Lawyer Says Customers Should Avoid Self-Checkouts At All Costs For One Big Reason

If you’re an introvert or someone who likes getting in and getting out of stores when you’re buying something, you’ve probably used self-checkouts. What used to be a rarity is now pretty much the go-to for many big box stores, and customers are being encouraged to scan and bag their own stuff rather than relying on cashiers to do it for them. However, according to lawyer Carrie Jernigen, customers should avoid self-checkouts for one very important reason: the possibility of being charged with theft.

  1. Self-checkouts are temperamental at best. In the last week alone, I’ve had certain items not scan because it wasn’t in the system; I’ve been accused of removing an item from the bagging area that I’ve never touched; and I’ve had to call over an employee to confirm that I’m indeed over 18 and am allowed to be buying Advil. Is this actually saving time and energy? Not really.
  2. CNN reports that 67% of shoppers have issues with self-checkouts. The kiosks simply don’t walk the way they should, and they end up having to interact with an employee anyway. Wouldn’t it just be simpler to keep things the way they used to be?!
  3. Stores don’t care about customers, they care about the bottom line. Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab and Dalhousie University, told the network that self-checkouts aren’t actually here to make our lives easier. They’re here to save the companies money. “The rationale was economics-based and not focused on the customer,” he explained. “From the get-go, customers detested them.”
  4. In fact, it seems to be costing them more money than it’s saving. One of the biggest downsides of self-checkout from stores’ perspective is that shoplifting has gone through the roof. People are either scanning things through at the wrong price or simply not scanning them at all and taking the items with them without paying. Which brings us to why attorney Carrie Jernigan has advised us all to avoid self-checkouts.
  5. Jernigan warns that using self-checkout could land you in some legal hot water. The criminal defense lawyer shared a video on TikTok in which she explained to her 1.2 million followers while self-checkout is a legal minefield. In fact, what seems like an innocent trip to the store could see you spending up to a year in jail, she warns.
  6. People who shoplift via self-checkout are pretty damn good at it. They come in with barcodes on their hands and have learned plenty of ways to avoid being detected as thieves at self-checkout. That means that store owners have zero sympathy for more innocent mistakes like legitimately forgetting to pay for an item or even the machine charging you the wrong price.
  7. Jernigan says stores don’t care if you’re innocent or not. “Big-box businesses aren’t going to spend their time and resources trying to figure out if you did it on purpose,” she claimed. She claimed that when stores check inventories, if they find numbers coming up short, they may come after you. “So they will begin watching hours of video to see the last person who checked out with the Mario Lego set because they’re two short. And, for some reason, they pinpoint that they think you did it,” she said. “And because of who these big box stores are, they usually have to present very little evidence to get an affidavit for warrant signed, the charges that could land you up to a year in jail get filed, and then you are fighting for your life trying to determine what day you were at Walmart, what all you bought.”
  8. It sounds ridiculous, but several commenters said they’d been the victim of this. “My mom accidentally left a tiny $3 lemon oil in her cart after buying $300 in groceries. She was charged with theft and had to do community service,” one person wrote. Another said, “Took me 7 months and cost me $6,000 to clear my name after I was falsely accused and the evidence should have exonerated me immediately.”

Reply to @afamily20202 I have no idea why it cut off

♬ original sound – LAWYER CARRIE

What do you think? Is that enough for you to avoid self-checkouts for good?

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill