Why supermarket self-service check outs bring out the worst in us all

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It’s time to ‘fess up. I’ve, er, perhaps not paid for every plastic bags I’ve used at the self-service check-outs in supermarkets.

Clap me in irons and drag me into the dock. I shall throw myself at the mercy of the jury, safe in the knowledge they’ve all done it too.

I feel moved to share this after reading a report that a quarter of self-scanners are thieves.

The swipers have swiped groceries adding up to some £14m. That’s a lot of six-packs of salt and vinegar crisps.

Since introducing self-service scanners, stock loss at supermarkets has jumped to almost four per cent – compared to just 1.47 per cent at tills where there are staff.

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The retailers’ solution?

At Sainsbury in Meadowbank last week I was stunned to look up and see myself on an ipad-sized TV screen, quietly making sure I scanned my Tiger bread and didn’t try to snaffle that macaroni pie into my (paid for) bag.

How much did they spend installing cameras at every check out?

And who reviews the constant traffic on a busy Saturday?

Struck me they – like every supermarket – should perhaps scrap the infernal machines and replace them with people.

You know, nice, smiling, chatty folk who comment on your messages as they clear the conveyor belt.

The Scottish Retail Consortium said the roll out of self-service check outs was driven by customer behaviour – we are to blame. We want to be in and out asap – which is complete tosh.

They were driven by supermarkets’ desire to cut staff, save wages and bring down overheads.

Self-service check-outs are the work of the devil. One of the worst inventions mankind has yet come up with.

From the impossibly small bagging area to the hunt for a carrier bag to the patronising “sorry, surprising item in baggage area” messages which would incite a monk to levels of violence he never knew existed to the endless wait to find someone to confirm that you are old enough to buy the bottle of vodka you now feel like downing in a oner after enduring the entire soul-destroying miserable waste of time just to get a few messages done.

I saw a guy kick the machine in Morrisons the other week.

I’ve found myself arguing back at its contrary instructions and harumphing in a manner that Victor Meldrew would have been proud of.

For pity’s sake. I’m 55 years of age – life’s too short to be engaged in a stand-up row with a machine that has just one word. Beep.

Shopping with my other half, I now get a ‘behave’ warning/look before we even join the self-service check-out queue.

Now Sainsbury has cameras, I find myself glowering at them as if to scare the life out of some work placement monitoring the footage. It’s only a matter of time before I start pulling faces.

I guess I should condemn the wee thieves not scanning every packet of chocolate digestives – okay, it’s not big, not clever, just pay up – but part of me is so scunnered with the self-service system I figure the supermarkets are getting their just rewards.