Rules for Self-Checkout Users

Over the last several years, Self-Checkout systems have been popping up in stores everywhere. Benefitting both the customers and the stores, these machines ease congestion in the checkout lines and reduce the staff needed to operate each register. However, I constantly come across people who abuse the system and cause what should be a quick and seamless process, to be a hideous, inefficient experience.

If you really think about it, Self-Checkout is basically an 'express checkout' line that doesn't require a cashier. 'Express checkout', as you know, is generally reserved for customers purchasing ten to fifteen items or less. It's a way to allow people who are just popping in to grab a snack, a forgotten ingredient for their meal, a light bulb, or any quick item, to grab that item and get out without being forced into the general population of shoppers.

Unfortunately, many people don't see these automated systems as such. Far too many people, especially those shopping in mega stores like the spawn of Satan that is Walmart, see these lines as just 'the shorter one'. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a store to pick up toothpaste and shampoo only to be stuck in the Self-Checkout line behind someone with n entire cart worth of products.

Now I'm sure there are a few of you reading this who disagree. You probably think that cart goers are just as welcome at the machines as the quick shoppers. If this is you, you're not entirely incorrect, but lets take a moment to actually look at how these machines are designed and what that design says about their intended use.

The average Self-Checkout machine consists of five parts: A very small staging area, scanner, scale, touch screen interface, and a double-wide bagging area which contains it's own scale designed to verify your purchase based on the combined weights of the items you're buying. Taking this into consideration, it's quite clear that the machines were designed to support two bags and a scale worth of products. This equates to what a person can carry on them or in one of those plastic picnic-style baskets stores stock next to the carts.

This is what it comes down to. If you're at a Self-Checkout line and you have to constantly push the 'skip bagging' button because you no longer have room to place anything, you're in the wrong area. You should have taken your cart and joined the rest of the shopping population in a regular human operated line. Leave the Self-Checkout to those of us who are trying to get in and out quickly with a small handful of items. It's what those lines were made for.

posted by Christopher Schnese