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A Scumbag’s Guide To Cheating The Self-Checkout

Jane goes to the supermarket to buy three avocados. Upon reaching the self-serve checkout, she is politely asked by the machine to enter the amount of avocados that she is buying today. The machine has no way of knowing the actual amount, and will believe whatever answer Jane gives. How many avocados does Jane have?

Anyone who’s ever used a self-serve checkout will know that the answer to this hypothetical is not always as simple as it seems. This isn’t so much a question of maths as it is a question of ethics; not ‘how many avocados are in your bag?’ but rather ‘how many avocados will you be paying for?’ Name your price: the power is yours.

First of all, if you’ve never entered the wrong number into the system or ‘accidentally’ put avos through as onions, you’re a liar. Everyone’s done it, because Woolworths and Coles are the faceless giants of corporate greed, and the self-serve checkouts their equally faceless gatekeepers. Lying to them is the equivalent of a horny teenager telling a porn site that he’s over eighteen – no repercussions, no guilt. Just a misplaced faith in basic human morals.

Indeed, why shouldn’t someone use a ‘self-serve’ checkout to be completely and utterly self-serving? Give man the gift of fire and he will burn you with it. But there is a fine art to rorting the supermarket system that goes beyond the classic avo/onion mix-up.

Read on, thrifty millennials: there’s many a cost to be cut.

Go Green

Image: Australian Institute of Food Safety

If you don’t already utilise eco-friendly reusable bags every time you go shopping, then shame on you. Do better. Stealing from Woolies is one thing – contributing to the untimely demise of Mother Earth is another thing entirely.

But what if I told you that you could do your part for the environment whilst also seeing some serious savings on your docket? The beauty of the green bag is that it doubles as your shopping basket, making it that much easier to get those goodies off the shelf and into your kitchen without that whole pesky business of ‘paying’.

When you reach the checkout, simply empty half of your items – ideally, the least costly ones – and casually place the bag, still half-full, into the bagging area. Proceed to scan and pay for the items you’ve taken out, place them back into the bag with the stowaways, and head off on your merry way. Cue triumphant Old El Paso jingle!!

BYO Barcode

Image: SBS

Grocery shopping’s shit when you’re toeing the poverty line. All those gourmet cheeses, fine cuts of meat and triple ply toilet paper eyeing you from the shelves, taunting you. How the other half live, right there within arm’s reach.

If you’re the kind of person who lives off a staple of cheap tuna and brown rice, or regularly risks their life with discount chicken thighs from the bargain bin because their bank account’s giving them strife, you should know there’s a better way. Those oysters could be yours with a little bit of ingenuity.

Find an affordable item with a stick-on price tag and barcode. Anything that the supermarket itself packages is a pretty good bet for this: think the vegetable sections, the packeted meat, even the in-house baked goods. Peel off the sticker and slap it over the top of a more expensive item’s barcode.

You might head to the deli section, for example, ask for five salmon fillets and a small cup of olives, and stick the olives’ barcode over the salmon’s. When you zap it in the checkout area, the salmon will scan through as olives. Eat the olives while you shop for bonus points. Cue triumphant Old El Paso jingle!!

Hold On To Your Nuts

Image: The Gluten Free Hunter

Here’s a hot tip that will get you far as a self-checkout Houdini: the bagging areas in Woolworths and Coles aren’t fixed with scales like they are in places like K-Mart. This means that there’s nothing to check whether the weight of items in your shopping bag corresponds to the weight of items on the original scales.

That being the case, it pays to be gentle. If you’re going through the checkout with a bag of nuts, trail mix or anything of the kind, make sure you keep a firm grip around the top of the bag when you place them on the scales. Hold the bag up somewhat: let the scales register a little bit of the weight, but not all of it. Then chuck the goods into your shopping bag, pay the bill and be on your way. Cue triumphant Old El Paso jingle!!

Don’t Get Greedy

Image: Daily Mirror

We probably should’ve mentioned around the beginning of this article that these methods are only to be used as a survival tactic. If you’re living life on the cheap out of necessity then by all means, slip a few niceties through the loopholes and charge it all back to the deep pockets of Woolworths. But also be prepared to pay full RRP for absolutely everything that’s in your bag.

Cheating self-checkouts is a well-known practice by now, and supermarket staff are becoming increasingly savvy to the tricks of all you sticky-fingered shoppers out there. In the not-so-unlikely event that you do get pulled up on the fact that you’ve only paid for half your groceries, cop it. Don’t admit foul play, by any means: play dumb, confused, embarrassed etc. But also insist on paying the full amount immediately.

If this should happen, and you find yourself moseying up to the checkout counter with your tail between your legs and your wallet in your hand, the last thing you want is a fistful of truffles sitting at the bottom of your bag. Do not cue triumphant Old El Paso jingle.

Go Back To Basics

Image: Daily Mirror

Of course, if this all sounds a little complicated for your taste then you can always go back to more traditional methods of thievery. Stuff a few limes up your coat-sleeve, in your handbag, down your dacks, and carry on. No one’s looking at your pockets anymore anyway.

You fucking scumbag.
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Feature image: Sydney Morning Herald

Gavin Butler: