Enough with the Self Checkouts! My Two Cents

Today I’m talking about my aversion to self-checkout registers in stores. I hate them!

What spurred this post was a meme I’d seen on social media where people are up in arms in the comment section about having to self checkout at Walmart with cart loads of stuff, some leaving their carts and walking out. Below, find a few samplings:

 

“I refuse to self check out. It puts people out of work and contributes nothing to the social security tax base or income tax. It’s Walmart’s way of not paying wages. Plus most folks are part time so Walmart doesn’t have to pay benefits.”

 

“When I’m in line waiting to pay for my groceries, and the nice assistant manager tells me there’s an opening at the self checkout, I look at them and say, “I’m sorry. I don’t work here.”

 

“I think we should get a “ I cashiered myself discount “ since they aren’t paying anyone to ring us up”

 

“Hire the cashiers back!”

 

I can definitely relate and not a big fan of self-checkout for various reasons besides the complaints noted above. Grocery shopping has never been one of my favorite shopping past times. I go with my list, gather my goods and go to checkout. I’m used to bagging my own things in some supermarkets, but, ringing items through on a self-checkout doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting out faster.

 

I’ll take my local pharmacy, Shopper’s Drug Mart, as an example here. I’ve developed a habit of going there only on Thursdays. Thursdays are Senior Days. Ya, ya, I’d hardly consider myself a senior, but I’ve been getting that discount for years.

 

It began about eight years ago at the Shopper’s near where me and my husband lived for years. I’d pick up his prescriptions and do a shop. I asked one of the pharmacy girls if I could get the discount since my husband was a senior. She told me she’d certainly ring up my things with a 20% discount. That was it! Since that time, any other Shopper’s I’d spend money at on a Thursday, I’d ask for the senior’s discount and got it. At the time, I was further away from being a senior and was puzzled that I wasn’t asked for identification. I asked the clerk if she needed proof. I was told then that clerks weren’t allowed to ask for I.D. for this discount and that if we claimed we’re seniors we’d just get the discount. That worked out well through the years. . . until the self-checkout machines came around.

 

As you can imagine, Thursdays are the busiest days at Shopper’s. The one closest to me is a nightmare to checkout from on Thursdays. With usually only one cashier on (these days) and three self-checkout machines, prepare to spend longer in line. We have Shopper’s points cards where we earn extra points for items we purchase. The cards get scanned at checkout, but Shopper’s has yet to come up with a cure for the missing access to the ‘senior discount’ selection at self-checkout. What currently happens is the ONE cashier on duty has to leave the line of waiting paying customers to go over to the robots and swipe a ‘special’ employee card into the machine to take off the extra 20% for those who braved the robots. So we are in fact waiting on one cashier line and sharing that cashier with all the lost self-checkout customers who can’t get their discounts at the machines. Not to mention, most of the elderly seniors don’t have any concept of digital payment. Sometimes I question if the 20% off is worth my time.

 

This self-checkout business is a nightmare for many. I detest it more in grocery stores. How many times have you been self-checking out and an item doesn’t scan? Yes, we are at the mercy of computerized everything. And no, they aren’t foolproof. When we checkout with an actual cashier, it’s their business to call a stock person and go check the price of the item if it doesn’t scan. At a self-checkout scanning machine, it’s enough to make me leave the whole lot of stuff and walk out. This isn’t my job. I’m wanting to pay for goods and the robot I’m at isn’t complying and there’s no help. Yes, I am going to leave if there is no help around.

 

Now, I know that some stores have ‘helpers’ around to help serve shoppers when glitches occur, but that’s not always the case, especially since I’ve noticed less people working in these stores. It isn’t a secret that North America is recognizing a shortage of employees for many businesses. With the advent of Covid and people working from home or leaving their non-essential jobs, which are in fact, very essential to the average citizen, I’ve noticed plenty of closed checkout aisles in many a store.

 

I’m not sure if all those people ranting over the situation at Walmart aren’t justified in their thinking, but I do feel the same way as many of those commenters. Greed has taken over everywhere with price gauging, giving less and taking more from us from service to pricing, but, I do know it sure would be nice to see people working in stores instead of these damned robots!

 

What’s your take on self-checkout?

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

58 thoughts on “Enough with the Self Checkouts! My Two Cents

  1. I heartily agree. They are always going wrong and especially in winter with gloves, bags, purses to get out I am too dispraxic to self check out without dropping everything. Our lovely small local Sainsburys does not have them thank goodness. Our local stores in lovely Southburne Grove are all small, but some have self checkouts. If a staff memebr says ‘Are you paying by card, do you want to use the self checkout? I say ‘paying by card with human being please.’

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    1. Lol Janet, I do the same. I protest out loud. I wrote this post for a rant and to see what anyone else feels about this automation replacing humans, and so far, we’re all on the same page. Where will the robot system end? 😦 xx

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  2. I’ve never used them. I was at Canadian Tire one morning shortly after it opened. I went to pay for my stuff and there was no cashier. The woman monitoring the self-check outs said there was no cashier until 10 o’clock. I dropped my stuff and told her, “Then I assume you open at ten. I won’t shop beforehand.” I left empty-handed.

    At the grocery store when they offer self-check out, I say what one said above: “I don’t work here.” This is only at Superstore. Our Sobeys doesn’t have one.

    I hadn’t thought of these self-checkouts as not contributing to income tax or Canada Pension, but that’s true. It’s another way Walmart is screwing over Canada. I haven’t seen the inside of a Walmart in more than a year, and I’ll live the rest of my life that way. That and Costco can disappear and nothing would change for me.

    Thankfully, in my stage of life, I seldom have to visit a large store and because I live rural, we don’t see the ‘advancements’ of big cities. The stores I regularly shop at (feed stores, gas stations, second-hand stores) aren’t automated. They’re manned by people with names I know.

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    1. Ahh Diane, the good old days for sure. And it sounds like you are exactly like me with this nonsense. We aren’t paid to work there is just enough. I’ve left everything in the cart a few times! And like you, I haven’t been to Walmart in years, other than the one I go to when in Mexico, lol. 🙂

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  3. I share your aversion to self-checkout, Debby. I remember being appalled when I had to start pumping my own gas. Remember the days when the friendly service station attendant came out, washed your windshield, and pumped your gas for you? Yeah, those days are gone. And more and more people are finding themselves out of work. I don’t know where it will all end up, but I feel that it is coming to a head.

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    1. You said it Jan. Yes, not only do I remember the days of service at a gas station, but I had a wonderful husband who always took my car for service and filling. It’s been a rude awakening to me with all the little things I now find myself doing that were always looked after – especially gassing up! ❤

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  4. I agree wholeheartedly with every word you said, Debby – I HATE self checkout! It’s an outrage. If I’m doing the checkout, I expect to be paid for it. Toni xx

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    1. Exactly Toni! And not hard to see just by comments here, how many don’t like them. We should all shout out and protest. Seems the only way anything gets entertained! ❤

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  5. I use a self-checkout only if I have bought one or two items. There is usually always one helper standing by in case something doesn’t scan. Other than that I use the normal checkout where the assistant swipes my NHS discount card and takes 10% off. There’s no way to do that by using a self- checkout and a checkout assistant would not leave her till to do that. x

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    1. Thanks for sharing your take Stevie. You said it, at your self checkout, no scanner for your extra discount. That’s what happens to us in the pharmacy – no discount at the machines, and the ONE cashier we have to wait to come over and help. I can’t imagine that shenanigans going on for too long before they better find a way to make those machines accept our discounts or GET SOME DAMN HELP! ❤

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  6. I think you already know my views on these abominations.. I have the ability to inspire them to bullying over missing barcodes, or because I haven’t put on the scale or scanned properly and I have not used for years.. The other one is self-scanning the shopping and going through a dedicated aisle to pay…lol.. often a longer queue than the ordinary cashdesks.

    Also I agree this is a way to get rid of jobs and pay less contributions. Apart from that for many very elderly people (not quite there yet) shopping and chatting to a cashier may be the only face to face contact they have and it is important. Will share this evening in the blogger daily.. terrific post Debby ♥♥

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    1. Thank you Sal for chiming in with all I agree of course, (including that you are not quite there, lol). All these elements of a cashier are important. We don’t work there, we shouldn’t have to ‘learn’ that job just to get our groceries. And also important is the human connection, as you say, for some that is an outing and a wee bit of social contact. Madness! Thanks again for your generous sharing Sal ❤ xox

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  7. OMG, don’t get me started! Me and self checkouts do not get along. Mostly because touch screens hate me. Seriously. I can tap and swipe till I’m blue in the face, and the touch screens ignore my every attempt. One time, I asked hubby to try (conscious of the long queue behind us), and it loved his touch 😂. Worked first time.
    Then there’s the element of modern life where humans no longer interact. It’s online this, that, and the other. Or, as with self checkouts, you get a computer instead of an actual real, person. I don’t like where this is headed or where we’re at.
    Anyhooo … climbing down from my soapbox now 😂

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    1. Girlllll! You said a mouthful and I’m you on ALL counts! And had to laugh at your ghosting the touchscreen – that happens to ME too! LOLOL. But seriously, you and I both don’t like the whole situation. And human interaction seems to have gone out with the bath water sadly. ❤

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  8. Hi Debby – we have both … and I tend to go where I think I can get through first. I think we have cashiers in larger supermarkets – yet we have German models which are more ruthless … people have to speed up … actually I can’t remember!! I haven’t been there for years … I do on occasion get a delivery – ordering large, heavy items … I grit my teeth. But understand your thoughts – cheers Hilary

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  9. I agree 100% and refuse to use self-checkouts. Our local Shopper’s isn’t that busy, so it’s not a problem there. How stupid of them not to set the machines up to calculate the discount! They probably assume people would cheat the system. There should be a way to add discount eligibility to the points card. Walmart is too out-of-the-way, so I haven’t been there recently. It must be a zoo!

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    1. Hi Deb. Seems like you have the right solution for the discounts – there should be some sort of added chip in the Optimum card to recognize the senior discount. Duh, we’ll see how long the madness continues! 🙂 x

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  10. I was literally just talking to my husband about this yesterday Debby as we did self check-out at Lowe’s yesterday. I dutifully scanned the items, paid and bagged my stuff. I told him how I had fought it for years – dating back all the way to one of the “first” self check-outs – pumping my own gas. At the time, I remember thinking that I will never pump gas myself because I would be nervous about the mechanics of it or spilling gas etc.; not to mention getting out of the car! But they broke me and I’ve been doing it without a second thought for what? 25 years? I hated it when it arrived at Target too for the same reasons you list. I love the person’s response to an assistant manager “I’m sorry, I don’t work here” hahaha, I’m going to have to remember that. And I can’t wrap my head around how your store can’t address such an important customer service issue with the senior discount – that’s a HUGE volume of people they are frustrating every single week. Great post!

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    1. Hi Melanie. Thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts. Yes, the big bad gas pumps. I think it has been that long. I think I started dating my husband just around the time service at a gas station went extinct. I had him to take care of all things car. Now the ball is back in my court. But the checkout machines – no thanks! I don’t need to spend any longer in an grocery store than I already do. LOL 🙂 xx

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  11. I actually love the self-checkout, Debby, unless I have a cart full of groceries. Then I’ll endure the long lines. But if I only have a few items… which is pretty typical, I’ll go straight to self-checkout. It’s ten times faster and I usually have my parents waiting for me in the car. That said, I totally see the point about how it takes jobs away from people who need them. From now on, if the regular lines aren’t too long, I’ll go there. You convinced me. 🙂

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    1. Lol, thanks Diana. I don’t mean to change your shopping habits. And you are one of the rare here who doesn’t mind self checkouts. But just today (Thursday discount day at the pharmacy), again it was crazy with the one usual cashier and a problem at self checkout. And a weird distancing line having others butting in the already long line, I called them out, lol. I told a man to get to the back of the line – something I usually mutter under my breath. It’s insanity. Machines aren’t humans. They still require human overriding. They need to PAY another employee to work the machines. ❤

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  12. I will use the self check out if I have a few items, which is rarely the case. Our stores have someone monitoring the machines to help but mostly avoid stealing. Lines are always long due to employee shirtages and this was before COVID. I don’t mind technology as long as it works. I know some jobs are fading away but at least there has to be a repair person to do upkeep on those machines.

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    1. Exactly Denise. Machines make mistakes, we still need human intervention and shouldn’t have to wait for the one and only cashier to leave their customers to aid at the machines. It’s crazy! And ya, can you imagine how much stealing must go on with lack of attention? 🙂 x

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  13. Hi Toni, your capital letters caught my eye as I scrolled down. I have not been to Australian, but when we were in New Zealand the stores were very geared towards self checkout. It was completely new to us so we suffered a few hitches initially. We don’t have this concept here in South Africa. We also have petrol attendants. We need jobs here for our people.

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  14. Hi Debby, we don’t have this sort of self service here in South Africa. Jobs is a very important in our society as there is so much poverty. There is also a lot of protection of labour here. This is not always a good thing, as protection can make workers unproductive, but there is never perfection in any system in life.

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    1. Hi Robbie. Thanks for sharing some of what goes on in your neck of the woods. I hear what you’re saying about problems on both sides. But the problem is that these aren’t humans. When sale prices don’t ring up they have to wait til someone comes the their aid, holding up lines and many other glitches that require human intervention. It’s all about greed as far as I’m concerned. Cutbacks for more profit. 😦

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  15. Like many other aspects of technology, by solving one problem, two more are created. When self-checkouts first started, I noticed that people were often there to assist when something went wrong. That occurs far less often now. When a glitch happens, it can be another five minutes just trying to find someone to override the machine. The other day I bought something specifically to get the discount for purchasing two, which had a much lower price. Instead, the machine rang them up as singles instead of getting the deal. I finally got someone to come over, but there were several annoyed shoppers behind me waiting.

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  16. I totally agree with you, Debby! But, the self-checkout is now first time being advertised as the best of all innovations in Bavaria. But only since the Corona crisis have many people here learned to pay by card. Mind you: DebitCard, not credit card. You cannot pay with credit card in a very wide area, here. Of course, they want to save personnel costs with the self-checkout and use the customer as a dummy employee. xx Michael

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    1. Hi Michael. That’s the bottom line, the customer is the dummy employee helping the store by self checking out. Seems to be a thing everywhere! Hugs xx

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  17. Different stokes . . . as the saying goes. Maybe once a year my wife or I use a cashier line. Otherwise, it’s self-checkout every time. At the local Walmart, the cashier lines are about equal in number to self-checkout terminals. They do have helpers for glitches and approvals for alcohol, etc. Walmart has been raising their hourly rates and adding benefits for the last few years–I know because my son works there. Costco, on the other hand is higher than any other retailer in the US and has NO self-checkouts. The local Albertsons has only ONE self-checkout and the six or seven others (a small store) are staffed.

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  18. I was very annoyed by them at first, Debby, but they are everywhere now, and in some places with very long queues, they seem to speed things up a bit. My mother doesn’t like them, but if we go together and we buy only a few items we normally use them.
    I think it really depends on the kind of shop and the population that uses it. There should be a choice, and it is worrying that people might be losing their jobs through it, although sometimes the conditions of the workers are so bad that one wonders if it might not be a small mercy, and hope they can find something better.
    I was quite impressed by the ones they use at a sports shop, where you can just drop the item and it recognises it without having to find the barcode or anything. Amazing!

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    1. Thanks for chiming in Olga. Yes, I’m afraid you’re right. They are probably here to stay. But as you said, if they want robot checkouts, then at least make them user friendly, since we aren’t paid to work at the store. 🙂 xx

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  19. Hi Deb, I agree with each point you’ve discussed here. Self-check outs are another attempt at exploitation and reducing much needed jobs. They may prove convenient for some but I would like to ask why should we be expected to get into the hassle of billing if we are paying for all the items? I’ve never tried those monster machines meant for the purpose of checking our skills. I have had the nighmarish experience with them once at the airport and failed and I am happy with that!! 😊

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  20. I always head for the self-checkouts, Debby. I’ve always found them easy to use, and I can pay for my stuff and be out of the shop in record time. All the ones I have used recognise discount coupons. The only time I may have to wait for an assistant is when buying alcohol. The assistant has to confirm that I’m over 18 (which I don’t mind in the least).

    I’m afraid that I don’t particularly appreciate using the cashier line because I’ll always end up in a queue where people in front of me will want to chat with the cashier (usually after paying for their goods while packing). I once complained to the cashier and was told, ‘THIS IS THE CHATTY LINE.’ I replied, ‘Sorry, but I don’t see any signs telling me it’s the CHATTY line.’

    Now, we’re able to scan our goods as we shop. When you enter the store, you pick up a scanning gun, scan your items, and pack them as you move around the store. You then go to a checkout where you place the scan gun, and it tells you how much to pay. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I love this method even more.

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    1. Wonders never cease to amaze. I guess we’ll be getting the stun guns, oops, I mean scan guns next. Still doesn’t interest me though. Good on you. 🙂 x

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  21. You hit a nerve here, Debby. I too prefer using a real live human for checkout, but will submit to self-check out ONLY if I see there is a “live” person standing by in case there are glitches.

    However, I believe self-checkouts are the wave of the future. Protesting seems like putting one’s finger in a dike, just like pumping one’s on gas. Sorry! :-/

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  22. Well, apparently, you hit a nerve with this, Debby! Most of my grocery shopping self-checkouts have ended badly…”unknown item in the baggage area” says the scolding robotic voice…EVERY time (I bring my own bags)! I agree that they take away cashier’s jobs, don’t scan properly, or other involve major hiccups. Don’t we pay good money to have someone adept to check out our items? That being said, I have had two good experiences. I consistently have NO issues at Target Stores. I can place my bags in the bagging area with no annoying scolding! When we traveled to Phoenix last summer, we rented a car through Alamo with a previous reservation. The line was 7 people deep with 2 clerks helping. There were 4 self-help kiosks standing empty with a dedicated clerk waiting to help. We hopped over and she guided us through everything. I will say had she not been there, I would have eventually had a problem. We were done and on our way while 5 people were still in the line. I also don’t like going through Home Depot’s self-checkouts unless I have one item and when does that happen! Great post, my friend. Hope things can get better for you!

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    1. Thanks so much Terri for sharing some of your experience, lol. I feel like I’ve shaken a bee’s nest with this one 🙂 But yes, all the elements have to work for a smooth self checkout experience, and usually, they don’t. I loved what you said, “unknown item in the baggage area”, that just made me laugh, but I can appreciate how annoying it sounds when you’re actually there. 🙂 xx

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  23. If stores offer self-checkout, it should be a choice for the customer and not the only way to pay. For example, at the local CVS (a pharmacy like the one you mention with coupons and discounts and such) where my in-laws live, you can’t check out with a person anymore. I happened to join my MIL once on her shopping and prescription pick-up there and it was awful! How do they expect an 83-year-old to handle a machine/computer like that? And yes, it never goes smoothly.

    As for grocery stores, Mark and I usually use the self-checkout. There is never a long line and we can pack our bags ourselves, sneaking in a few extra as we use them in our garbage bins. That being said, I am slow at this, so when I’m by myself, it depends if I have a lot (then I use a cashier) or just a few items (then I do self-checkout). But Mark is good and quick at it. He scans and I pack the bags. This team work works. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing your take on these machines. No doubts as a team it would work better. But yes, it’s the seniors who are lost in all this. I look at those lost at those machines just standing hoping for someone to help. They are not from the digital era and shouldn’t have to be subjected to machines. Period. ❤

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  24. Gee whiz – I must be one Pollyanna who doesn’t mind self check-outs. Could be a control issue, I like being in charge of my own speed and destiny. Maybe it’s because I’ve been overcharged by the checker when she fails to see the new reduced SALE sign so prominently displayed. (which I don’t notice until I’m home.) Or perhaps because I’m usually behind customers with 72 coupons and the checker has to leaf thru them to find one for each purchase only to discover that it expired in 2009!!! Anyway Deb, I feel your pain. 🙂 because my husband hates them too.

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    1. Lol Ellie. You raise all valid points, of which I’ve also encountered plenty in a line. And you mention ‘wrong price’ ringup. I always keep my eyes on the register ringing up my stuff. There are always plenty of those wrong price blips! Almost feels like no winning in the grocery store. ❤

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  25. You bring up an interesting point, Debby, and a lot of the comments show how annoyed people are about self-service. I use it at my Pharmaprix (which is your Shoppers Drug Mart – same owners) because you can only use the cashier if you are buying certain items. Almost every time I use the self serve I have to call the cashier over because of some problem. But most importantly, it is taking jobs away and I love the comment about “I don’t work here.”

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