Theft at the Self-Checkout
As a self-check cashier at Walmart, I’ve discovered how easy it is to steal from my employer. Customers can simply pretend to be scanning items, holding their “purchases” just far enough from the scanner to keep it from reading the bar codes and registering prices. Or there’s “double scanning”: i.e., holding two canned goods together in one hand but just scanning one code as both cans are hurriedly sacked. Or, if multiple identical items are being scanned, use the scanner gun to scan one item multiple times but not as many times as there are items. If you don’t get too greedy, the odds of being caught are low since cashiers are over-busy watching many machines and helping customers with genuine problems.
When weighing produce, select from the register produce menu a cheaper fruit or vegetable than what is actually being weighed. For example, put on the scale expensive Envy apples but select cheaper Delicious apples as the product. Or, “forget” to scan with the gun larger items like cases of water or boxes of Pampers in the bottom of the shopping cart. If the door monitor notices that the water or Pampers isn’t on your receipt, just say, “Oh, I forgot to scan that” and go back to a self-check station to add the missing item to your bill. If the door monitor has left for a break and the cashier is distracted, choose the riskier (but more lucrative) option of simply not paying and walking out of the store with your stolen items.
An article on the Business Insider site anecdotally confirms my analysis of the problem, which—according to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon—may lead to higher prices and store closings. Well, Quakers may regret the replacement of human workers with machines, but no Friend would advocate stealing as a way of protesting automation or helping the poor, who aren’t the majority of thieves anyway. Most thefts probably come from people who are relatively well-off but feel deprived in comparison to those who have even more money or prestige.
Perhaps losses from theft will become so high that Walmart will bring back more human cashiers to individually check out Quakers and non-Quakers alike (but I wouldn’t count on it).
~ Richard Russell
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