How much do you expect your grocery cashier to know?

I had to stop at the grocery store for a bag of peanuts today (the local blue jays were very disappointed that I had run out). Picked up a couple of rolls so we can have sausage and pepper sandwiches tomorrow. There were some nice looking grapefruits, so I picked up one of them as well. Go to the cashier–a pleasant young woman. She scans the peanuts. She rings up the rolls. And then she asks what the name of “that” is, pointing to the grapefruit. This is no funky produce like, say, a parsnip. It’s a grapefruit!

I could understand if she needed to clarify if it was a pink ($1.50) or red ($1) grapefruit. But she never inquired into that distinction. In fact, on review of the receipt she charged me for a red when I had in fact selected a pink.

At this point i expect anything without a bar code to be an issue. I’ve had cashiers ring up beets as potatoes, and ask me what the green onions were.

1 Like

She is so adorable. :slight_smile:
In all honesty, it just means she doesn’t eat grapefruit much.
I think I have to agree with Trockwood. These days people don’t have to learn the products. This is different from some of the older style supermarkets, where the some cashiers still know the prices for most of the products (without bar code or price tag). I am talking about smaller and older style grocery stores which do not have bar code scanner and sometime the sticky price tag fell off. One cashier would yell at another cashier to inquire the price. :slight_smile:

1 Like

To answer your question… I don’t expect a lot from a cashier from a big chain supermarket. They are usually short-term or part-time workers who may be studying at a nearby college. Their jobs are to make sure they scan the items correctly, know how to take your cash and most challenging to take off the numerous coupons. Oh yes, also know what to bag with what items. For example, try to put all the meat and fish in one bag , and try not to put heavy items on top of light items

For smaller stores, I actually do have a higher expectation. When there isn’t a line, I often ask them where certain items are and most of the time they can point me to the correct isle.

1 Like

Not much . Just to know how to chat and ring up groceries at the same time .


I tend to bag my own. For one thing, I bring my own bags, which tend not to stay open. This means it takes two hands to bag. The other reason is that the cashiers tend to put only three items in a bag, while I actually fill the bag.

Produce: my nephew worked part time in a Price Rite for a while. He’s Iranian-American, while the produce (as well as other groceries) in the store was aimed at Hispanic/Latino customers. He had a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning. (Yucca, plantains, etc., etc.) At least he didn’t have to figure out how to cook them all!


That pretty much sums it up for me. I’m even at the point where I know how a food item is listed in the cashiers’s laminated cheat sheet that they keep by their side. For example, zucchini is listed as ‘squash comma green’ – if I say zucchini, a cashier may stand there staring at the cheat sheet until they have to ask a colleague. Sometimes I’m tempted to say ‘courgette’ to create some havoc, or ‘haricot verts’ rather than French beans. But I’m not that mean.

1 Like

I once called the green onions scallions when asked and that was a doozy…


Tough, but a great experience to learn

Gelson’s has opened a number of new locations here and someone I know got a job there as a checker. She was given a book of produce numbers and was tested to be sure she knew the codes for most items. If you’ve ever wound up checking out with some items whose code stickers have vanished you very much appreciate that.

1 Like

Never heard of Gelson’s but I wish we had one in my area.

The thing about this store is that it’s a smallish local chain that’s employee-owned. So a lot of their employees are long-term (good pay, benefits, etc.)

Wegman’s is the same way. They’re not the discount retailer in the area (though they’re no Whole Foods either, and some of their deals are actually amazing) and I expect to get service for the prices I pay in addition to premium product. I want the checkers to know the produce codes for most of the more common things and how to look them up by name in the computer when they don’t know the code and it’s not on the product. I expect that when I’m wearing my day-glow motocycle jacket they’ll bag the stuff tall and thin in the bags rather than short and wide – I had to teach them that one, but they learned it. I expect them to be able to handle any form of payment easily, including WIC which sometimes slows down the checkers at the lower-end groceries.

Gelson’s is a higher end market here in SoCal. They compete with Bristol Farms and (try to with) Whole Foods.

1 Like

And is it okra, gumbo, or ladies’ fingers?

(The difficult stuff is parsley, cilantro, etc. Once you put it in a semi-opaque plastic bag, it’s really hard to tell which it is.)

1 Like

I like the lines where I can check myself out. I’m faster than all but the most experienced checkers.


Less than my waitress

Why on earth would anyone know that?


I expect a checkout clerk to know to ask me if they DON’T know what it is.

That simple.

I’ve been on both sides of the issue. Last weekend, my local Fiesta grocer had a fresh pepper I’ve never seen before. It’s called a “cachuca” and was priced at $2.99/lb. It looks a little like a squat habanero, but is a mild pepper. I bought a half pound but was charged for habaneros at $4.99/lb. The difference wasn’t worth the gas to complain, so not a big deal especially since they look like a habby. She should have known there were similar products on sale though.

On the other hand, a few months ago I bought a radicchio and was charged for a purple cabbage so I’m still way ahead. :wink:


At the big chain store I don’t expect them to know a whole lot (though they usually do). Our usual (and favorite) grocery store (local chain) they usually know what the item is if it has lost it’s sticker. If he/she doesn’t know I am happy to supply the answer and sometimes it leads to a brief, fun discussion about how to prepare something new-to-them. These cashiers have generally been around a long time and know their stuff.

I always have problems with produce, coupons, etc., in those self-check lines. Besides which, I actually want to help support the cashiers in keeping their jobs and not getting laid off so the customers have to do their work.

Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr