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13 Polite Habits That Grocery Store Employees Secretly Dislike

Bag these behaviors! They know you mean well, but the employees at your favorite grocery store wish you'd stop doing these things.

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Black woman buying goods in a grocery store; Shutterstock ID 1503383288; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeNejron Photo/shutterstock

Counting out change

Cashiers do love when customers are able to hand over the exact amount of their purchase, but counting out a fistful of pennies and nickles one-by-one on that tiny check counter can be irksome—especially if there’s a large line waiting behind you. (Hello, dropped quarters!) If you’re looking to pay with loose change, save yourself the hard math and hand over what you can to the cashier for them to count. And if you do have a large amount of change, try to checkout at a less-busy time. Here are a few time-honored tips for saving money on your weekly grocery bill.

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Smiling salesman putting vegetables in bag for customer after billingShutterstock / Rido

Not letting employees bag your groceries

We get it. You’re paying good money for your groceries, so obviously you want every item to make it home in one piece. But insisting on packing up your own order (especially when it’s a big haul) slows the whole line down. Baggers and cashiers oftentimes have a system, and you’re just interrupting it. Become a real pro at the grocery store with these smart shopping tips.

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Woman buys fruits and vegetables at a marketShutterstock / LDprod

Expecting your cashier to know what type of fruit is in season

If you have a specific question, don’t save it until you get to the register. Chances are, your cashier isn’t going to know much about seasonal produce, cuts of meat or if a specific bakery item is in stock. It’s best to ask an employee of the appropriate department, or head to the customer service desk so they can call someone to come help you. Better yet, learn what’s in season right now.

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Customer Giving Packet To Cashier At Checkout CounterTyler Olson/Shutterstock

Too much chit-chat

Of course, some friendly chat is nice, but many stores track the items scanned per minute to judge an employee’s performance. Keep the conversation light and when you’re done paying and packing up, exit the line. Your clerk (and the folks behind you) will appreciate it. Psst! Did you know this is also one of the polite habits fast-food employees dislike? Find more here.

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Senior woman writing checkShutterstock / AVAVA

Filling out a check at the register

If you’re paying for your order by check, you likely won’t need to fill out every section. In fact, most machines are capable of running the check (and voiding it out) while it’s blank. Balancing your checkbook at the register is not only unnecessary, but it can hold up the entire line. Be sure to know the secrets Aldi employees won’t tell you.

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The apples in the bagsShutterstock / chayaalively

Consolidating your fruits and veggies

Even if your three kinds of apples are the exact same price, don’t bag them together. The codes are different for each kind of produce (even different varieties), and stores use these to track inventory. So keep them separate at the store, but feel free to mix them up in our top 100 apple recipes.

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woman pushing shopping cart in supermarketpixfly/Shutterstock

Loading all your items onto the belt

If you’re buying four cases of sparkling water, the clerk only needs one to scan. They’d rather not move all of them across the scanner. And it’s less heavy lifting for you. Shop at Costco? We got the inside scoop on the grocery store from a former employee.

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Man buying food products in the supermarket shoppingShutterstock / Lizardflms

Lifting everything out of your cart

Most stores have scanning guns that reach, so leaving all heavy items in the cart will save the cashier some unnecessary arm strain.

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woman put products on cash line in store. grocery shopping.Shutterstock / Vera Petrunina

Sneaking into the express line

We all know the 10 items or less lane. But what if you know you have 15 items (probably more)? It can’t hurt to sneak in, right? Wrong. The fast lane is there for a reason. If you genuinely didn’t realize you had more than ten items, don’t sweat it, but don’t cheat the system if you can help it. Don’t miss these sneaky ways grocery stores trick you into spending more.

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Reusable canvas grocery bag with red and yellow tomatoes and spinach.Rin Ohara/Shutterstock

Telling baggers “whatever’s easier”

If your answer to “paper or plastic?” is “whatever’s easier,” keep in mind that what is easier is not having to decide for you. If you really don’t have a preference, opt for paper, which is more easily recyclable than plastic bags. Better yet, bring your own bags (but maybe wash them first).

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Salesman Holding Cutting Board With Assorted CheeseTyler Olson/Shutterstock

Taking (then ditching) free samples

Don’t feel the need to take a cube of cheese if you’re just going squirrel it away on a shelf or toss it. You won’t hurt the sample person’s feelings. They’d rather not waste the food—or find it the next day behind the Rice Krispies. Learn what it’s like to be a free sample employee.

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Portrait of smiling young man buying food in supermarket watching cashier scanning prices at cash desk and paying for groceriesShutterstock / SeventyFour

Not bothering employees to put items away

If you change your mind about that hummus that was on special and you don’t remember exactly where you found it, don’t guess—or worse yet, leave it in a non-refrigerated section. Instead, give it to a cashier or other employee. The staff would rather restock it the right way than stumble across it later.

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Ticket dispenser sitting in front of line at a local deli counter with some copy space to rightShutterstock / David Tran Photo

Waiting patiently (without a number)

If they’re giving out numbers at the bakery counter, stick to them. Letting that nice, numberless elderly man cut in front of you is going to mess up the system and cause confusion and crankiness.

Cathryn Jakicic
Cathy Jakicic has written about everything from business and bacteria to beads and baking in her career —but she greatly prefers the last two. She is a baker and a crafter and loves to try new recipes for both.