9 Self-Checkout Mistakes to Avoid Getting in Trouble

Have you ever stood at the self-checkout, annoyed by the constant beeping or puzzled over why the process is dragging on? You’re certainly not alone. While self-checkout can zip you through your shopping, it’s also easy to fumble, slowing you down or even leading to accidental mishaps.

In fact, in a survey, a startling 42% ¹ admitted to unintentionally stealing an item simply because they couldn’t navigate the self-checkout system properly.

Here are the 9 most common self-checkout mistakes and how you can steer clear of them.

1. Produce Mix-Up

Image Credit: Viral Chatter

One of the most frequent mistakes is entering the wrong code for produce. Those PLU stickers can be hard to read or missing altogether. To avoid this, take an extra moment to find the right code on the produce menu.

Bananas are 4011, not 4225 – that’s the code for expensive Honeycrisp apples!

2. The Unscanned Item

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Photo Credit:Syda_Productions/Deposit Photos.

It’s easy to accidentally miss an item when scanning your groceries. You might place an item in the bag without scanning, or leave something on the bottom rack of your cart.

Always double check that the number of items scanned matches the number in your cart before paying.

3. Barcode Switcheroo

woman scanning barcode
Image Credit: Akaberka/DepositPhotos

Sometimes barcodes don’t want to scan no matter how many times you flip the item around. It’s tempting to grab a similar item and scan that instead, but that’s a big no-no.

If a barcode won’t scan, flag down an attendant for help rather than swapping stickers.

4. Produce Scale Fail

weighing produce
Image Credit: Wifesun/DepositPhotos

For priced-by-weight produce, make sure you’re putting it on the scale before hitting the purchase button. If you select a 2lb bag of apples but don’t place it on the scale, the machine will think you’re trying to steal 2lbs of fruit!

Always use the scale for weighted items.

5. Bulk Item Blunder

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Image Credit: woodkern/DepositPhotos

Buying from the bulk bins? Don’t forget to jot down the PLU code. Trying to remember a 5 digit code while juggling your phone and wallet inevitably leads to mistakes.

Write down the code or snap a pic with your phone to avoid mix-ups at checkout.

6. Forgotten Bottom-of-Cart Item

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Image Credit: HayDmitriy/DepositPhotos

It’s almost a rite of passage to get all the way through self-checkout only to realize you left a case of water or bag of dog food at the bottom of your cart. Before hitting “Pay”, take one last look in your cart to make sure you didn’t miss any big items.

7. The Reusable Bag Snafu

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Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia/DepositPhotos

Using reusable bags is great for the environment but can complicate the self-checkout process. The machine expects items to go from the scanner to bagging area, so placing a reusable bag throws it off.

Most machines have a “Using Your Own Bag” button – hit this BEFORE you start scanning.

8. Quantity Quandary

self checkout
Image Credit: Viral Chatter

Need multiples of the same item? It’s faster to scan once and change the quantity than to scan each item individually. But don’t forget to update the quantity if you decide to put an item back!

Double check your cart against the on-screen list before completing your purchase.

9. Checkout Haste Makes Waste

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Image Credit: trongnguyen/DepositPhotos

The biggest mistake of all is trying to rush through self-checkout. Slow and steady is the best approach. Pause to make sure each item scans, check that the screen matches what’s in your cart, and don’t forget to grab your receipt.

A few extra seconds of care can save you from a big headache later on.

Next time you’re at the self-checkout, keep these 9 common mistakes in mind. With a little know-how and patience, you’ll be breezing through the self-checkout line like a pro in no time! Happy scanning!


  1. hgitnux.org/self-checkout-theft-statistics/
Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.