I'm a fairly technologically savvy person, but I have a real aversion to self-checkout stations at the grocery store. I seem to either get held up by someone in front of me struggling with a scanning error, or run into problems myself. But after reading the Washington Post's tips for error-free self-checkout, I might be ready to face the dreaded scanner again.
The tips come at the end of an article about self-checkout systems and their pitfalls. Some problems are machine generated — like when the weight-sensitive bagging system is thrown off by an especially heavy batch of oranges — and others are the result of user error. The vice president of the supermarket chain Magruder's makes a wry observation:
"I see it in the Rockville store all the time," he says. "The old folks don't want to wait in the long lines in manned checkout, so they go to the self-checkout, knowing that someone will come over and help them. God love 'em."
Intentional hold-ups aside, here are some of the article's tips for avoiding problems while checking out:
• Keep your purse, wallet or car keys away from areas that weigh items. They can interfere with the system's calibration.
• Don't try to buy alcohol. Beer, wine and liquor purchases require age verification, which means everyone in line will be giving you the stink-eye while you wait for a store employee to come over and check your ID.
• Information for seasonal or specialty items might not be loaded in the system. Save the Santa hats for the manned registers.
• Be careful if you bring bags from home. Many current self-checkout systems cannot account for the weight difference of a reusable bag made from heavier material like cloth. Don't fill these bags until you are completely finished with the checkout process.
• Read the rest: Grocery Stores and Customers Try To Keep Up with Self-Checkout from the Washington Post
Have any other tips for making self-checkout as painless as possible? Share them in the comments!
(Image: The U.S. National Archives)