German Supermarket Checkouts

One of the biggest annoyances for me since coming to Germany has to be supermarket checkouts. Back home, customer service is of paramount importance to the supermarket chains. So comes as a huge surprise to see how cold and unwelcoming checkouts in Germany are.

Those who live here will understand. They have experienced packing shopping bags at breakneck speeds to keep up with the cashier’s relentless catapulting of items across the scanner. And woe betides if your bags are not packed once the cashier has hit the “total” button. Looks cold enough to turn water into ice will ensue from both the cashier, eager to move on to the next poor sod, and the ninety-year-old woman behind you.

And then there is the design if the checkouts. Why don’t the supermarkets follow the example set by DM, the German chain drugstore? They have checkouts with a movable separator allowing one customer to finish packing whilst the next is being scanned? Or maybe offer to pack the customer’s bags like so many supermarkets in Britain do now, or is that too friendly?

Aldi and Lidl have slightly different concepts. Their cashiers are blisteringly quick and there is no space at the end of the conveyor for the items to accumulate as you pack. The concept is ingenious – reload the items into the trolley, pay and then faff around filling your bags in the packing area. Why on earth doesn’t Edeka have similar packing areas? There, as with most other chains, if you wish to reload your trolley and pack after paying, God help you as you will be getting in everyone’s way.

But, I think I have cracked it – plastic collapsible crates. I keep a couple in my car and when in the supermarket I just put the scanned items straight into them and then they are ready for loading straight into the car. No more wrestling with paper bags that are too deep for human arms for me, and no more huffs and puffs from the old woman behind!

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