DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Frustrated Shopper in Idaho" (April 5) made me very upset. I am a cashier in a local grocery store. I understand a shopper's frustration when she/he gets in the express lane only to find someone with a full cart up ahead. But we cashiers are between a rock and a hard place. If we ask a customer to please go to another lane, the customer will get upset, tell us we're rude and complain to the manager. If we say nothing to avoid upsetting that one customer, then the others waiting in line get angry.
Customers need to be respectful and not assume they're entitled to bring their fully loaded cart into the express lane. It's not the cashier's fault, and we do not need "more training"! -- CHRISTY IN OHIO
DEAR CHRISTY: Mea culpa. I heard from a slew of angry cashiers across the country echoing similar sentiments. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am a checker, and I'm frequently assigned to the express lane. I was trained very well and usually politely tell customers that it is a "10 items or less" line. However, it is beyond my control when the managers push them down my line to get them out of the store sooner, or when a manager tells me he/she is sending someone down with "a few extra things" without asking for my input. It is neither the customer's fault nor mine. I try to enforce this rule, but not all customers are polite or willing to listen. -- ANNOYED CHECKER
DEAR ABBY: A simple and effective solution to this problem would be to program the express lanes to accept no more than the posted limit for that lane, e.g., 10 items. If businesses can program their systems to accommodate senior discounts, bag rebates, double coupons, buy-one-get-one, etc., surely they can program an express lane limit. -- VIRGINIA SHOPPER
DEAR ABBY: I was a manager for 24 years at a national supermarket chain, and I can answer "Frustrated Shopper." A cashier would not be fired for enforcing the rules, but because of a higher number of customer complaints. Supermarkets want friendly cashiers. It's not the cashier's job to enforce rules; that's the manager's job.
To risk losing customers by embarrassing them is not something most managers are willing to do. Think about it: Who's spending more -- the person with a few items or someone with a full cart? -- FORMER MANAGER IN ORLANDO
DEAR ABBY: I'm a checker for a national grocery chain, and I'll share with you a checker's "wish list" for grocery shoppers:
1. If you're shopping with a friend and have more than one order in the cart, please use the regular checkout line. While each order may be less than 15 items, two 10-item orders take more time than one large order, so please be considerate of others. They're in a hurry, too.
2. If you're buying liquor, have your ID, wallet, debit card, cash, etc. on your person, not out in your car.
3. If you have special bagging needs, please use the regular lines. The express lane is not the place for this type of special handling.
4. While you're at the register, please stay off your cell phone. Checkers are people, too, and we may have questions and need your attention. Distracted customers slow us down.
In other words, treat the express lane (and the checker) the way you would like to be treated if you were in a hurry and the person who is standing behind you in line. -- FRUSTRATED CHECKER IN THE USA