Finances & Money

Why I Use The Self-Checkout Lane


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The cashier roller her eyes at me, but I didn’t care. I knew I was right.

All the self-checkout lanes were backed up, so I had wheeled my cart up to one of the express lane counters since I only had a few items. The register beeped as each item was scanned and placed in a bag, but something caught my eye.

I noticed a charge for nearly $5 for my tiny cluster of garlic. Looking closer, I saw that the recorded weight was almost a pound and a half. I stated that the garlic didn’t seem to weigh in correctly. Then came the eye roll and a deep sigh as she removed the item from my bill. She placed the tiny bag of garlic back on the scale.

“OK, see, I’m not touching the scale,” she said as she raised her hands in the air.

This time my garlic weighed in at 0.13 pounds for a cost of $0.44.   She apologized and made some comment about how the scales seem to malfunction occasionally. I honestly believe my bottle of mouthwash was still on the scanner when the garlic was originally weighed. I could tell by the slight red tint on her cheeks that she he had fully expected the same weight to register and was slightly embarrassed.

I was satisfied that the charge was corrected, and wanted to squash the awkwardness that had crept into our interaction. “No worries, I’m surprised at what the scale says when I step on it some days as well,” I said. I laughed, she laughed, and the person behind me in line laughed.

This sequence of events is one reason why I normally go for the self-checkout isle. The cashiers simply don’t have any incentive to make sure everything is scanned in correctly. Why would they care about your money? The cashiers only have one goal in mind, and that is to get you through the line as fast as possible.

In the self-checkout lane I would be weighing the items myself, and would have certainly made sure everything else was of the scale, and certainly would have noticed the incorrect weight. When someone else does the work for you, a kind of “cruise control” usually creeps in and the mistake may not be noticed.

Walking out the door, the old phrase, ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself,” echoed in my head. Next time I’ll stick with the self-checkout isle.

Have you ever noticed a mistake by a cashier? Do you use the self-checkout lane?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I definitely agree with you about checking the prices of things. I was ultimately annoyed this morning on my walk to work. I occasionally pick up a small bouquet of flowers for the office. I do so on Monday, so they last, and haven’t gotten one in several months. I excitedly stopped by Whole Foods and looked at their selection. The normal $4.99 flowers they have weren’t there, but there were nice bouquets for $5.99 and tulips for $4.99. I picked one of the bouquets, when to the cashier, and it rang up at $9.99 plus tax. I was annoyed, since this bouquet was literally right in front of the sign for $5.99. I went back, picked up the tulips and the same thing happened. They had the sign for $4.99 in the sea of tulip. What you didn’t notice was one small selection of 6 stem tulips, all the rest a dozen (which were $9.99). I was so annoyed that I walked out with not flowers this week. I’ll stop by the new trader joe’s instead.

    My brother in law did the same thing recently, not checking the price of something as he checked out, only to realize he had paid $100 for a pair of cleats for my nephew. He also assumed he must need new cleats, not remembering that he had bought new cleats in the fall and they actually still fit.

    Lessons learned.



  • I usually do groceries every Saturday for our 1 week consumption. There was an instance that I bought 10 apples and when I checked it in our home, I found out that there were only 6 apples in my plastic but in the receipt there were 10 apples. So, since then, I always do check what they put in my plastic.

  • @Miel – Reminds me of all the sales where the ad says, “Prices starting at $X.YY” Everyone just sees the number, and when you show up you find that there’s ONE variation of the product at that price, but almost everything is more expensive. Marketing TRAP!!!!

  • To be honest, I never experienced things like this… It is indeed annoying, but I think being a cashier can be a tedious work, since they have to face different kinds of people — not necessarily nice ones — the whole day, so they sometimes do mistakes like this. That being said, I also like to use the self-check out lane so I have full control of the items I buy.

  • I typically use the self-checkout lane, but there are times when I go though a regular lane. In either case, mistakes can be made, and items incorrectly rung up. It is our responsibility to always check our receipt and make sure that all charges are correct.

  • @SuburbanFinance – I don’t disagree that the job of a cashier is tedious and repetitive. However, their main objective is to get you through the line. When I’m doing it myself, I have two objectives: 1.) to get out of the store quickly but also 2.) to ensure that my bill is 100% correct. I trust myself over anyone else to get it done and done right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • @Bryce – You’re right, it is ALWAYS our responsibility to ensure things are done correctly, but I’d rather check my own work than someone else’s. Plus…the self checkout lanes are almost always wide open because so many people seem to be scared off by them. 🙂

  • Yeah, I use the self check. One of them gave me back $50 in change on a $10 purchase once.

    Yes, I did report the error. Now, will I get the same consideration when the robot makes the error in the other direction?

    Self check outs are the worst idea yet in a long line of declining customer service at brick and mortar retailers.

  • @observer – I actually think they’re a great idea, especially since so many people shy away from using them. If I’m holding 2 items in my hand, and the shortest line with a cashier is 3 people deep I can get out of the store much quicker. I’m also much more efficient than your average cashier. 🙂

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