Pet Peeve: Self-Checkout registers that won’t let me check out!

self-checkoutI’ve always thought it silly for a customer to have to stand in a long line waiting to check out at the grocery store when you only have a handful of items to pay for.

Surely they could come up with a faster, more efficient way to handle us “quick in and quick out” customers.

The self-checkout register was invented for just that purpose. If you have just a few items in your basket, self-checkout lets you scan them yourself, bag them, and pay for them quickly so you can be on your way. This also helps the store keep the lines at their regular cash registers moving better. 

But in my opinion, the self-checkout registers of today just aren’t ready for prime-time. It seems like every time I try to use one the register somehow gets confused and I hear that irritating “An attendant has been notified to help you” message.

I don’t need any help, thank you. I just need to scan and pay for this gallon of milk and roll of toilet paper so I can be on my way!

And then there’s my personal favorite: “Unexpected item in the bagging area!”

Newsflash: That “unexpected item” is the same item you just finished scanning and itemizing on the register’s video screen!

The problem is these registers are programmed to assume that every little perceived abnormality in the scanning/bagging/paying process is an attempt to steal merchandise and/or defraud the store.

For example, let your hand touch the register’s scale while you’re scanning a product and you’ll probably get the dreaded “Wait for an attendant” message. And don’t even think about removing your bags from the bagging area before you have made payment, even if there is no more room there for additional items and you need to make some space so you can finish checking out.

Memo to the stores that use self-checkout registers: We’re not all crooks who are out to steal from you. Sure, you’ll have a thief walk out of the store without paying for something on occasion, but that happens even when they go through the regular checkouts.

Bottom line: With all the modern technology you have at your disposal these days, surely there are ways to prevent thievery and fraud at self-checkouts without making the checkout process such a hassle. I love the concept of self-checkouts, but you really need to make using them less frustrating for your honest customers!

And now a question for you, the reader: Do these contraptions irritate you as mush as they do me, or do you think I’m just being overly critical?