Self checkout: We all work for Walmart now

Northeast MS Walmart self checkout
January 31st, 2020     Featured Opinion

Tupelo, MS – Shopping has become a major source of frustration for many people over the years. The reasons for this tension are many, and they are getting worse. Self checkout is just the most recent Walmart customer insult. It is no secret that the bottom line is the primary concern for all businesses, however, many of the larger retailers are committing sins against customers. One has to wonder how much more the consumer is willing to take.

Trying to find the product that you are looking for is next to impossible, because they seem to relocate themselves every minute. You can spend what seems like an eternity just trying to decide which of thirty brands of ketchup to buy, and end up buying sriracha by mistake.

Then there is the time spent wading through the crowds that have either decided that it’s appropriate to gossip in the aisle, or just stand in a state of confusion; when all you want to do is grab your favorite brand of baked beans and go home. I mean they’re right there! Just move over a little and I’ll gladly move on so you can keep talking about your cousin’s friend’s Pomeranian that likes to eat dandelion fluff even though it makes him sneeze.

These stores are often running on a skeleton crew of employees, and the ones that are fortunate enough to be working are often so under-paid that they have stopped caring about the customer at all. Those that do still care about their jobs are usually lost in a sea of cardboard due to pulling double or triple duty, because the company has gotten rid of the stockers.

With that said, it is Wal-Mart that has committed the biggest sin. After walking around the store five times to find what I am looking for, because I didn’t have a map handy when I made my shopping list. After braving the wilds of the diary section, where the milk is always sweaty for some reason. After saying “excuse me” to a quarter of the population, now I have to use self checkout?

Is self checkout the final insult?

I have spent a great deal of time working in retail stores, and I can honestly say that I was never put on a register without being trained. Wal-Mart only allows employees that have been approved for the register to ring up customers. However, you, a completely untrained individual can check yourself out. Keep in mind that this is a job that the company doesn’t even trust a majority of its own employees to do.

Self-checks are justified by the fact that the customer is not actually handling the company’s money. A fact that is not entirely true. In one of my earlier mentioned retail jobs, the CEO of the company paid the store a visit while we were in the middle of cleaning the stock room. He asked me, the manager on duty, “Why is my money lying on the floor?” Wal-Mart has to look its products in a similar way.

Since I am untrained, and I am not sure how to operate the scales at the register, who is to say that I won’t accidentally pay for bananas when I actually purchased grapes, which are a lot pricier per pound?

There is typically an employee at the self-check to monitor the customer, and make sure that such accidents don’t happen, however, when I have been through these lines they are typically more worried about gossip and what time they can take their lunch.

Don’t get me wrong, the self checkout is a wonderful thing if you are buying one or two items. The problem is when a person has an entire cart full of groceries, and they are forced to ring themselves up.

Once I scan an item, it goes into the bag. That’s first day cashier stuff. My question is, where do I put that bag after it is full. If I leave it on the bag station, I can’t fill my next bag. I suppose we are intended to just pile items that we have already scanned on top of items that we are yet to purchase and hope for the best.

If we are all Wal-Mart employees now, then I suppose during our next shopping trip; we should stop by HR and give them our direct deposit information and fill out our tax forms. Maybe after we get the paperwork done, we can all watch the new cashier training videos on a smartphone app.


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