I refuse to use self-checkout. If I'm going to scan & bag stuff, I expect to be paid for it.

They put those in my superm... (Below threshold)

They put those in my supermarket and in the beginning the reward was speed out the door because most people were afraid of them.

Now most of the time you stuck behind some idiot who can't figure out how to work it and its faster dealing with the rude cashier who is more interested in talking to her friend at the next register than in in serving customers.

Given your delicate sensibi... (Below threshold)

Given your delicate sensibilities, let me clarify one point before continuing:

A couple, that is - two people, were ahead of you in line at the market. You were tired, cranky, et cetera. The couple, between them, purchased 19 items in two transactions ... in a lane for '10 items or less'. My take is they were one item short of the 'limit'.

and this 'my god, can't they count!' issue bothers you to the point where you feel it necessary to share it with the world, despite your feeling ill. I'd say your worries are banal, but the letter 'b' is extraneous.

(btw - I'm feeling peppy, having mastered the gentle art of scanning my own items through the checkout, putting them in a bag, and helping the grocery store avoid cost-increases. This is especially true for those trips that ivnolve 10, maybe 12, items. )

As to the capitalistic exploitation/consumer rip-off that is the Home Depot checkout

... ummmmm .....


Those that can handle themselves in a barcode environment won't have to wait as long. Those that can't ... or for some Ludditical reason prefer the social interaction of dealing with a checkout person can stand around. Personally, my time is worth the $0.28 per minute differential between the costs of the self-checkout and the staffed one.

Obviously, yours isn't.

... or you might, for even more mysterious reasons, feel that the value of your purchase of a hammer, box of nails, lightbulbs, paint, mop, conduit, circuit breakers, pavers, or barbeque accessories is given when an actual living person, other than you, totes up the purchase.

So, obviously, you're being ripped off if you don't have a person ringing it up for you.

Lastly, while you exhibit a tendency for the dramatic, taking as an ad hominem attack that which is just 'gad,you're a putz' social commentary.

For god's sake, by your own accounts you're a wheezy, creaky limbed grossly overweight - presumably unmarried w/o intended or serious girlfriend - Jingoist, don't add Checkout Line Misanthrope to the mix.

Or I'll drive up there, get in line in front of you, pick out 11 items, and write a check for my purchase.

I always seem to get behind... (Below threshold)

I always seem to get behind the coarse-voiced alcoholic at the gas station who is buying one of every lottery ticket when all I want is a Hershey's bar and a Coke.

However, self checkout lanes are the bomb, and I get an odd sense of personal satisfaction when I do everything myself. I'll ring my 6 items myself if it saves everyone a little bit of money.

I love self-checkouts... wh... (Below threshold)

I love self-checkouts... when they work. The newer they are, the better. For instance, the newest (rebuilt and expanded) Shaw's Supermarket in the area also has the most flawless self-checkout I have used.

They do work best with limited items, and you have to be careful not to try to ring the wrong thing through there.

I think it's easier and mor... (Below threshold)

I think it's easier and more intuitive for people who have had computers and gadgets since birth like me. I don't think my granny will change to the self checkout lane any time soon. Of course, you shouldn't use them with cartloads of stuff; that would take a long, long time. Don't fret, there will always be humans (or at least well-programmed robots) to help.

I had not thought about sel... (Below threshold)

I had not thought about self-checkout offering an incentive to use it. It might have merit. I like em' because people fear em' and usually folks want experience that cranky clerk instead.

I'm with you, Jay; I'd rath... (Below threshold)

I'm with you, Jay; I'd rather not assume more of the businessman's cost of business to improve his margins.

I used to believe that expr... (Below threshold)

I used to believe that express lane registers should lock out orders larger than specified for the lane. That was before I was making a medium sized purchase on stock-up night, and a friendly checker invited me to change lanes. Now I believe that the register should halt and require an over-ride at the specified number.

I like, in fact, love the s... (Below threshold)

I like, in fact, love the self checkout. Sometimes, accidentally, of course, when I'm self-checking out, some items don't get scanned, but they do wind up in my possession. Oops! Large items are more dificult to palm, but small items such a soap, oil, or fresh meat are pretty easy. I figure that if I have to labor at checkout I should get a few perks. Besides, who hasn't wanted to get a significant discount at the supermarket??? Gee, do you think that the markets will catch on to my little scheme??? Then they'd have to hire someone to watch me self-checkout. I'd be real pissed then, because that person could've checked me out in the first place!!!

My new local Albertson's ha... (Below threshold)

My new local Albertson's has a self-check out... I've used it on occassion when I have but a couple items or two. The time saving is tremendous. As long as they have checkers for my big weekly shops, I think the station of self-checkouts is a plus. There is a market chain in my area, Food4Less (part of the Ralphs chain) that entered the market touting itself as lower priced than everyone else because they set themselves with this kind of warehouse look (cement floors, no shelving just the stacked boxes with sides removed) and while they had "checkers", the customer bagged all their own groceries. I only shopped there a couple times and found the trouble not worth the very small savings.

I've stopped shopping at Home Depot due to their active encouragement/enablement of illegal aliens and as far as the last time I looked, Lowe's doesn't have a self-checkout and the people there are very friendly.

Get used to the self checko... (Below threshold)

Get used to the self checkouts; they're the wave of the future. Hiring actual people has become such a complete nightmare for employers, what with all the myriad federal, state, and local regulations that hiring brings them under and all, not to mention the payroll expense, that they will do almost anything to reduce hiring or avoid it altogether.

Yeah it sucks, but what can you do?

Funny, I cannot stand all t... (Below threshold)
Donovan Janus:

Funny, I cannot stand all these people that wait for the cashier to bag their groceries. Seriously, most people are able bodied and there is no reason to just 'wait' and keep everybody else waiting because you are too damn lazy to help out the cashier!

Self checkout is great as it saves time, but regardless of that, why is to so difficult to enter your payment information the moment the cashier scans the first item and then go bag yourself? If there is a person bagging for you, then ok, but often at stores like Trader Joe's, there isn't somebody. Enter your payment info and start bagging! Personal responsiblity people!

First, I don't mind self-ch... (Below threshold)

First, I don't mind self-check out, I know how to use it and as a few above have said, due to the "fear" of it, I save time.

Second, as to the "couple who were 1 short of the limit", it's NOT 10 items or less per person in your party, it's per TRANSACTION! If I had 11, I'm over, but that DOES NOT mean that a family (lets say parents and 3 kids) could have FIFTY ITEMS! That would completely negate the point of the EXPRESS lane.

Lastly, I know that people palm items in the self check out lane, althouh I am normally just getting a loaf of bread or a 12 pack of Dr Pepper when I use it, but the one I am curious to see how much is actually paid for is the "shop and scan" at Albertons. With this one, you actually scan your items as you shop and bag them as you go. When you're done, you just scan a bar-code to end the trip, then scan your reward card at the self check out and pay. All the items are bagged, so how many have been scanned?

Stickyfingers: ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:


I figure that if I have to labor at checkout I should get a few perks.

Next time you "find" some money, go buy a clue. It's called stealing, not "perks". Hope you are caught soon.

A couple, that is - two ... (Below threshold)

A couple, that is - two people, were ahead of you in line at the market. You were tired, cranky, et cetera. The couple, between them, purchased 19 items in two transactions ... in a lane for '10 items or less'. My take is they were one item short of the 'limit'.

That's not how it works -- it's ten items per order not per person.

Now, if one of the couple had paid for ten of the 19, and the other for nine, you might have had a point -- but two for one and 17 for the other, no sale.

Me, I use the self-checkout at Kroger if (1) my order is -- as the signs say -- 15 items or less, and (2) there aren't several dozen people waiting to use one of them.

I'll use the self-checkout at Wal-Mart under similar circumstances even though they haven't figured out that smaller orders work better with that concept -- except that as Jay Tea points out, more people are now comfortable with it, and Wal-Mart needs to adapt to this by making more of them available.

The worst self-checkout experience I ever had was at Wal-Mart; the system had been set up for some reason that every credit-card purchase at self-checkout had to be approved by the single employee attending some ten different lines. I should have been out of that store fifteen minutes before I was. And I was hopping mad by then.

But I've never seen anything like that again; I don't know why it happened but somebody must have realized it was a mistake.

OregonMuseFrom tim... (Below threshold)


From time to time I have grabbed and bagged some of my own groceries, but usually I don't


cause then I can't watch and see if there's an error in the scanning and I won't discover such until I get home and realize - I've been overcharged/have something from the customer right behind me/didn't get the advertised discount.

I definitely don't want any... (Below threshold)

I definitely don't want any of the "Express" registers locking up after the maximum number of items. All you'll get for your troubles is the dubious privilege of standing in line while the inconsiderate dope in front of you argues with the chashier, followed by either him backing up out of the register or, more likely, by the manager overriding the lock and the transaction completing. Either way, all you get is a longer delay and a crankier cashier.

Probably better to just accept that there will always be inconsiderate jerks out there.

I kind of like self checkou... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I kind of like self checkouts at Walmart and grocery stores, can't stand the one at Home depot though, because some of the items don't have bar codes on them, and often you end up having to get assistance anyway (or you are stuck behind somebody who has to get it). But I find them easy to use, and pretty quick, and I can back the stuff the way I want it bagged.

As for express lanes, nothing bugs me more than people over the limit in the express lanes. My husband managed a grocery store while he finished his bachelors and master's degrees, and he would send over limit people to other lanes.

I absolutely despite those ... (Below threshold)

I absolutely despite those self-check-out things. As a freelance writer, sometimes I have to just lock myself in a room for two days and type. After a stretch in solitary, sometimes hitting the grocery store for a sack of rice and a bag of onions is the first opportunity to socialize I get. Being forced to use a machine — an inexcusably complex machine — instead of handing my purchases to a person and exchanging a moment of mall talk is just dehumanizing.

I'm loyal to my grocery store more out of habit than anything else. But with those absurd automatons become more and more common, I've begun to be loyal to my grocery store because it has not installed them.

Self-checkout is a beautifu... (Below threshold)

Self-checkout is a beautiful, beautiful thing, at least at King Sooper's. The only time it's been even remotely slow for me is when I buy something like fennel or shallots and there's no code for them on the produce sheet. Granted, there's always one person staring at the screen, waiting for their electronic master to walk them through the checkout, but for most folks, we seem to fly right through.

I'd rather pick up what I need and be out the door than stand in line behind some old person who still writes checks.

Jeff, the machines at Kroge... (Below threshold)

Jeff, the machines at Kroger actually nag.

"Please scan your item and place it in the bag."


"Please place your item in the bag."

And when I need to move a bag I've just filled, so I can start filling another one...

"Please place your item in the bag."

Trust me, I could converse with that thing. Other people around me wouldn't appreciate my language, but...

You asked we should be comp... (Below threshold)

You asked we should be compensated for doing other people jobs. I find that interesting, since you wrote you were aggravated about waiting in the 12 item or less line. Do you not think you got something out of doing it yourself. Typically there are no lines, you can get in and out in minutes. That is what you are compensated with, your time and frustration. On the other hand, if everyone had the same "its not my job" attitude, nothing would be done. I think you need to quit complaining and see the big picture.

Just wait until all the ite... (Below threshold)

Just wait until all the items are RFID tagged. You won't even have to scan yourself out - just walk through the gate and your bill will be totted up. Then, of course, the store will insist that you have a card registered with them which will be debited for the total and you never need speak to a human being even once in your entire shopping experience.
Welcome to the New Agora!

Jay, I see what you're sayi... (Below threshold)

Jay, I see what you're saying.
However, I like the self serve because it does reduce their costs, and lets me be sure that it was rung up correctly. They can keep the savings for a while, but pretty soon many stores will do self scan and competition will force some of the savings to go into reduced prices. I haven't done an exhaustive study, but it seems the savings always come back to the customer ultimately. Think about under $1000 PC's and self serve gas stations. Also consider the things you buy and have to put together yourself: shipping is cheaper, labor is saved, and those things are definitely cheaper to the customer that way.

The worst supermaket scener... (Below threshold)

The worst supermaket scenerio is being behind the idiot buying two items and paying by check in the express line. They should be pistol whipped.

Walmart scares me. All of those guys in wifebeater underwear shirts and the kid slapping/screaming at.

When stores become an ordeal, I don't go back.

Hello!!!! Retailers are are you listening?

My family owned grocery sto... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

My family owned grocery stores. When I was growing up we didn't have all the scan cash registers and the new fangled gadgets that we have today. I get a bit of supermarket rage myself sometimes. I think the self serv lines take longer! Usually someone comes over and has to help me anyway... What irritates me is when the checkers aren't paying attention because they are too busy flirting with the stock boys or sackers! My dad would never allow us to behave that way if we wanted to work! The meat market we could socialize a bit more, but after being in the meat market we probably weren't as desirable to flirt with. It is pretty hard work and can be kind of smelly!...

About what Kelly wrote...(n... (Below threshold)

About what Kelly wrote...(not personal, just a comment about the theme of self checkouts and their difficulty as per age groups, etc.)...

I'm no whipper snapper but not yet granny age and the local market with self checkout problems from what I've witnessed is almost always some guy in his twenties who's impatient and doesn't/won't ask for "help."

I think it's one of those "I don't need a map" phenomenons.

My only problem with the self check-outs is their limited scope in scanning -- a good example, buying a few cans of Great Northern White Beans recently and the scanner not knowing what they were...typed in "BE..." (process wouldn't take any more letters than that, asked for the first two only) and responded with all sorts of items but no canned beans of any kind, much less Great Northerns.

So, called for help. Resolved when scanner thing was whiped clear and it again could read the barcode on the can o' beans.

But, otherwise, the research/reference aspect to the self checkouts is the problem I encounter, when items won't scan (particularly fresh produce) and there's no stored reference to what you're buying.

I agree that stores should be offering some sort of credit or refund or whatever for using self checkout. They add markUPs when for bags, etc., so I don't see any problem with expecting markDOWNs for self checkout.

Example: bought (also) two... (Below threshold)

Example: bought (also) two yams. Self checkout didn't know what they were, offered nothing even close to yams in the research/itemlookup reference, had to call for help.

Now what I do is use the self checkout when I have verifiable and packaged items, like milk, yogurt, boxes o' cereal, things of that nature, easily scanable things. Otherwise, I still wait for a cashier.

I'm all for anything that s... (Below threshold)

I'm all for anything that saves costs for the retailer. I only shop where I own stock, if they don't give me a break at the register I get it back in dividends. Since I only buy stock in businesses I do business with it works out pretty well. Once you own enough stock in an oil company to pay your gasoline bill and enough of Wal-Mart to pay for your groceries life start getting better. I get an indirect discount on 99% of the things I buy because I started buying a little stock here and a little there 25 years ago. It allowed me to retire before the age of 40, anyone that tells you that personal savings accounts won't work isn't telling you the truth. They just don't want you to be independent of the government.

bullwinkle, I wish I had kn... (Below threshold)

bullwinkle, I wish I had known you thirty years ago. It would have changed my life.

It's never too late to star... (Below threshold)

It's never too late to start fatman, and thinking ahead pays off too. I don't know how old you are but you might look into buying stock stocks in the companies that make Fixodent, Beltone hearing aids, Depends undergarments, whoever makes those socks old men wear with their sandals in Florida, nose hair trimmers, walkers, Viagra, Geritol, artificial hip joints, old-folks homes, and those cool pants with the extra long waist that reach half-way to your armpits. Just invest whatever you'd pay in death insurance premiums (it doesn't pay if you live, so you're betting the insurance company you're going to die before they think you will) and you'll probably be able to stay ahead of the curve.

Sounds like a plan to me, b... (Below threshold)

Sounds like a plan to me, but there is one catch; by the time I get done stocking up on all that stuff, I don't have money left to stock up on the stock.

BTW, I pre-paid for my funeral. With a credit card. So the credit card company's betting that I'll live. And if I don't, I guess I'll be up to my ashes in debt.






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