How Sam’s Club Destroyed Self-Checkout

sams-clubThe growing trend for retailers to incorporate self-checkout lanes in the stores is both cost effective for business owners and extremely convenient for customers. When first introduced they were a bit cumbersome. The product scanner was not always sensitive, then there were the multiple choice jungles when you had produce that either had to be weighed or didn’t come with a sticker. Yet and still, if you only had a few items and were able to follow simple on screen directions it was the checkout lane of choice.

You didn’t have to stand there while the cashier acted as though they were in a competition to see if they could be the slowest drag-the-item-across-the-scanner cashier in town, of have to deal with their mad-at-the-world attitude. Yes self-checkout was a good thing.

In some grocery stores, they have those annoying self-checkout machines that talk to you, even scold you if you don’t put the damn scanned item in the plastic bag you didn’t wish to use to begin with. But even those where preferable to getting behind a woman with 200 items, who insists on waiting until the last item is scanned before they unpack their purse and hunt for the credit card, or heaven forbid their checkbook.

Anyway, recently (maybe even last year, I lose track of time) Sam’s Club installed self-checkout lanes. Excellent! The lanes were 10 items of less, credit card only machines. Outstanding! As a frequent shopper at Sam’s, and rarely having more than 10 items, I became quite accustomed to the speedy self-checkout machines, and was sad when they were down due to technical difficulties. sams self checkout

Then my speedy checkout experience was slowed by a managerial decision, or maybe a corporate one. Suddenly when you completed your self-checkout, there was a Sam’s employee that had to initial your receipt. What? You still had to have your receipt checked at the exit even though IT WAS ALREADY CHECKED by one employee at self-checkout. But hey ok, maybe some customers missed an item at the scanner, which was caught at the door, and had to go back through the line again. At least they were out of my way, and the 5 other people behind me.

As for me, I’ll take my chances. If I miss count, and have to walk back to the other side of the store to check out again, so be it. At least I’m the only one inconvenienced for my mistake.

Maybe Sam’s thinking was: an employee at the end of the self-checkout lane could catch the customer’s mistake and send them back through, instead of the customer having to walk back from the exit door on the other side of the store. Maybe. Stupid, but maybe. Why it is the majority of shoppers have to suffer on account of the few? Oh well, that’s another story. Of all the times I have used self-checkout I have yet to see the employee guarding the self-checkout lane count my purchased items, much less even look in the shopping cart. So one has to wonder; what’s the point?

Today was the last straw: Now if you go through the 10 item or less, credit card only, self-checkout lane you have to take your items, scan them, put them in another shopping basket, pay with your card, have the employee guarding the self- checkout lane initial your paid receipt, and get your receipt checked at the exit. This is the new requirement.

This is how it works out though: I take my 5 or 6 items through self-checkout, scan the 40 lb $4.00 case of water and have to move it from one shopping cart to the next, pay, have the self-checkout Nazi initial my receipt without looking in my cart, then have my receipt checked once more at the exit, all because some people obviously cannot count from 1 to 10. Or, some manager thought adding steps to a process would somehow speed things up. Logic is a wonderful thing.

I try to give companies the benefit of the doubt when considering customer service, but the new steps implemented at Sam’s Club make no sense whatsoever. We are talking about 10 items. Not 25, not 50, and not 2 flat carts full of merchandise, but 10 items!

self checkout2 Oh, and you may as well take down the sign – Scan, Pay, Go because it no longer has any meaning.

This is how you take a perfectly good idea and ruin it for the customer. If they add any more steps it will be faster to go back to the old line, at least the cashier will have to move the 40lb case of water from one cart to the next, and I won’t have to get my receipt signed off on twice.