General Question

erichw1504's avatar

Why is there always at least one broken down self-checkout lane at the grocery store?

Asked by erichw1504 (26398points) September 14th, 2010

Is it just where I shop or is it more common? The grocery store I shop at rarely has all four self-checkout lanes open at the same time.

Does yours? How many total self-checkout lanes does it have and how many are usually broken down? Why do you think these things always break down? Is it a mechanical or software issue usually? Do you know someone who works on them? Why can’t these machines be more reliable?

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16 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, it’s not just you – it’s a conspiracy to drive us crazy.

jaytkay's avatar

We have four. I would guess that one is down about 25% of the time I visit. Now I’m curious. Ask the person who watches over them and report back!

Ben_Dover's avatar

It’s called Murphy’s Law!; “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.

erichw1504's avatar

@jaytkay I’m hoping somebody that does that will answer!

MrItty's avatar

That’s never been my experience. It’s always either they’re all working, or they’re all closed. Them all being closed REALLY pisses me off. This happens early at morning or late at night, when they don’t have enough people working to work the self-checkout lane. There shouldn’t be ANY need for an employee at the self-checkout lane!! If you’re too stupid to figure out how to use the machine without human assistance, you should be forced to cancel your order and go wait in a non-self-checkout line.

<rant mode off>

Pandora's avatar

Its a conspiracy to get us to go to the cashiers so they stay employed. I can’t say I blame them.
I prefer to know why some people with a huge load of groceries will stand an a long line on self check out when there are cashiers who can help them check out faster and their lines aren’t too long?

erichw1504's avatar

@MrItty I agree with you. There doesn’t really need to be someone standing there at all times, but those things always seem to get stalled on a screen or something. So, having a person nearby to fix them quickly is necessary.

wundayatta's avatar


Either that, or that Mosque near ground zero.

erichw1504's avatar

@wundayatta You may be on to something…

john65pennington's avatar

It’s all about the money. its cheaper for the store to operate just one checkout, rather than three. does the store care about its customers? not really.

Seaofclouds's avatar

When I worked at a grocery store, they would turn them on based on how busy they were. In the mornings, only 2 of the 4 would be on and then late at night they would cut back to 2 again. During the day, they would shut them down to refill the money and occasionally to reboot the system periodically throughout the day.

iamthemob's avatar

I generally just assume that the person is broken down.

You know, unless it’s me.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Really. I keep wondering why retail stores don’t adopt the carousel system that works so well (relatively) at airports all around the world, and the better-run banks that I’ve been to in the past couple of decades. Everyone waits in ONE line, and the next person gets the next available cashier. It’s simple, effective, as quick as it can be, and no one has to guess which line they should get into or avoid.

I take that back: That system was in place at the LL Bean store that I went to last year around Christmas. The line was hugely long, but everyone in it was good-natured, because everyone knew that they’d get served in the proper order. And some people could even leave the line for five or ten minutes to grab a last-minute thing, and get back to their original position in the line. No muss, no fuss, worked great. Took up less space, too.

MrItty's avatar

@CyanoticWasp some stores I’ve been to do that. Best Buy does it during the holidays, and Joanne’s craft store does it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@CyanoticWasp The commissary on post here does that. I like it. Then have a set space for the line. On payday, it can get pretty long, but they are usually pretty good about getting enough registers open to deal with it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Thanks for the affirmation. I’ve talked to people in retail management about this, because grocery stores are the worst. But they don’t want to be the first to innovate in this direction: “The line would look awful,” is all I ever hear.

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