Against the Self-Checkout

Retailers are finally starting to get rid of self-checkout lanes at their stores. I'm neither surprised nor heartbroken by this development. I've found self-checkout to be more trouble than it's worth, and I avoid it whenever possible.

(from pin add on Flickr)

My beef isn't with self-checkout itself, it's with the fact that it's poorly implemented in a lot of stores. It could be a great substitute for the "express" checkout, because there are some stores I don't even bother shopping at if I'm not buying a full basket of stuff, because I have no choice but to stand behind people doing their heavy shopping.

The real problem with self-checkout is that there's no predictability. When you get into a regular line behind someone with a cart full of stuff, you can reasonably guess how long it's going to take for the cashier to ring them up. When you get in line behind someone at the self-checkout, you have to wait for them to awkwardly try to find their produce in a big on-screen list, you have to wait for an employee to come over and properly ring up their beer and wine, you have to watch them fumble with coupons. It's often a total mess.

If self-checkouts were exclusively for customers with less than 10 items, all of which have bar codes and aren't alcoholic, then I'd be all for it. For that matter, I wish there were more express lanes generally, but stores have apparently decided they aren't worth it.


    On September 29, 2011 rg said...

    Agree 100 percent! Another annoying aspect of self checkout is the way the computer flips out if you don't place your scanned items in the bagging area in a difficult to determine but very exact manner.

    On October 06, 2011 DK said...

    Well I personally like self-checkouts, but agree that they're often abused. They should be for people who are only there to get one or two or a few items and get out as fast as possible. But too many people have a habit of doing their regular shopping with them.

    I once was about to check out at one, and the guy ahead of me using it was kinda old and had his entire cart full (practically overflowing) of canned food. I'm like "I'm using a different checkout."

    On October 13, 2011 Brad said...

    I don't think the self-checkouts at the 17th St Safeway have much improved life. But oh sweet Jesus, don't take the ones at CVS away, plunging us back into the Molasses Hell of "service" by CVS employees. Perhaps because everything is packaged and shopping lists are short at the pharmacies we love to hate, the self-checkout works at CVS.