A criminal defense lawyer explains why you should never use self-checkout

Originally published at: A criminal defense lawyer explains why you should never use self-checkout | Boing Boing


And here I am, avoiding using them because they malfunction far too often.


Cool. Except for the places there aren’t real cashiers or checkout staff.


I just experienced this for the first time a couple of weeks ago at a clothing store.

“Put the item in this sink-like thing, push a button, swipe your card, walk out with it under your arm.” :face_with_peeking_eye:

It was strange.

Edit: Reflecting on it a little - one of the reasons it felt strange is that it kinda felt like I was shoplifting :laughing:


The justice system is obviously flawed so I’m sure that this has happened, but still, I’m genuinely curious to know just how often stores go back and charge people (either guilty or innocent) months after the fact. Seems like it would have to be a very high-dollar item with pretty strong evidence to make it worth their while. Is self-checkout at jewelry stores a thing yet?


We’ve been using these things for a long time in Ireland. None of this is a concern here.


In the video, she makes a passing comment not included in the summary that makes clear what’s going on:

“And because of who these big box stores are, they usually have to present very little evidence to get an affidavit for a warrant signed”

A capitalist justice system serves capitalists.


In the video, she claims that it’s even worse if you paid cash. I don’t understand why that would matter, versus using a card. Could they tack on a charge of shortchanging the machine? Is that even possible? In my view, that’s better. You can claim it wasn’t you, look how grainy that footage is!


If there was ever an easy AI solution, grocery checkout would be it. I’m sure it’s coming.


A criminal defense lawyer may have a biased view of this risk profile, especially on the months-later part.


… great, an LLM hallucinating extra purchases :money_with_wings:


I’ve used these successfully for about a decade now with no issues…? am I a mutant or something?


I had an error recently, where I bought two bunches of bananas, placed them in the bag, and the scale returned an alert. The guy came over to look, showed the video of me scanning one bunch (they’re the same item, and you weigh them), but no other video footage. He deleted the entry, had me weigh it again and put in the bag. The original weigh was 3.98 pounds, the second weigh was 3.99 pounds. Literally no change in price, but it flagged the 0.01 weigh discrepancy. I’ll admit, it was concerning. The cashier was super nice about it, but I can see a “cashier-less” checkout becoming a problem.


I worked in a Kroger grocery store. I have no fear of self checkout legal jeopardy.

Theft prevention was mostly security theater, with bogus random “security check aisle X” announcements over the intercom when there was no security working. Employees always gave the benefit of the doubt to the customer when an item didn’t get rung up. The only people I ever saw theft prevention go after were those with a history of theft or those who push a shopping cart of groceries out without paying.


I was reading about a system that UK stores employ that uses facial recognition to create blacklists of “shoplifters” (and those lists get shared with other store chains, too). People were getting banned from entering grocery stores without knowing why, and in some cases that the journalists investigated, the shoppers had used self-checkout systems, the system had failed to register an item, they weren’t aware it had happened, and now they were in the database as shoplifters, blocked from entering most grocery stores, without any recourse.

In the UK they don’t (necessarily) charge people, they just secretly blacklist them from ever entering the store (or any store they share blacklists with) again. If they come back, now that shopper is trespassing, so they could get arrested for that.

Now it’s being automated, though. You don’t need the employee to confront anyone, the “AI” identifies and convicts them based on surveillance video, and you let someone else (i.e. the police) deal with it.


Just remember: It’s a stupid machine, and it has no brain, unlike the poor sod who is stuck overseeing one or more banks of the things.


fingers crossed!


Meh, I’m not sure I’d take advice front an “infuencer”.

My wife and daughter meet every couple weeks at a Meijer to do grocery shopping, they both use Meijer’s shop and scan.

They scan the items with their phone as they put the items in their cart, when they’re done they just hold their phone near the register, it prints a receipt and they pay with the card in the app.

Easy peasy.

Occasionally they get picked for a random check, when that happens an employee comes over and checks a certain number of items in their cart to see if they were scanned. The number of items is different each time and they rarely get stopped.

The convenience of bagging and organizing as you go, especially for large shopping trips can’t be beat.

But even if someone wanted to take her advice you would need to find stores with actual cashiers scanning your stuff. In our neck of the woods that ain’t happening.

And what store allows self checkout for an Xbox?

Oh, and from her website, how is this a marketing thing for a criminal attorney? Is she dragging the deer into or out of court?


… it’s part of the music service they use :musical_note:


This seems a bit speculative, no? I’d be curious if there are any statistics available that compare shoplifting charges in self-checkouts compared to any others.