Business: Supermarket: Checkout
Cashier Power to Negotiate   (+7, -3)  [vote for, against]
Give the checkout cashier power to set a price on the fly

When an item does not scan at the grocery store, and then fails to come up again when manually entering the UPC code, the cashier should have the power to state a fair price and give the customer an option to have the item at that price rather than have to call someone up and wait for someone to go find that item on the shelf and then come to the front and give the price.

Naturally the customer could counter offer and in a very short time I think a relatively fair price could be set. I would be willing to pay 5 -10% more for any one item than to have to wait for the whole price search process...although I imagine that if a store were to implement this then they would advertise that the deal would always be to the customer advantage.

For customers that want to take advantage and try to get the item for a steal, the cashier could either start the old manual search process, or go to the line of people behind the customer and have them act as an arbitrator. (The cashier could merely hold up the item and ask 'Fair Price?' someone in line is bound to know the approximate cost.

I think the whole process could take a matter of seconds.
-- blahginger, Jan 08 2001

In some stores this would be commonplace, but it only works when the cashier is well-known to the owner of the store and the storeowner trusts the cashier to make such judgements. I don't think such things are likely to happen at Wal-Mart any time soon.
-- supercat, Jan 08 2001

What Peter said -- the next time this happens, try naming a price. The cashier doesn't like the hassle any more than you do.
-- egnor, Jan 09 2001

It's not just supermarkets that will do this. If you've got the nerve to try it, you can often negotiate a price on household appliances, carpets, electrical goods, anything at all really. Give it a go. You might be surprised. And the worst that can happen is that they say 'No'.
-- DrBob, Jan 09 2001

Yes, I do try this everytime it is my item that is holding this up, and it does work on occasion. I guess my idea would take this to the next step and have the cashier initiate the price guessing, and to have the store make it known that this sort of thing is acceptable. There are many people (usually standing in front of me in line) who this would never occur to. Having the cashier initiate things and having the customer already aware that this sort of thing is 'OK' would help speed the process along.
-- blahginger, Jan 09 2001

This idea is baked...

I worked in a grocery store in New Hampshire for 4 years (eventually rising to Asst. Head Cashier) and I would set prices constantly... It was much more effective (and crowd pleasing) than constantly sending people back for price checks...
-- davros42, Jan 12 2001

blahginger: On a number of occasions I've had a cashier ask me what the price was on an item when it wouldn't scan properly, and then rang in the amount I said. I suspect strongly, though, that the cashier was relying upon me to say what price was posted with the item, not what I thought the item should sell for.

While cashiers may be encouraged to avoid quibbling over small amounts when doing so would be bad PR (especially when other customers are waiting) many stores try to keep a reasonable lid on such things since otherwise it becomes very easy for cashiers to do excessive "favors" for their friends.
-- supercat, Jan 13 2001

Maybe we could continue in this vein and have a "Last Item Auction" - where : if two people start fighting over the last item, a trained auctioneer/cashier steps up and starts to auction it off.
-- Detly, Jan 13 2001

Slight amendment to my previous comment. The worst that can happen is that you get addicted to haggling and end up with a house full of bargains that you don't actually need.
-- DrBob, Jan 13 2001

Or to correctly identify produce. Some system of flash cards organized by characteristic -- the cashier can bring up a list of produce currently in stock which are "orange" or "very small" or "round" or "sort of spiny" or "some kind of mushroom/apple", and a bunch of thumbnails appear to help them sort out whether the things on the scale are perfectly ordinary button mushrooms or an expensive exotic variety.

I suppose it's true that they could simply ask the customer, but none have ever chosen to in my experience.
-- Monkfish, Jan 15 2001

Problem with this idea is that people would stand there and argue forever...They already do that, whether a coupon for a different store is acceptable, or that the expiration date means that it's still good for two days after 'Just like milk!', or that the tag on the shelf said 95 cents and the register said 96. After standing in line for 10 minutes behind an idiot doing all of the above, I finally cracked at the last one and gave her a nickle. "There! Now you're covered. Can we -PLEASE- get on with our lives?" The rest of the line applauded, and she left with a red face. The cashier told me that she always did that and thanked me for getting rid of her....
-- StarChaser, Mar 24 2001

As a former checkout cashier in Safeway (UK) I know that this would be potentially damaging to business. Firstly, it is also possible that the cashier or even the supervisor will guess well over the price. For example, a supervisor once priced an item at 3.99, but when it was priced of the safeway mainframe the price was only 79p. The customer was less than satisfied when she came in again the next day after the problem had been solved and a price displayed on the shelf. The other danger is underpricing as this obviously hits company profits. The only solution is to stop items that don't scan getting to the checkout in the first place, perhaps new lines should be marked clearly so they can be checked before being placed on the shelves.
-- tarby, Jan 24 2002

[starchaser] no extended arguing. the cachier has nothing personal to gain by closing a deal, if they can not come up with an agreed price after one exchange then they will fall back on the tired old method of sending the slow guy with numerical dyslexia to track down the price.

[tarby] when this situation comes up it is most likely the store's own fault therefore the cachier should be trained to guess fair but err on the low side.
-- blahginger, Jul 15 2002

my dad does this anyway good idea anyway
-- irollerblade, Dec 23 2003

As a store clerk, I will tell you what I feel should be done.The cashier should bring the item in question to the attention of the store manager. In most cases, the cashier can get the correct price of the item, write down the price of the item with descrpton of item and keep the note at their register until the item is in the system.
-- jefferyb304, Jun 17 2005

random, halfbakery