Walmart Shoppers Slam "Very Uncomfortable" Self-Checkout Experience
They don't like being closely watched by employees while checking out.
Self-checkout has been stirring up constant debate, with some firmly supporting these lanes' ease and efficiency, and others insisting it's more reliable to engage with a human cashier. At Walmart, specifically, shoppers have run into issues with being overcharged—and some even threatened to boycott last month when the big-box retailer announced advertising initiatives at self-checkout. Now, customers are lodging complaints once again, this time calling their experience at the self-checkout kiosk "very uncomfortable." Read on to find out why shoppers are frustrated with Walmart's self-checkout experience.
A shopper alleged he was "watched like a criminal" while checking out.
Angela Naff, a writer at The Suncoast Post—a Florida-based publication—recently spoke out about "self-checkout nightmares."
Naff recalled a story shared with her by a friend (who is unnamed in the piece), describing a time he used self-checkout at a Walmart in North Port, Florida. While he was checking out, he said that Walmart employees were standing "about 5 feet" away, prompting the shopper to let them know he "felt very uncomfortable with them watching [his] every move," and telling them they should be working the checkout lanes instead.
"They watched me the whole time; what was [I] going to take? An onion, 1/2 gallon of milk, a couple of cans of dog food? I know there are built-in cameras on these registers," he said, per Naff. "I told them I used to be a cashier at Walmart, where I would ring up groceries for customers. I don't appreciate being watched like a criminal!"
Best Life reached out to Walmart for comment on the complaint, and will update the story with their response.
Naff said she now shops online more often.
Naff shared her own frustrations with self-checkout, citing her "pet peeves." She noted the importance of not missing a scan, as well as how difficult it can be when you need to scan an item without a barcode. According to Naff, she's gotten "nasty looks" from employees when she's asked for their assistance in these situations.
She explained that these experiences prompted her to rethink her shopping habits.
"I have completely changed how I shop and do more online than I would have ever thought possible," Naff wrote. "I plan when I can go to the grocery store based on off-peak times for self-checkout."
According to Naff, stores have less staff members, and it's difficult to find help throughout the store. But it's the opposite situation at self-checkout, where you're sure to be monitored by "cameras and human eyes."
"I find stress the only thing that happens when I need to shop in person these days. Items are out of stock, prices are rising, and I need to shop based on what has tags so I can scan it, not fill my cart too much, and double-check everything three times to ensure they have no reason to stop you on the way out," she wrote. "Shopping has become a contact sport that I'm withdrawing from more than ever before. I hope that somewhere down the line, the self-checkout trend finds some balance with customer service again."
Other stores have caught flak for their self-checkout kiosks.
Walmart isn't alone in customer backlash regarding self-checkout. Earlier this summer, a Costco shopper took to Reddit to air their grievances about the process at the wholesaler.
In a post on the r/Costco subreddit, the shopper said that for several weeks, employees told them to use the hand-held scanner to expedite the self-checkout process. But during a later shopping trip, they were told they needed to use the table scanner instead. When they said they only had two items left to go, a woman "yanked" the hand-held scanner out of their hand.
The shopper said it made them question their membership—and others chimed in to say they've had similar run-ins at Costco. "More and more I genuinely hate going in there," another Redditor wrote. "They literally shouted at me in the checkout line for the same scenario."
Kroger, on the other hand, is currently piloting stores that only offer self-checkout, much to some shoppers' chagrin.
"Self checkouts are almost never self checkouts," a shopper wrote on Reddit after a store in Franklin, Tennessee, was converted to the self-checkout-only model. "They're glitchy … the scales in them often cause disruptions in the process, [and] if you buy alcohol, OTC meds, etc, you need someone to help you. If you have more than 10 items the chances of a machine glitching out and you needing an override or ID check, etc go up to like 100%. They're annoying."
Other customers don't have as much of an issue.
In response to Naff's post, some commenters said they don't mind self-checkout—or employee surveillance.
"I like self checkout and I don't mind being watched. It's their job," a comment reads. "And yes, whether you believe it or not, [there] are many criminals that try to steal items when checking out. If you don't like self checkout use stores that have cashiers."
Another simply wrote they have "no problem with self check outs," and more commenters echoed that employees overseeing the process "are just doing their job."