Why people don't return shopping carts


True, unless you have a slug or maybe some kind of tool to cheat the machine with.


But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.

The same can be said for the time of the employee retrieving carts.

An employee is needed to return the carts from the corral to the store. If the employee isn’t spending their time hiking to the far ends of the parking lot to retrieve carts, they would probably be required to spend that time making the shopping environment more attractive to consumers in some other way.

As opposed to restaurant tables, where the busser generally gets a tip (or a portion thereof) for the work?

In my mind, there’s a difference between “doing work for the corporation” and “leaving a place in as good a condition as you found it.” After all, the fact that there are street sweepers (who might be out of work if nobody littered!!!) doesn’t excuse littering.


This. I return the carts, but don’t feel the least bit badly for the person who collects the carts. If they’re going out there anyway, it’s no skin off their ass to walk a few steps over to a stray cart and get that one too.

I return carts because carts go in the receptacles, and because stray carts can ding up cars.


Yes, I remember those better times as well. Common courtesy and good will towards others was the norm. Am I dating myself, you bet I am…


I don’t even think that was it. I think people returned the carts because they had no choice but to return the carts.

If we got rid of the outdoor receptacles today, people would still leave the carts out in the open because they think they can.


People who don’t return shopping carts are likely people who were not taught to be considerate and respectful of others by their parents. Every time we have used a shopping cart in the presence of our kids, we carefully returned it. Beyond that, if there is an elderly person unloading a cart in the lot, we offer to help, then return the cart for them.
So my kids now do this automatically, and without needing to be prompted by us. I believe that they will always do so, and will pass it on to their kids.


Unless they’re like the woman who accosted me at Aldi’s a few weeks ago and demanded my cart as I was walking it back to the store because she had no quarter. Yes…demanded it.

I refused just because of her attitude about it but I really hated being an ass.


Urban legend has it that Vulture Parking originated in the Twin Cities because it’s very cold there in February, and there’s a perceived benefit of waiting for that space 9’ closer to the door. I park in the back 40, and get into the store minutes before those silly people.


It leaves out the possibility that people might do something just because it is the right thing to do.


Here in Germany it is a rare sight to hastily catch with your camera if you find a lonely shopping cart in the wilderness.

Everyone here uses that system. Nearly every customer has one (or several as they are used as ad stuff sometimes) plastic chips for use as the money, too. So it is not the money itself. (broken ones get returned, too)
btw we don’t have cart attentendencesseseseses… whatever they are.

But not bringing back the shopping cart is just something you don’t do. Like you are not kicking the elderly woman in the line in front of you who needs 8 minutes to fish out her last cent. You may boil inwardly but you just don’t rip her head off.


If I’m taking the car to the store, I try to park next to the cart return.


Some supermarkets give those out. You still want to get it back to avoid probs if you don’t have a coin on you next time. I have a couple of branded ‘slugs’ permanently in my car. The idea nowadays that ANY supermarket would not have them chained up and needing a coin is so alien I would almost say that any store that does not do this actually deserves to have their trolleys (yeah, we also name them differently) dispersed.

ETA and lots of them come on keychains


There are kids who hang out at the one closest to me and are pretty pushy about wanting to return your cart so they can keep the quarter. I’ve gotten some rather… rude responses to politely declining, but I decline anyway.


I have heard a drunken lecture on why it is more responsible to abandon your cart to ensure more jobs for parking lot attendants. People make all sorts of strange justifications.


I’m not fond of simplifying things to the point of “because it is the right thing to do.”

If you don’t have to justify to yourself why what you’re currently doing is right, you can justify just about anything as being “the right thing to do.”

For instance: if I had kids, and wanted to tell them why your example of “offering to help elderly people pack their groceries into their car” is the right thing to do, I’d say that I’d be saving the elderly people much more time, effort, and risk of injury than I’d be taking upon myself.

If I just say “because it is the right thing to do,” sure, I’ve saved myself a whole bunch of work in explaining, but I haven’t instilled the principles of why it’s the right thing to do upon my kids, and they might restrict themselves to helping elderly people at grocery stores, as opposed to, say, retrieving something from the top shelf for someone at a hardware store who is trying to climb the shelf to get it, where the same principle (less time, effort, and risk of injury) would apply.


I used to rant against people who leave carts in handicapped spots until I realized that a good 90% of those carts are left by people who park in those spots. For some reason cart-returns are always placed far away from handicapped parking, which kind of defeats the purpose of the parking.

Seems to me that a cart return between facing spaces (so between the fronts of cars facing each other, not between doors of cars next to each other) for these folks to easily put their carts where it doesn’t inconvenience other folks in need of closer parking.


Like a chocolate button?

My local Sainsbury has coinless trolleys, for what it’s worth.

I haven’t found a trolley elsewhere that accepts the new pound coins…


When I was in college, there was a big Cub Foods that had pay carts, but a lot of people didn’t bother to return them. My friend and I used to walk around the parking lot, looking for non-returned carts. Then we’d collect the quarters, go inside and buy bread and Budig lunchmeat so we could make sandwiches in our dorm.


I know that here in Oregon, I see maybe 90% of carts returned to corrals.On a recent visit back to Florida, I noticed it was more the reverse; almost no carts were moved back to the corrals. Does that make us like the Canada of the US or something? Or maybe it’s because we have actual terrain here, so we are more aware that carts can roll? I dunno.


I mean that in the sense that taking an opportunity to help someone is always the right thing to do. Not because you want to be thanked, or seen as virtuous. Of course we explained to the kids why doing a particular behavior was helpful, but most of the time it is pretty self evident.