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(Lifehacker)   Math says you should avoid the express lane at the grocery store   (lifehacker.com) divider line 142
    More: Spiffy, waste of time, grocery stores, checkout lane  
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7308 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Jan 2013 at 10:12 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-02 09:13:52 PM
Experience says otherwise. And unlike math, experience is based in the real world.
 
2013-01-02 09:18:59 PM
Express lanes should be 5 or less.  Anything over 5 isn't really express.

Walmarts is over 20 which doesn't make any sense at all.
 
2013-01-02 09:23:17 PM
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?
 
2013-01-02 09:25:53 PM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


It's science.

Really, just avoid any line with old women or young kids and you'll be fine.
 
2013-01-02 09:32:27 PM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


Romney pollster now writing for lifehacker.
 
2013-01-02 09:37:19 PM

Klippoklondike: Walmarts is over 20 which doesn't make any sense at all.


Because there are people at Wal-mart that have 50-100 items at any given time in a line.
 
2013-01-02 10:13:32 PM
The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.
 
2013-01-02 10:15:16 PM
My local grocery store (Market Basket) usually has 5-6 lanes of people with full shopping carts and 1-2 with 12 items or fewer. If one of the express lanes has more than three or so people waiting, the second express lane opens up. The only time I have to wait for checkout is if I buy a lot of stuff.
 
2013-01-02 10:18:09 PM
is the five minutes or so that big of a deal? the same people concerned about this are running over peons in the parking lot
 
2013-01-02 10:24:21 PM
MaudlinMutantMollusk
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?


I was going with "the fark?", but yeah.

If 5*10=50 and 5*20=60 you aren't in the express checkout, you're online shopping at zombo.com.
 
2013-01-02 10:26:28 PM
It is the number of transactions, not the number of items. With the scanners a good clerk can ring up more than one item a second, but the counting cash, validation of credit, or filling in of a check will take a minute or so.
 
2013-01-02 10:27:19 PM
Personally I like the self check out lane. As long as there are no little old ladies trying to use it ahead of me.

/It's not self check out if you need assistance for every item
 
2013-01-02 10:27:20 PM
Or the stores could, you know, open more lanes for checkout instead of having only a few open at a time, which guarantees clogging of every lane, express or not. But that would require hiring more workers, and we can't have that because unions.

/Maybe your experience is different, but every grocery store I go to is extremely inefficient about opening lanes even when the store is crowded
 
2013-01-02 10:27:51 PM
Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN IN THE REAL WORLD.  People in the regular lines have 100+ items, two kids in tow, fourteen hundred coupons, a checkbook, and a pen that doesn't work.  They've also just forgotten they need cat litter, so they'll "be right back" sometime next year.
 
2013-01-02 10:29:07 PM

shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.


you forgot to write a check and since the customer is always right you will be okay they will allow it, did you make sure to pick up an item that will need a price check
 
2013-01-02 10:31:04 PM
I've worked as a grocery store cashier, and that article is baloney. Most people who use the express lanes buy only 5 or 6 items, and most people in the regular lanes have full baskets - 50 or 60 items. In an express lane the longest part of any transaction is the customer paying. But the longest part of a regular lane is unloading the groceries from the basket, ringing them up, and then bagging them all again. A good cashier can move about 8 people or more through an express lane in the same time it takes for a regular lane with one full basket. Also, most customers in an express lane are in a hurry and have payment ready, while the full baskets are the moms doing the weekly shopping who take their time with coupons, digging out the checkbook, etc.

tl;dr = That article is completely wrong.
 
2013-01-02 10:32:14 PM

Waldo Pepper: shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.

you forgot to write a check and since the customer is always right you will be okay they will allow it, did you make sure to pick up an item that will need a price check


Or they insist on writing out the check instead of giving to the cashier for them to run it through the magic machine that turns their check into one time use debit card. Just sign the damn thing and hand them the black check. Why are you surprised, they've been doing it this way for the last 10 flipping years!
 
2013-01-02 10:34:06 PM
Here's a tip..look at the persons in front of you. If it's two young adults, jackpot. If it's a single senior, look elsewhere.

On a side note, this afternoon at the local supermarket two of the self-checkout lanes were bottle-necked by individuals with loaded grocery carts. Individuals, as in no one to bag stuff after it's scanned, and loaded, as in way too much stuff to fit onto the belt. Why? Why why why. The amount of time you're burning doing this cannot possibly be longer than waiting for a cashier. Believe me, no one cares that you're buying lice cream and laxatives.
 
jbc [TotalFark]
2013-01-02 10:34:26 PM
Where has there ever been an express line with more than 3 people in it? Ever? Rarely are there even 2 people in it. Besides, the only time you should ever need a human cashier is when you're getting beer and the self-check line wastes your time by calling the attendant over anyway to check ID.
 
2013-01-02 10:35:20 PM
I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.
 
2013-01-02 10:37:46 PM
The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.
 
2013-01-02 10:38:54 PM

doglover: Experience says otherwise. And unlike math, experience is based in the real world.


The shortest line is fastest not always.
 
2013-01-02 10:39:25 PM
I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.
 
2013-01-02 10:40:44 PM
Whatever happened to just looking at what lines are moving, anticipating potential problems due to old crones and mothers with their brood and just avoiding them.

My wife can take 45 minutes shopping when I can be back in the car with the same items roughly 10-15, and I stopped at the Deli too!

/If you know your PLU Numbers it can save you a LOT of headache in the self-checkout too.
 
2013-01-02 10:42:56 PM

shanrick: The most important thing to remember about the express lane is that you should wait until the cashier is entirely finished ringing up your purchase and bagging it, and only then should you start digging in your purse for your checkbook. And use coupons, lots of coupons.


Be sure to point out that something that you are purchasing is deficient in some way and asking where you can obtain a product more to your liking. That is what the checkout person is there for.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:01 PM

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:02 PM
I go to the aisle with the cutest cashier or best selection of magazines.
 
2013-01-02 10:43:44 PM
Look, Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always. That old man up front, he is starved for attention, he will talk the cashier's head off.  Let's cut to... that line.

But that's the longest!

Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chit-chat.

1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-01-02 10:43:50 PM

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


I'd like to be on the no-coupon, credit/debit-only lane.
 
2013-01-02 10:44:21 PM
Common sense says that express lanes should be cash or card only. NO CHECKS, NO COUPONS.

Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

It usually seems that the more people are in a line, the slower it will move, rather than a fewer number of people with the same amount of items. It's a crapshoot. But, I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.
 
2013-01-02 10:46:11 PM
I'd rather the stores had an "excess" line, where people buying food for the next year and people who think it's 1975 and paying with a check is even remotely acceptable are forced to go.

That said, I usually just pay at the self checkout. It's usually faster, and it's not like scanning barcodes requires a Ph.D.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:21 PM

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


Won't happen in most stores, because while single queue lines to tend to be faster, people don't see that. They see a giant line and exaggerate their wait time in their head. Stores are (rightfully) afraid it will give them a negative image and lose them customers.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:33 PM
I use the self-checkout, and go fast. That is, when some Luddite gets in front of me and cant figure out how to work the damned thing. If the lines are too long there, I'll go through the regular checkout with my five or six items, only to be blocked by the elderly woman who either pulls out her checkbook at the very last minute, or who can't fathom the card reader. It seems like I seldom win in any case.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:39 PM

BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.


I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.
 
2013-01-02 10:48:43 PM

skinink: I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.


What takes 5 minutes if you are scanning as you shop?

I can also buy $70 in groceries and only spend 5 minutes or less checking out.

self-checkout rocks - the place I shop has 10 of them. They're also usually the only lanes open at 3 AM.
 
2013-01-02 10:49:09 PM
*until* some Luddite...
 
2013-01-02 10:49:10 PM
The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two
 
2013-01-02 10:49:23 PM
When I shop for just a few items at off-peak hours, it's not uncommon for a line to build up at the express lane when only one or two of the others are open. Then they'll usually get somebody to open the lane next to it, and get through the line much faster. Happened to me this afternoon, and I went from the back of the express line to the front of the new line. It didn't take long for that to happen, either. The article's author doesn't take this possibility into account.
 
2013-01-02 10:50:04 PM
TFA links to AFA about shoppers avoiding lane 13. Seriously? People do this? Wonder how they'll get through the year.
 
2013-01-02 10:51:51 PM

The Voice of Doom: If 5*10=50 and 5*20=60 you aren't in the express checkout, you're online shopping at zombo.com.


You're holding up the line with all the internets you just won!

I clicked on that article looking for some interesting math or some realworld useful tips. Instead I got a stupid middle school word problem with a basic arithmetic error.
There are never 5 people in 1 express line, nor 3 people with 20 items each.
There's 2 in the express lane, one with 10 items over the limit. 2 people each in the normal lines with heaping carts. And then there's me in self-checkout lane walking on past all this crap.
 
2013-01-02 10:54:56 PM

Austinoftx: Common sense says that express lanes should be cash or card only. NO CHECKS, NO COUPONS.

Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

It usually seems that the more people are in a line, the slower it will move, rather than a fewer number of people with the same amount of items. It's a crapshoot. But, I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.


No cash. Cash slows down the line. When I go to the grocery store I'm processing my debit card payment while the cashier is still scanning the goods. By the time she's done I've already inserted my PIN and ready to approve. The woman in front of me meanwhile was digging through her purse for exact change.

And no, you cant take your 16 items to the 10-item express lane when no one is there. Woe to the cashier that has to explain to the guy that just came up behind you that wanted to be in and out with his 1 item in 60 seconds why he has to wait a few extra minutes because you can't count.
 
2013-01-02 10:55:21 PM

jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.


But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.
 
2013-01-02 10:55:26 PM

utsagrad123: The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two


Sounds like a step up from the on near where I used to live - I think they only hired Brazilian Three-toed Tree Sloths.
 
2013-01-02 10:57:07 PM

Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.


I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?
 
2013-01-02 10:58:55 PM
Other day, I was in the express aisle. 2 women in front of me, neither had much. Old woman in front, had to divide her 12 items over 3 tickets, 2 paid with cash from different envelopes, 1 with plastic.

Woman in front of me had only a gallon of milk. Which she forced them to price check. She then tried to use an expired coupon, and of course didn't bother to try to dig it out of the suitcase she carried as a purse. Then, she WROTE a check. She didn't use the printer, she wrote it out. After digging in her purse again.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:23 PM

fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.


hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:29 PM
There should be a no cart/basket lane. You can only purchase as many items as you can carry in your hands.

Half my grocery store runs are for a few fresh items. Nothing pisses me off more than a person ahead of me in the express lane with a full cart as well as a screaming baby and I'm only holding a bag of fresh shrimp and a head of cabbage.

/I like the single line for a the registers system they have at my local Trader Joe's. Of course there are people that fark that up to by being too damn busy updating their facebook status to see or hear the hippie in the Hiawaiiam shirt waving and yelling at them.
 
2013-01-02 10:59:40 PM

Fisty Bum: Look, Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always. That old man up front, he is starved for attention, he will talk the cashier's head off.  Let's cut to... that line.

But that's the longest!

Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chit-chat.


If this had been posted first in the thread, it would have been done in one.
 
2013-01-02 11:01:55 PM

Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.


I invite you to go to politics thread with this form of Supermarket Socialism.
/THANKS OBAMA!
 
2013-01-02 11:02:19 PM

bionicjoe: fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.

hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.


Yeah but have you seen what they charge for arugula?
 
2013-01-02 11:02:37 PM
Math doesn't say you should avoid express lanes -- just that you shouldn't prefer them as much as most people do.
 
2013-01-02 11:03:03 PM

bionicjoe: fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.

hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.


If you're that worried about "the riff-raff" you simply send your servants to do the shopping.
 
2013-01-02 11:05:52 PM
I prefer the self-checkout line - it hides the shame you feel when all you're buying is frozen pizza and toilet paper. And hand cream if it's a Saturday night.
 
2013-01-02 11:06:12 PM
20 x 5 = 60 math aside, this is a silly article. He only has one real data point (4:28 vs 4:56), and it supports the opposite conclusion he's making.
 
2013-01-02 11:06:13 PM

fozziewazzi: I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?


I'm not finding anything off the top of my head. Find a friend who's in the military, and ask to go to the Commissary with them.
 
2013-01-02 11:06:27 PM

W. T. Fark: TFA links to AFA about shoppers avoiding lane 13. Seriously? People do this? Wonder how they'll get through the year.


Seriously. 13 is one of my favorite numbers. I'll take that lane.

Around here the best way to ensure quick checkout is to avoid any lane with a young looking cashier. Almost everyone is buying alcohol so you want to avoid having to wait while the under 21 cashier has to get someone else to scan the booze.
 
2013-01-02 11:07:31 PM

utsagrad123: The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two


I wonder how much ass the one legged greeter can kick at that store.
 
2013-01-02 11:08:46 PM

fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?


This is how they do it at Fry's, which is a big box electronics chain very much like Best Buy. Don't have a pic, but imagine a large row of cashiers with room for a single customer each; an empty row parallel to the cashier row that the customer uses to get to their cashier; and then a third parallel row where the line actually is.
 
xcv
2013-01-02 11:09:03 PM
 
2013-01-02 11:10:00 PM
I can usually handle grocery store traffic, but what really gets me is when I shop at Walgreens or CVS. Every single time I get in line, the person directly in front of me has a ton of coupons or, more than likely, wishes to argue with the checkout person about the price in the weekly circular vs. the price that was just rung up. Worst yet, is when the cashier has to process a rain-check for the customer who just has to have their brand of hairspray for $2.99. God that sucks, and it's every... single... time I happen to shop at one of those stores. I honestly don't know how they stay in business.
 
2013-01-02 11:10:08 PM
I hate to say it, but I usually pick the line with the cutest cashier.
 
2013-01-02 11:10:40 PM

Arkanaut: Math doesn't say you should avoid express lanes -- just that you shouldn't prefer them as much as most people do.


Thank you!. The article tries to make a point but doesn't do a good job proving it and subby stretched that even further out of whack.
 
2013-01-02 11:15:40 PM
This logic is more applicable in a place without express lanes, actually.

It's a matter of number of items ahead of you versus number of transactions. If two lanes have about the same number of items going through but one has more transactions then you join the lane with fewer transactions. That's because each item takes the same amount of time to scan, but payment is always a slow down.
 
2013-01-02 11:17:19 PM

had98c: W. T. Fark: TFA links to AFA about shoppers avoiding lane 13. Seriously? People do this? Wonder how they'll get through the year.

Seriously. 13 is one of my favorite numbers. I'll take that lane.

Around here the best way to ensure quick checkout is to avoid any lane with a young looking cashier. Almost everyone is buying alcohol so you want to avoid having to wait while the under 21 cashier has to get someone else to scan the booze.


This is true. I find that the older cashiers have been there longer and know there stuff. Young cashiers have really high turn-over and stop too often to ask for help.
 
2013-01-02 11:18:59 PM
I love self-checkout lanes. I can run my transaction with over $100 in groceries quicker than the guy who is using it for the first time and waits for all the prompts. Then again, I know that I can start scanning right away without selecting a language, and I don't have to wait for the vocal prompts to finish in order to go Checkout > Pay with Card > Complete transaction using pin pad. I've had some of my friends/family be amazed at the speed that I use these newfangled touch screens.
 
2013-01-02 11:19:44 PM
Typical evaluation of a real world scenario by a mathematician. Create a version of that scenario that makes your point and work backwards using math to prove you were right.
 
2013-01-02 11:21:32 PM

TommyDeuce: bionicjoe: fozziewazzi: BarkingUnicorn: I shop at 8 a.m. on Saturday, when the shelves are stocked and there are no lines.

I shop during the second or last week of the month to avoid the pay/welfare check grocery store rush that comes following the 15th and the 30th.

hahaha Poor people suck.
I just shop at Whole Foods. Nothing keeps away the riffraff like $4 eggs.

If you're that worried about "the riff-raff" you simply send your servants to do the shopping.


That's a lot of chaining/unchaining I have to do. Plus I like a day among the plebeians every once in awhile.
 
2013-01-02 11:21:55 PM

ODDwhun: Personally I like the self check out lane. As long as there are no little old ladies trying to use it ahead of me.

/It's not self check out if you need assistance for every item


The wife and I know the most common SKU numbers for fruits, vegetables, and bulk items. We never need help at the self check, and are ALWAYS faster than your average line.
 
2013-01-02 11:22:11 PM

zarberg: I hate to say it, but I usually pick the line with the cutest cashier.


Nothing to be ashamed of. You will wait patiently and be pleasant when you get your turn. Better than most customers, even if you are super creepy.
 
2013-01-02 11:23:02 PM

Fano: utsagrad123: The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two

I wonder how much ass the one legged greeter can kick at that store.


He may just end up resorting to biting their legs off
 
2013-01-02 11:26:21 PM

skinink: I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.


Stop and Shop/Giant really seems to be trying to do away with the human cashiers. I can't remember the last time I was in one of their stores (including the day before Thanksgiving) and seen more than three cashiers. Unfortunately it forces more people into the self-check out lines that have no business near any type of automated machine.
 
2013-01-02 11:27:57 PM
And they always seem to have the slowest and/or oldest cashier on the express lane as well.
 
2013-01-02 11:29:29 PM

fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?


I've seen it in a couple of supermarkets in San Francisco, The line moves very quickly and efficiently.
 
2013-01-02 11:29:29 PM

wildcardjack: This logic is more applicable in a place without express lanes, actually.

It's a matter of number of items ahead of you versus number of transactions. If two lanes have about the same number of items going through but one has more transactions then you join the lane with fewer transactions. That's because each item takes the same amount of time to scan, but payment is always a slow down.


Sort of like applying rate law to traffic signals. Wait, has anyone published a paper on this yet?
 
2013-01-02 11:30:19 PM
kwame
Typical evaluation of a real world scenario by a mathematician. Create a version of that scenario that makes your point and work backwards using math to prove you were right.


That's not a mathematician.
That's people in the medical field or MBAs who were forced to take a statistics class.

/to paraphrase a math prof specializing in probability theory and statistics: "people doing medical research tend to hate mathematicians."
 
2013-01-02 11:33:41 PM

Austinoftx: I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.


fark em. Depending on the store you have a 50% chance of getting a moron or a vengeful psycho. Only at Harris Teeter have I had consistently good cashier service.

I can't wait til food service goes the robot route. I can use a touch screen to order better than the jokers behind the counter. At least they figured out I can pour my own drink.
 
2013-01-02 11:36:23 PM

moothemagiccow: Austinoftx: I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.

fark em. Depending on the store you have a 50% chance of getting a moron or a vengeful psycho. Only at Harris Teeter have I had consistently good cashier service.

I can't wait til food service goes the robot route. I can use a touch screen to order better than the jokers behind the counter. At least they figured out I can pour my own drink.


Look for the guy in a tie, it's the shift manager. Knows his shiat.
 
2013-01-02 11:37:03 PM

No Line For Beer: skinink: I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.

Stop and Shop/Giant really seems to be trying to do away with the human cashiers. I can't remember the last time I was in one of their stores (including the day before Thanksgiving) and seen more than three cashiers. Unfortunately it forces more people into the self-check out lines that have no business near any type of automated machine.


I always use the self scan device at stop and shop. You can also give it to a cashier at checkout if the self checkout lanes suck. I get to bag my groceries how I want to.

The only time it backfires is the random audits they do... Them you have to have human intervention
 
2013-01-02 11:43:08 PM
My grocery store usually puts the pants-on-head affirmative action hires in the fast lane, so your five-item checkout takes roughly five times as long as a sixty-item checkout with a non-Palin checker.
 
2013-01-02 11:43:46 PM
The self checkout is easy and fast. The only time it's slow is when the cashier just isn't there. I've had it happen often enough I'm wondering if I shouldn't expedite the checkout process by bypassing the checkout entirely.
 
2013-01-02 11:46:00 PM

badLogic: fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

I've seen it in a couple of supermarkets in San Francisco, The line moves very quickly and efficiently.


They do it at Fry's Electronics. On a busy day they have someone telling you which cashier to go to because no one at the front of the line pays attention. They don't even look at the display that says which one is open, probably because they've been waiting the longest and they're bored. They use it at some Best Buys too, and Old Navy in New York. Also I find the herding mechanism demeaning. They also distract you in the line with other products, which causes some people to continue to shop and raises the question of who is first. You always find the cashiers (who care) waving their arms or yelling to get the next person's attention. In Old Navy they made this worse by saying "Following" instead of "Next" for what reason I can't imagine.

Separate lines are fine. People understand them and they require less vigilance from the customer, who doesn't care at this point. They might waffle and get angry about the length of lines, but once they choose one it can be the last decision they need to make.

//by god don't get me started on mall checkout desks. Those things are re-farking-tarded.
 
2013-01-02 11:46:04 PM

Fisty Bum: Look, Mrs. Simpson, the express line is the fastest line not always. That old man up front, he is starved for attention, he will talk the cashier's head off.  Let's cut to... that line.

But that's the longest!

Yes, but look: all pathetic single men. Only cash, no chit-chat.


Came for this
 
2013-01-02 11:53:28 PM

moothemagiccow: badLogic: fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

I've seen it in a couple of supermarkets in San Francisco, The line moves very quickly and efficiently.

They do it at Fry's Electronics. On a busy day they have someone telling you which cashier to go to because no one at the front of the line pays attention. They don't even look at the display that says which one is open, probably because they've been waiting the longest and they're bored. They use it at some Best Buys too, and Old Navy in New York. Also I find the herding mechanism demeaning. They also distract you in the line with other products, which causes some people to continue to shop and raises the question of who is first. You always find the cashiers (who care) waving their arms or yelling to get the next person's attention. In Old Navy they made this worse by saying "Following" instead of "Next" for what reason I can't imagine.

Separate lines are fine. People understand them and they require less vigilance from the customer, who doesn't care at this point. They might waffle and get angry about the length of lines, but once they choose one it can be the last decision they need to make.

//by god don't get me started on mall checkout desks. Those things are re-farking-tarded.


What is a mall checkout desk? How is it different from the information desk? Why would you need to check out from the mall when you've already purchased whatever from the individual store?
 
2013-01-03 12:00:52 AM

moothemagiccow: Austinoftx: I always use a live cashier out of solidarity for their job security.

fark em. Depending on the store you have a 50% chance of getting a moron or a vengeful psycho. Only at Harris Teeter have I had consistently good cashier service.

I can't wait til food service goes the robot route. I can use a touch screen to order better than the jokers behind the counter. At least they figured out I can pour my own drink.


I Remember and Arby's in Dillion Colorado (just outside of a busy ski resort) was testing out customer automated touch screens to order food. I always had fun ordering that way, but I am computer savvy. The old people the next line over were thoroughly confused. They still ended up having to keep "cashier" type staff who stood and watched you enter your order and answer your questions.

The next year I came back, they had removed the equipment and it was a normal Arby's.

10 years ago... Good times.
 
2013-01-03 12:05:46 AM

fozziewazzi: Do you have a picture of this in action?


Gonz: I'm not finding anything off the top of my head.


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/business/23checkout.html
 
2013-01-03 12:12:16 AM

Dr.Fey: fozziewazzi: Do you have a picture of this in action?

Gonz: I'm not finding anything off the top of my head.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/business/23checkout.html


The newish Whole Foods in the Haight district of San Francisco does this.  Check is always fast there.
 
2013-01-03 12:15:40 AM

fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?


I don't buy his claim.

It would be a mess. It definitely wouldn't be faster on average though it would avoid being stuck forever behind a guy paying in pennies.
 
2013-01-03 12:20:41 AM
No, math shows that under one extremely unlikely condition, express lanes can possibly be slower.

That's why the author is a math *teacher*, and not a mathematician, and likely does not have the skills to perform the analysis while considering multivariate random parameters.
 
2013-01-03 12:25:53 AM

EvilEgg: It is the number of transactions, not the number of items. With the scanners a good clerk can ring up more than one item a second, but the counting cash, validation of credit, or filling in of a check will take a minute or so.


Hey! I read the article too! Stop stealing my strategy!
 
2013-01-03 12:31:45 AM
This article is a horrific example of people writing shiat about which they know nothing. The author would do well to work the front end of any reasonably busy grocery for a few hours on a Sunday. Those 5 people he's talking about in the normal line? They have 75-150 items each, not 20. 4 of the 5 people in the express checkout? They each have 3-5 items. His math isn't the problem, it's the arbitrarily convenient values he plugs in for the variables that skews everything.

Employing deus ex machina in literature makes you look uninspired; doing so in math makes you look like a dumbass.

/works on the front end in a grocery store
 
2013-01-03 12:33:05 AM

Plant Rights Activist: The self checkout is easy and fast. The only time it's slow is when the cashier just isn't there. I've had it happen often enough I'm wondering if I shouldn't expedite the checkout process by bypassing the checkout entirely.


IME, they are always "there" even when they're not visible. A few times they've even assisted me by punching in the code for produce before I can look it up. I think they just want to go back to goofing off instead of watching me to make sure I don't steal.
 
2013-01-03 12:33:17 AM
I enjoy the self checkout pooling lane most of the time. I've had to get into way too many fights with assholes that try and cut the line by acting like they don't know the line for self checkout is pooling, though. Those machines have been there 10+ years already and you know god damn well you don't pick one of those machines out, you wait in the pooling line and take the next one available when it is your turn.
 
2013-01-03 12:34:26 AM
My Local Grocery is generally rather good with the express lane thing. However they once put "William"* on the thing. I wanted to cock-punch the manager for that scheduling. Interestingly, they also screw it up the other way sometimes. There is a cashier who is simply unreal; she can ring up a cart-full of groceries is less time than it takes me to slide my card and punch in the PIN. I have actually told the assistant manager I would be willing to accept a 10% surcharge if I could get her line every time, because the fluidity, speed, and accuracy makes checking out a pleasure. But slapping her in the express lane is wasted - she would be much better making the slower lanes move faster, rather than the meaningless gains for the express lane


* William is older than some australopithecine lineages and has a work speed that varies between continental drift and gimpy glacier. Upon complaining about taking forever to get out of the store, most of our friends will simply ask "William or Sally?"; said Sally being crazier than a shiathouse rat and apt to run off to replace an item she deems "damaged" even if one would need to use an electron microscope to detect what differentiates your "damamged" item from the Platonic Ideal - I have been held up while she did a price-check for an item I didn't ask for, and was quite happy to pay the price quoted.

/Even the Idjit Twins are better than the Wally World, where I once told my wife that I could get through a certain cashier's line quicker if I killed her, then learned actual necromancy, and raised her as a zombie.
 
2013-01-03 12:44:32 AM
Anyone going through an express lane, then using coupons, should be summarily executed.

On the whole, I just go through the line that has men in it. No offense ladies, but you take too farking long. Men tend to buy fewer numbers of things, and whether it's cash or a card, they have the payment ready by the time they reach the checker. Women wait until they're quoted a price and then start sifting through their Saarlaac of a purse looking for the checkbook.

/Rant over
 
2013-01-03 12:45:03 AM
fozziewazzi: And no, you cant take your 16 items to the 10-item express lane when no one is there. Woe to the cashier that has to explain to the guy that just came up behind you that wanted to be in and out with his 1 item in 60 seconds why he has to wait a few extra minutes because you can't count.

Since that idle cashier probably gets 6+ items scanned before the next shopper gets in line, he waits no longer than for any other 10-item customer. Plus, like you, I swipe my card while she's saying "HELLOdidyoufindeverything?"
 
2013-01-03 12:56:34 AM

tortuga: I can usually handle grocery store traffic, but what really gets me is when I shop at Walgreens or CVS. Every single time I get in line, the person directly in front of me has a ton of coupons or, more than likely, wishes to argue with the checkout person about the price in the weekly circular vs. the price that was just rung up. Worst yet, is when the cashier has to process a rain-check for the customer who just has to have their brand of hairspray for $2.99. God that sucks, and it's every... single... time I happen to shop at one of those stores. I honestly don't know how they stay in business.


There is stupid money in drugs.
 
2013-01-03 12:57:41 AM

skinink: I'm so happy Stop and Shop has the scan as you shop devices. I can buy $70 in groceries and spend five minutes or less actually checking out in line.


What is this wizardry you speak of? That actually seems pretty cool.
 
2013-01-03 01:00:56 AM
fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

I don't buy his claim.

It would be a mess. It definitely wouldn't be faster on average though it would avoid being stuck forever behind a guy paying in pennies.


I was dead set against queues too, but now that I've been through Fry's and Whole Food's checkout lines dozens of times in just a couple of minutes, I'm reformed. You're in one long line... that moves FAST. No one gets through the line "faster" than average, but then, half of us don't have to wait "longer" than average either. The only thing that annoys me about queues is when there's a tie-wearing "usher" who could be better put to work as another cashier.
 
2013-01-03 01:01:38 AM
Depends completely on individual experience. The Publix near my house has an express lane and they always have the slowest, oldest, or mentally handicapped person operating it. Also, they have to ring up and bag themselves.
 
2013-01-03 01:08:46 AM

Austinoftx:
Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.


No, common sense says: why the fark would you need to use the express lane if business is slow? Buy fewer items if you want to use the express lane. You're not a princess with special privileges who gets to slow down the people that actually follow the rules.
 
2013-01-03 01:09:23 AM

utsagrad123: The Walmart by my house always has a one armed man working the speedy checkout line. That seemed cruel to me at first but he is much more efficient with that one arm that the rest of the cashiers are with two


Just as it's always wiser to ask the one-legged guy for directions; that dude knows how to get to places efficiently.
 
2013-01-03 01:22:54 AM

CreamFilling: MaudlinMutantMollusk: Let's say you're in an express line with five people ahead of you and everyone has 10 items each (50 items total). In the standard line beside you, there are also five people but they all have 20 items each (60 items total).

wha?

It's science.

Really, just avoid any line with old women or young kids and you'll be fine.


So much thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis. I look for the line with the most men in it, and then I get in that line. Men don't buy a lot of things at once, don't fark with checks, don't chitchat, and will basically do everything possible to escape the store in the fewest possible seconds. My people.
 
2013-01-03 01:31:29 AM

Austinoftx: fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

I don't buy his claim.

It would be a mess. It definitely wouldn't be faster on average though it would avoid being stuck forever behind a guy paying in pennies.

I was dead set against queues too, but now that I've been through Fry's and Whole Food's checkout lines dozens of times in just a couple of minutes, I'm reformed. You're in one long line... that moves FAST. No one gets through the line "faster" than average, but then, half of us don't have to wait "longer" than average either. The only thing that annoys me about queues is when there's a tie-wearing "usher" who could be better put to work as another cashier.


A single queue would inconvenience express shoppers at grocery stores. There's much more variability in the number of items different people buy at Walmart compared to Fry's or T.J. Maxx. A single queue means the wait time before your transaction begins is averaged out so people with 1 item wait as long as people with 200 items. It also adds dead time between transactions in the same line as the next person pushes their cart to the open cashier, and because people can't start unloading their groceries ahead of time. This can be reduced by marking a lane as "open" before the previous shopper is done (perhaps when the cashier begins the payment part of the transaction), but then it's becoming more like the current model anyway.
 
2013-01-03 01:36:43 AM

Bisu: Austinoftx:
Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

No, common sense says: why the fark would you need to use the express lane if business is slow? Buy fewer items if you want to use the express lane. You're not a princess with special privileges who gets to slow down the people that actually follow the rules.


Your counter-entitlement entitlement gripe hinges too much upon my use of the phrase "business is slow". I meant when every regular line has shoppers with hundreds of items, but the express lane is standing idle. It happens. I've even had express cashiers wave me over so they can stay busy and not get closed by the manager. No, I'm not a princess. My whole motivation for joining this discussion is to encourage folks to be considerate. At any rate, an "express line" that allows checks and coupons really ought to be pretty liberal about folks with a few items over the requested limit.
 
2013-01-03 01:38:24 AM
People still go to stores to shop for food? Between local produce delivery places and amazon fresh, I haven't gone to anything larger than a farmer's market in over 5 years.
 
2013-01-03 01:41:55 AM
www.fefco.org

Cant come soon enough.
 
2013-01-03 01:45:36 AM

W. T. Fark: fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

This is how they do it at Fry's, which is a big box electronics chain very much like Best Buy. Don't have a pic, but imagine a large row of cashiers with room for a single customer each; an empty row parallel to the cashier row that the customer uses to get to their cashier; and then a third parallel row where the line actually is.


I've seen commissaries on military bases do it that way, though they have checkout or two on the end for people with like 5 items or less.
 
2013-01-03 02:17:12 AM
Bisu:A single queue would inconvenience express shoppers at grocery stores. There's much more variability in the number of items different people buy at Walmart compared to Fry's or T.J. Maxx. A single queue means the wait time before your transaction begins is averaged out so people with 1 item wait as long as people with 200 items. It also adds dead time between transactions in the same line as the next person pushes their cart to the open cashier, and because people can't start unloading their groceries ahead of time. This can be reduced by marking a lane as "open" before the previous shopper is done (perhaps when the cashier begins the payment part of the transaction), but then it's b ...

Yah, pretty much what I believed, and why I was dead-set against queues. The funny thing is, It just doesn't run as poorly as you suppose. Everyone moves in an almost-constant shuffle forward, so there's no standing and waiting which is where that feeling of dead time comes from. People with lots of items spend the bulk of their time with their own cashier, and NOT holding up someone behind them! People with one or two items who are standing behind someone with a full cart will usually get through the line and out the door in no time flat. You're not stuck in one line. Think of it as there always being a new line opening up, and you've been allowed to jump straight into it. Pre-unloading is useful in a traditional line to make the best of your time while you wait for the fully-loaded shopper ahead of you to be checked through. In a queue, you will likely unload faster than your cashier can check the items, so you'll still have time to dig out your card, cash or checkbook without holding him up. The bottom line is, queues process shoppers as fast as the whole store can process them, all the time, while express lanes offer little more speed unless it's line is short to begin with.
 
2013-01-03 02:36:41 AM
Another way to look at it is; queues usually get everyone -to the cashier- in "express lane" time. A cashier is almost always becoming available every few seconds somewhere in the store, you're never stuck in the "wrong lane" and you can roll right up to them. At that point obviously, your check out time varies according to how much you're buying. It's extremely efficient, no one's being treated unfairly, and no one ever gets "stuck" behind a big purchaser.

This is one of those things that is hard to understand because of how unreliable the human brain is at visualizing certain things. We're hunters. We're just not wired to believe that we'll get to eat quicker if we get to the end of a long line rather than get to gamble with a selection of shorter ones.
 
2013-01-03 02:43:54 AM
 The term "line stoppers" describes people who have issues at checkout.

Right before xmas I was at Walmart and there were three people in line ahead of me. Among other things, the each bought 20 or so gift cards, however for some farking reason, each of them insisted on ringing each one up separately .  The cashier had to ring it up, then they had to swipe their card, punch in all the info on the keypad, let the sale complete.  Rinse and repeat.  I had actually gotten out of the next line over because this one was shorter.  farking morons.
 
2013-01-03 02:52:29 AM
I've often noticed that dropping trou and waggling my dick in the direction of the cashier got me through the line much faster - and it didn't even seem to matter if I was in the express line or not.

Of course, I don't actually tend to leave the store with my groceries, and often end up spending the night in lockup, but since that was my intended goal things worked out in my favor overall.
 
2013-01-03 03:11:46 AM

ReapTheChaos: The term "line stoppers" describes people who have issues at checkout.

Right before xmas I was at Walmart and there were three people in line ahead of me. Among other things, the each bought 20 or so gift cards, however for some farking reason, each of them insisted on ringing each one up separately .  The cashier had to ring it up, then they had to swipe their card, punch in all the info on the keypad, let the sale complete.  Rinse and repeat.  I had actually gotten out of the next line over because this one was shorter.  farking morons.


I know that if I swipe my money card before the Walmart cashier activates my gift card, It forgets that I've swiped my money card, and I'll have to re-do it. Perhaps their system doesn't support more than one card activation with card payment. They might have also needed separate receipts for each card for some reason. Also, they might have been buying gift cards with a stolen credit card, and wanted to make it harder for them to be tracked down and deactivated.
 
2013-01-03 03:32:23 AM
The problem isn't the number of items and the amount of seconds used to ring up each item. It takes longer in the express lane because 5 people will generally all use credit cards, which takes an additional 30-45 seconds to swipe and verify the card per transaction. The only time 5 people paying with cc are faster than 1 person with a large order is if the 1 person has a lot of produce or writes a check.

/no, I won't feel bad for you because you shop at walmart
 
2013-01-03 04:39:20 AM

tortuga: I can usually handle grocery store traffic, but what really gets me is when I shop at Walgreens or CVS. Every single time I get in line, the person directly in front of me has a ton of coupons or, more than likely, wishes to argue with the checkout person about the price in the weekly circular vs. the price that was just rung up. Worst yet, is when the cashier has to process a rain-check for the customer who just has to have their brand of hairspray for $2.99. God that sucks, and it's every... single... time I happen to shop at one of those stores. I honestly don't know how they stay in business.


I love the Walgreen's commercials "No line and plenty of parking!" That's because you charge way too much and hardly have any selection and nobody in their right mind would go grocery shopping there.
 
2013-01-03 04:42:26 AM

ODDwhun: Personally I like the self check out lane. As long as there are no little old ladies trying to use it ahead of me.


The Sam's Club near me just installed some self-checkouts. For the first couple weeks, nobody used them. It was GLORIOUS. Now, there's usually at least one open or a short wait. I'm the kind of person who doesn't buy cartfuls at a time so I love the self checkers.
 
2013-01-03 05:20:03 AM

Austinoftx: Bisu: Austinoftx:
Common sense also says that if business is slow and the express lane is free, I should be able to bring 16 or 21 or whatever items without the cashier biatching that I have too many items.

No, common sense says: why the fark would you need to use the express lane if business is slow? Buy fewer items if you want to use the express lane. You're not a princess with special privileges who gets to slow down the people that actually follow the rules.

Your counter-entitlement entitlement gripe hinges too much upon my use of the phrase "business is slow". I meant when every regular line has shoppers with hundreds of items, but the express lane is standing idle. It happens. I've even had express cashiers wave me over so they can stay busy and not get closed by the manager. No, I'm not a princess. My whole motivation for joining this discussion is to encourage folks to be considerate. At any rate, an "express line" that allows checks and coupons really ought to be pretty liberal about folks with a few items over the requested limit.


Considerate is the key word here. Be considerate and follow the rules like the majority of customers. I worked as a grocery cashier while in school, and I can tell you both the cashier and any customer behind you are silently counting every item over the limit, and silently cursing you for feeling so entitled.

If you're waved over, that's fine but don't assume that means it's always fine to breach etiquette. Lest you take silence as permission, I can tell you the cashier is in no position to call you out for it unless the number of items is ridiculous, and the other patrons mostly don't see an upside to starting a fight in the middle of a store. However, they WILL often express their thoughts and frustrations on the matter after you leave.
 
2013-01-03 05:51:13 AM

B.L.Z. Bub: Or the stores could, you know, open more lanes for checkout instead of having only a few open at a time, which guarantees clogging of every lane, express or not. But that would require hiring more workers, and we can't have that because unions corporate profits.


Fixed.

meddleRPI: That's why the author is a math *teacher*,


Well, he's obviously not an English teacher:

Additionally, if the cashier require's a manager's authorization for a transaction then he or she will delay the purchase further.

www.profilebrand.com
 
2013-01-03 06:53:07 AM
I moved to the east coast last year. Has it always been "acceptable" to place a basket or cart in line and then run off to grab another item or two? I have people do that all the time and I just keep moving their crap and moving in front. Never saw that before.
 
2013-01-03 08:07:39 AM

Dr.Fey: fozziewazzi: Do you have a picture of this in action?

Gonz: I'm not finding anything off the top of my head.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/23/business/23checkout.html


Ah I've been to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods before. I think they have a unique situation. In addition to the factors mentioned in the article the shopping carts aren't nearly as big as in your typical grocery store. I just don't see this working in most of the grocery stores I've been to.
 
2013-01-03 08:12:28 AM
Give me a No Coupon, No Cigarette, No Cash, No Check line and it will be the quickest one in the place.
 
2013-01-03 08:17:04 AM

W. T. Fark: TFA links to AFA about shoppers avoiding lane 13. Seriously? People do this? Wonder how they'll get through the year.



Without having to worry about a 13th month, that's how.
 
2013-01-03 08:24:53 AM
Article: Teacher makes judgement call for all of us.
Reality: Teacher makes equation to help you determine waiting times.

Let's be honest, if he didn't calculate confidence intervals, then it's not a very good time study. Considering the existance of industrial engineering and cost accounting, this journalist looks really foolish.
 
2013-01-03 08:30:32 AM
I'm a big fan of the self checkout. Mrs Egoy and I can ring in, bag, and pay for a huge load of groceries in the self checkout faster than a single cashier could do it, and without putting laundry detergent in the same bag as fresh meat or crushing the bread under the oranges.
 
2013-01-03 08:46:58 AM

Cyno01: [www.fefco.org image 850x568]

Cant come soon enough.


That's not what she said.
 
2013-01-03 09:18:25 AM

Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.


That would be funny at somewhere like Sam's Club.
 
2013-01-03 09:24:11 AM
Express lanes should also bar the use of coupons. Was behind some woman in one the other day; she had the maximum 12 items and a coupon for each one. Only, she didn't have just 12 coupons, so she sat there searching through her stack of newspaper clippings and ended up taking three times longer than she needed.

/not that I was surprised. The human condition has become one of oblivion to anyone's situation but one's own.
 
2013-01-03 09:49:27 AM
X = (Total count of all items to be scanned) * (Overhead of processing a payment * Probability of a check-writer ahead of you * Total count of people ahead of you in line)
 
2013-01-03 10:10:29 AM
If there is always five people in front of you at the grocery store, you're doing at the wrong time our the wrong store.
 
2013-01-03 10:16:01 AM
I hate when a line of 4 or 5 people builds, so the store opens a new checkout lane, and the person in the back of the line, who just walked up, anticipates this and jumps up to the new cashier. This person should be beaten without mercy. The better cashiers will normally say, "I'll take the next person in line."
 
2013-01-03 10:16:10 AM

phalamir: I once told my wife that I could get through a certain cashier's line quicker if I killed her, then learned actual necromancy, and raised her as a zombie.


You see that? Right up there? *YOINK!*. Stolen.
 
2013-01-03 10:21:41 AM

B.L.Z. Bub: Or the stores could, you know, open more lanes for checkout instead of having only a few open at a time, which guarantees clogging of every lane, express or not. But that would require hiring more workers, and we can't have that because unions.

/Maybe your experience is different, but every grocery store I go to is extremely inefficient about opening lanes even when the store is crowded


Account Created: 2012-01-03

First ignore of the year.
 
2013-01-03 10:42:59 AM

StoPPeRmobile: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That would be funny at somewhere like Sam's Club.


Most of the walmarts in Canada have this, at least for there express check-outs. One huge line feeding like 4-10 cashiers. It works really well
 
2013-01-03 10:46:10 AM

zarberg: I hate to say it, but I usually pick the line with the cutest cashier.


When I was single I used to do that all the time. Plus when I was single I had no real concept of organizing my meals so I would stop at the grocery store every couple of days on the way home from work to get what I felt like eating for dinner. Those to things together lead to a lot of cashier flirting. These days now that I am married and my wife and I shop together (with our daughter) it is usually shortest line, or the cashier my wife knows will not make a huge deal about coupons/price matching.
 
2013-01-03 11:39:36 AM
At Walmart, I'll always use the self-checkout unless there is a cashier open. Even if it's a fairly full load, it will be quicker than waiting in line. There's always an issue with people not having enough money in their checking account or on their EBT card. It's just quicker.
 
2013-01-03 01:07:21 PM
From my experience working at wegmans and hannafords, and shopping, the best advice is:

1 young male cashiers are the quickest, they view the ipm count as a game and all want high score.

2 always skip lines with elderly cashiers or customers they go super slow and want to talk.

3 if the store has baggers and cashiers, full lanes move quick and have the best cashiers, if cashiers also have to bag, the express lanes have the best cashiers, because the cashiers all whine/complain for the easiest lanes to work in.

4 get your payment method out earlier, cash/card/check if it's out early you know you've picked a quicker lane.

5 if your buying booze, put your id on top of the beer, that way it's out early and the cashier can just grab it.
 
2013-01-03 01:42:20 PM
I think you should have to pass a certification to use the self-checkout. My fiance would not have this certification. I love her to death, but every time we are using the self-checkout she sees me swipe something, bag it, and then 2 items later she pulls it from the bag, causing the system to freak out about something not being bagged (which she is now eating and can't put back in the bag anyways). Then we have to have a person come over and tell the machine to let us continue, and it's usually a crotchety old lady who is annoyed at being bothered. And then I have to listen to her biatching all the way out of the store how stupid the machine is for being so finicky (which it is), without realizing that the machine being so finicky would be a great reason for her to learn how it works and stop screwing it up.

I've literally smacked my fiance's hand away from the general area of the checkout machine and bagging area and told her not to farking touch ANYTHING because she only ever makes the process take 10 times as long when she gets involved.
 
2013-01-03 02:34:09 PM
The fastest lane is the one without the elderly. Every time, they'll write a check, use a bunch of coupons, and or argue about the receipt total.
 
2013-01-03 03:23:25 PM

Smackledorfer: fozziewazzi: Gonz: jaylectricity: Gonz: The single queue, where the next person goes to the next available register, is really the only way to go.

That sounds like a nightmare in a grocery store.

But it's not. It's incredibly efficient. You get one line, and when a register is about to open up, a number lights up and shows the next person where to go. You spread the inefficiencies randomly across all open registers, and remove any incentive for trying to somehow "game" the system by finding a quicker cashier.

I've seen that work at banks, but not at grocery stores with people pushing around loaded grocery carts. Do you have a picture of this in action?

I don't buy his claim.

It would be a mess. It definitely wouldn't be faster on average though it would avoid being stuck forever behind a guy paying in pennies.


The Navy Comissary at Pearl Harbor (one of the largest in the country) uses in the single line and it works pretty well.
 
2013-01-03 03:23:58 PM

burndtdan: I think you should have to pass a certification to use the self-checkout. My fiance would not have this certification. I love her to death, but every time we are using the self-checkout she sees me swipe something, bag it, and then 2 items later she pulls it from the bag, causing the system to freak out about something not being bagged (which she is now eating and can't put back in the bag anyways). Then we have to have a person come over and tell the machine to let us continue, and it's usually a crotchety old lady who is annoyed at being bothered. And then I have to listen to her biatching all the way out of the store how stupid the machine is for being so finicky (which it is), without realizing that the machine being so finicky would be a great reason for her to learn how it works and stop screwing it up.

I've literally smacked my fiance's hand away from the general area of the checkout machine and bagging area and told her not to farking touch ANYTHING because she only ever makes the process take 10 times as long when she gets involved.


My girlfriend does this too. It's like she doesn't understand that the bagging roundel is also a scale. Seriously, we have both been cashiers, her and I, and she's incapable of using a self-checkout.
 
2013-01-03 04:04:50 PM

kevinfra: The Navy Comissary at Pearl Harbor (one of the largest in the country) uses in the single line and it works pretty well.


In a normal grocery store that is optimally staffed, there are 2-3 people waiting in line per clerk. That means that at almost any given time each clerk's time is maximized. It doesn't matter what you do with all the people waiting to buy their groceries from a clerk if a clerk is busy. As long as there is always one person in the process of paying and a second person behind them unloading during the process, you cannot move people through any given clerk any more quickly.

So what does making everyone with a shopping cart line up in one line and then split up do? Well, it cannot upgrade the average efficiency of each clerk, and therefore the average time everyone waits should be the same as it is now. What it CAN do is make sure one lady buying 15 things and taking a year to write a check doesn't have 3 people waiting directly behind her: three people who assumed she would be faster and thought they were waiting in a shorter line. I guess that is a good thing, but for every person stuck in the slow line there is a person who picked a line that was unexpectedly fast.

The real solution to this problem is to take a deep breath and not let five minute ruin your life.
 
2013-01-03 10:55:36 PM
My simple line picking algorithm based on my experience working retail:
If you're in a hurry pick the least attractive woman or young male. If either of them are working a cash register it's because they're good (the stores I've worked at generally prefer putting younger women in registers. Old guys will talk to everyone and pretty girls may or may not be good, but without prior knowledge it's very hard to guess.
 
2013-01-03 11:01:51 PM

Fano: What is a mall checkout desk? How is it different from the information desk? Why would you need to check out from the mall when you've already purchased whatever from the individual store?


In Macy's, Dillard's and other mall department stores they have desks for cashiers basically in the middle of wherever. They're not by the door and there's never anyone at them. There's no bell to summon someone to them to let you know you want to buy something already. There's no light saying a cashier is in. There's no big sign hanging from the ceiling saying "Pay Here."

The ones in Sears are hollow squares with a cash register on each corner. No matter which side you walk up to, you have to walk around to the other side to buy something.
 
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