I Forgot to Scan Item at Self Checkout – What Should I Do?

I Forgot to Scan Item at Self Checkout

Since self checkout kiosks have taken over a lot of supermarkets and grocery stores such as Walmart and Target, it’s very common for people to have problems such as forgetting to scan something. Self checkout machines can be confusing, and they do not always scan an item of merchandise first time – meaning that it’s very common to put an item in the bag before the machine has beeped, especially if you are running on auto-pilot, if you are trying to handle energetic kids or even if it’s just been a long day. Of course, sometimes things just get missed.

So, what do you do if you realized that you accidentally forgot to scan an item?

Do not panic over an honest mistake

First of all, do not panic over an honest mistake. A lot of people have issues with self checkout machines, and while it may be your own fault, it could be the fault of the machine – and most shop managers will know this. As long as you weren’t actively stealing, there should not be a huge problem here, and you can easily fix it. So first of all, take a deep breath and relax.

Will they stop me when I try to leave the store?

It’s actually rather unlikely to be stopped by security before the store exit if you have forgotten to scan an item. This is because, generally, it’s unlikely that the security team will have noticed. However, if the security team does stop you, just be polite and honest. Say which self checkout you used, explain what happened, and be pleasant. If you are respectful, the security member or manager will likely be understanding and will let you go back and pay for the item.

Return to the store if you can

If you have left the store before you realise that one of your items didn’t get scanned, it’s not too late to do the right thing. You can still go back and pay for the merchandise that you took by mistake. If you go back to the store, be sure to have the item that you accidentally took, as well as your receipt. It might also help to have your bank statement in case they want to confirm how much money left your account for the purchase.

Be honest – tell them you accidentally forgot to scan an item

Honesty really is the best policy at times like this. Do not make up stories about why you didn’t notice the merchandise failed to scan. Just be polite and honest and tell them what happened. Most employees, including the manager, will be understanding – we all know that stuff happens sometimes, and mistakes can be made. But going back to the store once you have realized about the self checkout mistake goes a long way towards showing that you are honest and honorable and that you want to do the right thing.

Be prepared to pay for the item

Of course, you should absolutely be willing to either return the item or pay for it. You might only be able to return non-perishable goods as long as they remain sealed. If the item was groceries that have now gone bad, or if you have opened it, you should absolutely be ready to cover the cost of the item.

Nervous about going back to the store?

If you are worried about what might happen when you get back to the store, you can always request for somebody to come with you – pick a friend or a member of your family ideally, someone who will help make sure that you do not feel too scared to go and admit your mistake. Having someone with you can make all the difference. It means that you will feel comfortable going back and paying for the item. It can also make sure that if an employee or the manager becomes unreasonable, you will have someone for backup.

If you have reason to believe that there might be an incident when you return to the store, you could always choose to video the encounter to make sure that everything goes smoothly – or as proof to show to the police that you did try to correct your accidental shoplifting, just in case an employee calls the police for backup. Having video proof can help remove a lot of the worry or concerns of risking an altercation.

Go back as soon as possible

This is another way to show that you are serious about the issue and to prove that you were not intentionally shoplifting. You should always go back as soon as you can to correct the issue. If you had just stepped outside the store exit when you realized, turn straight around and go back in. If you had reached your car, do not leave the car park, instead, go back and talk to an employee. If you had gotten home before you saw your error, you can go back as soon as it is appropriate. It is clear to most store employees that no one intended theft if they go back quickly to fix it. Of course, this does not mean that you need to race back in the middle of the night if that’s when you notice. Return as soon as is reasonably possible.

What if I can’t return to the shop?

Sometimes you can’t get back to the store. Maybe you borrow a car for your grocery shopping. Maybe you have to watch your children. Maybe it’s the middle of the night. These things happen, but you can still look at other ways to solve this problem, and other ways of paying for your inadvertent shoplifting.

Other methods of contact

Most major stores such as Wal Mart, Target, and more all have various customer service teams that you can contact over the phone or on social media such as Twitter, or by email. These teams are there to help customers, and you can get help even for matters such as accidental shoplifting. Once you get in touch, they will be able to tell you what to do. A lot of the time this might mean that the customer support team will tell you to go back and pay for the item. However, this is not wasted time, even though you knew to do that already. Contacting the customer service line can help give you a record of the fact that you tried to return the item, even if you cannot get to the store at that exact moment. This is actually very important. A record of you calling support, or emailing, or contacting on social media, all shows that you probably didn’t commit theft on purpose. Stealing accidentally is likely to get less of a negative consequence than purposefully shoplifting, so be sure to get this proof if it will be a while before you can go and fix things by paying for the theft.

Will I get arrested for shoplifting?

Shoplifting is a crime, and you could get arrested or face a warning. However, realistically, you are unlikely to get arrested for accidentally stealing one or two items, as long as you try to make it right. Admit that it was your own fault, and then once you have paid for the item, it should be fine. Most companies do not want to cause a big fuss for their customers over one small accident, as this could lose them business in the long run.

Of course, if you have stolen a whole bunch of items multiple times over, or if you have items hidden in your hang bag or another personal bag – as opposed to a shopping bag – you might find that the police are called in to help. This is because it might look like you were shoplifting on purpose, so the authorities might have to ask some questions. If you steal items repeatedly, you could get in trouble – even if you claim that you have simply forgotten to self scan the items each time.

How much trouble will I get in?

If your error was simply that an item didn’t get scanned at a self service checkout, you will likely find that you won’t get in any trouble for shoplifting. Be sure to mention if you feel the self checkout was wrong or had an error that prevented it from scanning the item, as this is more proof that you were not shoplifting.

Will I get banned from the store?

You could get banned from the company in question – meaning either from that one location, or banned from all such shops across the world. However, this rarely happens unless you steal a lot of items from one chain. The most you can usually expect is that the security might do more random bag checks with you, or you might be requested to use the manned checkouts, to make sure you cannot miss another item.

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