Self checkouts at retail stores

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ces1948
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2008/06/20 19:41:39 (permalink)

Self checkouts at retail stores

We have a local grocery chain called Food City which seems to have a split personality concerning self checkouts. Some of their new stores have as many as 6 self checkouts with one person overseeing the operation and some new stores are built with none. One of the locations has recently removed them entirely and replaced them with one "quick checkout" staffed by a live person. I wonder if too much stuff "walks" out the door at some locations.
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    jman
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 19:54:42 (permalink)
    Our local Walmart currently has five of them, but their upcoming remodel is doing away with them. According to one of the ladies who works there, the reason is theft.
    #2
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 20:00:43 (permalink)
    I won't use the things, uless they start paying me wages for doing their work for them.
    #3
    NebGuy
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 20:02:46 (permalink)
    I love them. Usually no line so I'm on my way faster.
    #4
    morningglory
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 21:36:14 (permalink)
    Our local Walmarts have them. I have been too intimidated by them to even try. Figure I'd do something stupid, and have the bells and whistles go off, proclaiming to the world, just how dumb I am.

    At the local Winco Foods, we have to unload our carts and then bag our groceries, after we pay. The discount is great, for the little work involved. I always like to save a penny!
    #5
    UncleVic
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 22:04:38 (permalink)
    Some past topics here (on self checkouts) that may be of interest to you...

    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=25032

    There was one more I remember, but ya think this old fart can remember? NOT. Couldn't find it, but if ya do a search, it's here somewhere in the archives.



    #6
    jeepguy
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 22:19:38 (permalink)
    Lowes has them now!
    #7
    baileysoriginal
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 22:39:37 (permalink)
    I'm like morningglory - I'm intimidated by them also - I feel the need for a real person doing my stuff -

    also, last week, after I had checked out at Walmart with a real person, I purchased eight of the black canvas bags that are eco friendly or whatever it's being called now - to start using instead of the plastic bags - I have never liked plastic bags - they're slick and all of your stuff slides around and you have to gather it back up into the bag just to get it into the house and then -

    well, anyway - tomorrow morning I have to do the Walmart thing and we'll see how the black bags perform.


    #8
    UncleVic
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/20 22:50:03 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by baileysoriginal

    I purchased eight of the black canvas bags that are eco friendly or whatever it's being called now - to start using instead of the plastic bags

    Bless ya for caring!
    #9
    stricken_detective
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 00:35:56 (permalink)
    I hate them. I had my purse with me and one of those shopping baskets, and when I set my purse down on the counter where the bags are, so I could dig my card out to swipe, the thing very loudly accused me of putting an unscanned item in my bag.

    I tried to give it another chance, but it wanted to know what kind of onion I had. I had to scroll through ALL the produce to find the onion I had selected.


    Never again.
    #10
    Foodbme
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 04:29:40 (permalink)
    I hate them. Nothing but problems with them
    #11
    RubyRose
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 08:13:46 (permalink)
    I like them, although there's a great variation in systems at different stores. Once I got the hang of using them, I can zip through in no time since all the people who hate them are standing in the other lines waiting to be checked out by humans.
    #12
    cavandre
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 08:33:16 (permalink)
    We've used the ones at Loewes & they work pretty good.

    Not sure I'd like them in a supermarket, unless I was in one of the "Express" lanes.
    #13
    John A
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 11:29:42 (permalink)
    I'm with RubyRose. At first I refused to use them but now I avoid all of the people that hate them and get in & out much faster.
    #14
    Tedbear
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 14:10:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by John A

    I'm with RubyRose. At first I refused to use them but now I avoid all of the people that hate them and get in & out much faster.


    I also found that they saved me an incredible amount of time, due to long waiting lines at the manned registers and no lines at all at the self check-outs. I used these self check-outs at my "old" Shop-Rite with no problems whatsoever.

    Then, a few months ago, a new, larger Shop-Rite opened much closer to my house, so of course, I began to shop there. Well, as it turned out, the self check-outs at the new Shop-Rite were riddled with problems from day one. In most cases, the attendant who monitors the four self check-outs was able to rectify the problem without any real delay. Then, in February, I had a more significant problem with these registers, and I began to question whether they were actually saving me any time.

    Finally, in early March, a major screw-up at one of these registers resulted in no receipt for me, plus double-billing on my credit card! The store did make good on the overcharge, but the Ass't Mgr with whom I dealt told me, "I really need to give these IBM people their own office here at the store, because they are here about 4 times each week to repair these registers". He also told me that he, personally, would never use these devices because of all of the problems that he has observed and dealt with. At that point, I decided to stop using these devices.

    A few days ago since I had some extra time, I did use the self check-out again, as an experiment. Luckily, there was no problem--but I am still a bit wary of them after a few bad experiences.
    #15
    David_NYC
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 14:45:08 (permalink)
    Back in the February time frame, I noticed a lot more problems with the self abuse checkout lanes in supermarkets. In fact, I posted a few entries to the thread referenced by UncleVic above. I also called in complaints to several supermarket chains. I don't know if the machines were no longer being maintained properly, or if they were testing out new software designed to reduce shoplifting. But, they were unreliable.

    I would advise anyone who is experiencing problems with the machines and is more or less forced to use these machines, especially if there is no express line for a small order, to call their supermarket or other retailer and complain.

    Edited to advise complaining only if problems exist.

    #16
    jman
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 14:55:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by David_NYC

    I would advise anyone who is more or less forced to use these machines, especially of there is no express line for a small order, to call their supermarket or other retailer and complain.



    Why complain if you don't have a problem? I use one two or three times a week. Occasionally, there might be a glitch, but the problem is usually rectified quickly, often before I can even speak up to the attendant.

    What I don't miss with the self checkout is the checker who'd rather be somewhere else, or the checker who can't see their way clear to greet me or say thank you.

    Talking to the lady who is usually the "monitor" of these lanes, most of the time-consuming problems are caused by people who can't follow simple instructions or people who don't pay attention to what they are doing.
    #17
    felix4067
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 16:41:40 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Tedbear
    I also found that they saved me an incredible amount of time, due to long waiting lines at the manned registers and no lines at all at the self check-outs.


    I find myself wondering, as it's pretty much a universal thing that the self checkouts are empty while 20 people stand in line to be waited on by a human, why stores insist on putting them in and/or adding more of them all the time.

    You'd think an obvious customer preference would play some small part in what they decide to spend money on. Empty self-checkout lanes can't do much for their bottom line.
    #18
    felix4067
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 16:45:05 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jman
    Talking to the lady who is usually the "monitor" of these lanes, most of the time-consuming problems are caused by people who can't follow simple instructions or people who don't pay attention to what they are doing.


    Have you ever tried to use one for something that doesn't weigh much, like a greeting card? The machine stops while the mechanical voice tells you over and over again to "put the item in the bag". Has to be reset by the person manning the 12 self-checkout lanes.

    Or...ever tried to buy age-restriced items like alcohol? Requires the person manning the self-checkout lanes to punch in a code before you can continue.

    Or...they put the slots where you pay over top of where you put your scanned items...if you lean over to put your money in while wearing an unzipped coat, your coat drags on it. Machine stops and the mechanical voice tells you over and over again to "please scan all items before placing them in a bag".

    None of those three things are operator error. They're a PITA and/or faulty design.
    #19
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 16:48:59 (permalink)
    Like it or not, that is the way the industry is going. Much like the airline industry. I have a feeling that many others of the same type will follow suit. Labor is one of the major cost of all companies and whatever it takes to be competitive, they will do.

    I recall when service stations use to fill you car with gas. It is rare to find a state that does that anymore. I know of Oregon and New Jersey, perhaps there are more???

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #20
    jman
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 17:03:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067


    Have you ever tried to use one for something that doesn't weigh much, like a greeting card? The machine stops while the mechanical voice tells you over and over again to "put the item in the bag". Has to be reset by the person manning the 12 self-checkout lanes.


    Yes, I've bought a lot of cards and other light weight items and never had a problem.

    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067


    Or...ever tried to buy age-restriced items like alcohol? Requires the person manning the self-checkout lanes to punch in a code before you can continue.


    Again, I have and the "monitor" responds right away.

    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067


    Or...they put the slots where you pay over top of where you put your scanned items...if you lean over to put your money in while wearing an unzipped coat, your coat drags on it. Machine stops and the mechanical voice tells you over and over again to "please scan all items before placing them in a bag".


    That should only happen to you once.

    I'm not saying that there's not an occasional problem. I think by and large they work well for me and unless I have a buggy-full of stuff, self-serve beats the other.

    #21
    Baah Ben
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 18:49:00 (permalink)
    I love them at Walmart except they still have to come over anytime you buy wine.
    #22
    NebGuy
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 18:49:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067

    Or...ever tried to buy age-restriced items like alcohol? Requires the person manning the self-checkout lanes to punch in a code before you can continue.

    Faster than waiting for a 17 year old to call someone old enough to process my purchase.
    #23
    felix4067
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 19:33:53 (permalink)
    Maybe it's where I am, but it takes the self-checkout person at least five minutes to come help every time the machine hangs up even when there aren't any other customers. Even when I call over to them (or walk over to them) to tell them there's a problem. The scales aren't set sensitive enough for lightweight items like greetings cards, so unless you hit the bottom with your hand when placing them in the bag it won't register that you've put anything in it. And it's been probably 10 years since I've been through a line with an underage cashier (they have signs they put up that say they can't sell alcohol in that lane so you can avoid it).

    What I hate most is if I go to the store after 11pm (which I often do, stopping on my way home from work) the ONLY checkout lanes open are the self-checkouts. No option but to use the stupid things.
    #24
    jman
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 19:41:25 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067



    What I hate most is if I go to the store after 11pm (which I often do, stopping on my way home from work) the ONLY checkout lanes open are the self-checkouts. No option but to use the stupid things.


    If you go to Walmart that late, they will have one lane manned- the one where you can buy cigarettes.
    #25
    felix4067
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 20:51:09 (permalink)
    I refuse to set foot in Walmart.
    #26
    No Talent
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 21:24:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by felix4067

    I refuse to set foot in Walmart.

    That's two of us.

    #27
    Buffalo Tarheel
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/21 22:58:09 (permalink)
    We are blessed enough to have several Wegmans in this area, and so far they have refused to install the hated self check-outs. That, among other reasons, is why I prefer them to the other stores.
    #28
    Guilty One
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/22 07:40:03 (permalink)
    On the West Coast, I have never seen a self check out line or any place that makes you bag your own groceries.

    I'll bet those lines move 10 times slower. Let the professionals do it.

    It's the most basic of customer services. I can't believe it's as widespread as I'm reading here.

    Doesn't make any sense to me.

    I hear nothing but good things about that Wegman's, I guess all our stores are like Wegman's.
    #29
    David_NYC
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    RE: Self checkouts at retail stores 2008/06/22 08:01:53 (permalink)
    jman,

    Thanks for catching a serious error I made in my post. I forgot to indicate that I felt complaints should only be made if the self checkout machines were causing problems for people.

    I notice that you have not experienced many problems. I had the same experience when the machines were first installed in the Metro NYC area in chains like Pathmark. But something happened over time. The manufacturers of those machines know there is an Internet and so they tell you NOTHING about the principles of operation of those machines. Over time, the machines I used would need to be reset by the operator more and more times. Granted I shop in a lot of different stores and would probably have less trouble if every store used the same exact machine, just like the old Western Electric pay telephones.

    In other threads on this forum, I was one of the first to report that these machines had scales in them. I must have used the machines for several years before I caught on that there was a scale in them. What tipped me off was the fact that cantaloupes were always a problem. Depending upon the time of year they would weigh different amounts but they always had the same produce code of 4050. I normally put my cantaloupe in one of those veggie plastic bags. On time when it would not go through I noticed the attendant ran her hands around the plastic bag so it was form fitting to the melon. It was then that I noticed the 'towers' on both sides of the motorized conveyor belt. They probably use invisible infrared light instead of visible light to see how high an item measures to prevent shoplifting.

    So, there are two possibilities here. Either the stores no longer maintained the machines as well as when they first installed them, or they started adding more bells and whistles to the machines to reduce shoplifting. Most of the problems I have written about involve tripping off a feature of the machine designed to catch shoplifting. What galls me is that NO retailer around here has ever publicized that they have scales in those machines.

    If you bought a lot of light weight items without problems I have to assume the machines you use do not compare expected with actual weight, or do not check items weighing less than, say 4 ounces.

    To add to the list of problems that felix4067 listed, for a while the machines at Pathmark would bark at you if you stepped away from directly in front of the scanner for more a few seconds. But, this was unavoidable if you already filled up two plastic bags with groceries and you had to wrestle to get the third bag to open because the person in front of you did not remove his bag in such a manner that the plastic was separated.

    I also resent the attitude of the people in the self abuse checkout industry whose attitude seems to be "Make the stupid bastards (i. e., customers) do it over and over again until they get it right".

    #30
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