Costco Shoppers Debate Whether You Should Be ‘That Person’ in the Self-Checkout Line

Checkout at Costco

Michael Gordon/shutterstock

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A frustrated woman uses a self-checkout counter. The girl does not understand how to independently buy groceries in the supermarket without a seller

What Self-Checkout Rules?

Checking out at Costco used to be a nightmare — and a major time commitment. Even if you just ran in to grab a (very large) box of croissants, actually paying for them and getting out of the store just wasn't worth the long slog at checkout. That is, until self-checkout lanes were implemented. Suddenly, it was possible to bypass the massive checkout lanes to scan an item or two and run out the door. Well, maybe. Given that there are always Karens and Kens everywhere you go, as one Redditor pointed out, the unspoken self-checkout rules are often broken. 

But what are they? Many commenters said there weren't rules and chastised the original poster for implying there were. Nevertheless, there are some tasks at self-checkout that will ignite the ire of anyone behind you. Check out these unspoken rules and, if you decide to break them, proceed with caution.


Buying Booze? Skip the Self-Checkout

If you want to gum up the works at Costco's self-checkout, by all means get alcohol. An employee will have to check out your identification no matter how old you look because it's store policy, which means you'll have to wait until an employee stops what they're doing to look at your I.D. Don't like this unspoken rule? Then go ahead — I'm sure all the people in line behind you understand the need to buy a bottle of Kirkland vodka or a flat of beer. 

Costco Furniture
Costco Furniture by Robert of Fairfax (CC BY-NC-ND)

Don't Take Items You Can't Lift to Self-Checkoout

At Costco's regular checkout line, an employee can quickly use a pricing gun to scan the bar code on any box you wheel into their lane, no matter how big and bulky. Most self-checkout lanes expect members to drag products in front of a screen and leave them in a small area at the end of the checkout area when they're done. Is that possible when you just bought a patio furniture set? Not really. Waiting for an employee to come to your rescue isn't ideal for you or for the increasingly angry people behind you.

Costco Membership Card

Don't Use Self-Checkout If You're Using Someone Else's Card

Becoming a member of Costco isn't that hard — if you have $60 to spend. Apparently some kind-hearted members think their card is a gift that friends and distant family can put to use. Um, it isn't. Employees have started checking the photos on the back of membership cards at the self-check line (a popular place for non-members to sneak through) and are turning away wanna-be customers. Don't do this anyway, but especially don't do it in self-checkout.

Checkout is Familiar

Don't Have Multiple Orders at Self-Checkout

We've all seen this — people who are plopping all their items on the checkout area but purchasing them separately to create different receipts. This makes it easier to buy for friends or the office, but your checkout is now taking longer — much longer. No one likes to do math, but don't be a jerk to the people waiting behind you.

Checkout at Costco

Don't Be Clueless About the Process

Maybe you can't find the bar code. Maybe you don't know how to scan. Maybe you need some packing boxes (which are probably at other checkout lines). Maybe you want to ask questions about where the mustard moved. Do not get into the self-checkout line, please. The expectation is that you are in just as much of a rush as everyone else using the self-checkout. This is not a learning lane, so let a qualified employee do this part.

Mature Hispanic Man Standing At A Self Checkout Counter In The Store

Don't Scan Huge Orders at Self-Checkout

While members debate whether self-checkout lanes should only be for small orders, some Costcos are implementing a limit. I know my Costco has a sign limiting self-checkout to 15 items, which is what you would expect at a grocery store or Target. While it may not be called an express checkout, people in line behind you who are hoping to escape the store in less than an hour will thank you if you treat it as such.

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