All the self-serve checkouts are down, down

It was like a trip back in time to… last year. All the self-serve checkouts in Woolies were down tonight.

All self serve checkouts down, down

A long queue at the express checkouts… surprisingly not at the other checkouts (all credit to management, they did have five non-express checkouts open at one time — rarely seen nowadays).

Perhaps the earthquake is to blame. Perhaps not.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

12 replies on “All the self-serve checkouts are down, down”

Could be sign of things to come. Apparently self-checkouts not doing so well for the bottom line. They’re being phased out in Woolies’ Sydney Town Hall supermarket.

Wow, I am surprised. Popular here. I noticed they seem to have turned off the weight checking functions about six months ago.
I guess at Town Hall they would get more than their normal share of opportunistic shoplifters.

I try to resist using the self-serve checkouts because I don’t want to encourage the shops to sack all their low-paid staff. Which is the sole reason they’ve installed the things and taken the obviously increased risk of theft.

In a recent edition of Retail World (or a similar publication, I can’t really remember), there was a piece about supermarket operator’s desire to phase out self-serve checkouts due to massive amounts of theft. This doesn’t surprise me, having been witness to numerous such instances, such as the homeless looking guy stealing multiple bags of ice the other week (he basically bagged them, placed them next to the machine, and walked off).

In regards to your post though, this happens quite often at particular times of the week, usually as a result of the coin hoppers being full. The staff need to wait for Armaguard or whatever to come and empty the machines, so they have to remain out of service until then.

Fascinating, I was totally and utterly against these when they were first rolled out (my grief being that it directly replaces youth employment opportunities) but have realised I now tend to favour using them over a checkout. To hear they may not be working out and could get phased out now disappoints me, whereas I would have celebrated that not so long ago. Ironic!

I acknowledge that they are quite convenient when I’m buying only a handful of different items, but I’m prepared to forego that convenience, and any price reduction it brings (which it won’t – it will just bring increased profits), to keep people employed.

In regards to the theft of items at self-serve checkouts, I remember an anonymous secret someone from the US posted online saying “I have saved hundreds of dollars over the last few years by checking out all of my vegetables as bananas”. I’m sure we could probably do the same with celery

Mechanisation and automation allow people to have more and work less. This is what industrialisation has done for us.


Checking out all vegetables as bananas would likely have been more expensive than honesty in Australia.

There is a woman who works about 4 days a week at the supermarket I mostly visit, and on the days which she is there, she is always supervising the automated checkout. I have been wondering for some time how the pecking order of the checkout chicks works, and whether this job is senior or junior to actual checkout chicking because it seems like a pretty cushy job, mostly what she gets to do is correct barcode reading errors and recalcitrant swipe cards. Most of the time she just stands there looking winsome. She has a curiously fascinating skull, which always reminds me of a woman I spoke to briefly by the tomb of the King in 1989, who claimed she was from Bolivia.
Anyhow, to cut to the chase, when I walked into the supermarket yesterday evening, I noticed that for the first time in about three years she has been working there, she appeared to be working at the checkout. Yet when I returned with my four purchases after briefly walking around the store, she was nowhere to be seen. This could be a sign.

Interesting if supermarkets are intending to phase-out self checkouts, given they only just introduced it — at the local Coles, it was only put in earlier this year.

Personally I’m very much of the view that I’ll go for the option (normal checkout, express checkout, self checkout) that gets me out of the supermarket quickest! (With the proviso that if I have more than 10ish items I’ll go a conventional checkout.)

@enno, at my local supermarket the staff rotate around through each type of checkout.

She was there again today, which is unusual on a Saturday. She is there when I go on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Maybe she works other days earlier than I go.
Anyway today she was again supervising the automated checkout.

If they are really worried about theft, its strange that they turned off the system of weighing each item that you put in the bag. Maybe Juanita Phillips was getting too many death threats.

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