You can’t beat this deal – in exchange for scanning and bagging all of your own groceries, you get to take everything home for free! Pity the poor person in line behind you who gets stuck with your bill, though.
That’s what was apparently happening to many shoppers, before a southern California grocery chain and a local TV news investigation put a stop to it. Sort of.
San Diego’s KGTV is reporting on the results of an undercover investigation it conducted at a Vons supermarket self-checkout station. It appears a glitch can allow you to walk out of the store without paying – and make the next shopper pay for your stuff instead.
The least you can do is use some coupons, to lower the total that the hapless person behind you will be stuck with.
Curiously, it was a shopper who got his groceries for free – and not one who got hit with a suspiciously large grocery bill – who first brought the glitch to KGTV’s, and ultimately Vons’, attention. After you scan your items, you must hit the “finish” button on the self-checkout screen. If you don’t, someone staffing the self-checkout lanes should remind you to hit the “finish” button. If they don’t, the computer will not remind you to hit the “finish” button. It will just thank you for shopping at Vons and send you on your way – without even asking for money.
Well, that’s nice! Except for the next shopper. Unless you hit that pesky “finish” button, your order will remain open. And anything the next shopper scans will be added to that total, and they’ll have to pay the combined total of both orders. Unless, of course, they forget to hit the “finish” button too.
KGTV’s undercover shoppers tried it out at other grocery chains, but it only happened at Vons.
So surely, Vons immediately leaped into action and reprogrammed its self-checkout software, right? Not exactly. “As soon as Team 10 told a Vons media representative about the undercover test,” KGTV reports, “Vons took a proactive approach to protect consumers.”
Vons put up some signs.
So now, if you forget to hit the “finish” button, and a clerk forgets to tell you to hit the “finish” button, friendly signs posted near all of Vons’ self-checkout stations will remind you to hit the “finish” button.
“We are working on a solution that would prevent this problem from occurring,” Vons told KGTV in a statement. In the meantime, those helpful signs will remind shoppers that if they don’t hit the “finish” button, they’ll get all of their groceries for free.
Sure, that ought to work.