Self-checkout is terrible: why Walmart, Target, and others still do it – Vox
Blessedly, I am not alone in fearing self-checkout. John Karolefski, a self-proclaimed undercover grocery shopping analyst who runs the blog Grocery Stories and contributes to the site Progressive Grocer, tells me, “I’m in a lot of supermarkets around the country. I watch people. I can tell you that I’ve been in stores where the lines that have cashiers are very, very long, and people are a little upset, and there are three or four self-checkout units open and nobody is using them.
“Wouldn’t the shopper be better served, customer service improved, if those weren’t there?” he asks. I’m not arguing. “Why do I want to scan my own groceries?” he asks. I have no idea! “Why do I want to bag my own groceries?” he asks. An equally reasonable question with no reasonable answer. The simple solution, he points out, would be to hire enough cashiers to serve the number of customers that typically shop at the store. I agree, and this seems very obvious.
Grocery stores have extremely tight profit margins, so that’s a big deal. (Again: We don’t have to do this!) People steal and steal and steal from self-checkout. They type in the price look-up code for bananas (#4011, for your reference) while far more expensive fruits or vegetables or even meat are on the scale. They pull stickers off cheap stuff and put them on expensive stuff. They are ingenious, as humans are when they want to do something that is against the rules. One Australian woman photocopied the barcodes from packets of instant noodles and printed them on sticky labels, which she then brought to the store with her every time she went shopping.
They are modern-day pirates without the violence; Walmart is their East India Trading Company.