How Thieves Scam The Self-Checkout System

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self-checkout scammers


Self-Checkout System scams are on the rise and stores are putting more eyes on the floor to make sure

Should customer service workers worry about shifts in the job market with more stores introducing self-checkout systems?

I’d believe so because the more we automate the less we will need human interaction although there will always be customers who pass on technology for a traditional checkout with a cashier.

Will self-checkout systems replace jobs as technology moves forward and the crunch of cost-cutting and increased minimum wage blanket consumers and retailers?

Possibly and we’re seeing self-checkout systems pop up just about everywhere, even at the pharmacy.

Questions upon questions which can only be answered as time goes on and not only from the customer and employee perspective but also the companies that introduce the self-checkout system.

If keeping costs lower is the name of the game for a company they most likely would do it especially if that means lowered costs to the consumer. Most often this is just a dream but noteworthy.

Stores with the self-checkout system seem to be on the rise in Canada with Walmart, Home Depot and just about every grocery store following suit.

With the rise in minimum wage topping $15 in Ontario we are hearing more shops are aiming to offset costs by introducing the self-checkout.

Just last week Dollarama explained that they plan to trial self-checkout systems in response to the wage increase.

Giving the customer control with the self-checkout system

It doesn’t matter where we go these days technology has allowed consumers to take front row when it comes to ordering and cashing out.

Walk into just about any grocery store and you’ll find self-checkout systems something that was almost unheard of back in the 70’s and early 80’s.

I believe that a would-be shoplifter would more likely scam the self-checkout systems just to save money.

In some cases the shoplifter who can’t get their high from shop floor stealing look for alternate ways to get the product they want.

Related: Should using the self-checkout qualify you for a discount?

Self-checkout systems were introduced to consumers by David R. Humble who invented them also known as semi-attended customer-activated terminal, SACAT where customers have the ability to cash out with limited interaction if any with a cashier.

As of 2013, there were 191,000 self-checkout units worldwide, and the number was estimated to reach 325,000 units by 2019. David R. Humble got the idea as he stood in a long grocery checkout line in south Florida in 1984.

Self-checkout systems are meant to help the consumer take charge of their order and in many cases motivate faster service because of it.

Although this isn’t always the case there will always be some customers who prefer a cashier and others who prefer the self-checkout systems.

Some customers love using the self-checkout system because they think it’s fun or something they’ve wanted to try but never worked as a cashier.

It’s a great way to test if you want to apply for a cashier job with limited customer interaction. It’s more on an as needed basis.

There is a Walmart with self-checkout near me that has a large self-checkout system that seems to always be bustling with customers every time we visit.

I often wondered if customers are scamming the self-checkout system like they were back in the UK because it can happen and it does.

Self-Checkout System Thieves Find Cheating Ways

Just how are these self-checkout system thieves getting away with their elaborate plans of paying less or nothing at all for items and not getting caught?

This is a major question that retailers have long been trying to answer which is why the self-checkout system has improved over the years.

With the addition of self-checkout system service desks and one employee who has eyes for every self-checkout system they can watch what it going on.

The problem with this is that it can be tough if the employee is not a trained security scanner.

When you go into a casino security staff are trained specifically to do this for a living.

Cashiers at the grocery store have to deal with all sorts of issues and in many cases are away from their computer and this is when thieves can really jump in and step up their game.

Sounds ridiculous but people will do it and it’s not just customers who struggle to make ends meet either.

When there is an opportunity to steal it doesn’t matter how much money someone has in the bank it’s an ethical decision.

This means that if someone believes they can get away with something they might just try it.

What they may not consider until after the fact is the consequences.

HOW THIEVES SCAM THE SELF-CHECKOUT SYSTEMSome of the ways that would-be self-checkout system scammers skip the system are not advanced all although I did read a story about a lady who admitted to photocopying bar scan codes and pasting them on less expensive products when scanning.

The Queensland Times reports 35-year-old Kylie Milner of Ipswich orchestrated a somewhat labour-intensive plot, in which she photocopied the bar-codes from 65c and 72c packets of two-minute noodles, which she then printed and glued to sticky labels.

She walked away with over $4500 worth of groceries from Coles and Woolworth’s. What a smart yet stupid idea to land someone in jail.

I’ll admit I tested the incorrect product code in the UK earlier this year out of curiosity and sure enough I was able to do this on produce.

I removed the product and started again because there’s no way in hell I’d go to jail for this scam. I’m also not sure “just a joke” would have worked either.

If I was able to do it that easily I know that anyone could but this is not new as it has happened since the introduction of this self-service type of system.

The stores know about it and have cameras installed and elaborate computer systems for the on-site service cashier but humans aren’t perfect.

Even cashiers make this mistake when they don’t know what produce is coming through and either ask the customer what it is or guess.

I’ve caught errors and had to tell the cashier what the product was so I wasn’t charged more than I should have paid.

Then there are customers who lie and say the products is something else when it’s not and the cashier believes them and keeps on going.

Restrictive Self-checkout

Having restrictive self-checkout systems with product limits may be another option to move customers through quicker.

Consider it the drive-thru grocery shopping system. Not click and collect rather a system where customers do the work yet get it done quicker because of product amount restrictions.

This may be enticing but not everyone wants to leap over to the self-checkout system side especially when prices keep going up, cashiers are losing jobs and no one wants to do the work.

Self-checkout systems advantages and disadvantages

HOW THIEVES SCAM THE SELF-CHECKOUT SYSTEM.png mainSelf-checkout systems problems are equally frustrating if not more of a time waster then simply using a cashier, but not everyone cares.

There are people who would rather avoid the cashier and opt for cashing out on their own but with this self-checkout system there comes pros and cons that every consumer should be aware of.

Self-Checkout Pros

  • You’re in control so if you move fast you get out fast
  • There are more than one or two self-checkout system on duty
  • Less human interaction
  • You get to bag as you wish

Self-Checkout Cons

  • If you get stuck behind a slow customer you’re doomed
  • Using coupons can be a pain
  • Reduced product in most cases have to be done by the self-checkout customer service
  • You can’t find the product you need
  • System failure
  • You only have yourself to blame if you mess it all up

Overall the self-checkout system is here to stay unless it becomes more of a financial burden for the company.

With thieves working their way through the grocery store system on and off the floor it can be taxing and customers end up flipping the bill for it.

A Canadian Budget Binder reader Adeline asked about upfront costs to purchase the self-scanner system for retailers during a recent Facebook discussion.

CBB reader Thad gave a reasonable response about why they were good investments.

Yes and no. Yes they are expensive, but even if they paid $20,000 or $30,000 for them, it would save them roughly $52,000 in salaries in just the first year.

That is assuming somebody working the same cash register for about 12 hours a day, 364 days a year at about $12 an hour wage. The higher the minimum wage, the more they save.- Thad T.

Knowledge is key which means this isn’t a post to help scammers it’s more of an awareness post of what is going on.

Even though upfront costs are pricey for the self-checkout system costs are easily recouped via the reduced workforce.

Cheating and stealing can get you arrested and it’s not worth it so if you plan to cheat the self-checkout system think about the consequences first.

Discussion Question: What have I missed in this article that should be added? Any experience or tips please comment below. Thanks.

September Grocery Game Challenge

Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post.

Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule.

Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.

Post your shop and you can be next.

New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules

Free Money Saving Tools 2017

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsDon’t pay someone for these services, I’ve done the work for you along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2017

the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken over 5 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about the Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the  many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

2017 Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3180 or $265/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $265
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $265
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 646,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: 983,000 O.M.G

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25… no idea where the money went but it seems we have $0.
  • Checkout51 to cash out: $24.50 we cashed out so we’re back at O.

Our Grocery Shop This Week


  • E.D Smith Sugar-Free Syrup $3.29
  • 3 x Large eggs $1.97 each
  • Salted Butter No Name $3.97
  • Nordica Cottage Cheese $1.99
  • Astro coconut yogurt $2.99
  • Iceberg Lettuce $1.29
  • PC White Mushrooms $1.99
  • PC Broccoli Slaw $3.89-50%  $1.95
  • Bananas $0.96
  • Celery stalk $1.29
  • 4 x Yellow Zucchini $3.62-50% $1.81
  • Liquid sweetener 2 x $4.94-50% $2.50
  • 3 x English cucumbers $0.99 $2.97
  • Romaine $1.47
  • Speciality grapes reduced $0.99
  • 3 x Chicken Breakfast Sausages $5.79-50% $8.68
  • Smoked Gouda $20-50% $10
  • Asiago $8.62 on sale and a great deal for the real stuff.
  • Salami Whips $6.00

Total Out-of-pocket $ 68.58 

All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $265- $18.51= $246.49 (overage from August)
  • Stockpile budget 2016: $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $675.93
  • Total spent this week: $68.58
  • Total spent so far this month: $153.06
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: Over
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: Under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $93.43
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $263.60 + April $273.83+ May $257.15 + June $65.43+July $226.84+August $283.51+September $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Not too bad of a shop as we picked up some black sticker deals a.k.a pink sticker deals and flyer deals that we took advantage of.

The Asiago cheese was pretty much half price so it was hard to pass the real stuff up.

With just under $100 left to spend this month, we may be just making our budget.

Coupons and Coupon Apps

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and fewer coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts?

Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2017?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

If any of the links below don’t open properly please report them to my email address or use the comment form.

  • Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
  • Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
  • Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
  • MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
  • Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
  • Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
  • Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.

Grocery Game Challenge 2017 FAQ’s

  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated to reflect changes for the 2017 challenge year.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends, it’s $CDN via PayPal.  Please see GGC rules.
  • When does the Grocery Game Close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
  • Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest  Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our iPhone so if you were wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?:  If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget as many people do. This is why The Grocery Game Challenge is one of the most popular hangout spots for people who want to save money on groceries.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017!


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