How Kroger Is Socially Conditioning You

By • on July 8, 2011 8:29 am

So, I stopped going to all Kroger-owned stores like Fred Meyers and QFC. I will get my food from my local Seattle co-op, Madison Market, or a farmer’s market, or a Trader Joe’s or a Costco, no matter how much farther I have to go.

Let me tell you why: Kroger hates people.

They hate people so much that they are quietly socially conditioning the populace and union-busting at the same time. I am talking, of course, about auto-checkout machines.

Listen, do you get extra money for checking out your own purchases? No, you do not. By opting in to do this task yourself, you are letting Kroger use less actual manpower, and they get to pocket the difference. You are doing their work for them. They are punking you like a real sucker.

When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook the food yourself? When you go to a movie theatre, do you go into the projection booth to start the movie, only after using their popcorn popper to make your popcorn?

But Kroger wants this group mental mind shift to be as innocuous as possible, so they quietly herd people like sheep. We already know how grocery stores put the soy milk all the way in the back so you have to walk through aisles of stuff you buy less often to get to the things you buy more often. I’m sure there are landfills worth of marketing studies on how to best position and light every nook and cranny of the modern grocery store, and the placement of the auto checkout lines are no exception.

Notice how they are always the most direct route through the exit. This is a silent social conditioning cue to make you want to go there first. Is there a sign that says “50 cents off if you check out and bag your own stuff!” No, because the money they save on this is for their own greedy ass. That’s the point. There are only wordless clues to this ongoing attack against human labor.

Next, they have fewer cashiers on hand, so you have longer lines, especially during busy bursts. So not only is the auto-checkout machine a faster route to the exit, those lines may move faster as well.

Finally, there is a manager in a white shirt who stands behind the line to give the illusion there is someone who cares about you looking over things. He or she cranes their head this way and that, shuffling their feet, looking concerned–but only to try and herd you into the slots that will make them the most money when you buy their awful disposable crap and edible foodlike substances. And to watch for shoplifters, of course.

If they really cared about the customer, they would have more people on hand and you would never see long lines.

So as a result, more people have just started doing it themselves and less money has been going to union workers who have been doing the job for years.

And let’s just say: even if you think being a checkout guy or girl is not a great job, you are right. The fact that increasingly the only jobs in America are service jobs is a real shame for a once great economy that used to make stuff. But it is still better than nothing. It is still work. It is better than relying on a social safety net that is getting more paltry every year. It still pays a lot of bills for a lot of people. And you’re not helping them any by checking your own stuff out.

I was first noticing these changes at the north Capitol Hill QFC on Broadway in Seattle, but then I noticed the southern Cap Hill QFC was going a little farther: they have labeled a new line with human interaction as something like ‘Special Services’ and the standard checkout lines with humans manning or womanning them have been reduced to a few and tucked into an awkward corner. Since most people there have apparently already been conditioned to check themselves out, I am guessing this an indication that they will get rid of the usual checkout lines all together and eventually the ‘Special Services’ checkout line with actual humans will cost you an added surcharge. The things they are not wordless about will end up costing you more, of course. After all, they have to pay for the extra signs.

When the most powerful meme in a society is: more corporate profits at any cost–a seriously unsustainable cancer-like model currently destroying an irreplaceable world containing a finite repository of natural resources–then this type of stuff will only increase. When was the last time you heard ‘the customer is always right’? When exactly did this quaint idea die?

Let me ask you, if you are still not convinced: what’s next? When you go to the grocery store in coming years are you going to be shown a pallet and told you need to unload it first and stock the shelves before you are allowed to check out your desired items? (Costco already has the pallets in place.) Then, maybe a couple years later, you need to actually go into the adjacent office and order the product first in bulk. Then when it comes, you go to the store, unload it and stock the shelves with it, and then you may use the auto-checkout machine to check yourselves out. Bah bah, bad sheep.

All the while the owners of that company laugh their ass off and fire more people and pocket the change. This is a recession. Let someone check you out and bag your stuff (with the bag you brought because you care about the earth, of course). You will be helping your fellow nonmillionaire soldiers in the ongoing class war to keep a roof over their heads and feed their children. You will be a modern American hero, and not a sheep. Happy shopping, brothers and sisters. Dr. Menlo’s web site is


By Tyler on July 10th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Actually, you do get a benefit from checking yourself out. Whatever sits in the bottom of your cart and doesn’t get scanned by, well, you – is free.

By Dr. Menlo on July 13th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Nice add, Tyler. I actually was going to put a bit about that into this – recommending that if you do check yourself out – why not miss something? After all, if they question it, just say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t trained for this job.” I don’t imagine they could have any feasible reaction to this.

I suppose there are a myriad of reactions to this dehumanizing trend – boycott, subversion + free groceries, or go to grocery stores that don’t have any autocheckout at all – like Madison Market or Trader Joe’s.

By Dr. Menlo on July 13th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Wait – I made a mistake in that last paragraph, as boycotting Kroger and going to other grocery stores without autocheckout is the same thing. OK, so you have that option, OR, go to Kroger (QFC and Fred Myers) and then there you have two choices: only use their human checkouts, or check yourself out and make mistakes as you are not a highly-trained union employee (the evil corporation discount with a built-in get-out-of-jail-free card).

And then of course, there is the CSA option, which delivers to your door, encourages the local micro-economy, and usually includes organic options.

Lastly, there is the grow-your-own-food option, which I believe will be increasingly popular as the Great Recession winds on.

By Self Checkout Artist on July 13th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Self checkout is a convenience for shoppers that are capable of checking out their few items in less time and with less hassle than going through the regular line.

The person that wrote this article is a moron. There is no way he is actually a doctor of any sort. Blatant stupidity is the only driving force behind this garbage commentary.

By zack on July 13th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

ItDid you even bother to speak to someone in management before writting this piece? Your ignorance of how grocery stores determine employee hours really comes through.

The number of employees working at any given hour is directly determined by how much that store makes on average during that part of the day. It is not dependant on how many workers are need, but rather how many the store can afford to employ.

What this means is that the more auto checkstands that go in, the more employees are avaible for customer service. The reality is exactly the opposite of what you’ve assumed!

By Me on July 14th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

yeah they want money those evil bastards they start a business and try to find ways to get the most profits.

Fucking retard.

By Brenda J on July 18th, 2011 at 9:12 am

I am an avid Kroger shopper and refuse to use the self checkouts due to this fact. THere has been once or twice that I have used it but only if I have 1 or 2 items and the other lines are very long. I do find that there are many more people that defer the self checkouts. I can only hope that loe public realizes that just a few more minutes of time could save someone’s job in this rough economy…I hate Wal-Mart. Sam’s Club is owned by Wal Mart, we do not have CostCo here…but dud enjoy going there when we recently visited NYC.

By Drew on July 28th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I definitely see the point here. But let’s not forget the price of gas has risen considerably drastic in the past several years. Many grocery stores that require distant transportation have been hit hard by this!! There is a kroger down the street from me. When they first brought in the auto check out, not a single person was fired or let go. They dud however not hire people to replace those that eventually moved on before there was room to accompany the smaller real check out lanes. And don’t get me wrong here… I hate unions ad much as anyone can… But how many 15, 16, 17 year old high school kids swiping and bagging groceries really join union.. C’mon. Get real man

By Chris on August 11th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

This is got to be the dumbest argument ive ever heard. First of all kroger isnt tue only store with self checkout n the reason they dont have as many cashiers is because their not as big as wal-mart or all the other stores. Also what store doesnt put their milk in the back Idk where ur from but around here all stores do it. Kroger isnt trying to scam u moron its called running a buisness n if u knew anything about that instead of talking like a peranoid crachead u wouldnt post ur dumbass opions.

By Lou on October 22nd, 2011 at 5:31 pm

So, Dr Menlo, do you drive to Oregon to fill up your gas tank so that someone can pump it for you?

By Light In Eye on November 2nd, 2011 at 1:52 am

It is always difficult to get knowledgeable people with this issue, nevertheless, you be understood as you understand exactly what you are posting about! Appreciate it.

By Kim A. on March 21st, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I am a Kroger employee and I also do all my shopping there, due especially to the fuel point system. I personally use the self checkout exclusively, because I can take my time and bag my groceries the way I want so it is easier to put them away when I get home. I personally like that I have the option of checking myself out. I have heard the argument that self checkout takes away jobs, but have you failed to notice that there is an attendant running the self checkout lanes? And it is no easy job, trust me, I know!

By Helia on May 29th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I have limited choices where I live. It is Kroger, Walmart or Harveys. Kroger carries a lot of organic and Gluten Free products where the other two don’t or have limited supply. I NEVER GO TO WALMART! I would rather shop online and pay shipping then go there. Once a month I go into “the city” for special items and every 2 weeks go to a framer’s market. The closest co-op is almost an hour away and only opened on a Thursday with limited hours ( during work ).

By Anonymous on May 23rd, 2014 at 11:11 am


By galaxy s4 ma vang cuc dep va sang trong on July 10th, 2014 at 5:58 am

peer at someone or somethingto look at someone or something closely; to stare at and examine someone or something. The child peered at me for a while in a strange way. The owl peered at the snake for a moment before grabbing it.

By Iloveselfcheckour on December 13th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

The Kroger Self-Check lane allowed me to get $60 worth of groceries for $6 this week. 1 Big Bag, “GREEN CABBAGE.” Everyfuckin thing at Kroger costs .44/pound.


Leave a Comment