Making it easier

February 19, 2003|By Elizabeth Large

People quickly figure out that self-scan works best under certain circumstances, says Mike Webster of NCR Self-Checkout Solutions. Here are some tips for using the do-it-yourself lanes most efficiently:

Think of them as express lanes. The machines work best for orders of about 25 items or less, although there's often no limit to how many items you're allowed to scan. Large orders tend to get backed up on the belt, and the computer will ask you to bag before you scan any more.

If you do want to self-scan a large order, consider shopping with someone who'll bag for you.

Bulky items like a 50-pound bag of dog food or a 12-roll package of paper towels can cause the machinery to balk. Better head for a cashier unless a staffer is there to help. (The item must pass through another scanner on the belt as a security check. Bulky items may not fit.)

Products that require I.D. like tobacco or paying by check will slow things down at self-scan.

Items bought in bulk like dried fruit or hard candy can be a problem because you don't have a bar code or number to key in. You'll have to wait for an associate's help.

Picking produce that has a little sticker with a number on it can speed things up. It's easier to keyboard in the number on the touch screen than look up the photo of sweet potatoes. (Should I look it up under S or P or Y for yams?)

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