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Computer Opens Unmanned Store For Holiday

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the opening-the-store-is-too-important-for-me-to-allow-you-to-jeopardize-it dept.

Bug 333

tomhudson writes "The Walkato Times in New Zealand is reporting that someone forgot to tell the computer not to unlock the supermarket on the Friday holiday. 'About half of the 24 people who came into the supermarket paid for their groceries using the self-scan service. The service stopped working after alcohol was scanned, requiring a staff member to check a customer's age before the system is unlocked.' The owner, Mr Miller, was quoted as saying 'I can certainly see the funny side of it... but I'd rather not have the publicity to be honest. It makes me look a bit of a dickhead.' Rather than take legal action, Mr Miller is hoping that the people who didn't pay will do the right thing."

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333 comments

Smart (1, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932740)

RIAA, did you open your ears and eyes wide open? That's how you should you react, unlike you, you little ...."man"

Re:Smart (0)

osgeek (239988) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932960)

The lesson learned out of this (half the people stealing products) is that the RIAA should treat its customers better?

Really?

It's Surprising (-1)

lolololol (1991780) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932764)

That half the people paid. I would have expected the number to be less. Good job America!

Re:It's Surprising (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35932778)

Good thing it's in New Zealand.

Re:It's Surprising (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933102)

Just because it's in New Zealand doesn't mean that the people who paid weren't American. After all, we're known world round for honesty and contributing to the less fortunate. That's why our prison rate is so amazingly low. Umm, right?

Re:It's Surprising (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932788)

Maybe they didn't notice that nobody was actually working in the store?

Re:It's Surprising (2)

topham (32406) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932846)

Right at opening the staff of various stores are often occupied with opening duties. Putting out new signs, fresh food in the deli, etc. I could easily see walking in, picking up a few items and going through the self-checkout without knowing the stores was otherwise empty. I mean, sure, I might clue in something is wrong when going through the checkout and seeing no cashiers, but hey the self-checkout is working so why worry about it...

Re:It's Surprising (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933542)

Some people (including myself) have an extreme aversion to self-checkout systems, so I'd notice.

They're too damned temperamental for my tastes. They use scales to weigh the bags to make sure nothing that wasn't scanned ends up in the bag. Of course, if the original input weight was wrong, or (more likely) the scale is just being quirky, you get the prompt to wait for an associate to come over and verify your contents. Then there's the age-related prompts. Things like alcohol, sure, but then you have a myriad of other crap that may trigger an alarm (like just about anything in an aerosol can) for an associate (who may or may not be nearby) to come check out the situation.

Combine that with the 60 year old idiots who are trying that "new fanangled" machine and are staring at it blankly when it asks for payment (which inevitably takes them FOREVER to figure out) and it's just too much hassle for me to deal with. I'll stand in the regular line - any employee that comes by to remind me that the self-checkout is open gets a verbal "No thanks" plus my "Go to hell" look.

Maybe once they work a little better I'll start using the self-checkout machines again.

Re:It's Surprising (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933702)

I love 'em, but I do agree about the idiots who try to use them. IMO they should have a timer and if it takes longer than a predetermined length of time (based on number of items and size, it adds a surcharge for being slow. It should also add a surcharge if you try to scan too many items. It's not for doing your entire groceries with people! It's the modern version of the express line for people with under 10-20 items.

Re:It's Surprising (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933008)

that doesn't say much for the level of helpfulness of the employees when they are there...

Re:It's Surprising (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933190)

I've worked in one of those fast-stop places. Quite frequently, I was the only one actually working - everyone else, including the assistant manager, was on a "smoking break". The manager, of course, was in the back office, doing whatever it is managers do besides managing.

I'd like to think that there's a relation between "me being fired" and "the place going out of business a month later".

Re:It's Surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35932804)

That half the people paid. I would have expected the number to be less. Good job America!

New Zealand a.k.a. America

Re:It's Surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35932816)

That half the people paid. I would have expected the number to be less. Good job America!

"New Zealand " = america??

oops

Re:It's Surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35932820)

last I heard, NZ was still a sovereign nation...

Re:It's Surprising (2)

toastar (573882) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932864)

My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw New Zealand forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

Re:It's Surprising (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932856)

What does america have to do with it? This was in new zealand.

Also, the police were called due to reports of truckloads of groceries being removed. So while some people were honest, it appears the dishonest capitalized quickly.

From the article it appears it took less than an hour between someone realizing the store was unlocked an unattended to trying to run off with a pile of free food.

Half Honest (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932776)

That's about twice as many as I would expect! Good going.

Re:Half Honest (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932836)

Why do you expect 1/4th to be honest people? I wouldn't trust anybody.

Re:Half Honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933130)

That's because you're a paranoid delusionist.

People are, grosso modo, honest and hard working. The media only reports on 'bad' guys, so you might think everybody is like that. They aren't.

Re:Half Honest (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933276)

Well the numbers would make sense.

about 1/2 see this as a good steal and take advantage of it.
about 1/4 would see it as a trick where they could get in trouble later in life. (oh the cameras will get me, or if I do this now and abuse the system they will tighten the system down)
about 1/8 would see this as they will get in trouble after life (Religion is an attempt to keep society honest by removing the idea you can really get away with something if you don't get caught).
about 1/8 are just very honest people.

Re:Half Honest (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933502)

1/2 of the people in the USA make money, the other 1/2 spend whatever they can get from the productive half. I'm guessing the numbers are not all that different in .nz so I'm not surprised the ratio worked out that way.

The non-productive half who sponge off the productive half probably see it as getting the middleman out of they way ... From each according to their ability, to each according to their need, etc.

Alternately it might be a mapping of peer pressure, 1/2 will zombie like copy whatever they see other people doing, and the half who are actually alive will think about what they're doing.

Then you get into weird religious interpretations, that non-adherents are more honest than the general population, thus the high 50% payment rate (doesn't matter if they're celebrating the good friday religion or the earth day religion?)

Re:Half Honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933638)

I am sorry, but half the US are not trust fund bastards leaching off the backs of the laboring masses.

Re:Half Honest (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933708)

Why do you expect 1/4th to be honest people? I wouldn't trust anybody.

When you leave your desk to go home, do you lock all the drawers?

Only in NZ (3, Funny)

kozmonaut (577220) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932866)

What a fantastic official response. If only managers in America would openly admit to being the dickheads they are...

Eheh, managers (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933090)

And what about the people who stole groceries? What are they? 1 manager, how many thieving customers?

This is actually a useful social study and most liberals will NOT like the result. This "experiment" shows that a large number of people will ONLY obey the rules of society if somebody is standing behind them with a heavy stick.

Yes, a lot of people will behave. For the rest, we need armed police and guard dogs. Pity. If only there was some method of getting rid of the assholes. But we can't and so to counter 1 asshole, we need the entire justice system. (Because while not everyone paid, a few will also simply have left without taking anything)

If you ever handle an event or social place, you will know just how annoying the dickheads are, managers or otherwise. You can do so many things in a world without dickheads. For instance, you hate 3g coverage and price? No problem just use my Wifi. I don't mind you downloading email or browsing on it. Oh wait, I got to use a password because 1 dickhead in thousands will use it to break the law. No easy free roaming wifi for everyone else.

Re:Eheh, managers (2)

Puzzleer (309198) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933168)

Why is it that "most liberals will NOT like the result."? Isn't it is the *conservatives* who keep saying "we don't need more big government, we can self-regulate." ?

Re:Eheh, managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933308)

This is probably an example of "countries divided by a common language."
In a number of countries they use the label "liberal" to refer to what Americans call "economically conservative", the laissez-faire approach of government towards business.

Re:Eheh, managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933410)

I think your getting Modern Liberals confused with Classic Liberals. Modern Liberals are actually Socialists (that's what other country call them). While Classical Liberals are freedom seeking(Liberal Parties in all other countries). I think GP was talking about Classic Liberals when he referred to "Liberals." "American Conservatives" should also be freedom loving because the country has a long history of liberty(In Comparison to other countries) and thus would like to conserve it at least in theory. The problems arise when Big Unions, Wall Street, Hollywood, The Born Rich and Corporations start handing out money with political strings attached.

Re:Eheh, managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933568)

The "liberals" think corporations need rigidly controlled, citizens are basically good cooperative little darlings.
The "conservatives" thinks corporations require no special attention, but people are bad, and must be crushed under an iron fist when they step out of line.

They say a conservative is a liberal who's survived a mugging.

I submit that a libertarian is a conservative who's walked past a tough-on-crime police officer at the wrong place and time.

Re:Eheh, managers (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933788)

I used to be pretty cynical about humanity until I worked in a grocery store in the hood once in college. I was expecting to encounter a lot of thieves and miscellaneous punks, but they were actually very rare (even in one of the shittiest neighborhoods in town). I encountered WAY more people who would point out to me that I gave them too much change than who were out to steal or con. I had many a gang-banger tell me when I had undercharged them and many people who would offer to pay for something even if they dropped it.

People are actually, by and large, a pretty decent lot. And that's true pretty much anywhere you go, I suspect.

Re:Only in NZ (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933648)

I was surprised to see 'dickhead' in an official response. Is it a less vulgar term in NZ than in the US?

Re:Only in NZ (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933666)

Maybe. Or maybe because the cost of fighting it in court with attorney fees would offset the losses in theft.

Honesty vs Convienience (2)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932884)

Tough choice. I wonder how many people stopped paying after the self-scan stopped working.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (2)

osgeek (239988) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933006)

To not walk out of a store with unpaid-for products is a tough choice? How so? Unless there was some kind of life threatening emergency, I wouldn't even consider stealing. That half... HALF of the people that went into the store would walk out without paying is really disappointing.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933142)

Well, you collected a bunch of things, and now suddenly the scanner stops working. You look around and suddenly you notice that there's nobody around. You could abandon the basket and go to another store, but that would take time and effort... Or you could "come back and pay tomorrow".

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933598)

Well, you collected a bunch of things, and now suddenly the scanner stops working.
You look around and suddenly you notice that there's nobody around.
You could abandon the basket and go to another store, but that would take time and effort...
Or you could "come back and pay tomorrow".

If you're going to do that you should leave an I.O.U. with your name, phone number and Itemized list. This will protect you legally since an I.O.U is a legal form of payment if the other party accepts the I.O.U. Since, you could argue that that they accepted it by not telling you that you couldn't pay with it. So long as you make good on the note everything should be Okay.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933630)

Doesn't take much to shuffle the basket aside, perhaps replace the refrigerated/frozen food items so they don't spoil and head out.

It may be inconvenient to go to another store, but I'm not the type of person who would steal for convenience's sake.

Don't forget what one would lose by making it out with a basket of unpaid goods, on different levels of ethics:

1: If someone has so poor ethics that they steal the relatively small cost of food and other grocery store goods, how can one ever trust that individual with big ticket items? If someone is willing to blow their good name on a cartful of groceries, how can one ever trust that person in any position whatsoever?

2: If one does get caught, here in the US, it means that getting a job becomes almost impossible. Employers check for *arrest* records, not convictions. A booking for *any* charge, no matter how small, can mean curtains for any type of career outside flipping burgers. Of course, a shoplifting conviction means mortal turpitude, and that is a virtual guarantee that someone's life will be free of any type of work other than minimum wage positions.

3: Civil bans. Wal-Mart enforces bans across all its stores. Someone on their no-entry list at one store tries to buy at another, the LP guys show up at the cashier and hold the person for the police for criminal trespass. Who in their right mind would want to risk being banned permanently from the grocery store they use all the time, if not the whole chain. It is only a matter of time before businesses cross-reference bans, similar to casinos (one ban in one LV Strip casino == banned from every one), and one wouldn't be allowed entry to *any* supermarket.

4: Civil demand letters. Wal-Mart automatically will levy a $225 fine against any shoplifter (reference found via Google.) Paying for groceries + gas (for driving to another store) is a heck of a lot cheaper than that.

I don't intend to bloviate about ethics. However, there are a lot of bad consequences that await someone who engages in petty larceny, not to mention what it shows about character.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933156)

I once ate lunch at a 'greasy spoon' at the local general aviation airport before taking my plane out for some practice around the pattern. I forgot to pay for the meal (you have to go up to the resister to pay) on the way out because my mind was too involved with my pre-flight requirements. On the way out of the airport I stopped back in to the restaurant to pay the bill (a bit red in the face), also left a big tip!

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933332)

The people who opted not to pay probably don't own their own planes.

Not saying that makes it right by any means, just that your experience may not be representative.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933600)

I don't think you need your own plane, you just need to be honest. I've had an occasion where I accidentally shoplifted. I paid for my merchandise and noticed an item that I forgot to put on the belt to scan when I was loading my car. I went back in the store and told the greeter I was there to pay for a belt I'd forgotten about. He was happy to point me to customer service and they were happy to have me pay.

I felt a bit bad, though, as customer service had me point out the cashier that didn't pay attention to if my car was empty or not.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933632)

Erm, not sure I see the link between being a pilot and returning later to pay for something you forgot or couldn't pay for at the time.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933646)

Not quite the same thing, but I'd liken it to iTunes. iTunes basically took off not because people really wanted to pay for music very badly, but because they made getting legitimate music easier than pirating it, and price it such that paying really wasn't a huge deal. Getting caught doing this wasn't a huge detterent because almost no one ever got caught.

In the same light, many people might not have an issue paying for the groceries (even if they could take them without being caught) if it was quick and easy, but the instant the self-checkout breaks down paying becomes a hassle, and the risk of getting caught is still minimal.

A moral compass isn't binary. It happens in degrees, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that with little chance of consequences people will do the right thing, but only if it's convenient and easy.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933356)

I tried to buy something once through a self-scanner, and it rang up a remarkably lower price than it should have. I completed the checkout, paid, and then went to customer service to explain the issue. The customer service clerk looked at me as if I had nine heads, especially after scanning the item and seeing that the barcode scan gave the same price that my receipt said I'd paid. She then said something like, "no, you paid for this", clearly not understanding my motivation for mentioning it, so I left.

Re:Honesty vs Convienience (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933750)

She probably understood your motivation, but what was she to do? Call up a few other stores and find out what they were charging for the item? I suppose she could call her manager over and you eventually work your way up/across the chain of command until you get the person who set the prices...

If there is a price difference between what is on the shelf and what the computer rang it up as, I'd say the computer probably has the more up-to-date price. That doesn't mean they get to list one price on the shelf, but ring it up as a higher price. That'd likely fall under false advertising. But I don't think there's any issues with having an "unannounced sale" for lack of a proper term.

Free Beer!!! (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932888)

So after the Zombie uprising I won't have to break into places because they now open themselves regardless of if anyone is there to watch over them?

Re:Free Beer!!! (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933798)

No - rather you won't be save inside modern shopping malls because it's going to unlock and let all the zombies in :).

My thought has always been that I'll just hangout in my attic in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I could make access (cutting a hole) to the roof if need be to get away - there is no way up into the attic without pulling down a draw string that can easily be retracted - AND I could "borrow" into my pantry to retrieve groceries as needed (assuming I didn't have time to move all the canned goods up ahead of time).

Whether I there or head out though, I've still got a "survival" bag to take with me. It's got emergency blankets, rain ponchos, gun, ammo, knives, a hatchet, first aid kit, canteen, fishing gear, matches, compass, tarp, rope, etc. in it just in case.

And yes, I've thought about this WAY too much :D (and in reality the bag is more just for "general purpose emergency use" than for zombies)

Be careful to not misinterpret (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932896)

About half of the 24 people who came into the supermarket paid for their groceries using the self-scan service

Note that this doesn't say that all 24 people who came into the supermarket took anything in the first place. I can easily see some going in and filling the shopping cart, but then noticing that registers are unmanned and leaving the cart in the shop (if e.g. the person doesn't feel like using self-checkout, or doesn't know how).

It would be interesting to know how many actually didn't pay for something that they took.

Re:Be careful to not misinterpret (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933022)

Well, yeah. That's a good point. Some did just stroll out with merchandise, though.

Re:Be careful to not misinterpret (1)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933184)

and could probably be easily found too if anyone really cared. There may very well be cameras on the outside parking lot that caught license plates. All in all I think it is a good indication of the average morality of people. How long is it before stores function in this way anyway with only self checkout and no personnel? You could simply scan a drivers license for alcohol and provide a fingerprint as double verification. With the nanny state upon us it could easily be implemented with an equal amount of flaws as the current verification.

Re:Be careful to not misinterpret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933198)

Not only that but maybe some people really needed milk for their Easter Feast or baby formula but the automated register had stop working. So they'll come in on Monday and pay for the food.

Re:Be careful to not misinterpret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933306)

Just leaving the cart would most likely result in spoilage (assuming something was from the refrigerated section). Thus they would still have stolen profits; they just didn't benefit from them. But causing the product to spoil is still something that costs the business. I wonder if anyone found no cashiers and then went and put the products BACK? Probably nobody did that.

Re:Be careful to not misinterpret (2)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933384)

I'll bet they counted the people using CCTV footage, so they would know exactly how many people there were and whether they paid, and whether they left their merchandise behind. My question is, were there 24 customers total, or were there only 24 customers who left with goods?

My hypothetical fantasy: there were 12 people who paid at the self-checkout, 6 who made it to the register and abandoned their goods, 3 who took their shopping with them without paying, and two who tried to lift everything they could transport away.

Shopper No. 24 was a hacker who, upon realizing that the store was unmanned, hacked into one of the regular registers and acted as his own cashier.

Video (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933808)

Link [tvnz.co.nz]
Includes some CCTV footage.

I'm honest (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932920)

Really. I've gone back in to pay for an item that I found in the bottom of the cart, BUT...

For all the time I've waited at the self checkout line for someone to punch the "over 21" button so I could continue scanning my items, I think I might just walk out and consider the bonus earned.


(If we have one of the self checkout software developers here: PLEASE let me continue scanning and require the ID before I pay, instead of halting the entire process.)

Re:I'm honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933064)

Considering how many IDs have barcodes on the back, I'm surprised that you can't just scan your ID.

Re:I'm honest (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933186)

Then teenagers would "borrow" their parent's or brother's or friend's ID card. My local store has changed their system so the ID check comes after scanning all the items, but of course a person has to make sure the picture matches.

Re:I'm honest (1)

WRX SKy (1118003) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933158)

The grocery store by me updated their software to allow scanning to continue while waiting for someone to come over. My faith in humanity has been restored.

Re:I'm honest (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933256)

(If we have one of the self checkout software developers here: PLEASE let me continue scanning and require the ID before I pay, instead of halting the entire process.)

I agree, that's one of the most annoying parts of the checkout scanner -- I generally want to scan alcohol first so I can put it in the bottom of the bag, but when I do that, I sit and wait helplessly for the single clerk that is manning 6 self-checkouts. Though the *most* annoying problem is when the scanner tells me I have to bag my item before continuing and I've already bagged it!

2 other pet peeves:

First, use image recognition to help identify fruits/vegetables (or at least narrow down the list) for those that don't have the little plastic tags - it takes forever to scroll through the list looking for my potato.... why can't they take a picture of it and make a best-guess of the top 5 or 10 items it could be and let me pick one of those items, instead of making me scroll through a huge list of items. Color alone would let them eliminate green leafy vegetables from the list when I scan a potato. Or, at the very least, they should put the produce codes on the shelf so I can write it down or remember it at the checkout. The non-self service clerks have a handy paper flip-book that they can use (though they seem to remember almost all of them without looking them up).

Secondly, when I put my backpack on the bagging shelf before I start scanning anything, zero the bagging scale at that point and let me load my scanned items directly into my backpack. The way it works now, I'm told to remove the unauthorized item from the bagging shelf and I have to put my backpack on the floor, then scan items and stack them on the shelf, then after I'm done paying I have to load the items from the shelf to my backpack, while the person behind me waits to checkout.

Re:I'm honest (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933344)

The ones near me have fixed both of your other pet peeves.

1. The numbers are on the items in the produce section. You can weigh them there, enter the code, and get a printed-out barcode to put on the bag. Then at the register you can treat them as any other pre-coded merchandise. Honest obviously applies.

2. Just after you start, before you scan the first item, there's a button on the screen that says "My Bag". Press that button, and the screen tells you to place your bags in the bagging area. There's a large "Done" button to press when finished. At this point, alas, it does wait for the attendee, I assume to verify that you placed only empty bags in the bagging area, but I've never seen an attendee more than glance my way before they clear this. Then it returns to the other screen and you can proceed with scanning, with your bags all zeroed out.

Re:I'm honest (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933500)

Ahh, you must be in Europe -- my first encounter with weigh-produce-first was in an Irish supermarket when the bemused clerk had to send me back to weigh my produce. I've never seen a store in the USA that does that.

It definitely makes a lot of sense to do it that way -- it speeds the checkout line even for non-self-service lines.

The "My Bag" button sounds perfect, though requiring that someone verify the bag makes it less useful. In my store where the self-service attendant appears to always be busy, it's probably faster for me to continue my practice of just putting my goods on the checkout shelf, then bagging them into my bag on the floor when I'm done.

Re:I'm honest (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933548)

I never use the self check line. Never. The reason is that it is a small contribution of me keeping people at work and not have them replaced by machines.

I gladly pay with the few minutes it costs me.

Re:I'm honest (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933588)

Secondly, when I put my backpack on the bagging shelf before I start scanning anything, zero the bagging scale at that point and let me load my scanned items directly into my backpack.

Training people to put stuff on the shelf without paying for it is probably a bad habit to encourage. The other problem has to do with reliability... Those scales are dramatically less accurate than you probably think. Fundamentally, they act as lie detectors where they only pose a security threat to those who really believe in them. So your algorithm is pretty complicated, do you take the max seen or the min seen or... And how do you "really" know your zero is not drifting if you don't enforce at least some minimal time interval of enforced zero?

Re:I'm honest (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933786)

The non-self service clerks have a handy paper flip-book that they can use (though they seem to remember almost all of them without looking them up).

I can assure you thru extensive personal experience, having worked my way thru school at a retail grocery store, that 99% of all produce dept sales come from 1% of the products. Bananas, Apples, lettuce, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, mushrooms, that's about it. Things like kiwi fruit are stocked for the "ambiance", virtually no one buys them, and they get tossed out as a decorative expense when they start looking bad. Ditto the coconuts, star fruit, etc. Furthermore, there may be 12 slightly different kinds of apples, all with very slightly different prices, but very often the same code will be used by lazy clerks. Finally, many produce depts operate on something remarkably like the salad bar model of you can buy as much as you want at a couple bucks per pound. I worked at a place that did crude unofficial audits of inventory using a flat rate per pound assumption... Also they trained us when receiving shipments from the warehouse to not waste time adding up values, but to go based on a typical dollar value per pallet. If it came from produce, ring it up as apples and you're pretty much close enough that no one will ever complain, neither management nor customers. Produce is not at all like the meat dept where you have a dynamic range of about 20 dB, from 25 cent/pound bones for dogs right next to 25 dollar/pound prime beef tenderloin...

Re:I'm honest (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933376)

What I took from this story is that New Zealand has an age-based prohibition on alcohol.

More would have paid if checkouts didn't lock (2)

Que_Ball (44131) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932964)

So I infer from the description that if those first customers did not lock up all the checkouts by scanning in Alcohol perhaps more of the later customers could have also paid for their purchases.

Re:More would have paid if checkouts didn't lock (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933172)

Taking anything in most societies without paying is theft, in some cases you lose a hand. In some you get people hoping you come back and do the right thing. The mechanism or justification of theft doesn't override the intent and in many cases the consequences. I wish people would stop trying to infer that somehow equipment, technology or something A, B or C is somehow responsible or justifies the actions of criminals.

Re:More would have paid if checkouts didn't lock (2)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933398)

Not that I agree with not paying in any way, but I'm curious: would you consider it necessary for them to put all their merchandise back before they leave? Or can they just leave the cart at the front and walk out? What about any refrigerated items? Should they be responsible for those if they leave the cart and they spoil? What if the person is managing a small child or two? Maybe they don't have time to put everything back. Maybe they or a loved one have a medical condition that requires them to get home quickly.

Would it be okay for them to slip a check, or maybe an IOU, under the manager's door and leave with their items?

Re:More would have paid if checkouts didn't lock (1)

The Flymaster (112510) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933690)

More to the point, what if you really needed that butter, couldn't pay because the register was locked, and planned to return on Monday with cash? Is that so bad?

Re:More would have paid if checkouts didn't lock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933722)

Leaving the cart with dry items wouldn't be stealing or destruction of property. And would be fair because a little hard work for the manager for being a dumbass is fair play. :)

Leaving items unrefrigerated wouldn't be theft, but would be destruction of property, and that's also wrong. And yes, if they spoil (which they would) would mean that the person who did it is responsible for them (payment and cleanup is needed).

If you don't have time to put the stuff back, and you can legitimately prove it (due to emergency), you would probably be off the hook (maybe not legally, but morally). But, seriously, we're talking, what... 5 minutes to return the refrigerated items? There's usually just an outside wall or two and one aisle. It wouldn't take long. Hell, if you're lazy, you could visit any freezer for the frozen stuff and dump it all there, and one fridge for the fridge items and dump them all there. Sure, it's a mess, but at least then you didn't ruin anything. That'd take maybe 1 minute.

If you have a medical condition that requires you to be somewhere at a certain time, I imagine you would ensure that your shopping trip had some extra time in case of a slow line (in this case there was none!).

Fascinating (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35932972)

From all of the claims the *AA made, I would have expected an empty store and 0 paying customers.

Re:Fascinating (2)

Americium (1343605) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933070)

Well it's not America. Just look how long it look for looting to start in Japan, compared to Katrina. Cultures with history and a lack of diversity seem to get along much better.

Re:Fascinating (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933462)

If this were to happen in Japan, they'd have 90% or more that would have paid. They are a society that loves rules and order and (to an extent) they still believe in personal honor.

Re:Fascinating (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933312)

If it were open like this every day, and kids could see their friends go in and take items out of the store without paying day after day, yes the store would be empty soon. During disasters, looters take items from unguarded stores because they see others getting away with it and take advantage of the situation. Sometimes it even happens when the store is guarded, but the looters overwhelm the people guarding the store. At that point, the guards may decide to take drastic action, such as stating that looters will be shot. At least you can take comfort that the RIAA hasn't gone that far.

Re:Fascinating (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933430)

It's worth noting that 'looting' usually follows something pretty big and serious happening. Otherwise all shopping centers would require armed security at all times.

Re:Fascinating (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933562)

The problem is that once there's no security and some people realize that they can take without being punished, that releases a flood of people who will overwhelm anyone but armed security. That's why all stores have some type of security and typically prosecute shoplifters. If they didn't, they'd be looted. On the Internet, there is no security, so downloaders feel free to download whatever they want without paying, thinking they'll never be caught.

Re:Fascinating (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933682)

The problem is that once there's no security and some people realize that they can take without being punished, that releases a flood of people who will overwhelm anyone but armed security.

It's not just that, there's always something like a natural disaster motivating it. Again, if it were just as simple as you're saying, it'd be a huge free-for-all.

Hope is not ... (0)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933054)

a plan of action. Dickhead needs to look over the tapes, and prosecute those that stole from him. Otherwise dickhead is setting himself and the store/employees up as suckers to which other dickheads will take advantage. Dickhead is indeed right, he's being a dickhead by just hoping.

Re:Hope is not ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933162)

The real question is how much was stolen, and is it worth the time and trouble to prosecute.

It is possible to lose by winning.

Re:Hope is not ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933188)

Cost benefit analysis.

It takes money to spend time looking through tapes, tracking down people, then any legal procedures.

We're not told how much was stolen; it might not be worth the effort and the owner may just write it off and be extra careful next ANZAC. Anyone whose conscious nags at them is just gravy.

Brillant (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933114)

So let me get this straight... Somebody designed and built a computer-controlled lock system (that apparently also turns on the self-checkouts), and didn't think something like this would happen?

Would it be that hard to have an "unlock" button to pair with the computer's instructions? When the store's supposed to be locked, the button would do nothing. Between zero and five minutes after the scheduled opening, it unlocks the doors. Five minutes after opening time, a nice reminder sounds. After ten minutes, the computer could assume human error, and stop trying to unlock the doors.

Developing and installing the system would likely cost a trivial amount compared to the risk of leaving a store unlocked and unattended all day.

Pak n' Save Acquired by Aperture Laboratories (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933240)

Self-checkout machine: "You have purchased forty-five pounds of spare ribs. You must throw the best barbecue in [your hometown here]."

A few bad apples (1)

pwileyii (106242) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933282)

From the article, the police were alerted when it was reported that people were driving off with "truckloads of groceries." This is the type of person that will not feel guilty and "cough up" because they clearly knew what happened and took advantage of the situation. While I don't think legal action should be taken against all individuals that didn't pay, these "bad apples" should be dealt with because they are not the type of person that will ever feel guilt about this type of action.

Re:A few bad apples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933486)

"While I don't think legal action should be taken against all individuals that didn't pay,"

Why? This is a frightening trend in our society where people equate getting away with it as doing nothing wrong. If people were driving away with truckloads then we're talking thousands in groceries. If it had been a car dealership and they were driving away with cars would you feel differently? When I was growing up in the 60s a few people may have taken stuff but some one would have called the police minutes after they realized the situation. I know that this is the entitled generation but why are you entitled to what some one else has? Victimless crime? The store owner would beg to differ and if they lost a lot of money then they may have to close up and lay off the staff. Even if they survive it could mean few if any raises but hey some people got some free stuff so where's the bad?

Re:A few bad apples (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933736)

I think he is doing the right thing by not going after anybody. Sometimes you should just file things under "Shit happens" and then get on with your life.

Kudos to the store owner (1)

devleopard (317515) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933290)

In a world where the increasing response to our own stupidity is to litigate, kudos to the store owner for admitting a screw-up and taking responsibility.

Double kudos to the folks who actually paid.

Shame on the folks who stole. Double shame on them for not calling authorities when the store was unmanned. That's more than groceries.. what if the owner was being held at gun point in the back? Of course, can't expect people to actually do the *right thing*, now can we?

Re:Kudos to the store owner (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933590)

Double kudos to the folks who actually paid.

Yes. If I were Mr. Miller, I would make an effort to find those who had paid and to reward them. Maybe free groceries, or employee t-shirts, or inviting their families to the next company picnic. The goodwill it would generate might even help recoup some of the losses caused by the dirtballs who stole.

What the article didn't say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933338)

The 1/2 of people who couldn't figure out the self scan were 55 or older and couldn't bother reading the directions.

No employees in the store? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933546)

Hell, I'd pay extra for that level of service at most of the grocery stores around me!

In Related News... (4, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933574)

In related news, grocery supermarket chain Pack-N-Save has announced they will be laying off 75% of their workforce. After a one-day experiment to test customer honesty and self-checkout systems, the chain discovered it would be cheaper to fire all of their checkout employees and let customers do it themselves.

Other retail chains are expected to follow suit sometime later this year.

Dilbert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933594)

this sounds like an episode of Dilbert ...

Did they make a profit? (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 2 years ago | (#35933634)

Given that they didn't have to pay any human staff, and 50% of customers paid, did they make or lose money? Also, if the automated teller hadn't of shutdown due to alcohol being purchased, would the number of paying customer have been much higher?

  • 1) Fire human employees.
  • 2) User computers.
  • 3) Relie on human honesty
  • 4) Profit!

The Big Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35933774)

Try that shit in New Orleans. Place would be cleaned out... even the registers would be gone.
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