Supermarket annoyances and self-checkouts

Last night called in the M&S in town laden down with various shopping bags from other stores.

With a shopping basket in my other hand the store manager seemed to be keeping his beady eye on me after I rearranged other bags in my left hand (as one was heavy/cutting into my fingers) - I’m sure he thought I’d slipped one of several steaks into one of my other bags as he kept glancing in my direction.

Carried on filling up my basket - no one manning the tills at all, 20 deep at the self-checkout however.

I approached the ‘manager’ and asked why there were no manned tills - ‘you can use the self-checkout’ he said, to which I replied ‘don’t you have to swipe those steaks at the till to stop them setting off the alarm when I leave the store?’ - AFAIK I can’t do that at the self-checkout.

He agreed and promptly asked a young lady to go to the till, and I was on my merry way in no time without fumbling scanning items myself while managing loads of other bags from different stores.

Just did another shop with a progressively overfilled basket in the local Sainsbury’s supermarket - did my usual trick of going in for one thing and ending up with twenty in the basket.

As I walked up to the ‘manned checkout’ the youngster sat there got up and ignored me. ‘Are you closed?’, I queried. ‘Going for training’ he replied as he sauntered off to another till which was closed, to natter with some other emloyee who seemed to be doing nothing.

The only other ‘manned’ till had a woman doing a month’s worth of shopping who was taking ages (not her fault) so I approached the ‘floor walker/supervisor’ and asked why they’ve never got enough staff on the tills at this branch anymore but always seem to have half a dozen people standing around doing nothing.

‘There’s a self-checkout’ over there he replied. Rather irked I retorted embarrassingly that I didn’t want a ‘f…g’ self-checkout - nearly handed him my basket to put things back on the shelves but he was disappearing into the distance ignoring me by this point.

Am I alone in my dislike for self-checkouts?

A couple of items, not too bad maybe, but still slower as you have to press buttons for ‘bags used’ at the start and end, then choose all manner of options to pay by which time you’d have left a ‘manned’ till.

Add to that, whenever I use a self-checkout it always goes ‘wrong’ - items not recognised, alerts when I put the item in the bagging area correctly, having to call someone over to verify age when I have a bottle of wine or something falls over in the bagging area and confused the system.

Once had to prove I was over 18 to buy a budget Disney DVD in Sainsbury’s - it was a U!

What else annoys you with supermarkets?

Apologies - Victor Meldrew mode off…


Mostly I am OK with them in supermarkets for a few items but I note our local B+Q have ditched theirs after several years.

Every time I went I seemed to have items that would not scan or had blades/solvents etc and needed authorisation. Hopeless!

They have actually put back more regular tills and it appeared more staff so good for them.



Good job B&Q.

I must have used self-checkouts dozens of times, but I struggle to think of any when the assistant was not needed to sort something out or authorise an age-restricted sale.

Anyone else noticed the increasing tendency to ask if you want a receipt with your purchase? Must be some kind of green thinking, but yes I do want a receipt in case I’m challenged on leaving the store (especially if I’ve only got a couple of things and no bag), or in case an item is faulty or frankly ‘off’ as meat can occasionally be.


I don’t use self check outs what I do find annoying is when you are in a que and the people in front are being served and when they have been served they then start fumbling around looking for their purse wallet etc.

Also the time spent scanning vouchers for extra points money off etc much rather see more consistent pricing.


Unexpected item in bagging area aaaaahhhhhhh


The ones in Poundland ( good for cd finds ) can be quite amusing when they have the comedy voice switched on…Yoda was funny.
But generally self service is a complete pita.


I find the handheld scanners in supermarkets (well, Waitrose) pretty usable and it’s definitely preferable to stocking up your trolley, then having to get it all out for the till before putting it all back again (tin cans on top of the eggs etc.).

I only use the scan-it-yourself tills if I’ve got a few items. Trying to do several bags-worth must be a total 'mare. The reaction times of the scales that check you’ve put each item on it aren’t always as good as I’d like, but that’s the only irritation I’ve come across.


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At risk of failing to fall in with the clamour, I love self-checkouts. In, out, usually more than enough spare tills are available to go straight through. Prodding the screen to say No Bags is just muscle memory - finish scanning, select payment option prod No Bags etc, and No to a receipt unless any of my purchases might require one for refunds, in which case yes please I’ll have one. If the shop offers an option not to take a receipt it follows that they can’t seriously challenge a customer when leaving, unless they have suspicions. I rely on the fact that being a [usually] well-turned out middle-aged bloke I’m not likely to be viewed with suspicion.

Unexpected items are always caused by moving things during the scan & pay process, like helping to repack while OH carries on throwing things down from the till. You just learn; either pack properly as you go or wait till you’ve paid, then you can start lifting things off.

Reality is that self-checkouts are great.

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The local ASDA, which sees the big shop (primarily the larger household items), has self-checkouts for large trollies and they are a total 'mare, with someone needing to stand over you…and what reward/thank you follows for this…nowt. IME people queue at the ordinary tills rather than use the selfies, until the shepherd comes along and guides the sheep against their will to the selfies - no need for a body language analyst to work out what many of the sheep are thinking (baa…).

Trying to keep many bag-loads of stuff on the weigh-scale side is a right PITA and then there’s always the product which doesn’t weigh what it should and/or that problem barcode.

Moral of the tail - never join the queue for a selfie, for you could be there for a while!

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I agree on the vouchers pcd - I always forget to take the £5 off vouchers for M&S from the previous shop - it’s always a heartsink when someone in front produces wads of voucher/coupons to scan, though I guess for some those vouchers make a lot of difference to their budgeting each week.

Seriously, they have silly voices?

Sainsbury’s one sounds like a female Northern Marvin the Paranoid Android - ‘do ya wanna receipt?’ - in a couldn’t care less tone.

Yes, absolutely awful as one of several bags inevitably falls or generates an error if you move it to fill another.

Out of interest, how to those scanner things work? Do they just trust you to have scanned everything? Seen some people use them at the local Waitrose but never tried them myself. What happens at the checkout?

[quote=“HouseholdNaim, post:9, topic:6194, full:true”]

Believe me, I’ve tried to learn their foibles, they just never work without a hitch for me, perhaps because I often do larger shops with more than one bag - at least on a proper till with a conveyor belt I don’t have to place my shopping on it in a pre-ordained manner or in perfect time. My only real annoyance at a proper till is when the assistant turns something like a family trifle/cake upside down to scan it, and it ends up being gloop.

Whereas it never occurs to me that there’s anything to bother about, they just work virtually every time. Worst case scenario is having to chat to a pleasant sales assistant to resolve it, but it never takes more than a few seconds. On balance I’d rather that than queue behind people who seem surprised to be asked to pay or have a wodge of coupons or can’t decide which card works this week, so take an age to pack, pay and move on.

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Instead of using the available baskets when doing a small shop, i use my own shopping bag to fill.
When at the always small area of the till, I just pop my bag on the counter and let them take the items out, scan and put back. Saves me having to struggle packing. Not something easily done at a self checkout.

I avoid them where I can because a) they are a pain if you buy anything that needs authorising and b) the supermarkets make more than enough money without replacing staff with machines

We use those scanners in Tesco and Waitrose. They save a huge amount of my time and I always use them if I can.

In both shops you scan each item as you take it from the shelf and put it in your own bag, either the bag in your hand or your bags in a trolley. When you check out, the till asks whether everything scanned ok and in Tesco you get a “service check” about once every ten shops. The assistant has to scan about six or so items at random. I think if they find something you missed, you get service checked more often and if they find several things then the whole lot gets rescanned, but I have rarely seen that happen to anyone. In Waitrose in principle it’s the same but I have never either been checked or seen anyone else being checked.

You should give it a try. It’s the best way to do it currently.



a) Scan the wine etc first so that it triggers the flashing red light that gives the assistant time to auth it as (s)he makes his or her way down the tills, or [as I often do] I’ll ask a passing assistant to auth the wine as she’s passing, and get it done & out of the way. It’s no real problem.

b) Morrisons announced another restructure this week, supermarkets are a cut-throat business where not keeping up has only one outcome. As for job losses: my Great Uncle was the village blacksmith. Times change.

There is a cultural issue within Sainsbury’s, I’ve noticed and they’ve been like that for years. I was at the Sainsbury’s in Bramingham Park in Luton a few years back where I had a problem with a deli counter assistant who decided to keep a whole queue of people waiting because she was having a social with a customer who was a friend of hers. When challenged, she replied: “Well, I have to keep my customers happy!”

Furious, I wrote to Sainsbury’s directly and I really tore into them. I told them that I thought there was a serious cultural and staff discipline problem at that particular store, where staff treated the supermarket as a social club rather than a place of work!

That solved the problem. Never had a problem with her again, although she had a face like thunder, so I imagine she had a massive b****cking!

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