I was moved to blog today by the comic below that appeared in my morning newspaper. One of my favorite pet peeves has to do not with actually shopping, but with checking-out afterward. I don’t mean just the pain of parting with my hard-earned dollars, but the agony of having to wait in line to do so.
I still believe retail outlets should be fined if they don’t have enough checkouts open. There should never be line-ups at the open checkouts if there are closed checkouts is my mantra. It is bad enough to have to pay often inflated prices for items, making customers wait to pay is just salt in the wound!
Aside from having a sufficient number of cashiers in place to process the goods, checkouts need to be organized into sensible categories. We already have checkouts that are designated as Less Than Six Items Only and Less Than 12 Items Only. This is a good start, but why stop here? Based solely on my many jaw-tightening, teeth-grinding experiences, we are often in dire need of a Credit Card/Debit Card ONLY line!
There are few things in the realm of shopping that are more irksome than the abominable coin-counter. In Canada we have one- and two-dollar coins, so you can pay a $10.67 bill relatively easily using just coins – if they are the right coins. We also round cents up or down – in this case the amount due is $10.65 – thereby banishing the poor penny to it’s other role in life, that of a prominent position in certain loafers. That’s all fine and dandy, but getting stuck in a line behind someone who is counting out dimes and nickels – keeping the quarters for laundry no doubt – is nothing short of cruel.
It’s time for a Paying by Cash or Check? This Line Only checkout because in my experience those who go hunting in search of change, and wasting everybody’s time, usually come up a few coins short and end up paying by card anyway. I include checks in this line because of the evident requirement for umpteen initials from various Head Cashiers or managers – who are always on lunch – to be accepted is another great time waster.
By designating checkouts according to payment method the system would be streamlined; those with cards would zip through the No Cash or Checks line, even the once deadly coupon redeeming process has been expedited by bar code scanning. Those opting to use checks or cash would only delay each other. Problem solved. But I fear there is still one annoyance that is out of the hands of retailers; the Over Shopper!
An Over Shopper is a person with a finite amount available for shopping, regardless of cash, check or card, who pays no attention to that limit while actually shopping, filling their cart to overflowing, only to have to remove items once they are at the checkout! They have the cashier scan everything, figure out how far over their limit they are, then start making decisions as to what can be deducted. Meanwhile a line of tired, impatient shoppers is kept waiting.
Which brings me to the relatively new concept of the self checkout. In theory this is a fine idea, no need for cashiers, just scan and bag your own items and off you go. Spot checks keep shoppers honest, mostly. Just make sure you don’t find yourself in line behind someone with a cart full of non-scannable items. Fruits and vegetables, particularly of an exotic nature, delay things. Missing code stickers are fruit flies in the ointment. The self-checkout can be a great way to get out with one or two scannable items when there is no line. Just approach with caution.