Remember the days when all shop tills had a special display for the benefit of customers?
Not only could you see the total amount you owed, but you could keep tabs on the individual amounts as they were rung up, to make sure that the prices on the shelf were mirrored at the till.
Well, some stores have done away with this courtesy. Customers are left to rely on the cashier to tell them what they owe, or peer over the counter to catch sight of the till total, as one reader put it, “like a stalker!”.
Niel Howson of Joburg wrote to Consumer Watch about CNA’s tills.
“They have redone many of their checkout counters and they no longer have a display on the tills pointed at the customer,” he said. “I have seen this at both the Rivonia and Bryanston branches. They issue a receipt, but I am curious to know if there is any obligation on their part to display to the customer the amount being charged.”
Howson also suggested that the set-up would make cashier dishonesty more likely.
Then Gerhard Grobbelaar wrote in about Jet stores – both CNA and Jet are part of the Edcon stable.
“Have you noticed how many businesses do not have a display screen for their till, so the consumer can see the price they ring up?” he asked.
I took up the issue with Edcon, asking what prompted doing away with that second customer monitor.
Responding, group services’ executive manager Deven Naicker said Edcon was in the throes of upgrading its store systems “to improve the efficiencies and services rendered to our customers”.
“To safeguard our customers’ privacy, some of our stores no longer have a display screen facing the customer at point of sale,” he said.
All merchandise had price tags, and customers were issued with a till slip, he said.
“We would like to assure customers that they may request retail associates at any of our retail stores to show them their purchases on screen before any sale is finalised,” Naicker said.
I asked him to clarify what he meant by safeguarding customers’ privacy. How so?
“Edcon did away with these displays because significant systems development was required to only display the appropriate details on the screens – no credit information or addresses,” he said.
“There were also significant hardware costs to ensure all points of sale had this equipment (an extra monitor for consumers).”
Ah, the cost issue.
Naicker said the group had “no complaints on record” regarding the change “until you brought this to my attention”.
“Our point of sale equipment should support our business, creating a consistent and compelling shopping experience. If this is not the case, we are happy to review the systems and processes.”
To my mind, allowing customers to see a till display is a courtesy to them, allows them to note any price discrepancies as individual items are rung up, and to see the total amount owing without having to be told this by the cashier.
For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, not having sight of those numbers makes them reliant on the cashier, and they will no doubt miss this courtesy most acutely.
The CNA cashier I raised the issue with recently confirmed that many customers had grumbled about not having sight of the till total and urged me to complain to “head office”.
Last week I posed the question on social media: “At till points, do you want to see prices being scanned, plus the total amount owing displayed on a customer facing monitor, or don’t you care?”
The responses poured in.
“I care. I want an item value and running total, both in a big clear display.”
“I hate not seeing the prices and totals.”
“I care, but I find that I have to turn the screen to face me. Most people don’t care.”
“On many occasions at Edgars after checking my till slip discounted items are not discounted when cashing up. Must check slip.”
“Definitely want to see the price and amount owed but many retail POS (point of sale) don’t allow this.”
Clearly, Edcon is not the only retail group which has done away with customer monitors at tills.
It’s a move in the wrong direction, in my opinion.
If you agree, tell the head offices of the companies concerned, via e-mail or social media.
Muttering to cashiers is unlikely to be effective. - Pretoria News