Ringing up my purchases is a cashier’s job, not mine

Ringing up my purchases is a cashier’s job, not mine

Self-serve checkouts may fulfil the dreams of some shoppers but not mine. I’m with the comic who checked out his purchases himself before declaring, “I don’t want to work here!”

If I had opted for a career as a cashier, I’m sure I could have found work as one beginning years ago.

I shop Walmart periodically mainly to replenish my dogs’ stock of rawhide chews. They prefer that special brand. Beyond that, I can manage quite nicely finding what I need at comparable prices at other stores. But I was taken aback last week when I approached checkout carrying one bag of chews to discover only two cashiers working, both facing half a dozen carts mounded high.

The wait promised to be a long one.

The only other checkout offered was a field of self-serve machines installed since my last visit this year. At each machine, customers were busily scanning their goods with practised aplomb. Not for me, thanks. The last thing I want to do is learn a new high tech routine. I prefer to deal with a live person, even a harried cashier with sore feet waiting for quitting time.

Later, discussing this mechanized update with a young mother adept at one-handed texting, she said the self-serve machines have a 20-item limit which would seem inconvenient if someone is doing major shopping for Christmas or back-to-school. The practice also suggests the store isn’t truly keen on expanding my purchases. You’d expect an enterprising establishment to stand ready to check through as expeditiously as possible as many items as a shopper might care to haul away.

And what happens when a shopper’s cart exceeds the 20-item limit? Do they have to step out of line and give others in the queue a chance to check out, then line up again at the far end of the queue? Or move to an entirely different machine? Or come back next day? Maybe leave items in the cart and walk away?

Rather than staffing a third till, the store pays a traffic guide to direct customers to the shortest checkout lines. She suggested I take my bag of chews to the service counter where the manager was ringing through older averse patrons like me.

While he made change for me, I protested the self serve tills. He explained the store is unable to hire staff, so has been forced to bring in machines. Yet from a cashier at a rival store I heard that at least one cashier who had worked 40 hours a week for Walmart for years has had her hours cut in half. Does that sound like difficulty hiring staff? To me it rings more like reducing the cashier’s hours to save paying the person medical, dental, RRSP and holidays unless they actually work the day.

In addition, the arrival of so many machines (How many? Ten? I didn’t take time to count them. I was rattled, in a panic to exit the building) leaves me to conclude this downgrade is permanent.

I recall Henry Ford, manufacturer of early Ford automobiles. He recognized every worker he hired at a decent wage then had the means to buy his product. By replacing cashiers with inert machines, that’s fewer people who may have spare cash to spend at the store. Since Walmart is bent on cutting every corner possible to increase their profit, this move seems counter productive in the extreme.

For sure, Walmart’s machines will send me to stores with cashiers who converse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jaimie Davis won received a Northwest Community College President’s Art Award in 2018. This year, she won the Best Solopreneur Award from Small Business BC for her online shop Jada Creations. (Contributed photo/Northwest Community College)
Terrace artist wins provincial small business award

Jaimie Davis of Jada Creations won BC Small Business’ Best Solopreneur Award

Chera Bergen (left) with her sisters Hali and Dylan Ouellet (not in the picture) raised money through a bottle drive in Terrace to buy essential supplies for a homeless shelter. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
Terrace sisters’ recycle drive raises money for homeless shelter

With the $1175 raised, Chera, Hali and Dylan bought essential supplies for Ksan Society

A memorial march takes place along Highway 16 also known as Canada’s ‘Highway of Tears’ on national day of awareness of Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Over five dozen people from nearby communities joined the march which began outside Terrace City Hall and ended at the memorial totem pole erected along Hwy 16, near Kitsumkalum. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)
‘City of Terrace can and should make spaces safer’: MMIWG activists

Activists called on governments to amplify safety net for women on national day of awareness of MMIWG

RCMP are reminding the public to be aware of their surroundings after a stabbing sent a man to hospital on May 4, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace stabbing sends man to hospital

RCMP remind the public to be aware of surroundings

The construction site for the new Mills Memorial Hospital has been cleared. (Binny Paul/The Terrace Standard)
Bird nests key to decision to log hospital site in Terrace

Nests would have posed a risk of increasing costs

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Most Read