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


Weird isn’t it? The Apple Store much the same. After paying for my reassuringly expensive iThing, I end up walking through the store feeling (and probably looking) guilty as sin because I haven’t been through the whole age-old checkout ‘experience’.


It looks like this contains a lot of survey data of the amount of theft retailers are claiming occurs, but I’m not seeing any stats on charges. Am I missing it?

For example, the reference in the story to big-box stores treating accidental shoplifting “more seriously” could probably be quantified in some way if it was actually happening, I would think. Same with the reference to the “truly innocent” that are being charged days, weeks, or months after the fact.


Using the self checkout at decathlon the other day (they only have self checkout) was interesting. I guess one of the items didn’t scan (shrug. I don’t actually count them when it asks me how many items are in the scanning bin, just check that the total seems okay enough). When I walked out the main door (not especially close to the checkout machines), the alarm beeped. The bored security guard scanned my receipt (emailed to my phone) and said an item wasn’t on there (showing me a picture of it on his phone). He shrugged, I shrugged, and I went back into pay for it, thinking ‘of course - each item has a unique rfid tag, not just unique to each product’.

Overall, I thought:

  • “this system is a bit smarter than I thought”
  • that it was handled pretty well, in the passive voice, without any insinuation that I was trying to avoid paying for the thing (dunno if everyone gets that treatment)
  • that very few people intentionally/accidentally try to walk out without paying, since I don’t hear the alarms going off.

Oh charges, sorry, missed that word in your comment.


Doesn’t grainy footage create reasonable doubt by definition?


Yeah, I don’t think they would even be allowed to search or detain you here, so I have a hard time imagining how this would turn into a case against you (“here” being Norway and Germany)


We’re screwed!


I’m sure Wally World has completely eradicated this practice after having to pay out a princely $2.1M


A couple of months ago, my wife watched a gentleman scan one item, then put 5 identical items in a bag without scanning them at the self check-out in a Kroger here in Atlanta. She didn’t want to stare, but reckoned he did that with some other items as well. He managed to walk out without incident, as no one was monitoring the self check-out, and the store was relatively busy.

We assumed that it’s cheaper for Kroger to lose money to shoplifting rather than hire enough people to adequately run the store.


I just saw this yesterday as a matter of fact where the store security guard chased down a guy in the parking lot who apparently just left with a cart of goods without paying. I’ve personally never had any issues using the self checkout lane and prefer it because I can most oftentimes get through the process much faster than using a manned aisle.

The disturbing trend I’m seeing with many big box stores is where all the inventory is locked up behind plexiglass or cages and requires you to flag someone down in order to first pick out what you need, then sheepishly follow the guy to the checkout counter in order to purchase it. A recent trip to Home Depot had all of the spools of copper wiring locked up in a cage. Stood there for probably 15 minutes looking for an “associate” who had the key in order to get a $15 roll of wire. Incredibly inconvenient.


it’ll always depend on how others perceive your class, race, and gender. so :person_shrugging:

eta, on the same question:

depends on how others perceive your class, race, and gender.


Yes, that’s generally a safe assumption I think. Someone upthread linked to an article that said stores see about a 30% increase in shoplifting after installing self-checkout kiosks. I’m sure they’ve done the math and that increase in “losses” is dwarfed by the labor savings.


I find it more relaxing not to have to learn to use a checkout, and enjoy having a short conversation with a stranger. I like to think that avoiding the self-checkout is keeping a few more people gainfully employed, but maybe they’d be doing something more interesting if not catering to my Luddism and desire for community.


Don’t worry. AI will eventually come to the rescue.


My 13 year old was a cashier at a local grocery store for a few hours a week until very recently. I had real issues with amount of abuse he received over trivialities such as a grown ass woman yelling at him because her coupon was expired. Not a good experience for anyone, much less a 13 year old. (IMO he should be at the beach with his friends, but he wanted to make some money).

As of last week another grown ass man yelled at him because the apples weren’t priced right in the till (not something he can control), he told the man to speak to the manager, the manager came over and fired him.

As far as I’m concerned that store can burn to the ground or be looted to bare shelves every day. I could see someone pick up a freezer and walk out with it and I wouldn’t say a thing. But of course, ‘nobody wants to work’ [at minimum wage in horrible jobs] anymore!! eleventy!!

People amaze me at how horribly they feel entitled to treat frontline minimum wage workers.


To bag on Home Depot a bit here, they have self checkouts at the one near me, too, and they’re even segregated by whether you are using a card or cash (though I’m not sure why). I haven’t pushed it yet, but it might be the default, like you have to use self service or else, too bad. I always play dumb, trying to scan my new toilet seat under the light beneath their monitor. Finally, the clerk will come over and pull the scan gun and then scan it for me. I don’t really want to touch that nasty scan gun. Where’s it been, right?

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My guess is that it’s because it’s cheaper to install machines that can only handle credit than it is to install and maintain machines that do both credit and cash, so they only install a few that accept cash and want to know ahead of time whether you’ll be needing one of those.

Even if all kiosks were physically built to handle cash they may not want to keep all of them stocked with change instead of just a select few.

But more and more businesses are going cash-free so in another decade or so maybe those few machines will disappear.


I think this really only is a problem in a low-trust society.


Where do you live that allows a 13 year old to do child labour like that??