11 Things That Frustrate Every Grocery Store Employee

We've compiled grocery store employees' biggest pet peeves. Are you guilty of any?

Woman handing a cashier a package of cookies over the counter with an unsure smile and another woman and man talk behind her in line

Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

If you’ve ever worked behind a cash register, you know how hard it can be. In truth, the customer is not always right, especially at the grocery store. Since most of us have to buy our groceries from somewhere, the least we can do is try not to aggravate the hard-working stock clerks, cashiers and baggers. Check out (pardon the pun) these folks’ biggest pet peeves…and maybe you’ll think twice the next time you’re strolling the aisles.

1. “If It Doesn’t Scan, I Get It for Free, Right?”

This is probably the most overtold joke in the grocery store, eliciting a groan from all but the most patient (or poker-faced) employees. Sadly, regardless of whether or not the scanner registers your item on the first try, you still have to pay for it…so resist temptation to use this shopworn humor on the cashier.

Pro tip: Most major grocery chains do, however, offer discounts on dented cans, and it’s fine to ask the cashier about this.

2. Neglecting to Say Thanks

It’s so easy to practice simple manners, and we promise it makes a world of difference to slow down, look an employee in the eye and thank them for their work. Small kindnesses go a long way toward making a person’s day.

3. Bringing More than 10 Items to the 10-items-or-less Lane

Lanes with this requirement were created for efficiency, so people with just a few items can, theoretically, get in and check out fast. Using the fast lane when you have more than 10 items makes the line longer for everyone behind you. Do your fellow shoppers a solid by using the correct lane, even if the wait looks a bit longer.

4. Treating the Grocery Store like a Bank

Most grocery stores offer cash back if you are paying with a card, but that doesn’t mean you can treat the register like an ATM. To ensure there’s enough cash to break everyone’s bills, most cashiers won’t be able to part with a roll of quarters in exchange for a handful of dollar bills. Try an arcade, a laundromat or an actual bank for that. (Maybe your grocery store has a bank inside, in which case, there you go!)

5. Leaving Items in Random Parts of the Store

Too many items in your cart? Instead of leaving a box of cookies in the produce section or ditching a case of soda in the cereal aisle, return these extraneous items to their shelves, or bring them to the cashier so they can be properly restocked. Doing so saves confusion for other shoppers and, in the case of frozen or refrigerated foods, ensures the products don’t get ruined. (Psst! Check out our list of grocery staples you can make at home.)

6. Scrutinizing the Receipt Right after Paying

It’s normal to wonder if you’re getting the best deal on your groceries, but analyzing the receipt immediately after the cashier gives it back to you is rude. Not only are you holding up the line; by looking for mistakes, you’re also making the cashier feel as if you don’t trust them. Wait until you’re out of the way to make sure the grapes weren’t accidentally scanned twice. (Chances are, there won’t be any errors.)

7. Complaining about the Lines…On a Sunday

Sundays are by far the busiest days for grocery stores, and the employees have no control over that. To avoid the crowds, plan your trip for a different day. Be prepared for busier aisles in the weeks leading up to major holidays, as well.

8. Letting Your Kids Run Wild

Bringing children to the grocery store is encouraged, but save playtime for home, the park and the great outdoors. Young children are apt to mistake bright, shiny products for toys-which can be bad news for the child, not to mention the poor soul who has to clean up the spill on Aisle 3. That said, a supervised trip to the store can be a great experience for your tot. Have them read the grocery list aloud or help load items onto the conveyor belt (just be sure there’s not a line of impatient customers behind you). Looking for other ways to get your kids involved? Check out our guide to cooking with kids.

9. Handing over Coupons That Just Don’t Work

Every savvy shopper knows there are some wild discounts to be found in coupon books, but please remember to read the fine print. Coupons are useless if you try to use them past the expiration date, leave them at home or attempt to use one from another store. (You’d be surprised by what people will try!) Looking for more ways to save money in the kitchen? Try these affordable dinner party recipes!

10. Throwing Your Cash or Card onto the Counter

…especially if the cashier has offered their hand. Some find it awkward to transfer a fistful of wadded bills and loose coins into another person’s hand. But it’s more polite and makes the transaction easier on everyone.

11. Talking on the Phone

This is the ultimate pet peeve of those who work in the service industry. Phone calls are a distraction and slow transactions down. Plus, it’s difficult for the cashier to know if you’re talking to them or to that device pinned between your ear and shoulder. (If you say thank you-avoiding pet peeve No. 2, above-will the bagger even know it’s directed at them?) Do us all a favor and place the call on hold when it’s your time to buy.

Now that you know grocery store workers’ bigger pet peeves-be honest-how many are you guilty of?

Pssstt…while you’re at the grocery store…

Grab a can or two of evaporated milk and make one of these recipes!
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