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Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area - An Open Letter to Coles Assisted Checkouts

Something a little different on the blog today - I'm getting this off my chest and wondering whether anyone else feels the same. 

Dear Coles Asssisted Checkout,

You and I have been well acquainted for a number of years now and I feel it only right that I be honest with you about the service you provide.

I have no problem whatsoever with scanning my own groceries. I do have a problem with scanning $200 worth of shopping when the only manned checkout has a fiver-customer queue.

 I also have a problem with you renaming yourself “an assisted checkout”.  That’s a little like calling a McDonalds Drive Through an a la carte restaurant.  The only thing that I can imagine the word “assisted” applying to in this instance is that I am assisting your staffing costs by checking out my own goods.

Photo Credit |

I asked Coles last year, via their Facebook page, why the cost of goods on their online shopping service was higher than if I’d bought it in store.  They informed me that it was to account for the “personal shopper” that hand selected my chosen items and packed them for me.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  If I’m now scanning and packing my own goods, please may I have a 10% discount as I’m sure I am saving you at least 10% on your staffing costs.

I went to my local Coles yesterday morning, around 8.30am, to find just one lonely checkout chick with her own special queue of customers.  You guys had your own queue, too, of around ten people, lots of whom had a trolley full of shopping that they were gamely going to attempt to scan and pack themselves in a one square metre space.
If you are going to take over our shopping experience, can you at least do the following improvements:

·    -Give us more space! The tiny shopping bag compartment only takes two full bags and throws a fit if you try and be environmentally friendly and use your own bag.  What do I do when I have packs of toilet roll, or dog kibble or other large items that you have to attempt to balance on the scale so that the lights go green and you can move on with your shopping?  Don’t dare tell me to press the “I’m not going to bag this item” button as all that does is flag you up as a potential shoplifter and give the poor Coles assistant yet another red light to deal with.  

     There is also nowhere to park your trolley! If you are designed just for basket-shoppers how does the one manned checkout deal with all the trolley shoppers.  And god forbid, you try and get a pram through there - it's like negotiating a battle field with everyone desperately trying to hang onto their tiny patch of floor.

·    -Hurry up! You are so incredibly slow at realising that I’ve put my shopping in the bags that I end up packing something that didn’t get scanned properly and again, alerting the assistant to the fact that I must be “on the rob”.  We all have somewhere better to be than standing doing battle with you, so please recognise the fact that the item is in the bloody bag as soon as it goes in the bloody bag.

Image Credit | Andy Ward

·    -Hurry up, part 2! And adding in a “do you want a receipt” just adds precious seconds to the tortuous process.  Is this to save $0.0000001 on not printing everyone a receipt or so I can’t return my watermelon when I discover it’s all “fluffy and gross” when I get home (the kids’ description, not mine).

·    Why do some of you only take cards?  Was it cheaper to manufacture and manage those machines?  If I’m only buying a loaf of bread I don’t want to use my Visa but also don't want to have to wait in the ponderous queue for a “cash” machine to become free.

·    Don’t try and be Super-Checkout!  It’s greedy and irresponsible to try and deal with all of the customers yourself.  Let a couple (or, god forbid, three!) checkout assistants do some of the work for you.

Photo Credit | Daily Mail Online

All in all, Mr Assisted Checkout, I am not thrilled to have to use you EVERY TIME I go to Coles.  I quite like being asked whether I’m having a nice day, or whether it’s still sunny outside by a real person.  I get that you are progress and I get that you save the supermarket money, but really, if you thank me one more time for “using an assisted checkout” I may not be responsible for my actions.  Can I suggest you reprogram yourselves to say “thank you for using an UN-assisted checkout”?

Best Wishes 

The Fashionable Mum


  1. I had the road rage version of shopping not so long ago, all due to self serve. It's a long story and it didn't end well and basically I will never again frequent my local Coles.

  2. Thank you, thank you for describing my experiences and feelings so eloquently! At least I know I'm not alone... :)

  3. Amen to the buggys! I live just around the corner from a supermarket with these assisted checkouts and so quite often take my son for a walk to get him to sleep adn pick up a few things from the supermarket. I get so many glares and grumpy looks trying to unload things from the buggy then check them out. I don't want a bag as I can carry it in the buggy, but I haven't brought my own bag either so the machine throws a fit and inists I must have a bag. My husband also gets annoyed at the cheery voice that greets you- it sounds so gushy! Ah, how nice to get that off my chest.

  4. I so agree. I hate those checkouts with a vengeance and if I go to one with my Hubby he ends up having a hissy fit and shouting at it, and I end up with my knickers in a twist trying to find someone to come and help us. This Always happens.

  5. I'm with you, I hate them. And as you say you're lucky if there's even one checkout with an actual person these days.

  6. I had this exact same experience yesterday at my local Coles. Every second item I put through caused the machine to scream out 'assistance required'. It was querying my weight of watermelon, told me I had bought two CASES of mangoes instead of two single ones and a lot of other issues it had with my shopping.

  7. I refuse to use ANY self service checkouts - unless they pay me to do it by reducing the cost of the goods. Carol S


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