I am embarrassed to admit that this issue never occurred to me begore a friend sent me an article about it. Or maybe I should be proud.
Voucher Codes Pro is a company that offers coupons to internet shoppers. It surveyed 2,634 people, and almost 20% said they had cheated while using a grocery store self-checkout. Over half of the cheaters said they took advantage of the system because they realized being apprehended was unlikely. A 2015 study of self-checkouts with handheld scanners conducted at the University of Leicester audited a million self-checkout transactions over a year’s time.Out of $21 million in sales, goods worth nearly $850,000 left stores without being scanned and paid for.
How does this happen? There are several techniques:
- Ringing up a T-bone ($13.99/lb) with a code for a cheap ($0.49/lb) variety of produce is known as “the banana trick.”
- When a pricey item leaves the conveyor belt without being scanned, it’s “the pass around.”
- Then there is “the switcheroo,” where you peel the sticker off something inexpensive and place it over the bar code of something pricey. You do have to make certain that the two items are about the same weight to avoid triggering the “unexpected item” alert on some machines.
“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” reads a comment in a Reddit discussion on the subject. Another one says, “There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.”
I guess this would apply to gas stations too.
I’ve never been to a store that didn’t at least have one human-manned check-out. Unless there is a long line, I’ll always take that option. I’ve told many clerks why: the self-checkout machines not only eliminate jobs, they make shopping less social, interactive, and fun. At the local CVS where I drop by often, everyone knows my name and that of my wife. I joke with the staff, ask about their jobs and family, and generally behave like human beings are supposed to treat each other. Meanwhile, I watch about 30% of the self-check transactions go awry, requiring the clerks to excuse themselves and push some buttons.
If and when the Democrats succeed in passing a national minimum wage law, it will force more stores to go the self-check route, meaning fewer jobs and I supposed, more theft, more losses at the check-out machines, and higher overhead. Good plan!
I still don’t understand why otherwise normal, every day citizens would steal food and other items. Part of the phenomenon is progressive cities like San Francisco and Dallas decriminalizing shop-lifting. If it’s no longer a crime to steal food, those ethics alarms will ring increasingly fainter, if at all.
Barbara Staib, the director of communications of the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, theorizes that self-checkouts tempt people who are already predisposed to shoplifting by creating rationalizations, like the “the stores are making you work for them” nonsense. “Most shoplifters are in fact otherwise law-abiding citizens,” she says. “They would chase behind you to return the $20 bill you dropped, because you’re a person and you would miss that $20,” but a mechanical cashier gives the false impression of anonymity, she says. “This apparently empowers people to shoplift.”
Ah. They are idiots, then. You steal from the store, not the cashiers.
Frank Farley, a psychologist, concludes that self-check-out crooks often have Type-T —the T stands for “thrill—personalities. “Shopping can be quite boring because it’s such a routine, and this is a way to make the routine more interesting. These can be risk-taking, stimulation-seeking people,” he says.
Boy, if your stimulation comes from sneaking cheese through an auto-cashier, you’ve got bigger problems than being bored with shopping. It does sort of explain why Winona Ryder was shoplifting, I guess. That has always bothered me.
But never mind Winona. A culture that cannot reliably set the ethics alarms of its citizens to reject stealing as wrong, regardless of how bored they are or how easy it it may be is poised for destruction. That was one of the things religion did effectively, and why our “enlightened” society is the worse for its decline.