Social Question

ibstubro's avatar

Do stores in you area offer self check out?

Asked by ibstubro (11143 points ) January 10th, 2014

Do you use it?
What’s your experience been?

I’m in a fairly rural area, and it seems to have been a mixed reaction here. I live between two small towns, and Walmart in the smaller town was the first to install, first to remove the entire system.

Our Kroger’s had it, but store volume was low, and oftentimes it seemed like the ‘helper’ would have been better spent on another checkout lane.

Now Walmart in the larger town has it, and it’s slick! Since Walmart raised the credit card signing minimum to $100, it’s the fastest way to check out ever.

What’s your take? Do you check yourself out given the option, or is it just too much trouble with produce, coupons and ad specials?

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40 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

Grocery stores around here have them, as well as Wal*Mart. I don’t like them and don’t use them because I’ve never tried to use one and not had some kind of weirdo problem that required the one person overseeing the six self-serve registers to punch in a code. Waiting for that person usually negated any time savings I would have had.

Also, I know that a bunch of teenagers get hired as cashiers and I don’t want to put them out of a job.

cookieman's avatar

Yes, some do and I lurve it!!!

Home Depot, CVS, and BJs does in my area. You want to earn my business? Install self-checkout aisles.

I’m generally much faster and more organized than some disinterested kid behind the register.

jca's avatar

They all have it here. I don’t use it.

dxs's avatar

Walmart, Stop and Shop, Market Basket, and Hannaford, and Shaws have them. Those are all grocery stores (Walmart is either a grocery store or a superstore with a possible grocery store in it). I like it because sometimes I just feel private and anti-social. But they’re always a pain. I swear they make them so that you have to cause some sort of problem.
Please bag your item before continuing.
If you wold like to finish, please hit “Finish”. No! I just can’t find the damn barcode on this!
This product requires verification.
Unexpected item in bagging area.

janbb's avatar

Have used it at Home Depot. It’s fine; not sure I’d want to use it everywhere. Those jobs are needed.

rojo's avatar

Yes, they do and yes I do use them but only if I have a limited number of items that I am purchasing; anything over six items and I find a checker.

Also will not use them if an item is a markdown or clearance or has some other characteristic that a human will have to override or assist the machine. Why bother.

cookieman's avatar

@dxs: I’m jealous that your Market Basket has them. Mine does not and it’s our primary grocery store.

cookieman's avatar

Those jobs are needed.

That is a good point @janbb. Now I feel bad. a little

dxs's avatar

@cookieman Now you’re making me second guess myself…I haven’t been to the Hannaford or Market Basket since summer, so my memory is a bit vague.

filmfann's avatar

The local grocery, Safeway, has that. When I see it, it reminds me of all the checkout clerks that don’t work there any more. They used to have 6 or 7 at all times. Now, there are usually 2.
Plus, you cannot buy alcohol through the self checkout. You get to the bottom of your cart, and realize you have a bottle of wine, and you have to finish checking out there, then take your cart full of groceries over to one of the checkers, and buy your wine.
This is not an improvement.

fun fact: Safeway used to be called the Piggily Wiggily

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They work as well as the public using them makes them work. When you get to one where some idiot has repeatedly tried scanning his stuff and then gives up and leaves everything on the machine, it’s frustrating. One of the employees has to reset the machine.

jca's avatar

I notice stores that have them will have less regular lines open, which seems like an attempt to try to force customers to use them.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Most stores in my area have them but some have annoying glitches. The ones at my local grocery store drive me insane. You scan the item and place it in the bag. Simple enough, right? Wrong! When you put the item in the bag, the register waits until it feels the weight of the item placed in the bag until it allows you to scan the next item. The issue with that is some items are too light to register. Candy bars, gum, etc are too light. So it makes you wait until an employee overrides it. Such a pain. Might as well just go to a cashier in the first place and avoid the hassle.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I hate it and avoid it whenever possible.

1) It is a subtle way of laying off people. It is bad for employees and reduces employment.

2) It is cost shifting from the company to the customer. It totally gets rid of any vestige of customer service. It is a way for the store to say “we want your money but we don’t want to serve you”

Terrible idea and terrible precedent.

(Not just restricted to stores—your local public library does the same thing – self-checkout machines. Terrible.)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I remember going to the Home Depot when the had just installed a self checkout. Got through scanning the items, pushed the payment chiclet on the screen. Who;e front end of the store went down, they had to reboot the Point Of Sale system. Regular cashiers and self checkout DEAD.

ibstubro's avatar

@mrentropy, @dxs, @rojo, @filmfann & @Adirondackwannabe yes, I agree that they’re great in a perfect environment: few items, no clearance, no ‘adult’ (alcohol etc.) items and the machine clear and working well. I mostly use them if I have 6 or less items, too. The last time I was in an “express lane” I counted the beeps and the woman had 29 items, meaning, in the absence of conveyor belt and bagger, everyone waited ½ again as long.

Our local Kroger store was the longest and most dedicated user of self-check. It reduced the number of needed checkers for a couple years…until they closed the store and left the area.

I find that customer service is near-nonexistant, and I’d just as soon get out of the store faster.

cookieman's avatar

You get to the bottom of your cart, and realize you have a bottle of wine,

@filmfann: If you’ve forgotten you picked up wine until then… perhaps you should lay off he wine. ;^)

zenvelo's avatar

A few stores ( big chains) have it; I do not go to stores that do. It’s a big hassle and shows a lack of customer service.

livelaughlove21's avatar

We have it at Bi-Lo and Lowe’s for sure, but not at any of our Wal-Marts yet. Of course, it’s just an option and there are regular check-out lines to go to if you’d rather not. I’ve never heard of a store that didn’t do that, but @zenvelo seems to be suggesting that this is sometimes the case – not sure how that would even work.

I wouldn’t use it at a grocery store but I do like to use it at Lowe’s unless we’re purchasing something that will be difficult to scan ourselves. Good luck with any PVC pipe or tiny things with the barcode on the actual product. I worked there for a short time and I always had to type in the UPC number on those because it never scanned correctly, but people would take the most obscure things up and try to check themselves out and we ended up having to do it for them anyway, so I make sure whatever we have is easily scannable.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

We have them everywhere. I don’t like to use them unless I am just running in to grab one or two items. I don’t like to bag my own stuff, especially if I have a lot.

flip86's avatar

I absolutely love the self checkout. I’m the asshole who always has too many items and holds up the line. Anytime I can avoid dealing with a cashier, I will. I wish more stores around me had it.

Walmart, Shaw’s, Lowe’s, and Hannaford are the only stores near me with self checkout.

rojo's avatar

@flip86 I am one of the folks behind you flipping you off and silently cursing your existence.

flip86's avatar

@rojo Doesn’t bother me. Grocery stores are usually the only places that have an item limit because they only have a few machines. Walmart has about 10 self checkout machines so it isn’t so bad.

Coloma's avatar

Yes and I never use them. My daughter loves them but I prefer to be waited on and make conversation while waiting. haha
I do use the express check a lot, 15–20 items or less.

momster's avatar

We have a Stop and Shop and I use the self check out more often than not. We also have the option of using hand held scanners and bagging our own groceries as we shop. I love love love love this feature. I just scan each item and bag as I go. It gives the kids easy ways to help if they are with me. Now I can not only send them off to get things, but they take turns using the scanner and help bag groceries as we shop. They really like to use the produce scales, which weigh produce and print out a sticker to be scanned. The only problem is they also like to attempt to scan each others rear ends. Yes they are boys, what can you do.

When we are ready to check out, everything is already bagged. Our total is automatically figured at the checkout when I scan my store card so I just pay and leave.

I only use the self checkout without the hand held scanning device if I need a few items and I go through a regular lane if I have cold medicine, beer, or something like that, although if I forget I have it and do the self checkout an employee just has to scan their card. I don’t have to go to another place and pay for these separately.

The downside like others said is that there are fewer cashiers which is a real pain if I didn’t use the scanner (like whenever I forget my reusable bags haha). There are only ever two or three lanes open plus the express lane.

Our nearest WalMart just got some self checkout lanes and they are OK. I use them if I only have a couple of things or the regular lines are too long.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My small town doesn’t, but the next city does in all the stores. Our folks prefer cash..lol

jaytkay's avatar

The biggest grocery chain in my area (Jewel) recently removed its self-checkout lanes. And a new chain building lots of stores (Marianos) has none.

Bummer, I like them.

1) People with shopping carts avoid them, so it’s the de facto “small number of items” line
2) One line for four or more self-serve checkouts – no worrying about “I chose the wrong line”

flutherother's avatar

Our local Tesco has them and I use them all the time. They are so popular they recently added 4 more self service checkouts. I once forgot to pay and only noticed when I was almost out of the store. I ran back but no one had noticed.

hearkat's avatar

I use self-checkout almost all the time, unless the cashiers are sitting there bored. It must be close to 10 years since they introduced them in my area, and they don’t have item restricitions at all of them. My son and I developed a system and even with a cart overflowing with groceries, we were very efficient. That was with the conveyer belt system. The scan and bag ones I don’t like, for the reasons @ItalianPrincess1217 notes. In the regular lines, the cashiers seem to move slowly, and I find that the baggers aren’t trained how to bag… if there are any baggers at all.

Now, one store has a portable scanner, so you scan as you shop – I haven’t tried that yet.
-OH! I see that @momster has used the scan-as-you-go at Stop & Shop. I usually forget to ask how it works when I go in, but I can see that it would be super convenient.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Like @flip86, I always have a mountain to check. My daughter likes using them. We have it down to a routine, and this way my groceries get bagged the way I want. I felt bad though, one time when we reached an empty self check, it read TOTAL $127.00 PLEASE PAY NOW.

zenvelo's avatar

@livelaughlove21 There is a supermarket that has had it for about ten years. They have a whole bunch of self serve and maybe three regular checkouts and usually only one of those is open and staffed. So you get to do the self serve and its hassles, or wait in an long line for the one checker to get you done.

I hate that store.

glacial's avatar

It’s in a lot of grocery stores here. I found it to be most convenient in the earlier days, when most people were still scared of it – so it was like a super-amazing express line. Unsurprisingly, the wait times regardless of cash type have evened out.

I remember being in one grocery store in a small town a few years ago (where this system was evidently still new), and having to have my order checked because I had the audacity to pay using a credit card. That… was dumb. I mean, it was an option on the machine, so why… never mind. I never went back there, but I’m going to bet they didn’t do that for long. That was the only negative experience I’ve had with them, and I use them a lot.

@KNOWITALL They take cash. I almost never pay for groceries without using cash.

Leanne1986's avatar

Supermarkets tend to have them here. I rarely use them because I tend to spend longer waiting for someone to help me when it’s stopped working (or I’ve done something wrong, more to the point) than if I wear to queue and be served by a human.

Plus, I feel like, every time I use one I am paving the way for someone being out of a job.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I won’t use them. They exist only for one purpose – to put people out of work.

ibstubro's avatar

Wow, @momster the scan-and-bag as you shop is new to me. I’d LOVE that. Can’t wait! :)

Seek's avatar

Home Depot was the first to have it, now our local Walmart does.

I prefer to use it. Frankly, I don’t think anyone needs to know what I’m buying, and I get everything bagged the way I want it.

Also, not getting stuck in line behind the Extreme Couponing idiots is pretty damned awesome.

ibstubro's avatar

Walmart was the first to have it here, @Seek_Kolinahr, and promptly pulled it back out. Now Walmart in the other small town here has installed it. Awesome…especially since they raised the credit card signing limit to $100. It’s the fastest way, ever to check out. Last time I had one item and I was walking away from the machine in about 5 seconds, bagged.

Seek's avatar

^ And the best part is you don’t have to talk to anyone.

glacial's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I began to truly appreciate them around the same time that my preferred grocery store started this policy of calling everyone by name, based on the name associated with their points card. I find this incredibly intrusive and rude!

“That will be $43.52, Ms…. <squinting at card>... glacial!”

Please stop pretending you know my name, when you obviously have to read it off of a card. It’s such a weird, forced intimacy.

However, it can be hilarious for people who use fake names on their points cards.

dxs's avatar

@glacial I was in a similar situation once. I gave my card to the cashier and she’s like “Okay! Thanks, dxs!” And I just extemporaneously responded “No problem, Marguerite!”
What’s funny was her baffled face that she gave me for a few microseconds after, before saying “Have a good day”. I felt pretty embarrassed myself, but it makes for a good story I guess.

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