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Supermarket Situation

The Express Lane at the Supermarket.

How ‘express’ is express?

I go to the supermarket once a week and at times need to buy a few items only (cooking oil, coffee, soap).  So I proceed to the check out lane marked ‘Express Lane - 12 pieces or less only’ so I can pay for my purchases quickly without having to wait in line too long or have to muscle my way through a procession of push carts.  I am usually able to pay at the cashier within 5-10 minutes.

I have experienced, in at least three separate occasions, that it took me more than 10 minutes from the time I lined up until I was able to eventually transact with the cashier.  The reason?  Someone ahead of me had a cartful of grocery items.

I did a double take.  Was I in a lane accepting more than 12 pieces?  Nope.  Maybe the person ahead of me had large items that only looked numerous.  I counted.  Nope.  The person definitely had more than 12 pieces in is shopping cart.

So what was he doing in the Express Lane in the first place?  Maybe he was also in a rush.  But then again so was I and a handful of other patrons.

Sometimes I try to call the attention of the cashier or another employee of the supermarket, to no avail.  So the person ahead of me gets to have his purchases rung up.  When my turn comes, I ask the cashier directly why the other customer (who had 20 pieces in his grocery bag) was allowed to use the express lane.  In response I receive any one of the following:

  • The cashier did not notice that the customer had more than 12 pieces in his cart and it was too late to ask him to transfer lanes.

  • The cashier did not want to offend the customer by having him move to another lane.

  • There weren’t many customers at the Express Lane so she (or they) allowed the customer to pay for his purchases there.

I even received a reply that was totally off-tangent: The customer was using his credit card.  Duh!

Each time, I voiced my concern and dissatisfaction to the supervisor on duty.  She apologized profusely and assured me that my observations would be acted upon.  However, I had been to the store a few more times and the situation still happens.

One other incident that left a very bad taste in my mouth was when I was at the same supermarket around mid-afternoon and was about to pay for my purchases (still at the Express Lane). 

I saw one of their employees coming from the selling area bringing a can or two of beer and some chips.  He went straight to the cashier and asked her to punch the items on the register.  I was apalled that I was not even given the proper courtesy, by the employee or the cashier,  in such a situation. 

Then and there I voiced my complaint, asking why they had preferential treatment for employees who do not follow procedures and fall in line.  I went to the store supervisor and sought an explanation for the incident.  The first reason I got from them: the employee was on a 20-minute break and had to rush.  That would have been an acceptable reason and I would have let it go at that. 

But the items that he bought were beer and chips.  Did they have a beer break in the supermarket already?  A new benefit perhaps? 

I could not accept the explanation at face value.  It was too shallow.

After a few more minutes of questioning, the employee admitted that the items were requested by the Assistant Store Manager.

Aha!  That says a lot about them.