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Lawyer explains why you should always avoid self-checkout in stores

The Pitfalls of Self-Checkout: Frustration for Shoppers and Retailers
The Rise of Self-Checkout

Once upon a time, driven by corporate cost-cutting, self-checkout machines began appearing in stores. The motivation was purely economic, with little thought given to customer satisfaction. These machines promised to save companies as much as 66% on labor costs compared to human cashiers.

However, from the very beginning, these automated kiosks were met with disdain from customers. According to Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, customers “detested them” because the focus was on economics, not customer service.

The Failures of Self-Checkout

The problems with self-checkout systems quickly became apparent. Around 67% of shoppers have found that these machines often don’t function correctly and require the intervention of a human employee to resolve issues.

Moreover, the cost of installing and maintaining these machines can be significant, leading to reduced profits for companies. Ironically, the introduction of self-checkout systems has even resulted in increased shoplifting.

The Evolution of Self-Checkout

The concept of self-checkout is not entirely new; Piggly Wiggly introduced it in the 1900s. However, it was accompanied by lower prices, with customers essentially trading their labor for savings.

Unfortunately, this trade-off no longer exists in today’s grocery stores, where prices remain high despite the customer now taking on some of the workload.

Corporate Determination

Despite these shortcomings, corporations have persisted with self-checkout systems, resulting in some unintended consequences.

Attorney Carrie Jernigan, with 1.2 million TikTok followers, warns against using self-checkout due to the growing sophistication of intentional shoplifters.

Criminalizing Good Customers

Retail giants are taking an uncompromising stance, penalizing shoppers who accidentally forget to scan an item or make errors. Jernigan highlights that corporations aren’t interested in distinguishing between genuine mistakes and intentional theft.

If a shopper is suspected of underpaying, asset protection departments scour hours of surveillance footage to find a discrepancy. This can lead to criminal charges, even for those who did pay for an item. Defending oneself against these charges can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining.

Consumer Empowerment

The solution to these issues is simple: consumers have the power to bring about change. They can choose not to use self-checkout machines, even if it means waiting in line. By doing so, they support the employment of human cashiers and send a clear message to corporations.

Corporate Responsibility

Companies can also address the labor shortage by offering better wages and benefits to employees. Currently, the wage gap between CEOs and the average worker is staggering, with CEOs making 351 times more than the average employee. This massive disparity can and should be addressed to ensure fair compensation for all.

Exploring Alternatives

Another option is to boycott big chain stores entirely. By supporting local businesses or more ethically-minded retailers, consumers can contribute to a more equitable and customer-focused shopping experience.

In conclusion, while self-checkout systems promised cost savings for corporations, they have resulted in frustration for shoppers, errors in transactions, and even increased shoplifting. Consumers have the power to influence change by avoiding self-checkout machines and advocating for fair compensation for retail employees. Exploring alternatives to big chain stores can also contribute to a more positive shopping experience for all.