‘Proceed With Caution’ Walmart Workers Warns Customers About the Self-Checkout
Walmart introduced self-checkout counters to save time and reduce long lines for customers. Self-checkout has become a staple in the retail and service industry and is a convenient option for most shoppers.
However, former Walmart employees have said people who try to shoplift by exploiting the unstaffed cash registers might be in for a surprise. Some of them have made viral TikTok videos warning customers not to try to skip scanning items at self-checkout. Here’s what they had to say.
TikToker Brebre42010's Warning to Customers
A Walmart employee with the TikToker username @brebre42010 recorded a video of herself with text on the screen saying, “Me watching people steal at self-checkout as if my phone doesn’t notify me for every missed scan.”
TikTokers were curious to know if Bre’s device alerted her when items were not scanned by customers. She confirmed in the comments that the device indeed warned her if customers weren’t scanning their items.
Good News for Walmart Workers, Not Too Good for Customers
If we are to go by @brebre42010’s post on TikTok, then Walmart’s firewall against self-checkout theft may be good news for the company’s human workforce.
At the very least, the company would have to provide an employee to monitor notifications from each self-checkout kiosk. So, before a Walmart thief makes away with the good, they’d have to cross the hurdle of bypassing the company’s personnel.
It Wasn’t the First Time
Sometime last year, a former Walmart employee named Athenia (TikTok username @obeygoddess) made a video that has since gone viral. In the video, she warned shoppers not to steal from Walmart self-checkouts because the devices used make it easier for Walmart to catch thieves.
“Do not steal from Walmart self-checkouts … you will get caught,” she said. She explained that if caught, employees can pause customers’ self-checkout at any time using handheld computers.
Seems Like A Technological Glitch
If, during a self-checkout at Walmart, you discover that the system is unresponsive, be sure to check in every item in your purchase. Because it just may turn out that an employee is remotely delaying your checkout.
Once the system has notified the employees in charge of that machine that you are trying to leave the outlet without declaring some items, then trouble may be around the corner.
You’re Being Filmed, Too
Certainly, Walmart has other anti-theft measures in place at self-checkouts. Other TikTokers mentioned that Walmart has cameras pointed at the registers. These cameras capture customers who try to take unpaid goods without paying for them.
“The slightest hand movement that looks like you’re stealing, that camera catches it, and it puts it on the screen,” employee RéJean Allen said on TikTok. “And then it will replay your video back of when you’re trying to steal something if you didn’t scan it,” he concluded.
Steer Clear of Trouble
You can imagine how bad it can get when a retail chain store like Walmart blacklists you. It could even get worse if the company proceeds to publish a list, with well-captured headshots of individuals who have been caught stealing from their outlets in the past.
In fact, it would be less shameful to explore the good old option, you know, where customers beg someone on the human-serviced checkout queue to pay for that one item they can’t afford.
The Benevolent Check-Out System
Interestingly, the new improvements in the checkout system are magnanimous enough to call your attention to those teeny-weeny omissions. The company doesn’t want to accuse you of stealing what you haven’t, so the kiosk’s filming system would likely replay a video showing how you omitted the culprit item(s).
When checking yourself out at Walmart, you need to be as sharp as the human cashiers, so your accounts may balance out.
Beware and Proceed With Caution
Some people have been accused of petty theft at Walmart, even if they didn’t mean to steal. So one must be careful during check-outs since little mistakes could cause legal troubles.
For precaution, attorney Carrie Jernigan suggested on TikTok that self-checkouts should be used only for shoppers with a few items. Additionally, she recommended using a debit or credit card instead of cash. She also advised scanning items slowly and deliberately to avoid missing any scans. Finally, you can hold each item up to the camera before scanning and leaving the store.
The 1% Error Margin
Computers are often said to be 99% accurate but that means there’s still a 1% chance of error. The checkout system for retail outlets incorporates several units of complex technology, which could fail for one of several reasons, and give a false alarm of theft.
So, if the queue for human cashiers at the outlet is not too long, you might want to consider joining that instead, just to avoid any potential embarrassment.
Besides the Slur to Your Reputation, You Could Lose $1000
You don’t have to take the red flags for it, but you may eventually become a pro-human cashier preacher after a bad experience at self-checkout.
If, and when, you get charged for theft—truly or in error—minimum legal charges of $1,000 awaits you. And the legal proceeding, even after proving your innocence may be insufficient to clear your name. So, again, stick to human cashiers until self-checkout becomes more credible.
Technology is King?
As of 2013, Walmart had already deployed about 10,000 self-service checkout points in outlets across the nation. However, like every new technology, it has had challenges that the retail chain has tried to resolve on the fly.
There has been a lot of back and forth about the long-term effect of the self-service checkout kiosks, particularly on job security of human cashiers. You will be surprised by how the narrative has changed since 2013.
Were Self-Checkout Points Meant to Replace a Human WorkForce?
Initially, the intent of Walmart adopting the self-checkout technology was to reduce the queue at checkout points, where purchased items have to be logged and checked by human cashiers.
While it is true that Walmart never made a public declaration that they intended to phase out human cashiers, speculators were of the opinion that the company would have followed that route if the new technology had worked fine.
A Downward Spiral for Self-Checkout Systems
Walmart seems to be one of the most tenacious brands as far as self-checkout technology is concerned. Some other retail outlet companies like IKEA have already backpedaled on the technological adventure.
Interestingly, it has been a downward spiral for Walmart’s self-checkout up until now. First, they returned to a hybrid checkout system, where customers get to choose to wait in line for a conventional cashier or try out the new technology.
Internal and External Reviews of the Technology
Yes, we must admit that the self-checkout technology has improved from what it was back in the 2010s. Nonetheless, the complaints are still trickling in. Initially, it was from Walmart customers who were finding it difficult to use self-checkout without assistance.
Now, the issue has gone full cycle, as Walmart is starting to incur significant losses to theft, particularly by customers who make use of the self-checkout service.