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Thread: Self Service Is The Scourge Of Grocery Shopping

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    CaLoonie Buddyboy546's Avatar
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    My wife and I shop at Loblaws' Atlantic Superstore in Nova Scotia. As older shoppers we appreciate good service along with good products and pricing, but the service end of the deal has been diminishing steadily such that we are shopping elsewhere more and more as time passes. In the last couple of years our local Superstores have had their cashier desks removed, the ones where the bags hung next to the cashier and were loaded as she scanned them in, replaced by desks where the products are all moved to the end of the surface by where the shopper is standing. The intent is clearly to entice the shopper to pack his or her own bags while the cashier scans all the items in. We refuse to pack our own bags. The cashier has to stop scanning and pack the bags as the piles accrue, slowing down the whole process.

    Lately some of the cashiers' positions have been replaced by self service checkouts. With fewer cashiers people are essentially pushed towards the self serve checkouts or wait in longer lines. The other day my wife was in a line of eight shoppers, each with a cart, waiting at the single open checkout. There was no quick checkout open. An assistant was at the self serve checkouts but nobody was using them. My wife asked why another checkout could not be opened. They brought the assistant from the self serve to open a checkout. The assistant staffing the customer service desk then had to go to the self serve checkout to help the one person who had appeared there. Nobody staffed the customer service desk.

    This is all ludicrous. Good customer service is part and parcel of a good shopping experience. Weary people leading busy lives need to have this chore done as smoothly as possible for them. My beef is not that self service checkouts are made available but that the whole level of personal service is diminishing. Good service is included in the price of the products I am buying. If I am expected to use the self service checkouts, I should receive a discount of, say, 5% for doing so. Absent that, why would anyone choose self service other than to save time? More and more time saving is becoming available due to the deliberate diminishing of service at the regular checkouts. I have not me anyone yet who "prefers" the self service; many like us absolutely refuse to use them out of principle.

    Am I alone in these frustrations?
    This thread is currently associated with: Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore RCSS, Shoppers Drug Mart


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    Canadian Genius padyofurniture's Avatar
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    I've seen this happen at the Bedford store where the clerk doesn't bag the grocery items. I don't mind bagging my own but it seems stupid for the clerk to scan an item, then grab a bag from behind the checkout and place it on top of the grocery items. It's the same amount of work for them to place the items in the bag.

    I've really come to dislike the Shoppers self serve checkout.

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    I don't even remember a time at our area Superstores where they bagged the groceries for the customer, it has always been self bag. As for the newly installed self serve check outs at our SDM. No one uses them - they sit empty and the line up for the 1 open till is usually long as quite frankly they have very limited use -credit or debit only - can't use them if you have cash or coupons or an item with a manager's sticker or buy lotto or bus tickets - the list goes on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddyboy546 View Post
    I have not me anyone yet who "prefers" the self service; many like us absolutely refuse to use them out of principle.
    Quote Originally Posted by coupongirl99 View Post
    ... As for the newly installed self serve check outs at our SDM. No one uses them - they sit empty and the line up for the 1 open till is usually long...

    Well, I guess I'm the strange one* as I use the self-serve checkouts almost exclusively. Why???

    1.) Primarily because I dont have to wait in those long lines you speak of when I only have a half-dozen to a dozen items.

    2.) I can scan them, bag them, pay for them, and be gone in record time. Or at least faster than a clerk can scan them mis-bag them (see #3) and then I pay for them.

    3.) I get to bag them the way I like. I prefer to sort them in bags for when I get home.. bag of fridge items... bag of freezer items... bag of shelf/cupboard items... bag of items going to the basement for storage... bag of snacks to hide from the wife... etc

    *or maybe it's New Brunswick that's strange, because no matter where I shop in Southern NB (from Moncton to Saint John) people are always using the self-serve checkouts. It would not be uncommon for me to wait for one to free up (usually not long as they are considered express lanes for the most part)

    ...quite frankly they have very limited use -credit or debit only - can't use them if you have cash or coupons or an item with a manager's sticker or buy lotto or bus tickets - the list goes on.
    Loblaws stores tend to discourage cash at the self-serve, but Sobey's ones handle cash. (not that it matters to me, I pay with my phone)

    Also, I have bought manager-stickered items AND used coupons at these tills. Might be different in other regions, but at both Sobey's and Superstore (and even Walmart) the attendant processes them for you if need be.

    You are right, that you cant pay for Lotto because Lotto tickets are an age-restricted item... and I've never seen bus tickets for off-the-shelf purchasing. However, these are both specialty items that you almost always have to get from an attendant because they are behind glass, or in a drawer.


    ----

    All that said, I get the OP's point about the level and quality of service slipping. And I agree to that point of view entirely. --- Yes, if I go to a traditional checkout, I would expect the clerk (or dedicated bagger) to bag my items for me. Go to Costco, they bag your stuff. Go to virtually ANY grocery store in the US and they usually have a dedicated bagger there... or the clerk does it for you.

    If I choose to go to a self-serve checkout (for whatever reason) then I have opted to self-bag. But if they're going to make me do it myself anyway at a regular checkout, then I'd just as soon go to the self serve checkouts and do it the way I like.

    I had this similar debate recently with my brother and sister-in-law who said "but using self-serve checkouts takes away a job" -- to which I argued "If they performed their job more than to fire my items down a slide to a landing area for me to finish the job myself, maybe I'd re-consider using them instead. But if I'm doing 2/3 the work, then I might as well do it all myself anyway"
    Last edited by bhlombardy; Mon, Oct 22nd, 2018 at 10:03 PM.

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    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    @Buddyboy546 I was also a holdout, refusing to use those darn self serve checkouts. THEN one of the WM I frequent took out the area where there used to be like 5 cashiers and one lineup, and replaced it all with these self serve things.
    So what I did was this.....I acted like I do not understand anything about how to scan, swipe, weigh, lookup an item, use a coupon....all of it. I PLAY dumb!

    The result is I get the attendant nearby to do the entire order for me....and I always thank them.

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    As someone who was a head cashier when I was younger, I avoid the self serve check outs. I would rather wait and keep someone gainfully employed than use the self serve check out. The only place I would use it would be Walmart as I hate the store and when I rarely go in to pick up one product that has been discontinued at my grocery store, I buy 12 of them and leave. Even with self serve check outs, prices keep increasing.

    As for bagging my own items, I actually prefer that than have some inexperienced person put my eggs and light items at the bottom and pile heavy stuff on top.

    Good customer service is becoming rare so when someone really helps me, I make it a point to ask their name and send in a email/letter to the store.
    Last edited by barbis9; Tue, Oct 23rd, 2018 at 11:28 AM.

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    Dancing bean paste bun Ciel's Avatar
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    I only recently noticed that the newer of the two Shoppers in town has a 6-item purchase limit at their two self checkout areas. Never saw that before or I don't visit the store enough to know when the signage is updated.

    At Walmart, I'll wait for a cashier, even the one or two times I've used my debit card when my cash has run out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkonby View Post
    @Buddyboy546 I was also a holdout, refusing to use those darn self serve checkouts. THEN one of the WM I frequent took out the area where there used to be like 5 cashiers and one lineup, and replaced it all with these self serve things.
    So what I did was this.....I acted like I do not understand anything about how to scan, swipe, weigh, lookup an item, use a coupon....all of it. I PLAY dumb!

    The result is I get the attendant nearby to do the entire order for me....and I always thank them.
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    Newfiescreech Newfiescreech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkonby View Post
    @Buddyboy546 I was also a holdout, refusing to use those darn self serve checkouts. THEN one of the WM I frequent took out the area where there used to be like 5 cashiers and one lineup, and replaced it all with these self serve things.
    So what I did was this.....I acted like I do not understand anything about how to scan, swipe, weigh, lookup an item, use a coupon....all of it. I PLAY dumb!

    The result is I get the attendant nearby to do the entire order for me....and I always thank them.
    Hey walkonby..i hear you girl ..our walmart they see you with few things in your cart ..walmart employee is there saying self service checkouts are available..im like Mmmmmm not very education with those little suckers yet ..LOL i told girl from Walmart..didnít come here do work of cashier and checkouts my items out and bag them ..i like wait in line for real person serve me ..but thanks anyway for letting me know .
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    Smart Canuck smileyKT's Avatar
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    I also avoid self checkout... in general I find it takes much longer since I'm trying to get the cashier over to approve the coupons or price matching.
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    Another oddball here. I love the self checkout at the grocery stores. In general, it's much faster for me, and most of the time I'm not doing a big shop. I like that at RCSS there are 6 self checkouts and only one line up for them. This means that if one person has a slowdown, it doesn't affect everyone in line the way it does at a cashier manned cashed. The self checkout also allows me to see if all the prices scanned properly while scanning items, and not have to make a stop at the often busy customer service desk on way out to have correction done.

    I also liked when the RCSS here went to self-bagging about 7 or 8 years ago. Was so tired of cashiers packing my items in ways that made no sense (like putting cans on top of the bananas I carefully chose and getting them all bruised up). Our YIG still has the cashiers bagging.

    With the self-checkout at SDM I have to be careful not to scan the item multiple times. It doesn't wait for the items to go into the bag before being able to scan again. I quickly found the delete item button on the SDM self-checkout, so it works.

    In general the customer service offered at my RCSS, YIG and SDM is pretty good. But sadly I know that's not the case everywhere.
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    I am a huge fan of self-checkout especially at SDM and Walmart. There is a SDM on my university campus and it is always busy. The self checkouts are in use most of the time and it is convenient, because there is always a big line and you can tap and be on your way. However, I noticed the self-checkout at the SDM closer to my home are rarely used, which is good for me because I can be on my merry way.
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    Dancing bean paste bun Ciel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coupongirl99 View Post
    I don't even remember a time at our area Superstores where they bagged the groceries for the customer, it has always been self bag. As for the newly installed self serve check outs at our SDM. No one uses them - they sit empty and the line up for the 1 open till is usually long as quite frankly they have very limited use -credit or debit only - can't use them if you have cash or coupons or an item with a manager's sticker or buy lotto or bus tickets - the list goes on.
    What about those Saturdays when a local organization (high school, hockey team or cause) has youth hanging at checkout to bag your order with a donation box nearby? I see them at Fortinos (part of the Loblaws grocery family) somewhat regularly. As for bagging at Fortino's, it usually depends on the cashier if she or he bags and how many customers are in the lineup.
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    Dancing bean paste bun Ciel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by super807 View Post
    Another oddball here. I love the self checkout at the grocery stores. In general, it's much faster for me, and most of the time I'm not doing a big shop. I like that at RCSS there are 6 self checkouts and only one line up for them. This means that if one person has a slowdown, it doesn't affect everyone in line the way it does at a cashier manned cashed. The self checkout also allows me to see if all the prices scanned properly while scanning items, and not have to make a stop at the often busy customer service desk on way out to have correction done.

    I also liked when the RCSS here went to self-bagging about 7 or 8 years ago. Was so tired of cashiers packing my items in ways that made no sense (like putting cans on top of the bananas I carefully chose and getting them all bruised up). Our YIG still has the cashiers bagging.

    With the self-checkout at SDM I have to be careful not to scan the item multiple times. It doesn't wait for the items to go into the bag before being able to scan again. I quickly found the delete item button on the SDM self-checkout, so it works.

    In general the customer service offered at my RCSS, YIG and SDM is pretty good. But sadly I know that's not the case everywhere.
    I wonder if there continues to be a grocery bagging competition at the annual grocer convention? Do stores teach bagging to grocery cashiers or is it more learn from experience at the job?
    I agree, sometimes bagging by cashier is not always how I'd like things put in. Especially if I fail to voice that I am rolling or carrying my stuff, so please put item X in this bag but Y & Z in those bags. It never fails to astound me how one cashier may try to put everything into one bag then kind of double-take when I say I cannot carry the order out like that.

    I'll admit to using Sobey's self-checkout for a drink or say 5 items of groceries. But if I am feeling off or something, I prefer to wait in a cashier lineup for the use of a belt when I just cannot take the idea of self-scanning my items and pivoting to the metal bench next to scanner. Or if I'm redeeming Air Miles, I cannot use self-checkout.
    When I had the chance to visit a Zehrs in a small town, I always used self-checkout for drinks since Saturdays were busy at 9am and lineups were long (and I was attending a club meeting upstairs in the store).
    Last edited by Ciel; Tue, Oct 30th, 2018 at 07:01 PM.
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    I'm going to take the self-checkout premise a bit further... When I shop at some stores in the US (Sam's Club, BJ's Wholesale, and Stop & Shop to name a few)... they allow me to use my mobile phone to scan the UPC into their respective app as I put them in the cart, (or in case of Stop & Shop you use a scanner gun you pick up on entry to the store -- which you can only get if you're a loyalty card member).

    Regardless, I scan the items as I put them in my cart so I really only have to handle them once. I actually have my bags in the cart and I'm bagging them as I go along.

    When I get to the checkout and scan my membership card, the whole cart is processed in one fell swoop and I pay. -- At Sam's Club, I can pay for them right in the app and not even have to see a checkout. I just show my digital receipt at the door.

    These are even faster because you only have to handle your items once when you pluck them off the shelf and cart/bag them.
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