Over the years, self-checkouts have become the norm at more and more establishments, from grocery stores to clothing retailers. But one Five Below customer is wondering what the point of the machines is if employees are still watching your every move.
Self-checkout started as a way for companies to reduce costs. They figured it would be cheaper to buy a machine and pay one employee to oversee the self-checkout area than paying several people’s hourly wages.
But the machines aren’t proving that they can do their job better than a human can.
Self-checkouts are notoriously frustrating. Multiple things can set a machine off—like not placing an item in the checkout area after scanning it or buying any form of alcohol—and make it so an employee has to come over anyway to help you out. (However, some people appreciate the reduced human interaction that a self-checkout kiosk comes with.)
Plus, for companies, it’s not the cost-cutting measure they thought it would be with people stealing from the machines (some on purpose and some on accident) and sometimes slowing things down. Large companies, including Walmart, Costco, and Wegmans, are already rethinking their checkout strategy, CNN reported.
This woman thinks Five Below should also rethink its self-checkout strategy after having an uncomfortable experience at not one but two Five Below locations in her area.
In the trending TikTok video, which has more than 350,000 views, KP (@kp.ology) explained that she went to two different locations and had a weird experience at each.
KP ran into the second Five Below to get herself a snack and went to the self-checkout because it was the only option available. Despite the registers being closed, an attendant was working the self-checkout area.
“He’s just standing there watching me. Literally staring dead at me,” KP says.
When KP puts her snack in the bag, the worker comes over and hovers over the bag, peering into it. KP is put off by this, and then he starts to ask a bunch of questions about her experience and whether she needs any more help.
Despite her giving him a polite “no, thank you,” he’s still there.
“He’s not being creepy in a sense. It was more like he was brainwashed. I wanted to be like, ‘Blink once if you need help,'” KP says.
He eventually gets the hint and walks away but is still three feet away watching her finish her transaction.
“And it’s making me nervous as hell,” KP recalls.
At the end of the checkout, KP is prompted with three questions about her experience in the store, which she skips because she just wants to eat her snacks in peace.
“If I’m having to do all this and still getting help from the associate, why not just have them check us out? Because that was so awkward just now,” KP asks. “… Five Below, why is the experience like this? That was too much.”
@kp.ology Is the hovering over me when im at SELF checkout 😭 #millennial ♬ original sound – KP🖤
In a TikTok direct message to the Daily Dot, KP said that she hopes Five Below corporate will reconsider their operations.
“I just want to make clear that I in no way blame the employees of Five Below. I’ve become very aware through comments that this is implemented and forced by corporate,” KP said.
Her video has hundreds of comments, with many people agreeing with KP that the self-checkout and employee combo can make for a bad customer experience.
“If I am forced to use self check out, they are getting the lowest score on their survey…every time,” the top comment read.
“I worked at 5below and literally we would get scolded when we don’t get enough good answers on our surveys or if we don’t sell enough totes and they make you watch everyone scan and…” a person said.
“I spent almost $300 on groceries at Walmart and had 4…4!!!!! Employees stand and watch me while chatting about work,” another complained.
The Daily Dot reached out to Five Below via email.