Supermarket Sweep

I remember Dale Winton hosting the game show ‘Supermarket Sweep’ in the ’90s. Contestants had to run around a supermarket, collecting shopping items in a race against the clock. When the time was up, the contestant with the shopping trolley filled with items of the most value, was the winner.

My local supermarket is averse to the ‘Supermarket Sweep’ approach of giving away trolley loads of goods, insisting instead, that customers scan and pay for their their goods before leaving the store. To facilitate this, they offer a ‘scan and go’ facility.

When introduced a few years ago, the option to scan my own shopping as I perused the aisles of the supermarket at leisure revolutionised my shopping experience. I would never win the ‘Supermarket Sweep’, race against the clock, with this laissez faire attitude but it made the whole supermarket experience so much more manageable. No more fumbling to repack the contents of my trolley, as a checkout operator, intent on scanning my shopping faster than the speed of light, challenges me to keep pace. Indeed, the challenge of doing this at any pace, when fine movement skills are eroded by Parkinson’s, should not be underestimated. No more embarrassment as the queue of people behind me get impatient and fail to recognise the struggle that such an every day task can present.

However, as is the nature of Parkinson’s, the progression of symptoms continually throws up new challenges. Initially, a far easier option than using the conventional checkouts, the ‘scan and go’ approach is beginning to present its challenges too. The hand held ‘scan and go’ scanner was not designed for use by a shaky hand. I can readily scan the entire contents of the shelf except for the one item I want. A trigger happy finger can easily result in a dozen boxes of one item being added to my bill but failing to hit the barcode target for another item altogether. The time taken to try to accurately scan my shopping is increasing significantly but is still preferable to the trauma of the checkout challenge.

The chances that my ‘scan and go’ list matches the contents of my trolley at the end of my shop are becoming increasingly unlikely. I may not be able to compete in the Supermarket Sweep race against the clock but I could be a contender for the trolley with the highest value if my scanning hand does its thing too frequently.

I always figured the random checks in place for the ‘scan and go’ system, were targeted at those who omitted to scan items, rather than for those who scan the same item multiple times. I can’t help but wonder, however, what percentage of accuracy is deemed satisfactory and if I have triggered some kind of high error rate alert. I’m not convinced that ‘random checks’ are truly random when I’ve incurred one on each of my last seven visits!

I rather suspect I would have been disqualified from Dale Winton’s ‘Supermarket Sweep’ but (shaky) fingers crossed I won’t be disbarred from my local supermarket!

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