A proposal: Rules for the grocery store self-checkout

When I moved into my condo, one of the great things about my new spot is that I live about three minutes' walk away from a grocery store. Talk about convenience. I envisoned myself keeping nearly nothing in my fridge, and running over whenever I needed something. Treating my nearby Giant as my own personal refrigerator.

The problem with this in reality is that while the store is fairly easy and quick to navigate, checkout is always an arduous process. Even in the self-checkout, what is supposed to be perfect for the few-items-in-and-out shopper, always seems to be populated with people who have checkout crises.
So, in the interest of allowing us all to zip through the self checkout as intended, I would like to propose the following rules:
1. If something has an issue scanning, leave it behind.
Right now you may be envisioning this sort of dramatic scene, which is clearly the reason why people continue to attempt to scan an item that fails...
You: Frozen peas, I can't get you to scan.
Frozen peas: You have to leave me! I'll never make it!
You: I won't leave you frozen peas! I haven't left a vegetable behind before and I'm sure as hell not going to start now!
Frozen peas: Leave me! I'll manage somehow by myself!
You: I'll never forget you, frozen peas...
2. Buy produce only in limited quantities and only if you know exactly what it is.
Alternately, if you don't know what the produce item is, but you are willing to guess blindly, that is also acceptable.  Like the woman who rang up her apples as anjou pears in front of me once. Now that's taking one for the team.
3. Anything scooped into a container or bag without a bar code is not an acceptable item for self-checkout.
I'm looking at you, bulk granola guy.
4. Use the self-checkout only if you have less than one-half cart of groceries.
While everyone appreciates the skill it takes to purchase all your groceries for the year in one fell swoop, your piled-high cart is best checked out by a pro. With that much stuff in there, odds are things will go wrong with at least three items.
5. Bag well, and bag fast.
6. Wait until the person in front of you is bagging their last few items.
7. If the person behind you does not wait until you are finished bagging your last few items, it is perfectly acceptable to "accidentally" put anything awesome they jam into your stuff in your bag.
8. If you forget something, do NOT go back for it.
This is, in fact, the douchiest of self-checkout maneuvers.
9. Pay only in formats acceptable for 2009.
This may seem limited, but it includes cash in $20s, credit cards and debit cards. Excluded: personal checks, jars of pennies, and any form of change that requires more than 10 seconds of counting.
10. Take your receipt.
While this is not as critical as the other items, nobody really wants to take your receipt PLUS their receipt, leaving them with a receipt well over five feet long and the dilemna of what to do with a piece of paper that has part of your credit card number on it.
11. If you use the self-checkout and someone has to come and help you three or more times for things that are not system errors, never use it again.
It's possible that the self-checkout has serious usability problems. It's also possible you are just too stupid to use self-checkout. Best not to risk it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is very kind of you to write a guide to these self checkout machines which are a usability nightmare. It will be better if they were designed to be intuitive so everyone could use them without having to call for assistant 3-4 times every purchase.