Etiquette for Self Checkout Lines

Self-checkout works best when you have just a few items.
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The self-checkout line offers convenience for those who have only a few items and don't want to wait in the standard lines. Unfortunately, the convenience can quickly turn into a hassle when the machine freezes up or an item doesn't scan correctly. If you're going to use the self-checkout lines, follow the rules and play nice.

1 Lining Up

The proper way to queue depends on the layout of the machines. For example, in many locations, the self-checkout registers are in a configuration of four registers with an open area in the middle for a single worker to monitor activity. In these cases, you'd typically form one line, then go to any of the four registers as it opens up. On the other hand, if the self-checkout registers are separated and look similar to any other register, line up to wait for a particular register.

2 What's In Your Basket?

Sometimes, the self-checkout line has a limit to how many items you're supposed to have. Respect this limit. The Kidspot Parent Exchange suggests that it's only for those with a basket, not a cart. You should also note that part of the convenience of the self-checkout lane is that you can move quickly through the lane. If you have several items without bar codes -- produce, bakery or deli items, for example -- it increases your time because you have to look up all these codes on your own. Others in line will be frustrated by how long it's taking you. Try to stick with items that have bar codes for convenience.

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.