THE LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS OF SELF-CHECKOUT LANES
By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis CPP
Certified Protection Professional
Risk Manager and Analyst
Freelance Journalist and Author
August 5, 2022
© All Rights Reserved
RETAILERS USE OF SELF-CHECKOUT MACHINES MAKE EMPLOYEES OBSOLETE, BUT CONSUMERS AT HIGH RISK
Among retailers, the use of self-checkout machines are becoming more common in the business marketplace. Retailers, such as Walmart and others have figured out bottom-line-profits can be increased, by installing self-checkout machines and eliminating employee staff. However convenient self-checkout machines are; the cons outweigh the pros, example: Consumers are never trained, by Walmart, for example, on the correct procedures to operate the machines nor does it reduce the cost of goods and services for the consumers free labor. Essentially, they just keep raking in the profits and sometimes at the consumers expense.
More specifically, a simple error in missing an item, during the checkout process, could lead to the consumers arrest, costing the consumer thousands of dollars in legal fees because of a mere mistake. Furthermore, the consumer is never compensated for his or her labor during the self-checkout process. In order to alert consumers to the dangers associate with the self-checkout process individuals have turned to social media outlets to spread the word. Some of these individuals are former employees of a particular corporate chain, others are lawyers, e.g.:
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY EXPLAINS WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID SELF-CHECKOUT LANES
In an article appearing in: “IN THE KNOW,” A lawyer is after sharing why she often suggests that shoppers avoid using self-checkout lanes. Carrie Jernigan (), is a criminal defense attorney with more than 1 million followers on . Much of her page is dedicated to aspects of the legal system that may not know about.
In , Jernigan said that she typically tells people to “steer clear” of self-checkout lanes. The reason? Shoplifters. As Jernigan explains it, she usually sees three kinds of people getting charged with shoplifting after using a self-checkout lane.
The first, she says, are professional shoplifters. The second group, however, are those guilty of what she calls “theft by mistake.” This, according to Jernigan, is where innocent people can get into trouble.“These are the people that I genuinely think just forgot to scan an item,” she says. “It is usually something that was on the bottom rack of the cart … and when they are walking out, asset protection stops them.”
Jernigan explains that, in the early days of self-checkout, she noticed stores letting people off if they forgot to scan an item. “They let almost all of these people either scan and pay for the item, or just let them go, but took the item they did not pay for,” she says.
Now, however, stores aren’t as lenient, she says. Jernigan believes this is because shoplifters have become so adept at stealing from self-checkout lanes that stores no longer want to take a gamble on whether a theft was accidental.
They have lost all sympathy, and they are just taking a ‘Tell it to the judge’ approach,” she adds. Lastly, Jernigan breaks down the third group. These people, who she calls “the truly innocent,” are usually charged long after the day they bought something.
“It is something that [happens when] asset protection is doing a quality-control check, or inventory that weeks, days, months later comes up short,” she says. “So they will begin watching hours of video.” These checks, she says, can sometimes result in shoppers getting charged unfairly, simply because they bought one of the items that went missing.
The stakes can quickly get high. Although shoplifting is usually considered a misdemeanor, many states can sentence offenders to a year in prison. If the charge is elevated to a felony, the prison time could be much longer.
Jernigan’s last bit of advice? Don’t pay in cash. As she explains at the end of the clip, that will make it even harder to prove what you did or didn’t buy. If you’re innocent, Jernigan notes, it’s likely that you’ll eventually be able to present evidence to prove it. However, that comes at the cost of time, money and effort.
“At that point, so much damage has already been done,” she says.
FORMER WALMART EMPLOYEE HAS A WARNING FOR WALMART SHOPPERS: “DO NOT STEAL”
In an article appearing in “The US SUN” an individual claiming to be a former Walmart employee reveals: Self-checkout workers can pause the machine if they think you’re stealing and said you will definitely get caught. “First thing’s first: If you’ve been to Walmart, you’ve probably been to these self-checkouts,” the TikToker, who goes by @obeygoddess on the platform, said as she pointed to a picture of self-checkout kiosks.
Now what you didn’t know is Walmart employees that work in the self-checkout area carry devices around called TC devices. “With these TC devices, we’re able to see everything you’re purchasing, how much your total purchase is, and how much each item costs.” She then showed a picture of what a worker’s TC device looks like when a person is checking out, and it displayed exactly what she mentioned, plus the number of items the person is scanning.
The former employee continued on to reveal that employees who suspect theft have the option to pause the checkout process at any kiosk and make it look like the machine froze with the devices.She shared a photo of a kiosk displaying an error message, but she also said your checkout screen can simply freeze so you can’t do anything else.
“At that point, you have no choice but to call for help,” she noted.“And once we come over we pretend like something is wrong with the machine.” She continued: “Basically at that point what they do is if you already have things inside bags and you’re stealing, they’ll take everything out of the bags and be like: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll ring you up at another machine, there must be something wrong with this one.’ “And at that point, they’ll just take you to a main checkout where there’s an actual person to cash you out.”
The former Walmart employee said the point of her video is to teach people not to even try stealing from the self-checkout line.“They can see everything that you’re purchasing, everything that you’re scanning. “You will get caught and they will pause a transaction on you.”
To read the entire articles, click on the following links:
RISK ANALYSIS CONCLUSION
If a consumer desires to use the self-checkout machines as a matter of convenience he or she should do the following: 1) DO NOT OPERATE the machine while talking on your cell phone or while engaging in a conversation with a friend. 2) During checkout, verify each item scanned is listed on the machine. 3) NEVER PAY WITH CASH. Always use a bank debit card or a credit card for payment in order to have a record of your payment. 4) Keep a copy of your sales receipt for your records. 5) Prior to completing the check out peruse your bill to determine if all of your items in your shopping cart are included as well as determining if any items have been double scanned. If an item is accidentally double scanned make sure the item is removed from your sales receipt before paying the bill.
When in doubt always summon an employee to assist you when necessary.
“UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP EM BETWEEN THE BRIDLE!”