This new feature at self-checkouts is designed to prevent theft. But it will waste the time of honest people.

Theft is a constant challenge for supermarkets. Some people steal out of criminality, while others do it out of necessity, lacking the means to buy what they need. But in all cases, it is the supermarket that pays. And thefts are increasing sharply: an increase of around 20% in 2022 in the United States for example.

The development of self-service checkouts has not helped solve the problem. Indeed, the absence of cashiers makes it easier for customers to knowingly fail to scan certain items, while still retaining the option of saying it was an oversight. Not to mention people who aren’t trying to steal but actually fail to scan an item.

To solve this problem, retailers have tried various solutions. And as often, it is in the United States that the new products arrive. Thus, a former employee of Walmart (the largest American supermarket chain) recently revealed on TikTok the extreme measures to combat theft at self-service checkouts.

She said Walmart employees working in these areas are equipped with wearable devices called “TC Devices,” allowing them to monitor customer purchases at self-checkouts in real time. “We can see everything you buy, your total purchases and the cost of each item,” she said. She also showed what the TC device’s screen looks like, which displays a current receipt of the customer’s purchases.

Employees with these devices can pause a customer’s self-checkout and pretend there is a problem with the machine if they suspect theft. Once the “pause” button is activated, the self-checkout appears to go into error. “At this point you have no choice but to call for help and once we arrive we pretend there is a problem with the machine,” she added .

“Actually, there is no problem with the register because we intentionally paused your transaction, but we suspect you are stealing.” If employees suspect theft, they remove everything from the customer’s bag, pretending they are going to cash it at another register. “At this point, they will take you to a main checkout where there is an actual cashier to cash you out. The message is clear: Don’t steal from Walmart’s self-checkouts. They can see everything you do,” she concluded.

The problem with all this is that if you are honest and the employee was wrong to suspect you, you will have to follow the same route as a dishonest customer. That means having to go to another checkout to have a cashier take care of you. And then you will waste a lot of time. It remains to be seen how long this new supermarket trick will take to arrive in France!