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Monday, May 08, 2006

Attention, Shoppers


As your grocery shopping cashier, I thought it might be a good idea to give you a few hints and tips to make your shopping experience smoother and faster - and maybe even save you some embarrassment. To begin...

Yes, you are in a hurry. I know you are in a hurry. I know this because you are pushing your points card, debit card, etc. at me. I would like to point out, however, that it is not possible for me to begin processing your purchases until *after* I've completed processing that of the person ahead of you. That includes letting them pay for their groceries. I realize it seems like I'm just standing there doing nothing, but please allow the person in front of you to complete punching in their PIN or counting out their cash, because I can't help you until they are done. So shoving your points card at me, reaching around to wave it in front of my scanner, or pushing your produce onto my scale, isn't going to get your purchases done any faster. Honest. I'm not deliberately giving you a hard time. I really can't do anything for you yet.

Also, I would like to remind you that it's really not possible to pay for your items *before* I've processed them. Scanners and scales make things nice and fast, but it's still not technically possible to have a total without ever having to process your products first. So please top shoving your cash or cards into my face. It will only slow things down.

Once I have begun processing your items, I highly recommend against complaining about the previous customers. Especially about the old lady who's order I had to save for later recall because she couldn't "finda da moe-ney." I especially recommend against whining that the previous customer held everyone up for half an hour (it was 15 minutes - tops - and that's including the time it took me to procress her items), then saying "look - she's going to try and walk out with all those groceries without paying." You see, what you're ignoring is that that old lady is suffering from some sort of dementia. She couldn't tell the difference between a points card, a business card, or a debit card. She was frustrated, embarrassed and confused. When she did find a card she could us, they came up NSF. Eventually, she had to leave her groceries behind, believing she'd be able to go to the bank and come back with cash. She never did come back. She also showed more class than you did. I have no problems with the old lady with dementia, or the old man with Parkinsons that insists on paying with exact change, or even the schizophrenic that is having a conversation with someone only she can see. I do, however, have a problem with complaining, judgmental, a$$holes. You want good service? Start by behaving with a bit of class. Saying nasty things about the people around you isn't class.


If you have coupons, please tell me right away. Especially if they are price change coupons instead of cents off coupons. For those of you who spend all that time and effort to place each coupon with the items they are for, stop apologizing! You've saved me all sorts of hassle, and have sped of the process. If you've forgotten about a coupon until after, I understand completely. I can fix it. If you're standing there with your coupons, waiting for me to finish before you hand them to me, it's not a help. Even with a cents-off coupon, I have to check and make sure you actually got the product on the coupon. If it's a price change coupon and I've already processed it, I'm going to have to dig it out of the bag again, void the old price, then put in the new price. Now, I don't mind the extra time it takes to do that. I get paid either way. You, on the other hand, are the one loosing time.

Bulk items.

Ok, this one seems to give a lot of people a hard time. Here's a hint that I picked up long before I started working in a grocery store. It's a lot easier to write on those paper twist ties if you do so *before* you twist them around the bag. Also, if you do write on it first, write on the ends of the twist tie, not the middle. If you write it on the middle, I have to undo it at the till to see the number, which puts your item at risk of being spilled.

Also, please write on the bin number - that's the number that usually has the letters BIN or PLU in front of it. That is the only number I need. Oh, and PLEASE make sure it's the right bin number. I don't always catch that those raisins you bought and should've cost a few dollars actually came up and dried mangos and came up at almost $30 because the wrong bin number was written on the twist tie. Do not bother to write in the price per grams instead. That is absolutely useless to me. Prices mean nothing to me. I need codes. Prices change, codes don't. Most frustrating of all is having nothing written on the tag at all, but being told "I think it costs 99 cents per hundred grams." Again, it's useless to me. If nothing else, please at least know the name of what it is you're buying. That way, I can still look it up in the system. It takes longer, but I can do it. We have, however, half a dozen different types of trail mixes, several types of spices that look very similar, several different kinds of flavored peanuts, etc. I don't have them all memorized. I don't even know what they all look like. It's not possible for me to know them all. If you don't know what they are, I can't help you. I have to get someone to take the item and find a bin number for me, instead, and when it's busy, it's really hard to find someone who can do that.

This next part, however, is a real big issue for me. I *really* need your help with this. When buying different items from the bulk department and they're all the same price, they still need to be in different bags. Coming to my till with a bag of mixed candy and telling me, "they're all the same price" is almost enough to make me cry. You wouldn't believe how often it happens. PLEASE don't do that. They may be the same price per gram, but they need to be weighed separately. It's necessary for accurate pricing. It's necessary for inventory. It's necessary to help me know just what it is you're buying. Remeber. Prices change. Codes don't.

Also, if you're buying dried bulk items, use the plastic baggies provided. Don't use the plastic containers from the wet bulk items, like pickles or peanut butter. The plastic baggies are light enough that they don't effect the price of your items. The containers are heavy. When you use those, you're paying for a lot of weight that isn't product. When buying bulk wet items, there is a scale that you can use that will print out a label I can scan (side note - I can't weigh those at my till. It has to be done there.). That scale is designed to compensate for the weight of the container, so you're just paying for product, not plastic. You're wasting your money by using those containers. If you want the container, go ahead and grab it. I'll give it to you for free. Just put your items in a baggie with a properly labelled tie on it.


Most produce items have stickers on them. Those stickers have codes on them. If they don't have stickers, they are among those I have to memorize. There are about 200 codes I need to eventually memorize. I don't have them all, yet. I do, however, keep a book in my apron to consult when my memory fails me. Sometimes, however, the stickers fall off. So if I ask you what kind of tomotoe, pear or orange you've got, please just give me the name if you know it. Don't tell me "I think it's the one that costs $X." We've got a lot of produce. Some of it is on sale. Some isn't. Prices change. I'm not going to know what an item is by the price. If you can't remember if the apple you picked up is a gala or a pink lady, that's ok. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. I'd rather you tell me "I don't know" than throw random prices at me. Believe me, it'll save time in the long run.

Plus, like with bulk items, please keep the produce seperate, even if they have the same prices. I know that, right now, all the yellow, orange and red peppers are the same price. That's because they are on sale. They are not normally the same price. That's why they have different codes. If you put them all in the same bag, I have to open the bag and take them out. Don't want to waste bags? Fine. Don't use them. Leave them loose. You have to wash them when you get home, anyways. Please, don't give me a hard time about having to weigh them seperately. It's not "stupid" that I have to do this. It's not inconvenient to have them coded seperately. It's only inconvenient when you mix them up, then get mad at me because I have to weigh them seperately. We're not even responsible for the codes - produce comes to us with the stickers already on them. Seperate codes are necessary for inventory purposes, especially since we are moving into an automated inventory system. We need to be accurate to help keep costs down for you.

I really do want to help you. I really do want you to have a good shopping experience. I really do want to give you the best service possible. I am, after all, a shopper, too. To do that, though, I need your help and cooperation. Hopefully, this information will be of use to you.

Until then, thanks for being here, and have a great day!
(and yes, I really do mean it when I say that, too.)

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain! I couldn't have said it better!


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