“There Is NO MORAL ISSUE With Stealing From A Store That Forces You To Use Self Checkout, Period."

Fascinating new article from the Atlantic, The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery:

“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron,” reads one of the more militant comments in a Reddit discussion on the subject. “There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE.” 

Related: Creepy Or Necessary? - Target / Walmart Self Check Out Cameras


"They are charging you to work at their store."  NO, you are choosing to shop at their store and choosing to steal their property.  Stealing is wrong, it is a moral issue, and in the immortal signoff of my favorite new IPVM contributor, case closed!

the immortal signoff of my favorite new IPVM contributor, case closed!

Please don't encourage him :)

In all seriousness, and on this topic, clearly, it's morally wrong. 

What's interesting is from a security management / security technology perspective is how to handle that. Unless you can convince people not to do through education or persuasion, you are forced to use technology or change the process to reduce high levels of theft, e.g., creepy self-check out cameras.

Retailers factor in a certain amount of stock shrinkage.  This jerk is exploiting that loophole and lack of oversight.  Eventually it will end up in further crackdowns.  Remember when automotive fuel switched to self serve and pay after you pump?  Now the gas stations I have been to in the past decade have all switched to prepay with cameras all over them.  Prepaying with cash is impossible and they charge a higher rate for running plastic so a few bad seeds ruined the convenience factor.  

Unless you can convince people not to do through education or persuasion

Or through arrest/prosecution?



Question: How challenging is it to arrest people for self-checkout theft? My presumption is the person is going to say they made a mistake ("I must have missed that", "I forgot about that one", etc.). And surely some people genuinely do forget or make an error. I have no idea but if anyone has any experience to share on arresting people for self-checkout theft, I am curious to hear.

Use that fancy face recognition you like so much Mr. H.

1st offense is free, 2nd is a warning, 3rd is prosecution.

 My presumption is the person is going to say they made a mistake

Not on 3 different occasions. It's not rocket science bagging groceries.


It’s only illegal if I get caught, right?


Okay, some people just don't get my humor.  I am also someone who walks back into a store to let someone know they didn't charge me enough.

With all the LEO's in my family we have plenty of dinner time talk about how jail is full of stupid people.  The quote was from a LEO who hears this all the time.

I got the joke and gave you a favorable score. :) Of course, we ALL tell ourselves the same thing when we roll through a stop sign.

I believe in Karma, and more than once I have looked over a receipt when I got home and realized I was undercharged after leaving a store.  I called, spoke to the manager, offered to come back and pay the difference.  My honesty is much appreciated by him, and I feel better knowing that their shrinkage numbers will be a little lower.  Could I have ignored this and been fine?  Of course, but I have a moral need to do what's right. 

Thing is, I'm not aware of a single store that "forces" you to use to use self checkout.  They are usually there for convenience in case the workers get overwhelmed.  I actually prefer them, but that's another story.  So unless this person is going to a store with no human cashiers his/her argument is both logically and morally wrong.

Not to mention the fact that forced commerce only exist with various insurance products and formerly healthcare and neither are known for self checkouts.

I read the article from the link. I had no idea..... I personally love the quick and fast self checkout.             never dawned on me to "banana trick" or "pass around". wow. even more shocking was the fact that they stated 20% of people admitted it and that they were "normally" moral...... YIKES!  That's not "normally moral"... 

It's beyond me why anyone would sell their integrity for a $ buck and change.  But then, I don't understand people who open their car window and toss trash out.  Ignorance maybe?

That person has no morals, that is the issue. And more than likely that store is saving the shopper money by having a smaller number of human cashiers. I don't know of any stores that are totally self checkout anyway.  

"And more than likely that store is saving the shopper money by having a smaller number of human cashiers."

pretty sure that the store is trying to save themselves money by having a smaller number of human cashiers.

reducing their own operating costs (less salary/benefits costs, etc) increases their own margins, not the customers spending power.

you could make a case that the store saves itself money and is then able to pass those savings on to the customer.... but it would be a weak case at best.

I agree, and I actually make a point to avoid self checkout when possible to use human cashiers and support their employment. But I would in no way rationalize the theft of products on a ridiculous pseudo moral purpose.

agreed - stealing is stealing.

I mostly avoid the self-checkout lines as well - but my reasons are not near as altruistic as yours.  I just get too annoyed at the people in front of me.

if there are other humans using all the self-checkout lines, I go to the cashier.

While I have no real fondness for the cashier, nor his/her poor career choice, I have confidence (based on experience) that they can operate the register faster than the idiots who seem to flock to the self-checkout lines with full carts of bagged produce sold by weight that stare at the machine in fascination like it's the cockpit controls of a commercial jetliner. 

nor his/her poor career choice

I also make an effort not to judge people by their profession. That may all they are capable of. At least someone working an honest job is still (or should be thought of) better and above the most capable and smartest person in prison.

The genesis of that portion of the joke was a Mr. Pink reference from Reservoir Dogs - although Steve Buscemi was referring to the practice of tipping waitresses.

It's easy to deconstruct a joke and apply your superior morality stance to specific portions of the joke when you fail to get the reference.

So you're holding me responsible for not getting your joke. Nice.

No. I'm pointing out that deconstructing a joke is a fools game.

pretty sure that the store is trying to save themselves money by having a smaller number of human cashiers.

That's correct.

you could make a case that the store saves itself money and is then able to pass those savings on to the customer.... but it would be a weak case at best.

Well if their expenses for the cost of human cashier employees rise then who do you think will be paying for that rise?? 

The goods might not be getting any cheaper, but if they don't go up as much by using self checkout, then I call that savings.

yes, I mentioned that you could make a case but it would be weak.

Well considering I am up against the morality of a thief, I would say my case is strong. I could just stand up and not say a word, and still win my case. 

Case Closed.

Build a system where everyone must use their phone to collect (scan) the data on products they wish to procure. RFID + Barcode no stickers. When you enter the check out area your phone alerts you and asks if you are done buying. Once confirmed the data is uploaded to the store and you are billed online after accepting the total. The checkout is merely a bagging area were all the RFID + Barcode is summarized and checksum to the uploaded data (your account). Any mismatches must be reviewed. Fail to scan and you pay a fee (Darwinian charge). As far as old people, accept change.

I think it would be far easier just to separate the 'human' with the 'scan' in self-checkout lines.

In another post, I commented on setting up self-checkout lines as conveyor belts, akin to TSA airport security lines. (note that this former post received just one vote [1 Unhelpful]).  :(

Shopper comes to self-checkout line and places the items on the conveyor belt, which runs the products through a scanner (like TSA does with your carry-on items).  Replace the X-ray scanner that TSA uses with a bar code scanner for the retail application.

Items go through the automatic scanner and are bagged as they come out the chute.  Items that fail to scan on the first pass through get re-scanned.

This method reduces the need for live cashiers and the 'normally moral' humans are not facing any dilemmas that might challenge that morality. 

Could also implement something like Amazon Go. It seems that they have far more advanced and better performing video analytics than the majority (all?) of the surveillance industry. 

Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future

Unclear how real / scalable Amazon Go is. I am not doubting it works at its small size / limited options but I doubt it would work for stores the size of Target, etc.

I remember a time that you didn't have to pump your on gas.

Just read another article with a similar theme:

I’m Never Going To Stop Stealing From The Self-Checkout

An odd take which concludes:

A concerned friend once asked me if all of this thievery was worth it. I paused for a minute and thought about the exploitive practices of mass food production, capitalism, slavery, and those 10 god-awful seasons of ‘Friends’

“Absolutely!”, I replied.