Self Check-Out At Supermarket Means Fewer Impulse Buys

Consumer Reports says that the supermarket self check-out line is better on your wallet and your gut. “You’ll find fewer snacks,” they write, “and because of the shorter wait time, you’ll have less time to contemplate a snack attack.” There’s even a study that shows impulse purchases dropped by nearly a third for women and a sixth for men when they chose the self check-out line. You also get to play with the scanner, touchscreen, and bag area, which is a lot more fun than just standing around. (That’s right, “bag area.”)

“Self-checkout, cut calories and costs” [ConsumerReports]
(Photo: Simon Shek)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yep and it saves the supermarkets costs so they make a greater profit while still giving (small) extra discounts. Even more so for the self scan, bag, and self-checkout deals like what they now use at Stop and Shop. The downside of course is that while there will always be the need for a front end staff people are going to lose their jobs as smaller shifts are needed to cover.

  2. TacoDave says:

    I love self-checkout. But I hate it when the stupid things won’t register something I just dropped into the bag.

    “Please place the item in the bag.”

    “I did. Hey, employee? It says to place the item in the bag, but I already did.”

    “Did you place it the bag on the scale?”

    “Yes.”

    “Let me check…” as he checks all of the groceries I’ve done already. “Hmmm…. Yes, these are all on there. Let me override.”

    “Thanks.” *beep* “Please place the item in the bag.”

    GROAN

    • Shadowfire says:

      @TacoDave: As someone who runs the other side of self checkout lanes, I’ll tell you this…

      I’d say about 95% of the time, problems with the self checkouts at my store are the fault of the customer doing something they shouldn’t be. You scanned an item, told it to skip bagging, scanned another, and put both in the bag? Yea, it doesn’t know how to handle that. You scanned something, bagged it, then picked up the item? Stop that! The directions are clear… scan the item, bag it. Scan the next item, bag it.

      People can’t read. Or follow directions.

      • Canino says:

        @Shadowfire: Told it to skip bagging? The machines at the Kroger near my house do not have that option.

        The only way to get it to skip bagging is to get the attention of the girl running the self-checkout away from flirting with the bag boys, get her off the cell phone, get her to stop smacking her chewing gum, then make her understand that, no, I can’t fit a 12-pack of soft drinks on the bagging area with everything else. She rolls her eyes, pushes the magic button, and goes back to doing what she was doing before before.

        Then I have to go through that 4 more times, because they do specials of 5 12-packs of soft drinks for $12.

        • bostonguy says:

          @Canino: The machines at my Kroger (Myrtle Beach) got a software update a month or 2 ago, and when something doesn’t go to the bagging area right away, a ‘skip bagging’ button appears on the screen.

        • pmr12002 says:

          @Canino: Walmart is the only one i have seen with the skip bagging option.

      • Rachacha says:

        @Shadowfire: For a while, the Local Home Depot installed self checkout lanes. I bought a 4×8 sheet of plywood and a couple of 2 x 4′s. The cashier lines were very long, so I went to the self checkout. The programmers apparently forgot that they sell items that are larger than the bagging area, and they forgot the “Skip Bagging” button. Have you ever tried to get a sheet of plywood into a bag…it doesn’t work very well. I ended up standing my kid up in the bagging area to convince the system that the plywood was in a bag.

      • cunninglinguine says:

        @Shadowfire: 95% of the time? Bullshit. You’re very obviously on the *wrong* side of the argument, here.

    • ecwis says:

      @TacoDave: One time the scale was off at a self check-out and the attendant was gone so I just placed my wallet on the scale and it fixed the problem. YMMV

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @TacoDave: at stores where i use self checkout, i don’t bag items – i stack them on the scale where the bags are. then after i pay, i bag my items in my own reusable bag. the self checkout keeps trying to weight my reusable bag as an item and gets messed up

      • Craig Majors says:

        @catastrophegirl – manic first time home buyer: I noticed the other day that the self checkouts at Meijer now have an option for the reusable bags. Maybe a lot of stores will go to this since they all sell the bags now.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Craig Majors: but will they set the scales to weigh any reusable bag or will they enter it as the weight of the one they sell? mine has wheels and a metal bottom frame. it’s a little heavier than the ones my local store sells

        • BytheSea says:

          @Craig Majors: I jam my reusable bag in the frame that holds the store’s bags. The machine doesn’t care.

      • Benny Gesserit says:

        @catastrophegirl – manic first time home buyer: Our grocery chain has gone “Green” and you pretty much HAVE to bring your own reusable bags. (There’s a big friendly “Press here to load you bags on the scale.” button)

        They stock a paltry 4-5 plastic bags but you have to pay 5 cents for each one you use.

        It’s a good idea for people with a vehicle – they can toss the reusables into the car and they’re there when they need ‘em. For people on foot (me, for instance) it’s a pain – no more impromptu grocery shopping as I have to remember to bring the bags when I leave home.

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      @TacoDave: Or you get the opposite here. You scan something, put it in the bag and get “Unexpected Item- Please remove from bag” warnings.

    • amandakerik says:

      @TacoDave: I’m sooo glad it’s not just me that has issues with these.

      I have a cart (resembles a golf bag) that I use to both hold things while shopping and to carry them home.

      Self-checkout can be a royal pain in the butt – going through 3 ok screens (we only accept debit / credit, we don’t dispense cash, how many bags), then stacking things one by flipping one on the bag table (usually repeatedly as a slight load difference makes it stop and insist it must be in the non-existent bag), hoping they don’t fall, shooing some kid off the table so my machine doesn’t freeze up, then repacking everything into my cart again while the machine reminds me over and over that it’s ready for the next person.

      Forget about 50% off items, coupons or weighing anything.

      • dorastandpipe says:

        @amandakerik: In addition to what you have listed above, I find I have problems with multiples. I mean, I could not possibly want 2-12 packs of Diet Coke at once. If I scan two in a row of anything “beep beep beep”!! Grrrr…

        I only use the self check out at our local Festival Foods because they have a conveyor belt and not the weighing station thing everyone else has. However, I still have to follow these guidelines I figured out after many times making mistakes:

        -5 items or less and if I have multiples, I can scan something in between so I don’t set off that alarm

        - no weighing anything, no need to use the touchscreen that never has my item listed in a logical place like carrots in the veggie section, who programs these things?

        - no coupons, ever, something ALWAYS goes wrong especially with store coupons

        - no bulk bin items, no donuts from the case to avoid the touch screen

        -no marked down merchandise, if you can’t scan it, you have to wait a minute or two for someone to come and use the keypad for you

        Needless to say, I very rarely use the self check out anymore after figuring all this out.

    • Andrew Norton says:

      @TacoDave: Some walmarts used to have a two-arch, 2 belt system. You scan an item, put it on a belt next to the scanner, it moves on, through a detector arch, it then transfers to another belt, and another arch. The scales for ‘right item’ are at the point where the two belts meet, and it had the advantage of knowing the size, so the scales are less strict.

      At the end of the belts, was a roller area, for items to acumulate, ready for bagging. You could then either scan 20-30 items, and then bag them, or have someone down there concentrating on bagging. It was only slightly slower than a manned checkout.

      Needless to say, the one store I saw with them, lost the 8 self-checkouts when it went through a ‘store remodel’ 2 years ago. They were replaced by 10 of the ‘weigh the bag’ type, and more ‘crap-racks’ (as I term the stuff next to the checkout). They upped the checkouts by 25%, but replaced them by checkouts that were 50% slower. A net loss in speed.

      Smart they are not, at Little Rock.

      • joshua70448 says:

        @Andrew Norton: The Winn-Dixie I worked at a few years ago had three of these self-checks as well. I think they were a LOT better than the newer kinds, we never had problems with items not weighing correctly. When I ran the self-checks, I’d usually end up helping the customers bag while they scanned, so I could hang around for questions/problems. Awesome systems.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @TacoDave: The cashier at my usual grocery just hits the override button at their top register whenever that happens. Of course, the self-checkouts are also equipped with little cameras so that cashier can see if we did in fact scan the item, which probably makes it easier.

  3. FDCPAGuy says:

    The only things I dislike about self checkout are the people who do multiple transactions to get around sale limits and when I try to use coupons through them. I use coupons quite frequently as a way to save money and have gotten quite good at it. Waiting for an attendant whose attention is split amongst 4-6 stations is less than ideal for me when my coupons require manual entry. So if I have coupons I usually go through the non-self serve lanes. The only exception being at Meijer where they only have one non-self serve lane open at any point in time and it’s backed up like crazy due to the cigarette/alcohol sales.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @FDCPAGuy: I avoid the self checkouts like the plague, and not because of their problems but because I just have too much food in my cart, coupons, markdown meat, ETC… people shouldn’t be held up on my account.

      I can see how these would stop impulse buying. Where I shop, there really isn’t any impulse buys within view of the self checkouts besides maybe a pepsi machine. (Which is personally my impulse buy- I can’t leave a supermarket without my 20oz diet pepsi high)

      You’d be surprised how WELL their marketing strategies are- I’ve seen children throw outright FITS because of a candy bar, gum, toys… and mothers usually give into it.

    • joshua70448 says:

      @FDCPAGuy: I usually don’t even try to scan store coupons at our local HEB, because 9 out of 10 times the stupid scanner never even picks them up. Other coupons work just fine, but the ones on the shelves never do, and I have to get them manually scanned.

  4. MadColombian says:

    I used to have this kind of problem… but not with snacks… but iTunes gift cards. I don’t like putting my CC information into iTunes (to stop myself from impulse buying stuff) so I usually just buy gift cards for myself.

    The problem was that when I went grocery shopping I might grab a gift card and throw in the basket. Just because.

    Now since I cant get a gift card at a self-checkout lane (dunno if this is true for many places but I know I cant get them thru self-checkout at the Jewel in front of my house) I’m less inclined to want to get one, since I don’t like waiting in line.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @MadColombian: Sometimes the lack of impulse purchase areas at the self-checkout actively annoys me, because without a People magazine in the checkout lane to snag at the last minute, HOW WILL I KNOW HOW CLOSE JON AND KATE ARE TO DIVORCE? And where else shall I acquire my schadenfreude?

  5. Yankees368 says:

    I despise self checkout. They are the most ill-conceived machines ever. Not only am I doing the work someone else should be getting paid to do, but I am bagging everything on my own as well.
    And don’t get me started on the software on these things. “Please put item in the bag.” Maybe I don’t want to put the god damn’d item in the frekin bag! It takes, I would guess, an average of twice as long to check out with these machines, than if it was done the normal way. Those machines straight up suck.

    • ludwigk says:

      @Yankees368: Then don’t use them. I stopped using self checkout machines about 12 years ago because they annoyed me. Haven’t used one since.

      • Yankees368 says:

        @ludwigk: Sometimes, you are not given a choice. Instead of having 3 or 4 registers open at off hours now, you will have 1 real register open, and the rest are all self checkout.

        • Wombatish says:

          @Yankees368: This.

          Except replace “One real register” with “no real registers”.

          I really like self check-out most of the time. But every once in a while I don’t feel like dealing with it, and I want someone to check my groceries for me. That is -not- too much to ask, sorry.

          That’s what ticks me off about self checkout. When they take away the option sometimes.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Yankees368: there’s a 24 hour grocery store i used to go to that only had self checkout between 10 pm and 6 am.

        • Skaperen says:

          @Yankees368: Oh, so they don’t shutdown the self check lanes at night?

        • chucklebuck says:

          @Yankees368: That’s exactly what happens at our local supermarket. I like the muffins at their bakery, so it used to be on Sunday morning I’d go down there, get a muffin and the Sunday paper. Now I just can’t stand it anymore. They open 1 real register, have about 3 people working total, and open 2 of the 4 self-checkout lanes. One of the ones they usually open always goes into “This item requires assistance” mode and the light starts blinking. None of the 2 non-register employees can be found, so I have to wait for the one cashier to finish with the full cart person she’s got. But that only partially helps because they are so short-staffed that no one has the time to assemble the newspapers in the morning, so I can’t even get that there anymore. Finally I just quit going. I actually get better service at the gas station up the street, which has just as many employees working as the supermarket, has fully assembled papers, and a decent enough breakfast area that I’m willing to sacrifice getting a better muffin for actually getting out of the store with my two items in under 30 freakin’ minutes.

    • cheesebubble says:

      I only use self check-outs when I have a few items. It’s kind of like the express lane, in this way. They just installed them at our local grocery store and are gung ho to get customers to try them. We made the mistake of obliging with a full cart of items. That was kind of a crappy experience but I would use it there with just a couple items, to get through the check out quickly.

      @Yankees368: The notion of doing the work that an employee could handle has occurred to me too. I wonder if they worry about their jobs as self check-outs are thrust upon us more and more.

      • PencilSharp says:

        @cheesebubble: Former retail manager weighing in again…

        “I wonder if they worry about their jobs as self check-outs are thrust upon us more and more”

        Check the headline, amigo. Front-end impulse buys have the highest profit margins in the store! True, four (or more) checkouts now manned by one employee saves on three employees’ salaries + benefits, but the loss of those high-profit items will keep ‘em limited at best…

      • merist says:

        @cheesebubble:

        I have all kinds of problems with these machines and as a systems analyst, I can tell you the design of the system sucks. Whether its the “Weight” problems (Like buying something that really doesn’t weigh anything, yet it keeps telling me to place it into the bagging area.) to the scanner not reading the bar code.

        That being said, I love using them. Whenever it gives me a problem, I just bang on the front of it with whatever I am purchasing. I’ll beat on it loudly until someone finally comes by, and I’ll yell “The damn things not working!” I guess I am just practicing to be an old curmudgeon, but I find it both entertaining and cathartic.

    • Rachacha says:

      @Yankees368: I think it depends on the store and the training that the staff receive. The checkers where I live are SLOOOOOOOOOWWWW and want to double bag everything. I can go the self check out lane and bag my food to make it weasy to put them away when I get home (Frozen food for the large freezer, refrigerated, canned goods etc. all in their appropriate bags), and I can usually do it twice as fast as the cashiers.

      That said, there are some stores that have very sensitive scanners, and well trained staff who can scan and bag $200 in groceries in no time flat.

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @Yankees368: Oh, boohoo, you have to bag your own groceries!

    • bennilynn says:

      @Yankees368: I love self check-outs. I was a cashier on and off for six years through high school/college. I know how to bag my own goods. And you don’t have to put the item in the bag. You just have to put it on the scale. *shrugs* It’s not exactly rocket science.

      But, if you don’t like them, please don’t use them. Nothing worse than shuffling from foot to foot, watching somebody fight the machine for ten minutes because they started putting the bags in the cart before completing the transaction. Or they suddenly decided they *need* cigarettes and have to flag down a cashier to find them. Or they didn’t bother to weigh and print out of the bar codes for their produce. Or they can’t figure out which way to swipe their credit card. Or they bought one of those damn breakfast tacos, which are so greasy that they ruin the bar code and don’t scan. Or they decide to buy alcohol and we all have to wait for the cashier (usually talking to a coworker or inexplicably vanished) to approve their age for the purchase.

      Urgh.

      Sometimes, I feel like you should have to pass a test and posses a membership card before you can use the self check-outs. When everybody’s on board and using the tech appropriately, it’s insanely fast. But how often does that happen?

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @bennilynn: Which would all be great, IF THE SELF-CHECKOUTS WORKED. I also did my time as a checker and bagger and am perfectly capable of using all applicable technology. Unfortunately, the store isn’t. So the machine wants to bicker with me for 20 minutes over whether I put my 5 lbs. of flour in the bag.

        “Oh, the scales are being tetchy,” the cashier woman says as she goes from station to station among the six that are in use, having to reset each one after EVERY scanned item.

        It’s one thing when it doesn’t recognize something really lightweight. But when it can’t tell that I just threw down 5 lbs. of flour and there are no non-self-checkout lanes open, I don’t really think my alleged inability to use technology is at fault.

        • floraposte says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): Seriously. And I find the staff often try to tell me to fix a problem that isn’t the one I’m having.

          I think they’re the most useful if you shop the least healthily–manufactured stuff with bar codes that tend to be consistent in weight. Telling them what produce I have and convincing it that there’s cilantro sitting there are herculean efforts. I like the idea, but the actuality just isn’t there. And the staff get frustrated with having to deal with it, which I understand, but if there are that many problems with a system, the problem is the system design, not the humans using it.

      • vgeroh says:

        @bennilynn: Amen to that. only thing worse than being behind an idiot in self-checkout is being behind someone paying with a check and they wait till the last minute to start filling it out. If your VCR or DVD player is still blinking 12:00 then you probably should avoid the self-checkout

      • dorastandpipe says:

        @bennilynn: Start putting bags in the cart before the transaction ends? Really now, people are stupid for doing this? What if I have a cart full of stuff? The typical self check out only lets you have 2 bags, you HAVE to put your bags in the cart or there is no place to put the stuff you still have yet to scan. Oh mighty former cashier that knows it all…what is your solution for us idiots?

        • Kogenta says:

          @dorastandpipe: The stores that have self checkout where I live have little merry go round style bag holders which have slots for like 8 grocery bags.

          I’m under the impression that if it only has space for 2 bags, it was probably designed as an “express” self checkout where you have so few items you wouldn’t have a cart in the first place. Just because the store decided to get the wrong tech for their needs doesn’t make the system bad.

          I do know a few people who refuse to use them because as they say “They aren’t paying me to be a cashier”. Depending on where I’m at though, some store’s manned registers are faster than the unmanned ones because they don’t accept cheques, and the people are actually trainned and experianced cashiers with the appropriate support if they need help.

        • Fett101 says:

          @dorastandpipe: The two bag self-checkouts are express lanes for 15 items or less. If you have more then 15 you should be at a full lane.

          There should also be enough space to the side of the two bag racks on most units where you can place several bags after they have been filled.

    • Andrew Farris says:

      @Yankees368:
      I absolutely agree with you here. I hate them. I seriously hate them, and I’m just about as computer geeky as it gets (yes I wonder while standing in front of these things if they were programmed in LISP by a guy who has never heard of a ‘structured database’).

      I’m willing to pay more for someone to handle checkout and bagging of my goods. I would love it if the self-checkout lanes would give everyone a small discount on what they are buying; that way the self-checkout would have long lines and I’d get more time to flirt with checkers happily doing their job while I happily purchase the goods at premium service level thank you.

    • David in Brasil says:

      @Yankees368: But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

    • GitemHomerJay! says:

      @Yankees368: Once again- bad consumer am I. If you want to justify your time spent working the self-checkout just go there with a mitfull of expired coupons. Self-checkout takes them.

      • Rachacha says:

        @GitemHomerJay!: You can also scan a valid coupon, and shove a scrap piece of paper in the slot (we discovered this when the coupon we were using didn’t register when we placed it in the coupon slot. The cashier who was watching the self check systems shoved a scrap receipt in the slot and told us, that if other coupons didn’t register, just shove any paper in the slot.

    • Adrienne Willis says:

      @Yankees368: At the pathmark on Atlantic Ave and Flatbush in BK they have the self checkout but it is so pointless as people come with shopping carts full of food to check out (even though the signs say 12 items or less) and the clerk never turns them away!!!!! Other than that I love those machines, I love anything self serve (Metrocard vending machines, self check out, etc)

    • reishka says:

      @Yankees368: This is the reason why I love the self-checkouts at Stop n Shop.

      You don’t weigh ANYTHING, except produce sold by pound, and you don’t have to bag your groceries immediately – everything you scan goes down a little belt to a collection point at the bottom. You can scan an entire cartful of groceries, pay, and then bag them up at the end. On the off chance that you have more groceries than the collection area can hold you can stop, bag some up real quick and toss them in your cart, and then go back to scanning.

      I used to *hate* self-checkout until I moved here. This system is absolutely wonderful.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @Yankees368: Bagging your OWN GROCERIES?? Oh, the horror! How society has crumbled.

    • Fett101 says:

      @Yankees368: If you don’t want to put it in a bag then don’t. Just put it down in the bag area.

  6. Jonbo298 says:

    Self checkouts are great and horrible at the same time. Great for the quick 1-8 items you have. Until you get the occasional douche that either doesn’t know how to operate it somehow, or has 50 things to scan and the other lanes are quite full.

    • OMG! Con Seannery! says:

      @Jonbo298: Or the one with 3 items. Who can’t understand that you don’t pick it up. Scan, “please place the item in the bag,” calls help. Puts item in bag area. Picks up item…

  7. Chris Abbott says:

    Self check-out is awesome and I almost exclusively use it

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @Chris Abbott: Totally. When I go to the store, I never have more than five items, so it’s perfect.

    • tmyprod says:

      @Chris Abbott: They are great for those days when just don’t feel like dealing with anybody but you still need food/snacks/etc.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Chris Abbott Me too. Even when I have a cartful of items, I know exactly how to use self-checkout and almost never have any problems. Plus, the people in my local store are very attentive and are always hovering around in case there are any problems.

      And before anyone gets their panties in a wad because I have a cartful of items and I’m in self-checkout – when I say cartful, I mean maybe 20 items. I use one of the little carts at Bloom.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      @Chris Abbott:

      I try to use self checkout every chance I get. I am not a people person, I do not want to play 20 questions while I am buying turkey necks for my dog.

      But, am a person who does the 30+ items in self checkout, but we (BF and I Shop Together) are faster than the average checker and shop at 7 pm or later, where there are few people in the store.

  8. mbz32190 says:

    The self-checkout fad seems to have slowed down. Every new or remodeled Walmart i’ve seen has done away with them. I like them, but they are a bit to buggy/sensitive to really be useful.

    • TVGenius says:

      @mbz32190: I was sad to see one of our Supercenters eliminate them during their recent remodel. Not only are they faster than a traditional checkout, but the self-checks at least had English as an option; the cashiers here are Spanish-only.

      • catnapped says:

        @TVGenius: In their case, I think it was more a matter of shrink (theft) than anything else influencing their decision to get rid of them.

    • kfspins says:

      @mbz32190: I asked one of the checkers at our Walmart about eliminating self checkout. She said there was too much theft and they decided to get rid of them.

    • ncpeters says:

      @mbz32190: My Wal-Mart Supercenter is going through a remodel right now and is adding more self-checkouts, as there was 4 by each exit and now there will be 8. This is a Wal-Mart in a nicer town though. The Wal-Mart in the town next to it only had self-checkout for about 6 months before they got rid of them, and that Wal-Mart is in the poorer town.

  9. Skankingmike says:

    Not only do I think self check out is the greatest thing ever! I use stop and shop (yes they cost more other places but their extremely clean and in my book that’s worth paying for).

    They now have a self scanner i can walk around the store and scan all my stuff and bag it and at the end all i do is check out! AMAZING.

    The plus side is they keep really good track of your purchases and give discounts randomly (extra only if you use the device) on products in the store you normally buy or on new products you may like to try.

    I get 10% – 20% off my peppers and meat almost weekly just by using that thing.

    • Grabraham says:

      @Skankingmike:
      I am a MAJOR fan of the hand scanner, bag everything as I shop- no more looking round for help with an unmarked item, running tally of what I have and super fast checkout. Only annoyance is even though the ‘honesty audits’ they do are very rare they always seem to pop up when I am pressed for time.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @Grabraham: OMG i know i got audited just this past day and I had to be at work in less than an hour.

        Ever notice people staring at you while you use the device?

        • Grabraham says:

          @Skankingmike:

          When they first rolled them out, but they are pretty popular at my stop and shop now so not too many stares. although when I throw 4 2 liter bottles of Pepsi in bags in my carriage then ‘bloop’ a bottle that is on the shelf 4 times one lady just stared at me :D

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @Skankingmike: Oh my gosh I would LOVE that. Partially because duh, huge time saver handling the goods once instead of twice, but also because I hate the supermarket style scanners they have on self checkout, I prefer the gun type scanner because I worked at department stores and thus am better with that style.

      I know the big supermarket counter-mounted scanner is supposed to be quicker/easier to pick up the barcodes and that’s why they use them in grocery stores, but I swear to god I’m so much slower with it, I’d rather just be able to aim the laser. At self checkout i just find myself wiggling the cans until it decides to scan it.

      /Still better than regular checkout though.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        …huge time saver handling the goods once instead of twice…

        @West Coast Secessionist: I would love that. I walk/bus home with my groceries and use my own cart. When I have to go to check out I have to get the cart empty before the bagger can start putting anything in it, which can be problematic.

    • DerangedRoleModel says:

      @Skankingmike: I wish my Stop & Shop had it, but as it’s really close to a seedy area…no dice. I’ve used it at other S&S’s nearby though, and it works really well – better than their normal self-checkout (although you still have to use the self-scan to finish payment).

      Thankfully I’ve never been audited.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @DerangedRoleModel: yea i was telling one of my employees about it and she got all excited then went to her stop and shop and was like they don’t have it (same reason i bet).

        @Grabraham: that machine yells at you if you scan more than 4 or 5 of the same item (usually happens to me with yogurt)

    • catnapped says:

      @Skankingmike: Around here, Giant will give you a $2 off coupon if they have to audit your order. They seem to have refined the system to where they just scan a couple of items (to look for irregularities) rather than having to do the entire thing over.

  10. KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

    i use the self checkout but i’m extremely proficient at it both at stop and shop AND home depot. I’m able to breeze through pretty quickly

    another reason this could curb impulse buying is you’re more likely to see an item as you’re scanning it than if you’re just putting it on a conveyor belt for someone else to scan. then, you have the chance to put it back.

  11. bohemian says:

    I love self checkout. I was really annoyed when Hyvee discontinued them in our area. I have noticed that there is a drastic difference in the quality of the systems used in different stores. The Lunds stores in Mpls have the best. Faster processors, more intuitive menus and are far less annoying. Walmart seems to have the worst, slow processors, flakey software and just annoying to use.

  12. rpm773 says:

    I’m amazed how the geriatrics have taken to them..at least in my area. You’d think that set would be apprehensive of such things, but no, they jump right in. Granted, they move at 2 miles per hour.

    My only explanation is that they’ve felt the cashier has been ripping them off for years, and now, by self-scanning, they finally get to take control of the matter.

    • veronykah says:

      @rpm773: Why don’t they use the vending machines for postage stamps?!
      I can’t count the times I’ve been behind multiple old people in a very long line at the Post Office, only to watch them order stamps and look for change to pay for them at the counter.
      OR even better, why don’t they have self checkout for mailing packages? Let the people who love the tellers go to them, I’d be happy to skip the 20 minute wait and mail my own boxes.

  13. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    - typically self-checkouts don’t have adjacent stands of snacks/magazines

    - self-checkout users typically have fewer items in their cart than those using cashiers -so are less likely to be impulse buyers

    - I often get stuck in the stupid “place item in the bagging area – unexpected item in the bagging area – please remove item from the bagging area – please place item in the bagging area” loop

  14. thelushie says:

    I love self checkouts but it is the people who use them that annoy the crap out of me. Today at Kroger I had 5 items to check out. At the self-checkouts there were 4 people (at the 4 stations) with FULL GROCERY BASKETS. That really irks me. So I went to the pharmacy window and they happily checked me out.

    Another annoyance, the person who has no clue how to use it. “Where do I put my money in?” “What do I scan on the package?” Holds up the works big time.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      At the self-checkouts there were 4 people (at the 4 stations) with FULL GROCERY BASKETS.

      @thelushie: Right under a huge ass sign that says no more than 15 items, right? I hate that the limit on the supposedly fast lanes isn’t enforced.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @thelushie: At least in my local store, there are usually four self-checkout kiosks open, and only one or two lanes staffed by people. So if everyone with 40+ items heads for the lanes with employees, the rest of us who don’t have just one or two, but have more than 10 tend to go toward self-checkout…because we too don’t like to stand behind the people with full carts.

      A full basket doesn’t bother me at all. The baskets are tiny, and I can easily fill it with a carton of eggs, juice and milk. Three items and a basket is full. It’s the people at the self-checkout kiosk with the full size carts filled to the brim who bother me.

  15. nicole_c2000 says:

    You people have no idea how frustrating it is to be a cashier at one of these things. And “geriatrics” are usually the worst, if they try to use them. Also, so many people do not understand the concept of putting things on the scale so they can continue checking out. I would rather they just get rid of them altogether and hire more cashiers, who can give one on one service rather than having to split their attention between four people at once.

  16. Chocotanya says:

    I can’t believe people are shortsighted enough to use these machines without a qualm. Remember when not only did you get your gas pumped for you, but got your windshield cleaned and oil checked at a station, for no additional fee? Now you have to pump your own, rain or shine. Self-checkouts are exactly the same – there being more of them, and less “real” cashiers in stores, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Naturally stores would rather only have to pay one person to supervise 6 or 8 self-checkouts than pay real cashiers, so they have a couple of cashiers and lots and lots of self-checkouts, and then when people thoughtlessly flock to them, they justify eliminating yet another cashier position. And people are pleased to be allowed the privilege of doing more work, and fighting with a buggy machine and paying the exact same price, to boot! It’s astonishing.

    The issue of “please place the item in the bag” is another ball of wax altogether. You would have to unload from your cart pretty damn efficiently, because there’s no chance of rearranging items with that setup.

    I can’t say I blame stores for pushing self-checkout (they’re in it for the money and eliminating actual human positions sure saves them THAT) but I feel so strongly that it’s a matter of social conscience that I’m surprised to see so many Consumerists say that they like them.

    • catnapped says:

      @Chocotanya: Lets not kid ourselves here…you’re saying 6 self checkout registers are taking the place of 6 humans, but it’s VERY unlikely the store would’ve shelled out the payroll for 6 humans on the same shift (2, or maybe 3 at the most…if that).

      • dorastandpipe says:

        @catnapped: Typically if I see an open self check out or an open cashier, I pick the cashier. I want to see them busy so they keep their job.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @Chocotanya: Remember, an awful lot of this crowd isn’t that keen on dealing with actual humans.

    • nakedscience says:

      @Chocotanya: OH NO! I have to pump my own gas! I bag my own groceries! THE HORRRRROOOOOR!

      Seriously, the big deal? Don’t see it.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @nakedscience: Hahahaha. I don’t think anyone (other than my dad, my mom or my husband) have ever pumped gas into my car for me.

        And while other people have bagged groceries, I don’t exactly think I’m above doing it myself…especially when I can do it how I like it.

      • Chocotanya says:

        @nakedscience: It’s not a big deal to pump my own gas or bag my own groceries. What I object to is the fact that the merchant was previously providing that service at no added cost, and now I am providing that service at no added savings, so people who use self-checkout are essentially clamoring for the privilege of doing more work to make more profit for the merchant. The whole thing would be resolved for me if they offered a discount for a lesser level of service.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @Chocotanya: Self-bagging is pretty standard in a lot of other countries whether you have a human cashier or a machine. Me, I figure that I was able to choose and carry all those groceries around the store in the first place so complaining about having to bag them would just be pathetic.

      • carolynkline says:

        @JulesNoctambule: Not here in Austin, TX. Seems the stores down here someone is supposed to bag for you (except the self-checkout) whether it’s the cashier or an actual bagger.

        Moving to TX from a city where the customer bagged their own groceries (unless the customer specifically asked to have help), I’m used to bagging my own,. I always go down to the end and start bagging my stuff asap so it gets me out of the store quicker (or sometimes I’ve noticed a bagger will zoom over to where I’m at and nudge me out of the way so they can bag-lol) The cashier is always thankful for me taking the initiative. I wish all customers would do this. It’d make the lines go much quicker. Drives me nuts when someone who has a huge cartful of stuff and just stands there watching the lone cashier to bag their groceries. Takes them at least 10-15 minutes longer to help the customer out and the line behind is getting antsy.

    • halothane says:

      @Chocotanya: I live in New Jersey, where full service is the law. I’d love to be able to pump my own gas. It’s much easier and faster than waiting for the attendant to get around to my car, watching him to make sure he selects the right grade of fuel, then waiting for him to come back to remove the pump and give my receipt (which I don’t want in the first place.)

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @Chocotanya: I get wanting the cashiers and baggers to keep their jobs.

      However, going to a regular checkout lane is no guarantee that I won’t be bagging my own stuff anyway. The store closest to me never has enough baggers especially during the summer (because corporate is stupid).

    • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

      @Chocotanya: I feel exactly the same way.

      I have used self checkout a few times – once when it first started appearing to see if I liked it (I don’t), and a handful of times in the intervening years (I’ve got one or two small, cheap items, I’m in a hurry, AND all the cashier lines are long).

      Basically, I guess I’m the worst kind of customer from their perspective – I only use it when it is of a clear and obvious benefit to me, and that benefit outweighs even the potential aggravation of “please remove and re-place the item in the bagging area” or “please wait for the cashiers assistance” or “please insert a bill that isn’t all crumpled up” or any other time wasting, aggravating, transaction complicating crap.

      Whew. I feel better now.

    • unpolloloco says:

      @Chocotanya: I could care less whether I’m doing more work or not if the overall time spent is less. I am not above pumping my own gas or bagging my own groceries – in fact, I honestly prefer it.

  17. gnimsh says:

    I do enjoy how much faster they are, however they can be a pain when you shop with your own bag as I often do. I set the bag down on the platform and immediately it yells at me saying there is an unknown item in the bagging area. Sometimes the button pops up to say “its a bag” and sometimes it doesn’t and then it just ends up wasting more time. Still better than being in line behind people writing checks though.

    • FatLynn says:

      @gnimsh: Yup, this is my biggest issue. Dominick’s encourages reusable bags, but nobody told their self-check-outs.

    • ponycyndi says:

      @gnimsh: Don’t know what store this is, but the stores here (albertsons and kroger) both have a ‘scale zero’ button right on the upright portion of the scanner. You put your bags on before you scan your ‘card’ or items, then hit the ‘scale zero’.

      The attendants have to do this when they add the chunk of plastic bags to the scale area.

    • Fett101 says:

      @gnimsh: I don’t know what store you use but the latest Kroger software will detect reusable bags. You put them all in the bagging area and it asks if you are using your own bags. Just be sure to put ALL the bags on before you start.

      • SchuylerH says:

        @Fett101: I was told this a long time ago at Ralphs (Kroger subsidiary) but recently it hasn’t always worked. Vons/Safeway units don’t seem to have this option for the customer, the self-check supervisor has to come over and reset it.

        I have mixed feelings about the self-checks. On the one hand, I get through it faster (or at least it feels faster) and I bag my groceries the way I want to (no ice cream and bleach in the same bag). On the other hand, I detest the computerized voice yipping at me for every little thing (“Have you scanned your club card?” “Please remove your bags.” “Unexpected item in bagging area.”).

        But the main thing that tips me in favor of self-checkout? The misanthropic curmudgeon in me that likes to get my groceries with a minimum of human contact.

  18. bravo369 says:

    i love the self checkouts. i have a wegmans right across the street and they don’t have any. it’s very frustrating to go at night for 1 item, only to see 2 registers open and 5 people in each line. i do agree though that forcing me to place the item in the bag before continuing was very stupid programming

  19. lasciate says:

    I looooooove self-checkout in grocery stores. I can scan and bag my own groceries in a fraction of the time it takes someone else to do it, and I don’t have some numbnuts bagging my tomatoes with 2L bottles of pop.

  20. Asmordean says:

    There really isn’t anywhere to put impulse buy stuff. Not to mention you are under the gun of the person still waiting in line to not fart around or screw it up.

  21. Geekybiker says:

    Ive found that if you bag your heavy items first you get alot less of that “place the item in the bag” BS.

  22. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    unfortunately the lowe’s foods [grocery store in this area] self checkout has an issue with my points/discount card. i get the discount but all the points go to some guy in california. so if i want the points i have to go to the regular lane where the card works just fine.
    i wouldn’t worry about it if the points weren’t so darned useful – they let me redeem them for free groceries or $amounts off the bill.

  23. patjk73 says:

    Self checkouts are awesome because I usually buy few items. They are very efficient if you know how to use them.
    The main hinderance is there are people who do not understand how to use them but do so because the lines are usually shorter.
    The “please bag item” aspect is essential to the stores putting checks and balances on this self service (to prevent stealing).

  24. nacoran says:

    What do I hate about self-checkout? The employee who is standing there in case something screws up and the machine erroneously tells you to remove something from the bag always seems to think that because they are working a self checkout lane that they can wander off and talk to their friends, leaving me and a growing line of people behind me to wonder why they are getting paid at all.

    I also hate that supermarkets know there isn’t as much display space in the self checkout lanes but they still pile stuff around you, from backs of rock salt where you are supposed put the shopping basket to candy display racks that block the aisle. Seriously, if they are losing sales couldn’t they just design the self checkout aisles to be more candy bar friendly?

    And I know, I shouldn’t be using plastic bags, but how the hell do baggers get those silly bags to open?

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @nacoran: Just pinch the front part of the bag and pull on it. It should open.

    • amandakerik says:

      @nacoran: If you imagine the top is shaped like a W and the middle is where it’s joined to the ones behind it, grab beside the middle hump / below it and pull.

    • Christopher Wilson says:

      @nacoran: Its easier to open them if your fingers are moist. Lotion up before shopping? We kept a wet paper towel by the register to rub our fingers on when we were having trouble opening bags when I worked at walmart.

  25. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    @Yankees368: I actually figured out a way to defeat the system. Scan your item and just place it on the area where you usually bag it. You can scan all your stuff (if you have only a few items), swipe your card and just toss your stuff in a bag at the end and go. But I do agree with you, the demands that you place it in a bag is an unneeded extra step.

  26. Oliver Northam says:

    I LOVE self-service checkouts! The only thing I didn’t like about them is some woman shouting instructions all the time. Luckily, I’ve figured out a method so it only says ‘Thanks for shopping at..’, so it’s not too bad now.

    Unfortunately, you do get the occasional elderly being “brave, thinking they can tackle the robot by trying to put their debit card into the notes slot of the machine, clearly marked “NOTES” with an accurate drawing next to it. It’s very painful to watch!

  27. tmyprod says:

    I’ve always wondered how hard it would be to trick these machines.

    Let’s say you want buy an expensive wine, you could get your expensive bottle and a second dirt cheap bottle that weighs the same and then scan the cheap bottle twice. The machine would think you have two of the cheap bottles and I’ve never really seen the bored attendants pay that close attention.

    Of course, I’m not condoning anything illegal, this is all just…hypothetical. But it does seem like a bit a flaw.

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @tmyprod: I don’t see what weight would have to do with it. Just how the bottle looks, like the height, color of the label, etc.

      • amandakerik says:

        @MooseOfReason: The bagging area keeps a running total on the weight of the items – each one has a value in a database. Scan in something that weighs 2 pounds and put something that weighs a pound on the bagging area? It’ll raise a fuss. Vice versa is also true. They can be a royal pain with multiple items that are light / small.

    • catnapped says:

      @tmyprod: Even if you can manage to trick the register into accepting it, be advised that they’re monitored by cameras that the person working the pay station can access (this aside from the “black balls” that may be in the ceiling above you)

    • ngoandy says:

      @tmyprod:

      My girlfriend works at a grocery store. People do the weight thing all the time.

      What pisses her off is when she finds a ton of ground meat or fish at the register. Some asshole gets steak (or an expensive seafood) and finds a package of ground meat (or cheap fish) that weighs the same.

      So then she has to throw away all this spoiled meat/fish since there is no way to tell how long it sat there.

      I’m waiting for RFID tags in everything, though then I guess those people will be investing in shielded bags and such.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      @tmyprod:

      You can trick the machines but, look up, not the overhead cameras. Don’t think nobody is watching.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @tmyprod: My regular grocery’s self-checkouts are equipped with a little CCTV system; not only is it likely intended to reduce theft, but it comes in handy because it’s easier for the head cashier to see that while there’s an avocado on the scanner the code rang up as endive and fix it without a wait.

    • econobiker says:

      @tmyprod: Just eliminate the middle step and print your own upc bar codes. Walmart/ Homedepot/ etc were(are?) getting taken for millions with this scam and the related return the item for gift card credit.

      A few years back the law caught a family doing it in my area of the state.

      [www.cbsnews.com]

      [www.eweek.com]

  28. Novaload says:

    I avoid them because by any fair standard, you should get a discount for becoming a temporary employee and doing the store’s work. Pay full price and do your own checkout and bagging. No thanks.

  29. pop top says:

    @Yankees368: “Not only am I doing the work someone else should be getting paid to do, but I am bagging everything on my own as well.”

    Oh Dear God, the horror!

  30. Ashley Bryant says:

    Well at my local grocery store I would totally agree, because they have self scanners that you carry around with you. Its the store brand Giant, and they have started doing this at a few local grocery store. The funny thing is now I can keep track of how much I spend, and before I used to walk out of the grocery store with soo much crap!! but now I walk out with just the essentials, which is so much better!!!

  31. Mr_D says:

    My only complaint about self-checkout is that the machines you see everywhere suck. The ones at Jewel, Home Depot, even IKEA – appear to all be the same manufacturer, and are slow to register items and difficult to use. The ones they used to have at the Meijer near me were better. Not by much, but better. Then they switched to the ones everyone else has.

  32. CFinWV says:

    @Yankees368: Don’t use them. Seriously, there’s other lanes at the store.

    For me they work because I always have too many items for express and yet I have to stand behind three carts that are overflowing with junkfood. I can zip through the self checkout while the first cart is still being bagged because OMG helping the cashier bag so everyone could go on with their day would be SO doing someone else’s job!

  33. Brady Cox says:

    Shouldn’t the title be “Self-Checkout Users Less Likely To Buy Impulse Items”

    Assuming that just because you use the self-checkout line makes your IQ go up by X% is silly.

    It’s just the type of folks who prefer self-checkout are the same type who don’t buy extra garbage.

    Also people with a full shopping cart are also less likely to do that.

    • floraposte says:

      @Brady Cox: Your theory of causation isn’t any more supported than theirs, though, and I think you’re underestimating the degree to which environment can shape behavior. (And overestimating the degree to which IQ correlates with shopping behavior.)

  34. Anonymous says:

    I love self checkouts. I hate dealing with cashiers. I can do it much quicker myself. The only thing i hate are people who dont know how to use them or think they should just take their sweet time. If you are going to take your time then go to a cashier. This lane is for people to get out quicker. If you dont know how to use it then DONT!

  35. Aladdyn says:

    @Yankees368: yeah home depots the worst. they almost always only have one normal lane open, wich of course has a huge line. Im so glad that a lowes opened up near me. They are much better than the depot, plus you get to learn spanish while you shop.

  36. Aladdyn says:

    Have their been any cases yet challenging shoplifting charges for people who forget to bag an item in the self checkout? I think that if you are the doing the cashier and baggers job, its not really fair to get charged with shoplifting if you make a mistake.

  37. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    IF YOU BAG IT YOURSELF CAN YOU LEGITIMATELY COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RECEIPT CHECKER AT THE FRONT DOOR?

  38. shepd says:

    They’re also good for lame grocery stores that charge for plastic bags. You can fill the bags you brought and leave what doesn’t fit behind. I wonder if the profit on those 5 cent bags covers all the things that I find dumped at the self checkouts now?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I can not stand them! Where does the “Customer Interface” come into play on this? Everytime I go to a store with these things, I always go where there is an agent. I don’t care how long I stand in line. These things cost people their jobs.

  40. edwardso says:

    Most of the stores in my area don’t have them due to their small size but I like them. I like to bag my own groceries, even when I go through regular checkouts. And I’ve never had a problem using my own bags at the self checkout. i just stack things on the scale then bag at the end

  41. Anonymous says:

    I hate using the self-checkout. I’m on a cane, and thus it’s sometimes quite difficult to have to manage to swipe items, place them on the scale, and repeat. I always do my grocery shopping at night, and unfortunately, Harris Teeter seems to not run any real registers past like 10:00 pm (it’s a 24-hour store). Every single time I go I have to do it.

    For one thing, I’m doing the work that someone else is typically paid to do. I deserve a discount, even just $1 off of a $40-50 bill. Especially since it’s doubly hard on me being handicapped.

  42. nakedscience says:

    if I’m shopping at safeway (and sometimes even if i’m not), I’ll go to Safeway.com and create a list for delivery — but I don’t get delivery. I bring that printed list (with pictures!) in to the store with me, and check off as I go. Sometimes you have to substitute, but it usually works out to be very, very close to the estimated price they give.

    And only rarely do I go “ooooo I want that!” if it’s not on my list.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @nakedscience: Lordy, I wish I could go to my grocery store’s web site and see the prices of everything. But then none of the grocery stores around here deliver so I guess they see no reason to provide that info.

    • DerangedRoleModel says:

      @joshua70448: I’m glad Stop & Shop doesn’t do this. The two stores that abuse this around here are A&P’s two wretched supermarkets – Waldbaums and Pathmark.

  43. Corporate_guy says:

    Self checkout is great for walmart, but a grocery store? There would be probably too many people with large purchases that try to use it.

    • econobiker says:

      @Corporate_guy: Some of the Kroger Stores and others in the Nashville TN market have two levels of self-checkout- Express and Over 15 items for basket pushers…

      They basically fit eight checkouts in the space formerly used by four fully attended ones.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @econobiker: One thing I would like to see at self checkout is a second cart. The biggest hassle and the easiest way for people to steal is when they have a lot of items and are checking out and placing the bags into the same cart. A second cart at the edge of each check-out would mean people could very easily self-checkout a lot of items.

  44. joshua70448 says:

    Another thing that gets on my nerves is when stores abuse the self-checks, like only having them open and no regular registers (and only around 9pm, not even late night). It can be quite difficult to self-check an entire week’s worth of groceries (especially with those stupid picky bagging scales), but they don’t give you any other choice.

    • econobiker says:

      @joshua70448: Shift change over maybe?

      • joshua70448 says:

        @econobiker: Well, whenever I worked as a cashier you stayed at the register until you were replaced. Maybe they were being a little loose on the timing, but that’s still not a very good excuse for a grocery store.

    • Fett101 says:

      @joshua70448: Yeah, the new thing is self-checkout only overnight. Ask the cashier to ring it up for you. They’re there to help (speaking as a night cashier)

  45. vladthepaler says:

    I still find it hard to believe that so many people are willing to accept unpaid part-time positions as supermarket cashiers.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @vladthepaler: I only do it if it’s going to be more convenient for me personally.. Like for example sometimes I would buy something for the office, but I need a seperate reciept so I can get reimbursed by my boss, so rather than have a check out person have to deal with running two tickets and seperating out things, it’s easier to just do it myself.

      Also it has to be up to a certian limit of items.. past that it loses it’s convenience factor.

      Since these things came out I have thought that there should be a discount for using them.

  46. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @bennilynn: Me too. I just hate that the self-checkout ones are too slow for former cashiers. :) I have to wait on them.

    • johnva says:

      @Red-headed bookworm: Doesn’t everyone have to wait on them? That’s the worst aspect of them. I hate that they make you do everything one…thing…at…a…time, with a pause for it to register the weight in between each one. If they would just let me scan it all at once, and then measure the CUMULATIVE weight, that would seem better to me. Computers can do addition, after all :)

      But maybe that’s not practical given how stupid many of the people I see using them (and ATMs, etc) are. It seems like I’m the only one around me sometimes who has to wait on the machines, while most of the other stupidly stare at the screens every 10 seconds wondering what option to pick.

  47. Outrun1986 says:

    There were a lot of self checkout’s in this area a few years ago, however 90% of them were removed within a year. Walmart tried it, Kmart tried it, and it must not have worked because there is only one store now here that has self checkouts. They just don’t work right and people are afraid to try anything new that is electronic and automatic. Plus I think they were more hassle then they were worth.

    I am also with the crowd who thinks it eliminates another cashier position. Its tough to find a job around here for someone just out of high school, so I would go out of my way to support a store who hires extra young cashiers for the summer, as most stores here seem to be on a hiring freeze for cashiers. They aren’t even taking applications for cashiers and are running with as few cashiers as possible (some stores have 1-2 on a busy sunday). 10 years ago it was super easy to get a cashier job but now not so much, as you are seeing more and more older unemployed people taking on these cashier positions and keeping them for as long as they can, leaving the young people with no where to work. I know cashiers who have been at walmart for more than 15 years. The kids have to work somewhere.

    I think its the crappy POS systems these stores use that contribute to this though, I mean Kmart is using a system that was obviously designed in the 70′s or 80′s (they are STILL doing overrides on paper at my local store), that can’t work too well with modern technology. If stores would just upgrade to something slightly modern it would be a more pleasant experience for most of us.

  48. toddkravos says:

    I avoid self-scan.

    Why? Until you discount my bill for DOING YOUR JOB,
    (scanning, typing, bagging, etc) I’m going to get my monies worth, damnit.

    But, I typically shop at places that don’t have these torture devices.

    And yes, it DOES take MUCH longer in self-scan.

  49. snowburnt says:

    @Yankees368: Let me tell you a tale of woe concerning a grocery chain in Virginia known as Safeway that made me stop worrying and love the self check out at Giant (another grocery chain)

    Safeway has decided that self checkout=no service and has no self checkout. What they do instead is cut 90% of their staff at 6. I find myself waiting in the lines for 30 minutes when I stop at the grocery store on my way home from work. The lines literally go halfway down the actual aisles. You’d think they were the “impulse buy” magazine stands rather than the little ones at the checkout counter. It’s a miserable experience and they just don’t have enough people. On top of that most of the checkout people they have at that time of day are exceedingly sketchy. They stare and ask in appropriate questions or yell at you in different languages.

    Now a quarter mile away there is a Giant where most of their stands are self check out. I’m in and out with my groceries in 10 minutes which is 20 minutes less than I was waiting to check out before. On top of that they still bag your groceries for you. They have one person running around bagging things while everyone checks out.

    So because I can self check out at giant, I don’t shop at Safeway anymore because it takes too f-ing long when I have to wait for a person to do it.

  50. econobiker says:

    And why can’t self checkouts have coin dump bowls for payling like they give out change? It would be uber convenient to be able to dump change in one of them versus feeding the slot- which is not even placed an ergonomical vertical position but usually horizontal.

    Of course we know the reason is because they get kickback %s from CoinStar etc…

    But I can rant about it here…

  51. djkatscan says:

    I remember a story about a guy in Home Depot who was buying a sledgehammer or something, and got so pissed off at the machine he smashed it and got arrested.
    “Please place the item in the bag”
    “Unexpected item in the bagging area”

  52. MissChevious says:

    I don’t use them unless there are lines at the regular checkouts and I’m not willing to wait (a very rare occurence).

    Why not?

    Because I’m doing work that the store should pay for, and I’m not getting any additional benefit. I haven’t seen the additional coupons some commenters have mentioned and prices in the stores I’ve shopped at haven’t gone down (at least not on the items I regularly purchase). If self-checkout people got a discount (the way that self-service gas customers used to before every gas station went the self-service route), I’d certainly consider it. Until then, cashiers for me.

  53. amuro98 says:

    Last time we went to the grocery store, they had no regular check-out lanes open. Ok, granted it was 10pm on a Saturday. But strange folks we are, that’s when we do our grocery shopping. The manager said it was policy to not have check=out lanes open after 9pm.

    Self check out works fine for small orders. But the bagging area only fits about 4 bags and we had at least twice that much stuff. We basically had to have the supervisor override every item for us – making this much SLOWER than if they had just opened a regular lane for us. Heck, let ME run the machine in the regular check out lane, then you wouldn’t have to have one of your paid clerks do their job.

    Self check out is also terrible if you’re buying multiples of the same item. 10 for $10? Ok, we wanted 10. Will it let me type in “10 x [next item]” like the regular check out folks can? Nope. I have to scan each one individually. Oh, and if I go too fast – like I scan the next item while it’s still talking – that causes the “unexpected item in the bagging area…” error and needs an override. So the session goes like this:

    *beep*
    Iced tea. $1. $0.50 savings. $0.10 CRV.
    (30 second later…)*beep*
    Iced tea. $1. $0.50 savings. $0.10 CRV.
    (repeat 8 more times…arrrrgh!)

    It took me over 5 minutes to just scan those 10 cans of iced tea because the machine wants to babble for a good 20 seconds after each one. I wish these things had a “terse” setting, or better yet, “silent”. Just go “beep” to let me know you scanned the item, then display the information on the screen. That’s what the regular check-out people have.

    Can you imagine if it took a check-out person 30 seconds to scan each item because she had to read the item, the price, savings on that item, if any, etc.? I don’t think that person would last an hour – mainly because someone would probably shoot them for being slow and annoying.

    Just as we finished, the manager finally decided it might be a good idea to open a regular check out lane to deal with the other late-night shoppers with full carts. Gee. Thanks.

    • mikala says:

      @amuro98:

      Actually a lot of checkers can’t do the “type in “10 x [next item]” thing. I was chatting up a checker one time (settle down, there was no one in line behind me) and she said they have to scan each individual item no matter how many there are. Something about this prevents errors. Of course, I’ve seen them count the number and scan the same one that many times and slide the rest across.

  54. galonar says:

    it sounds like a lot of stores aren’t using self checkout systems well. the places near me that have them use them as express-express checkout lines. no more than 12(ish) items, and rarely are they attended by wandering or ADD employees. but this probably has more to do with proper management than the system itself.

    personally, i try not to use them unless i don’t want to stick around in the store for any length of time. i’m an old fashioned guy, i miss the days where gas stations were full service and employees were paid to do more than stand around waiting for you to approach them.

    also, i think my experience with self-service checkouts was tainted the first time i used one, and after it said “thanks you for shopping with us” i said “you’re welcome.” the lady supervising the stations gave me a very odd look, and i told her “you gotta be polite to robots, or they’ll kill us all”

  55. Fett101 says:

    About those many complaints about being forced to use a self checkout late a night with large orders. Ask the cashier to do it for you! They are being paid to help after all! In fact, at Kroger stores there is new software just so the cashier can do this! It gives the self checkouts the same functionality of a regular register.

    I’m saying this as an overnight cashier where it’s self checkout only 10pm to 6am. For some reason people imagine I enjoy sitting there watching them check out for 15 minutes. When I try to help or offer to check them out myself 99% of the time they refuse and then proceed to grumble about having to check themselves out. I pretty much have to push them out of the way in order to help them. Even if it’s a small order you can ask them to get it for you.

    As for why it’s self checkout only so late, it’s common occurrence to get some large orders late at night and then have a long line of people behind waiting with one or two items. Instead of hoping there is a trained checker on the stock crew and waiting five minutes for them to get to the front, people can quickly check themselves out while I deal with the large order.

  56. lasbrisas says:

    I love self-checkout. I wouldn’t use it if I had a lot of items, though. But getting out the door faster is very important to me. The express lanes used to be good for that but people get into the express lanes with 258 items. Self-checkout is the answer and I appreciate those stores that use them.

  57. winstonasmith says:

    i love love love self checkout. all of the wonderful things you can get for free or reduced prices, such as fresh seafood that you ring up as sweet potatoes. also, you can perch one foot on the bagging area and really knacker up the system!

    thanks self-checkout!!

  58. LVP says:

    Our local Stop & Shop has a wireless handheld scanner that lets you scan yourself and bag your items as you shop. Makes check out super quick… when it works.