Be Smarter Than the Scanner

The other day in the self-checkout lane at Meijer I was scanning merrily away until I hefted an unwieldy three foot long mesh bag of enormous grapefruit up on the scanner. The bag had a barcode, so I figured I would just swipe the bag across the laser while singing tra-la-la about the astounding Jello deal I scored.

Wrong.

I swiped and swiped again. I tried to hold the bag flat. I tried shifting the grapefruit around in the bag. My last desperate shove catapulted 15 grapefruit the size of bowling balls all across the store. As they say, it’s all fun and games until someone gets beaned by a projectile launch of gigantic citrus fruit. I could tell the other customers were annoyed, because none of them stepped up to help me pick up my errant merchandise, in spite of my obvious baby belly. Maybe they were just rude, or maybe they mistakenly assumed that one of the grapefruit had shot down my shirt.

In any case, as I returned my bag of grapefruit to my checkout station, I remembered reading on several blogs and websites recently that you DON’T actually have to scan barcodes. You can just hit the button for entering a produce code (the one you press to type “4011” for bananas) and enter the numbers from the barcode instead of scanning it. It worked like a charm on the grapefruit.

The barcode tip comes in handy with coupons too. Some stores ask you to find a cashier to enter your coupons at the self-checkout, but others, like Meijer, allow you to scan your own. If the scanning surface is wet or dirty from weighing produce or swiping cold things, the machine often has trouble reading coupon codes. I’ve also had coupons get stuck to the surface, and soggy coupons are even harder to scan. Here again, the produce code button comes to the rescue. When a coupon won’t scan for whatever reason, enter the barcode numbers into the produce code section and you’re good to go.

I hope this helps you avoid any grapefruit-related mishaps of your own, and if you’re one of the people who recently mentioned this barcode tip on your site, leave me a comment so I can link to you!

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