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When Did Customers All Become Criminals Here on the Suncoast – Self-Checkout Nightmares

| Angela Naff |

All of us who have been through a store from Sarasota County to Tampa Bay recently know that self-checkout lanes have taken over the world. Gone are the days when quick and easy was part of our shopping experience. You went through the store, found your needs, and left the tough job to the cashier. I, for one, knew that I could not keep a smile on my face, up with the pace, and I appreciated the cashiers who were able to take on that job. I never applied for something like that on purpose, but honestly tried hard to be kind to those always checking me out. Unfortunately, we all were put in for the role without knowing it and made to do the jobs we once balked at in this age of self-checkouts.

A friend recently told me a story about his self-checkout experience checking out at a Walmart in North Port in this manner: I finished my shopping, and I was checking myself out. Two employees were both standing watching me check myself out. I only had a few more items to check out, and I looked right at them standing about 5 feet from me and told them that I felt very uncomfortable with them watching my every move. I told them they should be working at checkouts. They watched me the whole time; what was it going to take? An onion, 1/2 gallon of milk, a couple of cans of dog food? I know there are built-in cameras on these registers. I told them I used to be a cashier at Walmart, where I would ring up groceries for customers. I don’t appreciate being watched like a criminal!


How many of you out there have had a similar situation? You are watched for fear you miss an item or have to be retaught how to check out your vegetables. Oh yeah, that is one of my biggest pet peeves: finding those items that don’t possess a barcode. You would think you asked for a kidney with some of those standing watching you check yourself out when you ask them to move in to assist. I have caught myself on several trips wanting to scream that I’m already doing their job; please don’t act like I’m a criminal trying to force you into an act you dislike so much. I don’t deserve your derision and nasty looks. Honestly, when did the customer go from always being right to now being a pain in the behind for the stores they frequent?

I have completely changed how I shop and do more online than I would have ever thought possible. I plan when I can go to the grocery store based on off-peak times for self-checkout. Also, coupons are nearly impossible to use now; prices are increasing, and tempers are flaring. It would seem that with all of this, stores would find a way to welcome more customers, but the trend is going in the opposite direction. More places have less staff, and you can’t find someone when you need them. In direct contrast, when checking yourself out, you can bet there are cameras, human eyes, and distrust trained in on you until you successfully pass the test by getting out of the store again without doing anything wrong, which you can be called out for.

I find stress the only thing that happens when I need to shop in person these days. Items are out of stock, prices are rising, and I need to shop based on what has tags so I can scan it, not fill my cart too much, and double-check everything three times to ensure they have no reason to stop you on the way out. Shopping has become a contact sport that I’m withdrawing from more than ever before. I hope that somewhere down the line, the self-checkout trend finds some balance with customer service again. Until then, congrats on the new job Suncoast of Florida checking groceries you have; hopefully, you don’t need to retire because you will be doing it the rest of your life.

Top Photo by Mid-Journey

Middle Photo from Deposit Photos

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