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Your view: supermarket self-service checkouts

Supermarket self-service checkouts – love ‘em or hate ‘em it’s clear many of you have strong views. More than 100 of you have so far commented on our Convo on the subject and more than 1,100 have voted in our poll.

At the moment the votes are on the side of my colleague Paul Ryan who professed a deep dislike for them. But I feel they let me get my shopping done more quickly than having to queue for ages waiting for the staff-operated tills.

Happily, some of you are on my side, including Glennwalker who said:

‘I really love self checkouts – they speed up my shopping!’

Others of you also liked that you didn’t have to interact with others when you didn’t want to.

Do you prefer a personalised service?

It seems that quite a few of you do prefer dealing with a member of staff when at the supermarket. Cactustom said:

‘I find robo tills impersonal, I prefer a living, breathing human to scan my shopping, help me with the bagging up if necessary and wish me good morning with a smile. If there is a problem it’s sorted quickly and  there is plenty of room to bag my shopping. What’s not to like.’

Unexpected item in bagging area

Another gripe many of you mentioned is problems scanning items, or checkouts not recognising if a small item has been placed in the carrier bag. Dudley experiences this a lot:

‘Always problems at self-service tills, If you buy a small item, say a sauce sachet, the bagging area cannot register a small weght so once again call operator.’

Linda had the same issue:

‘They continually demand items be weighed unnecessarily, fail to identify many common items and require constant intervention from staff who are obviously as unhappy with the checkouts as their customers.’

Thanks to all who have already shared their views, and please do keep voting in our poll!

Which of these problems do you find using self-service checkouts?

You have to ask for help (24%, 1,048 Votes)

There's always an unexpected item in the bagging area (24%, 1,048 Votes)

Customer does all the work (19%, 836 Votes)

They don't scan items properly (14%, 612 Votes)

You can't use your own bags (9%, 395 Votes)

I don't have any problems. I find them quick and convenient to use (6%, 264 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (5%, 222 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,775

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Some will use self-service checkouts by choice, some avoid them and others like me will only use them for a few items. The answer is that we deserve to be given a choice rather than forced to use them.


My main problem is with the smarmy voice that assumes you have forgotten how to use the system if you take more than 5 seconds to wrestle an item out of your basket and never gives you enough time to to pick up the next item before telling you to scan it. Or that says “Please” every single blasted time it speaks. Or that tells you to insert your card when you are already entering your PIN. Or the lack of a working volume control or mute button.

I always use the self-service checkouts if there is one available but the vocal prompts need work. When Morrisons first started to use them in my local branch it was literally impossible (and I mean literally impossible) to put one item in your bag and scan the next item before the voice started nagging. I queried it with a manager who just nodded. They (and Sainsburys) had been allocated the checkouts because ASDA had just opened in the town that same week.


Good points Banjo – I was in Sainsbury’s last night to buy three things, and I’m fairly certain the self-service checkout asked me to “place the item in the baggage area” roughly ten times. However, I’m also sure some of these self-service checkouts have volume controls (although it seemed this one didn’t…).

They’re still extremely convenient to use 😀


If you haven’t tried Morrison’s self-service checkouts then you might not really appreciate the problems. Their “helpers” must be the fittest of them all as they constantly flit from pillar to post. One told me that it was German technology…well “vorsprung durch technik” it certainly isn’t…

The rest are OK by comparison but being constantly chided by the voice is irritating. Maybe a bit of humour might reduce the tension because I suspect there’s an element of techno-phobe in as all…I’m very computer-literate but I’m still inclined to panic at checkouts sometimes as I struggle a bit to locate the appropriate slots.

Jane Frost says:
8 June 2015

I thought they were great for buying lunchtime sandwiches.

Unfortunately I’ve just read the Daily Mail article.

So I won’t be using them anymore.

T Ward says:
9 June 2015

I wonder on what evidence these were introduced.
1. Do they save time?
2. Do they save money?
3. Do they save anything? They always have to employ a member of staff to oversee. Especially when buying alcohol.


The Daily Mail article mentioned by Jane Frost above seems very sensational and contains unnecessary and unjustified slurs on the cleanliness of Polish and other Eastern European food factory workers. With so many hundreds of millions of sandwiches being sold each year and, so far as I am aware, a very low statistical incidence of food poisoning from supermarket sandwiches, so long as good hygiene and infection control procedures are in place [as appeared to be the case in the factory featured] there is no reason why food should not be touched by bare hands; in fact, as was stated in the article, there are advantages. The workers seemed to be provided with very good protective clothing to avoid the risk of contamination from all parts of their bodies other than their hands and the plant looked very clean. I wish all pubs and cafés were run to such high standards as that factory.

Sorry – off-topic I know, but I felt I just had to comment.


I am not overkeen on seeing workers handling the food directly with their bare hands. If you blow up the pictures, a cut and dirty finger nail are apparent.


I strongly support John’s comments, and also apologise for this off-topic post.

Supermarket sandwiches are not a well known cause of food poisoning. If you are concerned about someone touching sandwiches with there bare hands you should be far more worried about supermarkets selling chickens contaminated by faeces during processing. The problem is so great that the Food Standards Agency issued a campaign last year to stop people washing raw chicken because this can transfer campylobacter bacteria to kitchen surfaces and food that is eaten without cooking. The supermarkets have at last been shamed into taking action.

Irritating though self-service checkouts are, they won’t make you ill or kill you. Food poisoning can.